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September 20, 2010How to handle the ups and downs of freelancing

I usually blog about copywriting. Sometimes, I blog about my business. Sometimes, I don’t blog at all. Why? Well, because even though my blog is my number one marketing tool, sometimes, I get too busy. It’s the nature of freelancing. It’s not the kind of job where you can show up to the office, do a set amount of work as dictated by your boss, go home, then start the whole thing again tomorrow. You’re your own boss, but you’re also alone.

Snow days

At the start of 2010, it snowed. A lot. In fact, I was almost snowed in …

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September 6, 2010Does an advert have to be good to be effective?

What makes an effective ad campaign — and can these principles be applied to social media?

It’s impossible to avoid being bombarded with advertising in London. As a copywriter working in London, it’s even harder to not stop and take notice. Like a surgeon holding his knife like a scalpel and listlessly cutting into his Sunday roast, it’s hard for a copywriter to avoid dissecting other people’s work.

I see thousands of posters every morning. Sometimes the copy is good, sometimes it’s very bad. Sometimes it’s short and sometimes it’s long. Sometimes, I’m only looking at an idea, three words, …

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September 1, 2010Does Long Copy Work?

How effective is long copy?

The London Long Copy challenge is underway. For those of you who haven’t seen the ads yet, it’s a competition for copywriters and creatives based in London to design London Underground posters led by copy of between 50-200 words. Which isn’t much for a sales brochure, but it’s a hell of a lot for a great big print ad.

Who reads sales brochures anyway?

There are two schools of thought in copywriting. One: you get a little information in quickly. It’s better than trying to get it all in and not being memorable at all. …

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August 13, 2010Is cheap a dirty word?

I was recently lucky enough to have a conversation with an entrepreneur who runs a hotel booking website. I talked to him about my own personal experience booking expensive hotels in central London (hey, you do it a lot when you’re single) and I told him that I wanted the best possible quality at the lowest possible price. That’s the type of consumer I am. So it’ll come to you as no surprise that I googled “cheap 5 star hotels”. But why? Have you ever seen a single 5* hotel that advertises the fact that it’s cheap?

The fact is,

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August 8, 2010Copywriting for SMEs – should you change your game?

Every client is different. Fact. Some clients want you to make their business look young and dynamic, attracting investors. Other clients want you to make their latest product offering sound irresistible — to the right people, of course. But what all clients have in common is that they’re looking for you to improve on reality in some way — to take a story and tell it better. That’s the name of the game.

When you’re dealing with SMEs and start-ups, companies that don’t have much of an image yet, companies with products you probably haven’t heard of, the temptation is …

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August 3, 2010Buzzword Bingo: Social Media Edition

The cat’s out of the bag. For a couple of years now, I’ve been writing a lot about social media. Not here, (although I do blog about social media fairly regularly), but in my day job as a copywriter. I mostly produce content for the web and the web right now is all about… you’ve got it, social media. The problem is, as I’ve expressed before, social media is the Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s how SEO was a few years ago — a lot of people portraying themselves as experts, with very few people knowing what they’re actually talking about. …

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August 1, 2010Managing your online reputation

So, it’s finally happened. Now, there’s specialist companies claiming to be capable of giving you an ‘online detox’, cleansing your online reputation — getting rid of those nasty photos of you, drunk, on Facebook, cleaning up the vindictive messages left on some blog by your ex. More importantly, these companies claim to offer the ability to manage the reputation of your brand or business, “burying the damaging stuff and promoting the good.”

So how does it work?

Well, it’s a little like reverse SEO. Where a page or a comment can’t be deleted, it can be buried. SEO tactics can …

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July 26, 2010A Terrible Choice of Headline

A brief update today, because I’m very busy with work. But I saw this in the supermarket and felt I had to share it with you all.

Now, I’m sure if you look closely you’ll notice, like me, that this headline is actually about the packaging this product comes in. But no food product, not even one for cats, should ever advertise itself as containing less cardboard than before. It’s just too easy to make the wrong connection.

I watched the Mad Men season premiere last night and was blown away. As I’d predicted, Don completely lost his cool after …

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July 19, 2010Simplicity risks repetition

Every good copywriter knows that simplicity is the secret to success. Getting the message across quickly and effectively is what copywriting is all about. I’ve had clients come to me with briefs for 4,000 word sales brochures. That’s longer than some undergraduate dissertations at university. “Who’s going to read 4,000 words,” I ask? The client looks dumbstruck. He’s even more amazed when I come up with a 100 word sales pitch that tells the customer everything they’ll ever need to know.

Simple Sales Copy

A brief description, followed by a call to action. That’s as much as most sales copy …

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June 30, 2010Content Comes First

As a freelance copywriter, I’m frequently brought in on projects that are already half way through. Sometimes, I’m brought in by a design agency. Other times, I’m brought in by a company who’s already got their design and now they’re looking for someone to fill it. While I’m happy to work on these projects, in fact, being brought in as a last-minute troubleshooter is where I make my real money — it’s not an ideal situation. For you, or for me. Here’s why:

Content is King

You may have heard the expression before. In fact, if you’re a writer or …

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