Tag Archives: gloucestershire copywriters

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.

Professional copywriters in Cheltenham aren’t the only source of inspired copy

Just before Christmas, I was seeking a few bottles of seasonal cheer on the web page for Majestic Wine Warehouse in Cheltenham when I read an inspired piece of do-it-yourself, non-professional copywriting by one of the store team, trainee manager Jamie:

Wine: it’s just a bunch of grapes. Like opera is just music and art just brushstrokes on the wall. To some it is. But for me, it is all of those things. It thrills, entertains and even saddens like an opera. It is the manifestation of man’s (and woman’s) ultimate creativity and expression akin to the walls of the Louvre and the Uffizi. It is place, time and life picked, crushed, nutured and bottled. I love it. I also like beer.

Although I’m not a great fan of beer, I liked this for the vivid picture it paints of wine appreciation. I’m no wine expert either. That’s why I trust the Majestic team’s advice – and they haven’t let me down yet. Jamie’s words seemed to capture the essence of good wine beautifully.

Later, after placing my order, I asked whether he had professional writing training and experience.  Aside from writing a few reviews on the Majestic site, he admitted, he hadn’t. All the more credit to him.

Impressive writing surfaces all over the place and it needn’t come from the pen or the keyboard of professional copywriters. However, where we do have an edge is in our ability to handle large volumes of copy, across a wide range of subjects and market sectors. And because we write day in and day out we’re usually quicker too.

Jamie found time to pen the words above. However, too often, as a Cheltenham copywriter, I see that clients don’t have the time, the specialist skills or even the inclination to craft their own copy. And where they do have writing ability, as many marketing people do, they often face other demands on their time. Demands that make it hard to find and protect the time needed to work creatively on much-needed marketing, website, technical or PR writing.

And that’s where, just as Jamie and his colleagues use their skills to help me choose my seasonal wine, I use mine to help organisations get vital copywriting off the to-do list and out in the market where it can sell, persuade and inform.

Just a thought when that deadline is approaching or you need some inspired web content in 2013.

Cheers!

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

Season’s Greetings from Al, your Gloucestershire copywriter

Since becoming one of the freelance copywriters in Cheltenham in 2006 I haven’t sent hard copy seasonal greetings – my small gesture towards the environment. Instead, I make a donation to a favourite charity. Those of you who know me well are aware of the ongoing challenge that Alzheimer’s Disease poses in Jan and my lives. It’s a heartbreaking disease. That’s why, once again, I’ll be donating to Alzheimer’s Research UK instead of sending cards.

Being able to freelance from home has given me precious flexibility to support Jan as we’ve looked after her mother over the last few years. If you’ve entrusted copywriting to me in 2012, thank you again for helping to make this possible. If we haven’t yet worked together, or if we haven’t worked together for a while, I look forward to doing so – again, or for the first time.

However we’ve made contact, please accept my heartfelt season’s greetings. Whatever the season means to you and your family, I wish you an enjoyable break and a happy, peaceful, successful 2013.

Season's Greetings 2012 from Al Hidden Copywriter
is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Copywriting, like helicopters, can be cost-effectively repurposed

lamalandingWould you like to fly with us?’ asked the orange suited pilot in heavily accented English as the cloud cleared over Bergun and we finished our morning coffee and Birchermüesli high in Switzerland’s Albula valley. I’d never flown in a helicopter, let alone a working Aerospatiale Lama like the one that was being used for helilogging that October in the late 1980s.

For a moment I imagined every fiery exploding chopper I’d ever seen in Bond movies, and how there was no way my travel insurance would cover me if worst came to worst. Then I said yes, and spent the next few days in the left-hand seat of HB-XND as we flew timber from the forested God da Speschas to the road head at Latsch. It was an experience that fired my passion for the ‘angry palm trees’ and led me to various helicopter-related writing in the years ahead: a technical communications project on safe boarding procedures for light helicopters; a helicopter-centred novel; and SEO website copy for a helicopter business since becoming one of the copywriters in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

llamacockpit

Those autumn days in Graubünden remain among my treasured memories from dozens of walking trips in Switzerland. Now, when I can’t be in my favourite alpine republic, I follow Swiss life, language and culture through radio, reading and the online SF1 Videoportal. Imagine my surprise then, when, more than 20 years after my Swiss heli adventure,  I spotted HB-XND in new (Air Zermatt instead of Air Grischa) colours during an episode of Die Bergretter, a Swiss documentary series about helicopter rescue in Canton Wallis.

And the connection with copywriting? Often with copy, rewriting saves money. Just as that Aerospatiale Lama was refurbished and reliveried for a second productive life with Air Zermatt, so tired written content can be renewed and repurposed. Okay, nothing’s as perfect as ‘from scratch’  copy, but when budgets are tight, editing and rewriting existing copy can prove an attractive, cost-effective option.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just pulling copy from an old brochure and putting it online. Different media and applications require different copywriting skills and approaches.  That’s where a skilled copywriter can help. And how, just as HB-XND got a second life, it’s possible to re-use and reinvigorate old copy or rough drafts.

lama2

 

Aerospatiale Lama HB-XND flies on, doing sterling service. And with a little bit of professional input, so can your old copy – at a fraction of the cost of new  ‘from-scratch’ copywriting.

 

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

Cheltenham copywriters write poetry too

 

 

 

And now for something completely different.

I was rummaging through my digital files and came across a poem that I wrote over a decade ago, years before I was one of the copywriters in Cheltenham. It reminded me that a bit of unashamed creative expression can be very good for us. It makes a refreshing change from firmly focused commercial or technical writing (I was working for a Bristol technical publications firm when I penned the poem that follows).

Reading ‘C’ ‘ for the first time in so long, I was reassured by how it still felt as fresh as it had when I first wrote it. So here, for the first time on the Interweb, it is:

C

Where are you going today?
Climbing through the dawn’s first glow
While we still sleep on earth below
You’re brighter than the sparkling pearls
Of airfield dew that fall
From rushing wings
You’re gone; you’re on your way

Leave breaking dawn; embrace the day
Outshine the sun
And show the sky, so easily
What beauty truly means
‘fore making happy love with clouds
That can never match your charms

Bright the winter sky may be
But I would say
If silky clouds could only see, or know
How fortunate they are
To spend their days with you, their friend
Above the fields and seas

All things must end, not least today
As evening comes, and you return
To land as twilight fights in vain
The fall of night’s soft cloak
Upon the shoulders of the day
Still you shine on and I, like clouds
Get joy from simply sharing space with you.

© 2001 Al Hidden

 

So there you go. A tiny insight into another side of this Gloucestershire copywriter. And now back to the newsletter content that I’m just finalising, the 35 pages of new SEO copy I’m crafting for an animal charity, and the case study I’ve got to complete for another client.

From the wistful contemplation of aviation and clouds to the gritty realities of client case studies in a paragraph… Versatility. One of my strong points. Probably a good thing too, because Andrew Motion will hardly be quaking in his boots at my poetic efforts.

Never mind. I’m pleased with it – even after all those years it still says what I set out to say in 2001. What do you think?

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

Can one be too intelligent as a Cheltenham copywriter?

I was listening to Anthony Davis on LBC 97.3 last night. He was discussing intelligence, and a new US study that suggests human intelligence peaked several thousand years ago and that we’ve been on an intellectual and emotional decline ever since.  Among his callers were several who suggested that ignorance was bliss and that intelligent people lead the most complicated lives. Apparently life’s much easier if you are a bit thick.

It got me thinking whether life as a freelance copywriter in Cheltenham would be easier with less intelligence and less worry about the things I care about.

Things like juggling to keep appointments and make calls for interviews exactly when I say I will. And delivering copy to the agreed deadlines. And managing time so all my clients’ projects get done when I’ve promised them. Maybe I should be a bit more laid back. After all, people are understanding…

Maybe life would be simpler if I didn’t agonise about writing style and punctuation details that some clients often don’t even notice – and wonder what I’m fussing about. What does ‘disinterested’ really mean these days, should I use double quotes or singles, and will my client hate me because I use questions at the start of a web page to engage the human reader? Perhaps it would be bliss if I didn’t anguish over such things.

Perhaps someone less intelligent, less thinking and less committed to what they do wouldn’t worry about doing another draft because they could see the benefit of a bit more editing. Maybe, I should finish earlier and go gawp at I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!

Or maybe not. Because the intelligence handout that I got 53 years ago seems to underpin much of what my loyal clients like about me: the attention to detail; the passion for what I do; the determination to give them excellent value; the integrity I bring to their writing…

I’ll stick with my approach and accept that life may be a bit more complicated because of it. I’m sure my clients won’t complain!

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.