March 24, 2011Are political tweets damaging your online reputation?

I used to avoid Twitter because I can’t stand mobs of any kind. I’m no more keen on flash mobs than I am on lynch mobs, and at times, Twitter has seemed like both — a place for people to club together in self-righteousness and club down other people whose opinions they disagree with. As one commentator said, “Most Twitter users like to think of themselves as better than Daily Mail readers. [Their moblike] behaviour doesn’t chime well with that.”

And so to politics. For some reason, it’s socially acceptable to tweet regularly about politics, even when it has …

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March 19, 2011Less, but better: How to improve your portfolio by spending longer on your work

This week I got together with Spencer Lavery, the genius behind the design of this site, to update my portfolio. After almost three years, it was time to take another look at how I was presenting my work. And I noticed something. I actually preferred some of the work I was doing a couple of years ago to the work I’m doing now.

How long does good work take?

When I first started freelancing, I’d frequently have time to spend two or even three days on a project I’d quoted a day’s work on. After all, I needed …

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March 13, 2011Branding your digital agency: How to stand out from the crowd

A client came to me recently and asked me how they could make their digital agency stand out from the crowd. I looked over their elevator pitch. It contained the following sentences:

  • “We help people connect to the brands they love.”
  • “We look at the world differently.”
  • “We’re driven to help people genuinely connect.”

Sound familiar? That’s probably because you’ve seen these phrases everywhere already. So how do you stand out?

The answer’s simple: if your message is the same as everyone else’s, be different. If your message is too generic, be more specific.

It’s unlikely two people ever see …

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March 2, 2011Essential skills every digital copywriter needs

In my previous post, I talked about why I felt digital was the way forward — and how an emphasis on sites that work, that inform, and that sell the product directly to the customer are replacing “big idea” campaigns. I said that, in order to be a competent digital copywriter, a copywriter should have a broad understanding of digital skills beyond idea generation and actual copywriting. The skills I suggested were:

  • Conversion rate optimization
  • User experience (UX) testing
  • Metrics (stats like bounce rates, etc)
  • Web design and development
  • Content marketing
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media integration

In this

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February 28, 2011No more big ideas: why digital agencies are small and scientific

I started my first blog, a Livejournal, in late 1999. Back then, the word “blog” didn’t even exist.

Twelve years ago, I never could have predicted I’d have a successful career using the same techniques I learned while writing teenage ramblings for my friends. Yet here I am.

I guess I’ve always been an early adopter. Yet it never ceases to amaze me that there are people out there who still don’t understand the value of digital.

The ad industry is changing, whether you like it or not.

I read this fascinating piece on the future of advertising after it …

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February 21, 2011If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I never cease to be amazed by the stupidity of very smart people: unfortunately, hard experience has taught me that business sense and marketing sense very rarely mix.

Of course really smart businessmen hire marketing professionals — because they realise they’re good at making money, not at selling things.

They don’t think hey, I can manage a million dollar business so I can write a strapline, they think — hey, I’m smart enough to manage a million dollar business, which means I can afford to pay a professional to write my strapline.

KFC, in the UK at least, is changing

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February 13, 2011Duplicate content – are you protecting your page rank?

I’m obsessed with my metrics. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the process of building a site, of populating it with content, of monetizing it and making it work isn’t about guesswork. It’s about making informed decisions by checking who’s visiting your site, how long they’re staying, where they’re coming from, and what they’re looking for. In short: your site flourishes when you provide people with content they want.

I came into the office for a Sunday session, thinking today would be a good day to go over my metrics and make a few tweaks to my site.

I was …

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February 12, 2011Social Media for Complete Beginners – Part 2

Why do you need social media?

I suppose I should start at the start: with an explanation of exactly why you should be using social media. It doesn’t matter what you do: if your business in any way relies on web traffic, and, specifically, your organic page rank in Google, you need to be using social media.

Why? Because Google changed the rules.

I set up my own business as a freelance copywriter at around the time when core SEO strategy was to have a good site, with lots of keywords and information, and a regularly-updated, keyword rich blog that …

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February 7, 2011Social Media for Complete Beginners – Part 1

It’s London Social Media Week, a 5 day series of events, panel discussions and seminars on social media — how to monetize it, and how to take advantage of it. I thought about dropping in on a couple of seminars and reporting back to you. Then I realised two things:

1) half a dozen other people will be doing the same thing, and at least one of them will be doing it better than me, and
2) I’m not a “social media type”. I don’t tweet, I’m a reluctant user of Facebook, and my tumblr doesn’t have one single …

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February 3, 2011How to apply David Ogilvy’s sales technique to web copy

I’ve spoken before about how much I rate Tom Albrighton’s work as a copywriter. I’m also a fan of Ben Locker, in Colchester (Glad you’re not in London, Ben!). What have these two guys got in common? They’re both big fans of the “father of modern advertising,” David Ogilvy. So much so, in fact, that Ben recently produced a long-copy print ad in Ogilvy’s style as an experiment, testing whether or not long copy works. Well, I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is, too.

Who the hell is David Ogilvy?

Well, first things first, let’s be …

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