Tag Archives: freelance copywriting

Cheltenham copywriter asks Gloucestershire managers: are you robbing yourselves?

I was listening to Erik Fisher’s excellent productivity podcast, Beyond the To-do List, in the car as I drove back to Cheltenham across the Cotswolds yesterday afternoon. His guest was social media and content strategy guru Jay Baer. Something Jay said resonated with my recent observations about the role of freelance copywriters – and sent an important reminder to business owners and managers in Gloucestershire and elsewhere.

Are you robbing yourself of opportunity?

Baer said: ‘You need to do only the things that you are uniquely qualified to do. If you’re doing things that other people on your team can do, you’re robbing yourself of opportunity.’

This quote came in the context of growing an organisation’s social media presence through blogging and podcasts and suchlike. Baer drew on his own experience as he grew his own social media interests and was making the point that with only so much time and a lengthening list of things to do, you should concentrate on those where you can make a unique contribution to your organisation. Put another way, you should think carefully before you burn time on things you can’t do so well (or don’t enjoy doing) – like copywriting, your accounts or designing your website.

It all comes down to time, skills and inclination

I’ve been saying this for years, and seeing the consequences when it is ignored. Too often, websites sit idle while managers struggle to craft effective website or SEO copy. Much needed brochures remain unwritten because other urgent business tasks get in the way. And client case studies remain just an idea because no-one has the time to research and write them. It’s a shame, when it is so easy to get all of these jobs done and working for you.

Those of you who have heard me speak at business networking or other meetings will know that my elevator pitch includes the following lines: ‘I craft the words that you don’t have the time, the specialist skills or the inclination to do yourself. I get vital copy off your to-do list and out in the marketplace where it can work for you.’

Identify what you do best and stick at it

Time is a factor, so it pays to identify what you do best and stick to it. That’s why many marketeers (who are fine copywriters) will appoint a freelance writer. Doing so frees them up to do what they do best. And to do what makes best use of their time when their hourly rate is a lot more than a good copywriter’s. Besides, they often find it exceptionally hard to ring fence a few hours a week for concentrated creativity.

Clients are often amazed how quickly a skilled freelancer can get a project moving and deliver results –  often after the job has stalled for weeks or months. And of course, as a copywriter I bring professional skills and love writing – not everyone does.

That’s why I write day-in and day-out – so you don’t need to. To do anything else would be robbing myself of the opportunity to do what I do best.

‘Crime prevention’ begins when you hire a skilled freelancer

Are you robbing yourself of the opportunity to make the most of your unique skills by struggling with copywriting or something else? It’s a crime when you could be outsourcing the work to a specialist?  Don’t be a victim and don’t let that copy stay unwritten. Whether you need a graphic designer, an accountant or a wordsmith, ‘crime prevention’ begins by hiring talent and freeing your time for more of what you do best.

Got a favourite productivity podcast I should know about? Please share.

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

Steve, Seth, Mike and a Cheltenham copywriter

Last Friday I attended a free training seminar by Steve Buiskool at Sandler Training in Cheltenham (even us copywriters in Cheltenham are allowed out occasionally). The seminar was on how to avoid giving away consultancy for free during the sales process.

Steve was good, very good. For starters, he disproved the old adage that free things are always low value. In three hours I got some great input that topped up my technical sales knowledge. It was also a good opportunity to network with other attendees. And had I wanted to indulge, there was a big basket of Wagon Wheels and Kit Kats beside the coffee…

Steve broke with convention and gave us his feedback form early on to demonstrate an interesting point about filtering out the serious nos to your approach at an early stage. The logic? This leaves you free to focus on prospects with whom what you say really resonates.

This idea, manifest in the big, bold ‘YES’, ‘NO’, ‘THINK ABOUT IT’ on Steve’s feedback form, struck a chord with me. That’s because, the night before, I’d been reading Seth Godin’s Small is the New Big. In particular, the section titled ‘“Maybe,” getting people not to say’ (page 131).

It’s an interesting tale of a saleswoman who flies across North America to make a sales call on a major company. She battles with indecisiveness in a corporation led by a business visionary and can’t get the buying team to say either ‘yes’ or ‘No’ to a sure-fire winning proposal. Eventually, she leaves without the sale but with, as Godin explains, a great lesson on how to make change happen (or not) in organisations. I’ll say no more than to urge you, if you haven’t already done so, to read Godin’s book and enjoy this piece.

And while you’re at it, do read the rest of the book. It’s clear to see why Godin has earned his reputation. Long or short, each of the book’s pieces is a gem – not least, a few wise words for every B2B copywriter:

Business-to-business marketing is just marketing to consumers who happen to have a corporation to pay for what they buy.

The quality of Godin’s thinking and writing hit a note with me too and reminded me of the mentoring I got from Mike Rigby at MRA nearly 10 years ago. As I’ve said elsewhere, Mike’s coaching, guidance and passion for editing, editing and editing have served me well ever since.

So that’s how Steve, Seth and Mike resonated with me in the last week. If you haven’t already done so, buy yourself a copy of Small is the New Big (I got a pre-owned copy for a penny plus postage on Amazon).

Then see what resonates with you.

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

A few words for aspiring freelance Cheltenham copywriters

I was dead chuffed to be mentioned in a recent blog post by Bristol-based public relations guru Robert Fenner of Lyon Communications. Based on a conversation over dinner at Nailsea’s Posh Spice restaurant, he identified us as ‘in-betweenies’. That makes us members of a generation whose careers have bridged traditional ‘hard copy’ and online digital worlds – and who have the skills of both.

The challenges facing young, aspiring copywriters

It was great to see Robert thirty-plus years after last meeting at Cambridge. Our catch-up came after I attended one of his excellent DIY PR training seminars with Business West. Thinking about the differences between us in-betweenies and today’s young blood got me thinking about the challenges facing youngsters coming into copywriting.

Decades of sales, marketing and writing underpinned going freelance

As someone who’s probably among the more experienced copywriters in Cheltenham, it’s easy to take for granted the decades of sales, marketing and writing experience that underpinned my decision to go freelance in 2006.

Although I’ve always enjoyed writing and wrote regularly as part of my earlier sales and marketing work, it took me the best part of 15 years to get into copywriting full-time. And when I went freelance I was fortunate to have several years of valuable copy creation experience on top of my education in the University of Sales & Marketing life.

 Many of today’s graduates are considering freelancing

But what of today’s graduates? We all know it’s tough for young people to get into copywriting. At the same time, it’s clear that many of them, unable to get employment, are trying alternative directions – including freelancing.

Hardly a month passes without getting an email enquiry from a graduate looking for work experience, shadowing or a placement. Because one of my USPs is that I don’t subcontract or employ anyone, I can’t offer work. And for other reasons, shadowing isn’t viable either. So I do the next best thing and draw on my experience to offer support and advice.

What’s the answer?

So what’s the answer if you’re a twenty-something with a good arts degree, limited work experience and a hunger for a copywriting career? Despite the current economic climate, this Cheltenham copywriter firmly believes the ideal route is still to get a job in a quality marketing environment. It’s a great way to learn, to broaden your marketing and business perspectives, and to get specific sector knowledge.

 Everyone should work in a pure sales role

I also believe that everyone who aspires to a career in copywriting should work in a pure sales role at some point. Armed with that, newbie copywriters are in a much stronger position to progress as employees or take the plunge into freelance copywriting life.

Whether you’re employed or not, the next thing I suggest is to do some pro bono work for a charity or similar organisation. Smaller regional charities should jump at the offer of some enthusiastic volunteer support. Complement this with blogging or work on your own website and your getting valuable experience and creating valuable portfolio content.

It’s never too early to start building your network, especially among friends, family and their contacts who already know of you. The key thing is to find a way to write: regularly, enthusiastically and with passion.

 Build industry and sector knowledge

At the same time, use the Internet and other reference sources to build knowledge of the main industries and business sectors. That way you’ll be up to speed when a freelance opportunity arises. And if you have a sector specialism (perhaps from part-time work you did while studying), build on that too.

It’s hard to take the freelancing plunge and doubly challenging when you don’t have the years of solid experience that we in-betweenies have built up. But if you’re determined to make it, have a modicum of raw ability and are prepared to study, network and take responsibility for your future, I’ve no doubt that you can craft a rewarding freelance career.

We’re sure the future of copywriting is in good hands

It took me a couple of decades to get to my life’s work in a freelance capacity. But it can be done and the future of our industry is counting on you and your peers. When the in-betweenies like Robert and I have put away our pens and keyboards to watch the sunset from our rocking chairs, we’re sure that freelance copywriting will be in safe hands.

And they could be yours!

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