Tag Archives: copywriters in cheltenham

Graphic design and copywriting: a lesson from Rio’s favelas

Rio’s sprawling hillside favelas – shanty towns – are a long way from this Gloucestershire copywriter’s beat. And they might seem a strange place to find a reminder about the importance of graphic design and copywriting working together for the clearest possible communication. But that, indeed, is what I saw on an impressive BBC2 documentary last night.

The Gloucestershire Copywriter loved Welcome to Rio, Part 1 'Peace'

Welcome to Rio on BBC 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was watching Part 1 of BBC’s pre-World Cup documentary series Welcome to Rio. I’m not a massive football fan, but it looked interesting and, having recently spent a couple of days in Brazil, I decided to watch. The programme, which looked at the lives of people living in Rio’s favelas, gave a fascinating insight into the challenges faced by the residents as they survive with pirated electricity, broken white goods salvaged from Rio’s posh districts and inspiration from some of the most stunning dawn views over Copacabana beach and Corcovado.

A few words make things easier for everyone

The Cantagalo residents featured in this observational series included Brazilian ‘Banksey-style’ graffiti artist Acme. In one scene, Acme is communicating his feelings for the enforced dismantling of the favela with an impressive artwork featuring an octopus (the authorities) and a shark (the people). As he finishes the metres-long painting, a police officer asks what it is about, drags out of Acme the notion of oppressed people battling against the establishment, then suggests that a few words might make the idea easier for everyone to understand.

Get your copywriter in early

And there was the lesson. Too often, as a busy Cheltenham copywriter, I get called into a project when the brochure design is complete or a website is nominally ‘finished’. I do my best, but how much better it is for the client when I work alongside their graphic designer or website company from the start to produce a design solution where words and images complement each other and communicate the desired message.

In fact, since returning from South America, I’ve been working with Stroud-based graphic designer Sam Hemmings (Design Fibre) to create a new brochure for retail location specialist Maximise (UK) Ltd. The project was a joy, with a fantastic client and great chemistry between Sam and I as the classic copywriter-designer creative team.

When words and images work together – it’s perfect

Oh yes! As that Rio cop explained to the exceptionally talanted Acme, perfect communication comes when words and design work together. Now, let’s hope that the England team gel as well as Sam and I did when they take to the pitch in next month’s World Cup.

Let’s hope for Gol! Gol! Gol! (as they say in Rio!) And before that, there are two more episodes of Welcome to Rio to watch over the next couple of weeks…

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

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The Gloucestershire Copywriter’s guide to inspiring creativity

The Nailsworth-based WinBiz networking group has just announced its forthcoming (Thursday 10 July 2014) quarterly evening meeting. I’m very excited because Helen Westendorp of Treehouse Partners Ltd, the Gloucestershire-based creative-thinking consultants, will be our guest speaker.

treehouse

We’ve been primed to come along with problems that need solving, open minds and colourful clothes. But in the meantime (and following on nicely from last week’s ‘copywriter’s shelfie‘, I got thinking about some of the books in my library that have been helpful when my creativity as a Gloucestershire copywriter needed a boost.

Creativity sources from the Gloucestershire Copywriter’s library

I read my first Tony Buzan book longer ago than I care to remember. Buzan is a master of reworking his basic ideas into an unceasing flow of books to complement his mind-mapping empire. Good for him! Those basic ideas are good and his books are fascinating and inspirational – worth the price just for the beautifully reproduced examples of mind maps. I recently picked up a bargain-priced pre-owned copy of Mind Maps for Business. If you’re new to mind-mapping, it’s worth a pop, particularly when you can get a second-hand copy so cheaply on Amazon.

Creative Confidence

A book that’s currently sitting in my (scarily large) to-read pile is Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley. This came highly recommended and I’m looking forward to getting started on it. The solid five-star Amazon rating speaks volumes – as does David Kelley’s reputation among Stanford, California’s academics and the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial set. What works well there should work well for one of the copywriters in Cheltenham! Writing this has spurred me on to read it when I have finished my current bedside reading (Isaac Asimov’s autobiographical I, Asimov, Victor O. Schwab’s How to Write a Good Advertisement and Designing Quality Technical Information (Gretchen Hargis et al).

Creativity books that inspire the Gloucestershire Copywriter

Creativity books that inspire the Gloucestershire Copywriter

Where good ideas come from

Back to another book that I have already read: Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From, which I devoured during a week-long spring break in Marrakesh a couple of years ago. This is a good introduction to Johnson’s substantial body of work. The basic themes of the book are that ‘connected’ minds work better than single minds, where you think can be more important than what you think, and that the best ideas come from building on the ideas of other people. From MIT’s legendary Building 20 to present-day Apple, this is an inspiring read in one sitting or as something you dip into.

 Thinkertoys

Lastly, I must mention Michael Michalko’s Thinkertoys, a veritable creativity toolbox (or should that be toybox) that is never far from meThinkertoys is packed with hundreds of hints and tips to open your mind when you are wrestling with an apparently insoluble problem. Again, you could read this in one go, but it lends itself perfectly to use as a creativity-thinking first-aid kit.

Thinkertoys: from the Gloucestershire Copywriters creativity library

Instant creative inspiration for copywriters or anyone else. for that matter…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, if you need a boost of creativity, and you are based in Gloucestershire or surrounding counties, come along to WinBiz at The Egypt Mill, Nailsworth, on the evening of 10 July 2014 – or get over to Amazon or your favourite bricks and mortar bookshop for a copy of one of my recommended books.

And if you want some creative marketing, PR, technical or website copywriting

 

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

The Gloucestershire Copywriter’s shelfie …

The selfie is dead – long live the shelfie!

According to a recent piece in The Guardian, selfies may have been the thing in 2013, but pictures of bookshelves are now much more interesting. Others are already on the shelfie bandwagon (or should that be bookshelf?) started by Instagram, including Radio 2’s Simon Mayo and the New York Public Library.

copywriting shelfie

The Gloucestershire Copywriter’s shelfie

As part of my continuous professional development, I read a lot around copywriting, web and SEO copywriting, PR writing, technical communication, branding and other topics relevant to my craft.

So here’s part of this Cheltenham copywriter’s reference library – my reference shelfie. It’s the perfect complement to over 30 years’ practical, real-world experience in sales, marketing, technical writing, PR, and of course in-house and freelance copywriting.

Now, please tell me about the most useful writing books on your reference shelf.

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

MyBizCard woes – anyone else had the same experience?

Have you been asked to complete a MyBizCard.co review for someone? Were you tempted to register yourself and give MyBizCard access through LinkedIn?

Despite being super-cautious about who I sign up with – and up to my ears in work as a very busy Cheltenham copywriter – I was tempted when a trusted contact asked me to do a review. It looked like a good idea so I registered. And then I gave MyBizCArd access to LinkedIn. And yes, then I thought it would be a good idea to contact some of my LinkedIn connections to ask for a review.

And then, like opening Pandora’s box, things started to go awry. First, the site ignored my selected list of contacts and approached ALL my LinkedIn contacts for a review. That was embarrassing because I haven’t done copywriting work for many of them… To add insult to injury, some of the approach emails showed other connections copied in. If that was you, please accept my sincere apologies. It wasn’t my intention.

The penultimate annoyance  came when I discovered that MyBizCard doesn’t show more than three recommendations– and my copywriting clients have been good enough to respond in their droves .

And now, after I and many of my contacts have gone to the trouble to contact each other and respond, the last straw. MyBizCo won’t let me or anyone else see any but the most recent three ratings unless I sign up for their upgrade at $99!

All very dubious indeed. I could say something stronger…

Have you had the same experience? Please tell me what happened to you when you engaged with MyBizCard.co.

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

Dru yoga comes to a copywriter’s rescue…

It’s been a week or so now since we did Airbuses and barking dogs. Forgive me for the longer than usual break, but two things have conspired to make blogging a mightier-than ever challenge. Life as a Cheltenham copywriter would have been a whole lot more difficult if it hadn’t been for the generous help of a neighbour who teaches Dru Yoga.

First, there’s been a very welcome rush of work requiring quotes – and writing! That’s a good problem. Spring is well and truly sprung and several projects that have been in the pipeline for a while have finally gone live. I’ve got SEO copywriting, client case studies, website product and category page writing and more on the go at the moment. All my favourite stuff. Lovely!

But circumstances have conspired to make looking after clients and getting work done harder than usual. Last week, some thieving toe-rags decided to vandalise (or try to steal) the copper wires in my telephone exchange here in Cheltenham. Nicking copper has to be the big growth industry around here – as elsewhere in the UK at the moment.  Anyway, the result was that several hundred Cheltenham properties have been phone-less since the middle of last week. That’s never happened before…

Combine the two events and you’ll understand why being a Cheltenham copywriter has been less than easy since 27/3/13. BT says the phone line will be fixed by tonight, but the day’s nearly over and it ain’t working yet.

The last couple of days have been made easier by the generosity of one of my neighbours, Dru Yoga practitioner Karan Walsh. Karan very kindly let me access her Wireless-Internet. It hasn’t been ideal, because I’ve had to work on the 15-inch screen confines of my laptop, but it’s been a whole load better than trying to work with an old dial-up connection as I did for the first few days… Thank you Karan.

‘Glacial’ is the word that comes to mind. How did we ever manage back in the old days?

So, by way of a thank you to Karan, here’s a link to her Dru Yoga in Cheltenham page on yogahub. She’s a great yoga instructor and passionate as anything about the Dru variety. If you’ve never tried yoga, give it a whirl (Mrs H did and loves it).

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in getting copywriting off your to-do list, please contact me. I’ll write while you go to Karan’s yoga class!

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.