Have you hired someone to help you build a shiny new website for your business? For many business owners, this means writing sparkling new copy to go with it. Many of my copywriting clients come to me with this very challenge, but not everyone can afford to hire a professional writer.
Whether you are writing copy for your services page, a blog post or a couple of sentences to go on a leaflet – there are a few simple tips that can help to make your copy engaging.
In this post, I want to talk about the importance of benefits over features, and how asking yourself So What? will make all the difference.
If you want to write but don’t know where to start, what do you do?
I write for a living. Or I’m paid to talk about writing.
Before writing became the way I paid my bills, it was one of many creative outlets. My need to be creative is as much part of me as my shaved hair and tendency to talk too much.
Even the most productive among us face writer’s block. Overwhelmed with ideas, the fast-moving pace of a stressful age, even electric lighting and the faint buzz of technology that feels inescapable – all can stifle our natural ability to be creative.
This has become such a popular topic of conversation that I’ve started asking people for their own tips on beating the block. Here are three of the most common, I hope you find them useful.
Happy Yorkshire Day fellow food lovers!
I’m not entirely sure how or when this day began or even why, but I’m willing to embrace anything if it gives me the excuse to tuck into a plate of local produce. Last week I received a parcel of dairy-related goodies from the excellent team at Wensleydale Creamery – prompting my search for a traditional Yorkshire recipe using cheese.
Without losing all reason and ending up in a world of cheese and chive Yorkshire puddings, the options are rather limited. I love experimenting with flavours as much as the next girl, but sometimes you can’t beat the basic elements of life – cheese, bread and – of course – beer. Plus, I’m married to a Welshman. Can you see where this is going?
I’m going to start by coming clean – I absolutely love gooseberries. Every summer I get excited about seeing them on the supermarket shelves and can’t wait to grab the small crop from my local pick your own.
But it appears that I’m alone in my devotion to the prickly berry from even pricklier bushes. It’s true that they can’t be eaten raw and require some level of cooking. But the process doesn’t have to be complicated, and the reward is more than worth it.
With just a little sugar and half an hour of your time, the tart gooseberry develops a floral, nostalgic flavour that can’t be found elsewhere. They make a beautiful amethyst coloured jam that is delicious atop a plain scone. There’s something about their flavour and aroma that conjures up notions of Victorian ladies in white cotton gloves, gossiping about the comings and goings of Ms Simmons over a cream tea. Indeed, we have been eating them since at least the medieval era.
Writing copy for a business audience
The principles behind good copy apply whatever your audience. People are just people after all, with a number of emotional and illogical impulses that influence their buying habits. However. If your client is a business owner, there are practical questions that will need answering before they make a purchase. Here are a few pointers to help you write copy that sells.
The 27th of January to the 3rd of February marks National Storytelling Week. Established in 2000 by The Society for Storytelling, this annual event seeks to promote the oral tradition of storytelling, celebrating this powerful way of “communicating life experiences and the creative imagination.”
We engage with stories every day. A good story grabs attention and takes the listener on a journey, engaging people on an emotional level. They help us understand our place in the world with common themes such as heartbreak, frustration, joy and humility. Communities are built as we bond over shared experiences. From the time we embarrassed ourselves in front of a crowd of people, to hard-won childhood scars – everyone has a story to tell.
I’m always impatient for the arrival of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb. The bright pink stems act as a colourful, sharp antidote to a winter full of earthy root vegetables and irony kale. Grown as a medicinal plant by ancient Chinese cultures, this tart vegetable didn’t become popular in Britain until the 1800’s. By the early 20th century, the forced rhubarb industry was thriving. The Yorkshire Triangle sat at the centre of all things rhubarb.
Rhubarb makes a simple and healthy pudding when poached with orange juice and honey, but this savoury alternative is a great way of using up a few leftover stems. Team the salsa with pork chops or griddled halloumi as part of the main meal, or serve alongside salty nachos for a group of friends.
Over the Christmas break, a post on Twitter highlighted the strange conversations creatives have with their clients, many of them hilarious. Judging by the stream of reactions that followed, these scenarios are being encountered every day by freelancers all over the world. Common topics included late payment, last minute changes to the brief and requests for free work in exchange for exposure.
When I asked my community of freelancers about the issues they faced in their work a number of themes popped up. Here are just three of the things that every copywriter needs you to know.
I can smell violets from the next room. One whiff of their heady floral scent and I’m back in my Nan’s living room circa 1986. Sucking on Palma Violets, while Perry Mason gets busy clearing a hapless but innocent defendant in court. All is well with the world.