A few hundred years ago, English-speakers sailed away to the New World, taking our language with them. Since that time, a whole ocean has separated us, so the English language on American soil was inevitably going to become a different beast. But the last 50 years have caused the two languages to converge again. Well, … Continue reading Weird Words – Brits vs Yanks
When I visit a company’s website, 'About Us' is one of the pages I’m most likely to click on. Sometimes it’s because I want to get a better feel for the company I’m dealing with and find out more about how they work. Sometimes it’s because I want some insight into the company’s background, to … Continue reading Creating a top-notch About Us page – 5 simple copywriting tips
As a freelance copywriter, I sometimes have to research the meanings of words to check that I’m using them in the right context. What’s interesting is that occasionally I find that certain words used to mean something else entirely. How many words have we been getting wrong for so long that they’re now right? Doped … Continue reading Weird Words – assassins, dogs and buxom bimbos
I’m a writer. I’m a creative. By nature my imagination is always on the go, buzzing with new ideas and scenarios. I’m always keen to put a new spin on something rather than doing the same old thing, over and over. So if somebody were to ask me if clichés in copywriting should be avoided … Continue reading Are clichés always bad in copywriting?
I’m putting my grammar Nazi hat on today. Don’t get me wrong. As an author of fiction as well as a copywriter for businesses, I fully appreciate that sometimes grammar rules are there to be broken. And I don’t think every rule they teach you in school should be adhered to 100% of the time, … Continue reading Apostrophe angst – knowing your “its” from your “it’s”
As promised, this is the sequel to my first article about writing better radio commercials, with some more advice to consider when putting together an advert for the airwaves. Last time I talked about making sure your radio commercials are not banal, cringeworthy or annoying by adding realistic characters, a plot and character humour. Another … Continue reading Copywriting tips: 5 mistakes to avoid in radio commercials
It's a fact that people are more interested in reading news than adverts. That is why press releases are often a more effective medium for communicating your brand message. Press releases are technically news items, but they are written by businesses for promotional purposes. In a way they're disguised adverts and can be used to sell … Continue reading 8 great tips for writing better press releases
English teachers will tell you what’s right and what’s wrong about your spelling, grammar and punctuation. What's interesting is that many of the words and phrases we use began life as mistakes anyway. In this month’s “Weird Words”, I’m looking at 5 words and phrases which no longer invite any attention from the teacher’s red … Continue reading Weird Words: 5 mistakes that turned into new words and phrases
I’ve seen some terrible home pages in my time. Home pages that don’t give two hoots about the visitor and why the visitor has come to the website. In November I looked at the user-friendliness of websites in more general terms, looking at how to engage readers and make sure the hierarchy of information is … Continue reading Copywriting tips – how to write a great home page
Evening all! This week, since I'm feeling festive, I thought I would post a little Christmas story that I heard a few years ago... * There once was a man called George who worked for the Post Office. His job was to process all the mail with illegible addresses. One day, a letter arrived addressed … Continue reading “The Old Woman and the Post Office”… a Christmas story
Like TV commercials, radio adverts can be a very effective way of promoting your business, amplifying your brand awareness and boosting your sales. They can also be extremely ineffective if you go about them the wrong way. The airwaves are heaving with radio commercials that are – let’s be honest – dire. Some are cringeworthy, … Continue reading Copywriting tips – how to write better radio commercials
The English language is an infinite source of fascination, irregularity, confusion and downright weirdness. Starting today I’m going to post a monthly “Weird Words” article, looking at the strange and funny ways words and phrases end up becoming part of the language. This month’s “Weird Words” has a particularly dark tone. (Who doesn’t love a … Continue reading Weird Words: 5 words and phrases with grim origins
I’m often asked about the difference between articles, editorials, advertorials and press releases. So I thought it might be useful to draw up a guide... Articles – covers everything There are many types of articles. They include: News articles. These appear in newspapers, magazines and on news sites. They objectively report on a piece of … Continue reading Articles vs editorials vs advertorials vs press releases: what’s the difference?
[This article was previously published in legal magazine The Clapham Omnibus from Benham Publishing.] Today I’m a freelance writer. Three short years ago, I was an enthusiastic criminal defence solicitor. I represented people at the police station. I did trials at the magistrates’ courts and a handful of hearings at the crown courts, too. I even won … Continue reading The legal aid cuts: why I turned my back on the law
A P.S. basically means, “Oh, I forgot to tell you something”. It comes from a time when letters were written by hand. If you forgot to include something in the body of the letter and had already signed off, you had two choices: rewrite the letter from scratch or stick it at the end. Letter … Continue reading P.S. Don’t forget to put a P.S. on your direct mail letters
“Compliment” and its nearly identical twin “complement” are two of the most confusing words in the English language, with more meanings than you can shake a stick at. Let’s try and break this down. A “compliment” is when someone says something nice, flattering or praising to you. When they’re saying these things, they’re being “complimentary”. … Continue reading The complimentary complementary compliment – the beautiful confusion that is the English language
Take a quick look at your website and consider these questions: is it focused on the visitor and their needs rather than being about your business? Is it user-friendly and easy to navigate? Have you paid attention to the hierarchy of information? If not, don’t panic. I’ve seen (and helped improve) a lot of websites … Continue reading Copywriting tips – how user-friendly is your website?
Yes, SEO’s a headache. But it’s still a hugely important aspect of web copywriting. The reason it’s a headache is because SEO copywriting is something you have to learn, then a couple of years later, relearn. Google’s preferences are evolving and changing all the time, which means SEO writing has to change with it. What … Continue reading Copywriting tips – how to write better SEO
The approach of Christmas is an exciting time for businesses. But with excitement comes the dreaded Christmas copy clichés. Before long, everyone’s singing the same carols and forgetting their own brand identity. Here are some tips for junking the clichés and making your Christmas marketing campaign stand out. ’Tis the season... to ditch those old chestnuts … Continue reading Better Christmas sales copy – ’Tis the season to stop saying “’tis the season”
Is your business in the business of writing press releases? If it isn’t, it should be. Press releases are a great way of communicating with your customers in a way that isn’t ‘salesy’. Press releases relay the benefits of your brand without readers knowing that they’re being sold to. That's because, officially, press releases are … Continue reading Bread needs butter! The key to killer press releases
As a copywriter, one of my main jobs is writing product descriptions for retailers and suppliers. These descriptions usually end up on websites or in catalogues and are the little blurbs that sit alongside an image of the product, the price and any relevant specs. Generally I follow 4 rules when I write product copy: … Continue reading When copywriting goes wrong! Lego’s ‘window-licker’ toy