Listed below are some questions I’m often asked.
Just click on one to get an answer.
Hopefully you’ll find some helpful info here.
But if you don’t find what you’re looking for (is that a song lyric?),
feel free to drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.
A good, insightful question (you could be the next Paxman). I’d say I pretty much do anything wordy. This includes:
Writing original copy that’s never seen the light of day before.
Editing words that other people have written so they’re much more interesting and enjoyable to read.
Brand messaging, which means crafting words that tie together every piece of content you create and which resonate with your audiences.
Tone of voice guidelines – all the tools you need to sound like you should sound and stand out from the crowd.
Naming stuff, which is obviously dead easy. Or is it? Name 30 hair products that work together as one. Name a newsletter for autistic teenagers. Name a new app which promotes jobs for people over 60. Answers on an SAE postcard.
Training for your employees, so they can improve their writing skills and craft copy in your tone of voice. Pop over to Training to the max to find out more.
Okay, you asked for it. Here’s a lovely long list of all of things I’ve written in the past. Brace yourself.
I’ve been writing professionally for nearly 20 years now; I’ve got lots of high-profile clients who keep coming back to me again and again; and I think my writing is pretty adaptable.
Do I have tonnes of experience writing about cars, beauty products or sausages? No.
Have I ever written for 18–30-year-old Scottish women who have very little leisure time? Not recently.
Do I think I could write engaging copy about those products or for that audience? Absolutely. 100%.
Good writers steal. There, I’ve said it. So when they’re asked to do something they’ve never done before, they look for the best examples, pilfer all the good bits and then improve on them.
So, all I’m saying is (yes, I wish I’d get to the point too), if I haven’t written about your type of organisation or product before, or for a particular audience, don’t discount me (or any other writer). I might just surprise you with some new ideas and really fresh and engaging copy.
Instead, get in touch and let’s have a chat about your project. What have you got to lose?
No. I do have a strong charity background, and many of my clients are charities and not-for-profit organisations. But I’m not solely a charity copywriter.
I’m happy to work with any client I feel comfortable working with, ie not tobacco or payday loan companies, weapons manufacturers or the people who make fish paste (evil stuff).
It really does depend on the project and your expectations. As a very quick guide, I won’t be the cheapest writer around (who are likely to lack experience), but I definitely won’t be as expensive as most creative agencies, who’ll charge you top whack for using one of their copywriters (who’s not guaranteed to have tonnes of experience themselves).
What I do guarantee is value by the bucket load. Tonnes of experience, lots of original ideas and a professionalism that gets things done to a very high standard.
So the best thing to do if you need some writing support is to get in touch and tell me about your project. I’ll then work up a quote that will hopefully make you and me happy. If it doesn’t, there’s usually a little room for a bit of manoeuvring here and there.
Absolutely. Coming up with concepts for a communication is something I’m really strong at. So if you’ve literally got a brief which is as simple as we want to talk to mums about our new rucksacks for kids, I can come up with lots of ideas about how you could do that.
That’s what I did for WWF’s fundraising guide. They wanted a guide that inspired potential fundraisers and communicated why raising money for the charity is so important for our planet; the rest was left to me.
What I would give you are living, breathing examples of how your brand should sound. You can then use this template messaging to make sure all your communications are consistent and promote your values.
Normally, the examples I provide form a ‘messaging pyramid’. At the top of this pyramid is what I call your brand promise, or what you might call your brand statement. This is typically a few words that encapsulates your business / product and the benefits it offers.
The next level is one full sentence which describes your business / product and its benefits. Then we move on to two sentences, followed by one paragraph and finally two paragraphs.
How I create the messaging is by considering your customer and what they care about, your vision for your brand, and what will help you stand out against your competitors.
For me, tone of voice guidelines need to explain in an interesting and digestible way what your organisation / product / service should sound like and how someone can create this voice. As a result, my tone of voice guidelines typically feature:
How much detail your guidelines go into to explain the above elements is ultimately up to you. But what I would say is don’t skimp. Having just a couple of pages inserted into your larger brand guidelines will not ensure all your communications sound as they should sound.
Typically, the tone of voice guidelines I’ve produced for clients in the past have run to 10 pages of A4, and some have been double this length. Being comprehensive from the start will instil confidence in the people who are producing copy for you and achieve the consistency you want.
So, in my eyes, a house style guide is something an organisation provides its employees with to help them write accurately and consistently. Mainly, it focuses on words and phrases that are specific to the organisation or the industry they work in. This is important because you often find that one person writes the name of a service one way and another employee writes it in another way.
A house style guide also takes care of things like whether a job title should be capitalised, as well as lots of other finicky bits and bobs that people may write differently to each other: to organize or to organise.
On top of all of this, this type of guide could cover some basic grammar and punctuation, if a client felt that this would be handy for their employees.
For me, writing for websites and digital marketing comms is all about producing snappy copy and making it super digestible for the eyes (if that makes sense). People’s attention span is short – really short! So it’s very important to keep everything succinct and feature lots of eye-grabbing headlines and subheads that navigate the reader around the page or email.
It is something I offer, and it is something I’ve done of plenty of in the past. But I think it’s important to clarify what SEO copywriting is about today. That’s because many people still believe it’s all about targeting keyword phrases in certain densities and frequencies.
In fact, what we know from search engine research is that it’s the quality of the writing on a webpage that often determines how well a page ranks. It’s about content being so engaging and informative that people want to promote it by sharing it or linking to it through blogs and social media.
Yes, keyword research is still important, but effective SEO copywriting in today’s world is increasingly about what others think about your content and how they describe it. Clever old Google uses all of this to determine quality and relevance and subsequently how your page ranks for a search term.
Facebooks ads and posts? Tick. Twitter tweets? Tick. Blog posts? Tick. Yep, I do write for social media. It’s not a massive part of what I do, but often a client who I’ve written a website for wants the feel of that to come through in their social media. So yep, it’s something I’d be more than happy to talk to you about if you want to connect with your target audiences via social media.
Over the years I’ve written many direct mail campaigns for a wide range of organisations. Mainly, these have been to raise money for a charity, which I’ve been really successful at doing (take a look at the results I achieved for The Children’s Society). But I’ve also created direct mail campaigns to sell products and services, recruit new supporters / customers to an organisation, and tell people important information about a public service.
When I work on these campaigns, I don’t just focus on creating compelling copy for the outer envelope, letter, inserts and return card. I think about how the whole pack will work together to achieve the best possible results. So that’s advising on what elements should feature in the pack, how it should look from the outside, whether we need to do things differently for different audiences. Do we need to do something online or through social media to back up the printed campaign?
Creating a direct mail campaign can seem a little scary if you haven’t done one before, because it is all a bit of a fine science. But if you never create and run one, you’re never going to know how they can work for you. So be brave. Take the first step and get in touch with me to discuss who you want to reach and what you want them to do.
In a nutshell, it’s about working with you to understand what type of writing training would benefit your organisation and employees. I think this produces far better results than people attending a generic course that’s open to anybody. Take a look at my training section to find out more about what I’m on about. It’s just a click away.
Basically, the way it normally works is that you give me an insight into what your new brand / product / service is all about and who you want to target with it. I then soak up all this info, do some of my own research (eg look at your market and competition), and then start to scribble down some names and rationale behind my thoughts.
Now, this all might seem dead easy to some people. But coming up with a name that sounds great to a target audience, links perfectly with a brand story and generates trust is no doddle. Also, when I come up with a name, I also look at what domain names and social media handles are available which could work really well with the name of a brand / product / service.
For many of my clients, paying me to do this type of work is the best money they spend. That’s because in the future they can change their logo, brand colours, website design, etc, but it’s highly unlikely that they’ll ever change the name of their brand / product / service. So getting it absolutely right the first time is incredibly important.
It sure is. I can write a bid document from scratch, using raw information provided by you, or I can edit a bid document you’ve already created.
For me, what you need to do more than anything when writing a bid is consider your audience. That’s because they’re likely to be someone who reads tonnes of bid documents as part of their job. Because of that, I think it’s super important that you conquer their bid fatigue by creating a document that grabs their attention, fuels their imagination, and convinces their heart and mind that they should give you the money.
Also, you need to make sure that they get a really clear idea of what your organisation is all about and how you’ll turn the money you receive into something really positive.
Yes, I do. In fact, start ups are often the best clients to work with. That’s because they tend to be a blank canvas. They don’t have any brand messaging. They don’t have a tone of voice. And they don’t have any marketing materials. Also, they’re not held back by what they’ve done in the past, and they’re far more open to doing things a little differently.
So if you’re a start up, please do get in touch. I’m sure I can help you create a killer brand and provide you with all the elements you need to talk consistently and effectively with your audiences.
I work in a co-working studio which is crammed full of creative people. So I’d be more than happy to introduce you to some top notch people who can create amazing stuff for you. Or if you’d prefer, you can simply say to me, “I want a new website / magazine / video that tells our story. Can you work with people you know and come up with some ideas?” To which I’d reply, “Aye. I’d love to do that.”