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September 9, 2011Do you need to be passionate to be able to write?

Most people aren’t passionate about their own jobs — let alone someone else’s. So why do we expect copywriters to be "passionate" about the subjects they're writing about? Unreasonable expectations, or necessary for the best results?

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August 16, 2011Head or heart? How to become a better copywriter by appealing to both.

Robert Cialdini’s ‘weapons of influence’ show us how we make purchasing decisions based on rational choice, even subconsciously. But I don’t think all decisions are made this way. The truth is very often we’re led not by the head, but by the heart.

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July 28, 2011How to brief your copywriter: download a good, free copywriter brief template

Looking for a way to brief your copywriter? Answer these simple 15 questions and he'll know everything he needs to know to get to work. Download this free template to share with clients and colleagues.

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July 21, 2011Why I still use the Oxford comma

Don’t worry about the dictionary definition. The Oxford Comma is simple. It separates out separate things. Without the comma, things are combined.

Here’s a simple, concise, and definitive argument courtesy of shortee.tumblr.com —…

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July 15, 2011Bad buzzword: it’s time to stop using the word “solution”

How often do you use the word “solution” in everyday speech? Probably very little.

Your car isn’t your transport solution. Your phone isn’t a communications solution. And I’m willing to bet you never refer to dinner as a “foodservice solution” or even a “hunger solution”, do you? What about your girlfriend? Is she your loneliness solution? Or is that what you call the bottle of whisky you drink alone, late at night? Is paracetamol in a glass of water your hangover solution in the morning? Or would you prefer another swig from the bottle?

Blimey! I just used …

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July 5, 2011Three quick tips for freelance copywriters

Having just read Tom Albrighton’s Top ten tips for freelance copywriters, I find myself agreeing with every one of them. But here’s three tips Tom left out…

1. Get a 50% deposit up-front, every time.

If the client can’t or won’t afford this, what makes you think they’ll pay up on time, or at all, once the job is done?

2. Sometimes, you’re being hired to give your opinion, as well as your words.

You can’t argue with every client, but not everyone likes a yes man. If you’ve got different ideas (and you can express them politely) don’t …

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June 27, 2011Copywriting rates revisited: How much should I charge?

This is a tutorial post for other freelance copywriters.
If you’re a client looking for details of my day rate, click here.

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I seem to get asked for advice by freelance copywriters who are just starting out an awful lot these days. Much more than I used to, anyway. I guess this means that, after a few years in this game, suddenly I’m the voice of wisdom and experience. Funny, because it doesn’t feel like all that long ago I was just starting out myself.

Of course I’ve been writing for ages. But I only turned freelance in …

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June 13, 2011Into fashion? You — and your brand — need to get into Tumblr.

When I joined Tumblr in 2009, I thought I was pretty late to the party. But the microblogging platform has only gone from strength to strength to strength. But although I hang out there all the time, and have even made a few friends there (although not as many as my livejournal days) I don’t use it for business.

Tumblr started out a little like a cooler version of Twitter. I’ve often said that Twitter feels like a water cooler for us bored, lonely freelancers who don’t get to enjoy the simple pleasures of office gossip — well, Tumblr …

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May 19, 2011Don’t mess with success: why staying on top is about staying true to your core business plan

Like many others, I visit Guido Fawkes, the UK’s most widely read political blog, for my daily fix of news. Guido is in top of his game. His short, simple editorial style (which has a lot in common with my favourite red-top, The Sun) and knack for sniffing out a story (or turning a small story into a much bigger one) has made him the UK’s foremost political blogger. He’s mass-market, and proud of it.

But when you’re at the top of your game, how do you stay there? How do you keep people coming back? On the …

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May 3, 2011Can tabloid journalists teach copywriters how to write?

Yesterday, some friends and I had a go at guessing what today’s headline in The Sun, the UK’s leading red-top tabloid newspaper would be. Bin Laden’s death was a historic moment — how would the paper that’s read by over 1/10th of the population every day cover it?

Of course, The Sun is known for its outlandish headlines, often involving a pun, joke, or  outright shocker (“Freddie Starr ate my Hamster” being the oft-quoted classic.) So I didn’t think my guess of “Osama nails Obama in Islamabad Drama” was far off. But it was too long. The one thing

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