What is the bl**p is copywriting and why do I need it?

What is a copywriter?Questions I get asked all the time, especially by well-meaning family members, include: ‘What’s copywriting? Is it different from just writing? Does it mean you copy stuff? I could do that!’

Surprisingly, copywriting doesn’t involve copying things. Oh, the joys of the English language and our misleading phrases. A copywriter is someone who writes copy, particularly for advertisement or publicity releases. Copywriting is any words you see outside of a novel, book or article; whether it’s on websites, brochures, leaflets, posters, adverts, blogs, social media content and press releases.

Most people know the importance of having an online presence as a business. But you may not have analysed what you need to create that great website.  You want it to look and sound professional, but how you do that? By having clear and impactful words alongside great images.

Writing vs Photos – This means war!

What is copywriting and why do I need it?When it comes to photography, we all seem to know what we’re doing. We may not be able to take a great photo, but most people can tell the difference between an amateur or professional photography. You can tell when a photo’s blurry or badly framed. Although you might not be able to analyse why one photo is better than the other you will still know which one looks best.

Writing is different. Words are much more subjective, and when used well they become invisible. Good writing is often the last thing on people’s minds when trying to promote their business or project, and most cannot see the difference between good and bad writing.

What is good copywriting?

Good copywritingGood copywriting, like good photography, should be immediate and emotive. Yes, even writing that is selling a product or service. It should inform the reader, make them trust you and want to keep talking to you. Imagine meeting someone new at a party.  You want to make a good impression. You might share information that you think they’ll find interesting. You might shape your language to find a common interest or show your identity.

Here are a few pointers to think about when creating good copywriting for your website:

  • Why are they there? Your website isn’t a suspense story, share vital information at the top of the page.
  • The tone of voice: Do you want to appear formal or informal? Friendly and talkative or an expert in your field? Think about your audience and the impression you want to make.
  • Your personality: Do you want to appear as an individual or a group? You may want your website to be more personal, as though you’re talking directly to your reader, perhaps with humour or slang you would use in real life. Or do you want to appear as a business speaking in the third person and using industry jargon?
  • Readability: Do you know the average age and language level of your audience? The length of sentence, word length, the number of syllables and paragraph length, can affect how easy your website is to read.

Why do I need copywriting?

good copywritingFirst impressions matter. Think about meeting someone for the first time. You want them to feel happy to have met you and wanting to talk to you again – or if you’re anything like me you will. The words you use to communicate are important to how your customer or audience will feel about you and remember you. Through our choice of language, we reveal our knowledge, upbringing, prejudices, intentions, aggressions, world view – I could go on.

A carefully crafted introductory paragraph for your website can affect how your readers respond to you. Whether you’re running a business, at the beginning of your start-up journey or managing a project, think carefully about the words you use to represent your identity. The right words can have a powerful effect.

Looking for help with your writing?

Need help with your writing?If you want help with writing for your website or marketing materials, here I am! Contact me for a copywriting quote.

Say hello on Twitter and tell me what you think of my blog: @NiciCopywriter

Website copywriting for a jewellery designer

Judith Peterhoff Jewellery Logo

BoulBoulle Stacking BanglesI recently completed a copywriting project for a new business: Judith Peterhoff Jewellery. Judith asked me to produce SEO website copywriting and product descriptions. Her website is aimed at the luxury handmade jewellery market and showcases her new collections and bespoke services.

The SEO website copywriting brief

Ready to wear jewelleryI met with Judith in London to discuss her copywriting needs. She asked for copywriting for each page of the website, including Home, About Me and Bespoke Services. She also wanted me to edit the product description of each jewellery item. Each page needed to be optimised with jewellery-related key words to improve her search engine ratings (SEO copywriting).

Judith wanted the writing to have a personal, conversational and direct style. She wanted the colour and personality of her pieces to shine through in the tone of her website. I asked Judith questions about her customers, aims, USP and desired writing style. We established that her customers tend to be women in their late 20’s – 40’s with a love of unique statement jewellery. Men of the same age purchase her items as special gifts.

The website copywriting process

I wrote the pages in a first-person, conversational tone, using ‘me’ and ‘I’ instead of the company name. I referred to the customers as ‘you’ rather than ‘the customer’ to create a direct and informal style. The copy not only showcases the details of her jewellery, such as the materials and gems but also what inspires her pieces. We were keen to include personal details to show how unique her items are.

Bespoke family pendantHer BoulBoulle collection, for example, which features delicate beads of precious metals, is inspired by her mothers maiden name which means ‘big ball small balls’. These sorts of detail give the website a conversational tone-of-voice and highlight what is different about Judith’s pieces. One of my favourite pieces is her bespoke handmade family pendant which she made for the arrival of a baby. It’s made with twists of delicate wire in three different tones to represent each family member – a sweet and subtle way to personalise an item.

The copywriting for her bespoke services landing page detailed her USP: step-by-step updates to the customer, including photos and videos of the jewellery making process. She wanted to showcase her ability to meet any commission. So, we also produce a blog post detailing how she personalised bespoke pieces and the customer’s story behind them.

Owl Alternative Engagement RingI worked jewellery related keywords into each page and product description to ensure prime search engine optimisation. The keywords were chosen based on trendy jewellery items, such as ‘stacking bangles’ and ‘charm bracelets’ and popular materials such as ‘rose gold’ and ‘black zirconia’.

I sent the website copywriting to Judith in Word.doc files. We made a few tweaks based on Judith’s preferences. Once Judith was happy with the details, tone-of-voice and key words, she uploaded the text to her WordPress site. I checked the website pages to ensure keywords and hyperlinks were in the prime positions.

Browse Judith’s colourful jewellery collections and read the copy. You might even enjoy this blog about an owl-inspired bespoke alternative engagement ring.

Judith Peterhoff Jewellery

Judith Peterhoff JewelleryJudith Peterhoff is a one-woman jewellery designer-maker based in North London. She hand-makes ready-to-wear and bespoke jewellery items, including rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Her designs are colourful and elegant made with precious metals and gems.

Let’s work together

If you’re a start-up business or looking to refresh your website I can help. Contact me for a website copywriting quote or drop me an email. 

Copywriting at its best

India copywritingI love collecting quirky, misphrased copywriting and my recent trip to India was a great source of inspiration. Copywriting blunders can sometimes be witty, poetic or even sentimental.

Have you ever heard of the concept of found poetry? It’s a poem that’s made by taking words and phrases from other sources and reframing them, by changing the structure or adding and deleting lines, giving it new meaning. This is what got me interested in the concept of found copywriting. I wonder what compelling copywriting can we create if we re-use copy from other sources and give it new context?

Found copywriting I found my favourite piece of copywriting in the Himalayan mountains on a recent trip to India. A road sign that begged: ‘Be gentle on my curves’. You can interpret this a multitude of ways – kinky, sweet or sentimental. Taken in context, you can work out what it means: the curve of the road, but in English, we don’t often use the word curve to refer to a bend in a road. What really makes it funny, though, is the personality that the words attributed to the road sign. The request to ‘be gentle’ is polite, a personified request, and the phrase ‘my curves’, implies that the road sign has a body or shape of its own that is capable of sensation. 

Found copywriting in IndiaThis is what I love about copywriting and words – how easy it is to interpret them in a number of ways. The meaning of words not only depends on formal definition but also the context, tone of voice, and the reader’s personal history, experience and perhaps even mood. Words are so easy to misuse, manipulate or misinterpret. That’s why we must be careful with them – or be gentle on them. I’m in the process of turning my favourite found copywriting into a found poem, so watch this space. I’ll share it with you when it’s ready.

What’s the funniest copywriting you’ve seen and where? Let me know in the comments below.

Follow me on Twitter for more copywriting updates.

New read for my #bookclub. Here’s to a week of learning about the financial crisis!


New read for my #bookclub. Here’s to a week of learning about the financial crisis! Wish me luck!

Darling Baby Mine by John de St Jorre


Darling Baby Mine by John de St Jorre is out today. I’m biased, because I editing the book, but it’s a fascinating literary memoir that deserves to be read.

It’s about John’s search for his mother, with nothing but a memory of her smoking to keep him company. Her identity is a secret and she’s mostly been wiped from the family tree. When his father dies, in John’s later life, he finally managed to find his mother. She’s living in a mental asylum, where she has been for most of his life, and their relationship starts there.

It’s been one of my favourite projects to work on due to such a heart-wrenching true story but also such an easy-going and professional author. I love this book. Check it out here. 

#ComfortReading


#ComfortReading

My sunday morning snuggly read to help me get out of bed. Accompanied with coffee, sunshine and sunday morning music.

City of books, city of readers

thelastenchantments:

“London – city of books, city of readers…” – The Last Enchantments

The Mechanic

A new short story from one of my favourite writers. 

‘You’re already fifteen minutes late to pick me up. I’m standing in the front hall in my baby-doll dress and prairie boots, pretending to inspect a photograph of my young grandmother releasing a seagull from her sandy hand, when Dad comes in from his office. He scans me up and down. “Boots? It’s summer, doll."’

Read more of The Mechanic

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe

I’m currently reading Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe

How I started reading: celebrating #InternationalLiteracyDay

I struggled as a kid to read. I was later diagnosed with dyslexia but at the time I just knew that books weren’t that fun, except of course when they were read in my mothers melodramatic voice, particular for Roald Dahl’s The Witches. I struggled over each word, and because of this could see nothing more than ink on paper laid out in a confusing manner that I was somehow expected to read. I was jealous and felt stupid as my friends rushed ahead, reading the Goosebumps books and in turn the Point Horror series, having conversations that I wasn’t able to join in with. 

The first book I remember getting lost in is The Tale of Jeremy Vole by Stephen Lawhead. It was the first time words on a page were able to translate into images in my head. I could close my eyes and watch the vole swim down the river, surrounded by weeds and the muddy river bank. I can’t remember if I re-read the story again and again, but that image in my head is so strong it feels like a scene from a film. It was the first time I could escape to another world in my own head, translated from ink on paper. 

The second book I remember getting addicted to is Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. It was a gift from my Aunty, and I would curl up at night under my bedsheets, desperate to finish the story before I went to bed. Inevitably I would fall asleep and dream the rest of the story, as if they were my real friends in my own life. I wanted some of that adventure in my real life, and some of that bravery too.  

Reading gives us the freedom to imagine possibilities, to escape our own lives and to learn how to empathise with others. Reading reminds us that we live in a diverse world, that our story is just one of many. Reading is this and so much more; it’s opportunity that we all should have access to. 

Happy #InternationalLiteracyDay people, embrace reading. 

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