Monthly Archives: January 2013

Copywriting, Fred Zeppelin and catching up in Worcester

I was on a copywriter’s night out and it could have been 1969 or the early 1970s again (I’m showing my age).  A small venue in Worcester (the Marrs Bar), a thundering four-piece rock and roll band on stage, and some of the best known rock music of the last 50 years. All that was missing was the smoke haze. And the beer was dearer. But when Fred Zeppelin came on stage you could shut your eyes and imagine it was the real thing.

They were note perfect and their lead singer even looks remarkably like Robert Plant as well as sounding like the man who is arguably the greatest voice in rock. The nice thing was that over the last 20 years the Fredz haven’t set out to do any more than replicate the music of Zeppelin note for note. That their current lead singer looks and behaves remarkably like Plant is a bonus. There were just enough of the trademark gestures and mannerisms  to be authentic – without ever lapsing into an embarrassing parody of Kidderminster’s finest. I’ve seen Plant in concert several times and watched hours of Zeppelin video over the years. This guy was good, as were his stage mates.

It coulda been 1969 again...

It coulda been 1969 again…

They played a ton of our favourites (but not Stairway…): from ‘Rock and Roll’ to ‘Kashmir’, and ‘Whole Lotta Love’ to ‘The Song Remains the Same’. And it was loud, which you’d expect from any half-decent tribute to Led Zeppelin.

We were in Worcester to hook up with one of my longest standing and most loyal clients – Phil from Mosaique in Tewkesbury. As well as discovering the delights of the UK’s leading Zeppelin tribute band, it was a great opportunity for a Cheltenham copywriter to catch up with a Worcester-based agency creative director over a beer or two  and a damn fine pre-gig Balti.

Phil and I go back several years now and can list a long line of creative projects that we’ve collaborated on. We started with newsletters and technical datasheets for Toyota, progressed to security systems for Cooper Security and wrote about flooring for Karndean International – plus a fistful of smaller projects. It’s amazing how much you can write in five years, and the fun you can have writing it. It was good to catch up and swap war stories from the art-direction frontline.

As for Fred Zeppelin, here’s a band that does what it does brilliantly, offers astounding value (£8 a ticket to see ‘Zeppelin’) and knows how to give an appreciative audience what it wants. Come to think about it, that’s rather like what it takes to be a successful copywriter in Gloucestershire

Oh yes, and one other thing. The drive up to Worcester reminded me how close the town is to my Cheltenham office. So if you’re looking for copywriters in Worcester and you appreciate old-fashioned face-to-face service (as Phil and his colleagues at Mosaique do),  please don’t rule out this Cheltenham boy.

Let’s rock ‘n roll with some inspired copywriting. And in the meantime, if you get the opportunity, how about checking out Fred Zeppelin for yourself?

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Why freelance copywriters get employed

Freelancers get employed because they are expert at something. In the case of copywriters, it’s because we’re expert business writers – for website copy, brochure content, case studies, articles or other written communication that must inform and persuade. Because we’re usually available for hire on a flexible basis, there are good business reasons to use our services:

  • You can hire us on a flexible basis.
  • We bring skills that you, or your team, don’t have.
  • We give you writing capacity at times of change.
  • We inject fresh perspective, creativity and energy to your copy.
  • We provide specialist skills to help you through peaks and troughs of workload.

That’s handy. And when it comes to costs, you have plenty of flexibility too:

  • Hire a freelance copywriter according to budget.
  • Avoid the employment cost of a staff writer.
  • Avoid employment risks.
  • There’s no ongoing employment relationship.

As thousands of organisations already know, it all adds up, particularly under the challenging economic conditions prevailing in the UK as this is being written. What’s more, Not only is lots of copywriting capability available from freelancers, but some very talented writers may only be available on a freelance basis.

So what are the characteristics of a good freelance copywriter – in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire or anywhere else for that matter? In addition to being able to write fast and well, to a set tone of voice or style guideline, and to understand customer benefits, many of the key characteristics are those of any good freelancer. Read more here

 

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

How to be happy? Liggy Webb can help…

I’m not a serial business networker – primarily because, as one of the copywriters in Cheltenham, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a great flow of writing business on recommendation and as repeat business from my loyal client network.

There is, however,  one networking group that I’ve attended regularly for the last few years, and that’s the Gloucestershire Business Breakfast Club (GBBC). We kicked off the New Year on Wednesday at a new venue, The Chase Hotel in Brockworth, Gloucestershire. And we had a great guest speaker, Gloucestershire-based ‘happiness guru’ Liggy Webb.

Liggy is a world leader in modern life skills, a prolific consultant, author and presenter who includes the United Nations and an impressive list of other major organisations among her clients.

howtobehappy

Her passion is the improvement of people’s lives. After just 15 minutes talking to a mesmerised group of business breakfasters we could see why. From an inspired Top 10 of things to do to be happy, to her thought-provoking anecdotes and her belief in the role of daily gratitude, her ideas are clearly more than just another ‘woo woo’ take on self-help.

 

Liggy’s credentials, combined with an engaging manner, great ideas and a sparkling personality made this one of the highlights of several years attending GBBC meetings. A shame that her talk was so short – but amazing how many good ideas were packed into it. I, along with, I’m sure, many of the other attendees, could have listened to her all day.

Her ideas are practical too, and cross-reference reassuringly with things I’ve heard, learned and proved to myself in the past.

I came away from the talk with pages of notes and a copy of one of her books How to be Happy. An initial flick through suggests that this is going to be a good read. Why am I not surprised…

Inspiration or what?

Inspiration or what?

You don’t have to be in the depths of depression or trapped in a cage of misery to appreciate Liggy’s messages. Even when we’re on good form, doing the right things and feeding our happiness makes sense to maintain that form. And it’s all the more important with our headlong, full-on lifestyles. Whether you’re a busy Gloucestershire copywriter, stressed out executive or harassed stay-at-home mum, there’s something to learn from Liggy.

So now I’m holding my ‘Vitamin G’ (thank you Liggy), and thinking of three reasons to be grateful today: I’m not at a gas plant in the Algerian desert; I’ve got a warm office and work to do; and I’m inspired by meeting Liggy on Wednesday morning.

vitaming

Visit Liggy’s page on Amazon or her own website, or go hear her speak. You’re in for a practical, inspiring treat. I can’t wait to hear her again sometime.

 

Nice one Liggy!

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Windows desktop management made easy for copywriters (and everyone else)

As a busy Cheltenham copywriter, I’m always on the lookout for productivity tools that help me work smarter. Like mastering keyboard shortcuts, moving to dual monitors was an eye-opener for my writing , researching and editing productivity.

Now I’ve started using two free utilities to make the best use of my available screen real estate. I’d recommend that you give them a try too. Whether you are a copywriter, a web designer or just a busy manager using one, two or even three monitors, my discovery, allied to a few simple keyboard short-cuts  makes working in multiple windows so much easier. And that means saved time and money…

Multiple monitors managed with two simple utilities.

WinSplit Revolution and MultiMon make life more productive for this Cheltenham copywriter

Here’s my typical scenario: the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, an email client and a web browser open on one screen, with a Word document and a spreadsheet in use on the other – and probably a couple of other applications open in the background. Historically, sizing and positioning these, and switching between full screen and part-screen, was a distracting fiddle.

 

But with WinSplit Revolution and Multi Mon (the free version of the acclaimed UltraMon monitor management utility) it’s easy to position windows in quadrants or halves of your multiple monitors, quickly resize them and even switch them between monitors – and all with a few keyboard short-cuts involving Ctrl + Alt, the cursor keys and your keyboard number pad.

Amongst other things, MultiMon gives you the convenience of a second task bar on your second monitor and an easy mechanism to jump windows between monitors. WinSplit Revolution lets you use Ctrl + Alt and the nine Num Pad keys to position the active window. It’s fast and easy to maximise the use of your screens. There’s even a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + Alt + F) that puts a Windows Fusion slider on screen so the size of two adjacent windows can be simultaneously adjusted.

windowfusion

WinSplit revolution’s Windows Fusion function lets you resize two windows simultaneously

With your windows set up, sized and positioned, it’s couldn’t be easier to switch between them using the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut. Layers of windows and awkward manual dragging and resizing are things of the past now – which means more time for your copywriting (or whatever it is you do) and less time wasted on juggling the Windows desktop.

Using these two utilities with multiple monitors is one of those discoveries that I’m sure will change the way you work for ever. And even if you only use a single monitor setup, WinSplit Revolution is a great way to manage your screen. Give them a whirl; they’re small, fast downloads and you’ll be improving your productivity in minutes. I only wish I’d had these six years ago when I started out as a freelance Gloucestershire copywriter…

Tell me how you get on. And what your favourite productivity tool is.

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Copywriters: look after your clients during the hard times ahead

I read an interesting article on the LBC 97.3 FM website over the festive season. It was titled ‘UK Economy: Workers Face A “Hard Year Of Slog” ‘ and it summarised a number of reports that are warning of a tough 2013 in the UK jobs market.

No surprises then. We know its tough and it isn’t going to get better for a while. Quoting Dr John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist,  the piece said: ‘workers can expect longer hours, a continued squeeze on pay and fewer jobs being created’.

But what does this mean for copywriters in Cheltenham or elsewhere in the UK? If organisations find themselves caught between the need to promote themselves through recession  and pressure to get the most out of a limited number of people, I believe that this will only increase the value of professional independent copywriters. Small, responsive organisations like mine who offer good value and get the job done fast and accurately with inspired copywriting.

Whether we’re supporting hard-pressed in-house writers or being the sole copywriting resource for an organisation on a ‘power-by-the-hour’ basis, we’re going to be in demand. At this point, it could be tempting to get greedy and exploit the situation in the short-term. Instead, I advocate continuing with fair pricing and great value for outsourced copywriting. What goes around comes around. By playing fair and not exploiting our position when times are hard, we should be in a strong position when the good times return.

From experience with my lovely clients, most have long memories and will remember how we treat them.  Helping helping them through the tough times looks like a great way to build strong, sustainable working relationships – and the decent thing to do. That’s the kind of partnership that leads to profitable long-term repeat business.

They say it costs five times more to win a new client as to look after an existing one. I’ll be looking after my clients through the hard times. Will you be doing the same?

Happy New Year everybody.

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.