Copywriting update February 2019

This is really one of those “don’t let this desolate blog make you think we’re not still working” posts.

Clearly, I’m not much of a blogger.

Well, not for myself.

I just don’t have time.

I’m too busy helping tech companies with content marketing, which involves writing lots of articles.

And I still work for a national bank on a regular basis.

Lately I’ve also worked with a couple of digital agencies on copy and content for Deloitte, Honda, Eurotunnel and Maserati.

Outside of my regular work, I’m busy pushing ProCopywriters in the right direction, and organising the 2019 Copywriting Conference. Oh, and I need to write up the results of our 2019 copywriter survey, and make sense of the 514 responses we received.

So I’m still here, and still writing copy.

Why your website isn’t enough (and how our digital marketing can help)

Your website isn’t enough.

Finding customers online is tough, and a website alone isn’t enough to drive enquiries to your inbox.

That’s why I’ve stopped just writing copy for websites.

It was too frustrating.

And it didn’t really make a difference for my clients.

Don’t get me wrong – the copy on your website is immensely important. Your copy does the hard work of appealing to potential customers, explaining your value and spurring people to take action.

Great copy is essential.

The trouble with just writing copy for websites is that it takes more than great words to do business online.

You can’t convince people to buy your stuff if nobody is finding your website.

You have to reach out.

You have to draw people in.

You have to build a bridge between your website and the world around you.

In the past, I would write copy for my clients, it would get added to their website, everyone would breathe a sigh of relief, delighted that the website was complete.

And nothing would happen for months.

Nobody would update the website.

The new social media profiles would gather dust.

The first and last article on the new blog would probably be a scintillating update about the new website.

I would inevitably check back to see how my client was doing. The new website still looks great, but there are no signs of life. No new articles. No new pages. No changes. No tweets. No updates on Facebook or LinkedIn. No emails from the company. Nothing.

My clients never had the time to manage the new channels they had created. They suddenly needed articles, social media updates, newsletters – and the skills to create and publish content for all – when they were already at capacity with their existing workload.

Digital content marketing services

Having a blog and a social media presence are no longer seen as optional components of your online activity.

Your blog gives people a window into your company – and improves your search engine performance.

Your social media channels keeps your name bubbling up in conversations.

Monthly newsletters are a simple way to remind your customers of the good work that you’re doing.

Events and webinars are a simple way to show people your products and share your knowledge – and bring people closer to your company.

And these are all things that I can help you produce.

I can work with you to create great content.

Or I can do it all.

I can generate ideas.

Write articles.

Source images.

Publish them on your website.

Share them on social media.

Create graphics.

Produce webinars.

Build and send emails.

Need help with your digital marketing? If you need someone to take these tasks of your desk, get in touch.

We’ll make your online marketing happen like clockwork.

Copywriting: my year in review

2017 has been a year full of writing, as well as some big new challenges.

My attention has been slightly divided, because although I’m a full-time freelance copywriter, I’m also running ProCopywriters, the association for commercial writers. This is incredibly rewarding and means I make contact with loads of other copywriters, it’s impossible to find the time for my own marketing.

Copywriting Conference

Managing and promoting a conference for 200 copywriters was a brand new experience. And terrifying. But the day went brilliantly and it was mostly very well received.

The attendee survey that we sent out after the event has given me tonnes of ideas for our next event. Next year will be bigger and better.

Clients and projects in 2017

In 2017 I finally put plans together to fix one of the biggest problems I’ve faced as a freelance copywriter. The problem is that I’m usually drafted in to write a specific bit of content, and then the client takes the content and does something with it. But I’m no longer involved, so I can’t advise further, nor can I help the client find traffic for their website, or promote their business on social media. With this limited remit, it’s difficult to make big changes, or to achieve big success.

In reality, I wanted to be more than just a copywriter; I want to be involved in devising and implementing marketing strategies. I want to help clients get the full potential from their website by thinking about the entire digital experience. And I believe the best way to support a business is on a regular, ongoing basis.

So this year I’ve been offering clients monthly packages. This means they can secure my time each month, and know that their blog, newsletters and social media are all taken care of. My clients get certainty, simplicity and new business leads, and I get the satisfaction of seeing my copy at work.

Some of the projects I’ve completed in 2017:

  • Maserati brochure copy
  • Medact nuclear war report
  • Cats Protection information pages
  • Barclays intranet content

Approaching a decade in business

When you start a business, you don’t know if you’ll be going for two weeks or two decades. When I started, I had no clue if freelancing would work out. So when I realised that six months had passed, and I was still going, and supporting myself and my young family, I was thrilled (and relieved). I’ve been very aware of my business anniversaries as they pass, because I’m still delighted and surprised that this big idea worked out.

Next year will be ten years since I formed Kendall Copywriting Ltd

What do freelance copywriters charge?


Copywriters’ rates vary, depending on the writer’s experience, location, portfolio, confidence and chutzpah.

The recent survey by The Professional Copywriters’ Network asked 500+ copywriters about their work and earnings.

As you can see from the graphic, there is a huge range of day rates being charged, but the average of £339 is in line with last year’s average of £337.

If you’re looking for a copywriter, remember that you generally get what you pay for. Of course, there are some great copywriters out there under-charging for what they offer, but most copywriters charging low rates are low-skilled – and may not treat their work with the same degree of professionalism that you could expect from someone charging £450.

If your project is worth doing properly, it’s worth paying a fair rate for an experienced professional who will make your life easier.

You should read the full copywriting survey from the Professional Copywriters’ Network.

January update and excuses for not blogging

Copywriting Conference 2017_small

This poor, neglected blog might seem like proof that this copywriter is AWOL.

But quite the opposite is true.

This copywriter is active and busy and very much engaged in the world of words.

It’s just that, since I took over the Professional Copywriters’ Network in 2016, I’ve been busy blogging, managing, organising and generally nudging PCN in the right direction.

Some of my favourite developments at PCN are…

Mentor Club

Peer-mentoring for copywriters. Groups of four. Everyone helps everyone. Lovely!

Copywriting survey

Not a new initiative, but I’m delighted that we can continue this survey – originally conceived by Tom Albrighton and delivered by Joanna Tidball.

Are you a copywriter?

You should take the copywriting survey now!

It’s completely anonymous, and only takes 7 minutes or so to complete. You’ll get to enjoy the results in a couple of months.

Copywriting conference

A one-day conference for all copywriters, featuring a mix of talks and workshops on subjects like:

  • Optimising copy to get more conversions
  • Pitching skills
  • How to get attention in a cluttered world
  • Convincing clients of the right language to use

Tickets are on sale from 8 February. I hope you can join us!

Copywriting Conference 2017

Help and advice for copywriters

Our growing collection of advice for copywriters

I’m still a freelance copywriter

And lately I’ve been writing employee communications, ads for TV shows, blog posts for an e-learning company – as well as working on content strategy for a national pet charity.

July update – what are we doing?

This is a quick update to explain what I’m doing these days…

In between writing copy for a bank and a software consultancy, my time is spent guiding the Professional Copywriters’ Network and producing podcasts as Our Freelance Life.

And away from work we now have a second child to contend with, so this poor blog gets rather forgotten.

I wrote an article for PCN recently that was inspired by a question I received from a freelancer via this website. They were keen to bag bigger clients, and asked if I had any advice. How can copywriters win bigger clients and bigger projects? – is the result.

I’ve also released another two episodes of Our Freelance Life. Episode two features freelance copywriter Will Hillier, who made the leap into freelancing even more challenging by combining it with a move to Berlin. Episode three features freelance web designer Sarah Evans. Have a listen!

Our Freelance Life – a new podcast for freelancers

The short version:

I’ve started a podcast for freelancers: Our Freelance Life. Have a listen! You can subscribe with Stitcher or iTunes – or any podcatcher.

The long version:

I’ve started a podcast for all kinds of freelancer. Each episode features a different freelancer, and aims to uncover how they make freelancing work for them.

Why start a podcast about freelancing?

I started freelancing in Brighton.

I didn’t realise this at the time, but I was very fortunate to be starting this adventure in a town blessed with a thriving freelance community.

Not only is Brighton full of freelancers, those freelancers are also great at getting together, sharing ideas and supporting each other.

Freelancers in (and around) Brighton have Wired Sussex, meetups for all kinds of specialisms (from Python to content strategy) and, best of all, a weekly meetup for freelancers called the Farm.

I went to the Farm before I went freelance. And the support I found there was priceless.

I was very nervous about going freelance, with good reason:

  • My first child had just been born.
  • I had no contacts.
  • I had no clients.
  • I had very little experience.
  • I had no money.

By talking to other freelancers at the Farm I got a sense of what freelancing really meant. I heard both sides of the story – the good and the bad – and was left feeling that, although freelancing came with risks, it was also a brilliant opportunity to expand my horizons.

Our Freelance Life is like chatting to other freelancers – from the comfort of your own home

Starting freelancing can be scary. Hell, it can be scary when you’re ten years in. And one of the best ways to figure out the tricky bits is to learn from others. With Our Freelance Life you get to hear directly from all kinds of freelancers so you can borrow their ideas and sidestep their mistakes. We’re not painting an unrealistic picture of freelancing – or only talking about the positives. We’re trying to share the unvarnished reality of freelancing today.

On being a noob

Starting a podcast has forced me to learn loads of new stuff. I’m still figuring out the technical aspects of podcasting – and how to be a good interviewer – so please be patient with me.

Blogging – the slow burn marketing approach


Blogging can do amazing things for a business. But it’s not a fast way to find more clients or customers.

Blogging is very effective at:

  • Building relationships with potential customers
  • Boosting the SEO performance of your website
  • Demonstrating your expertise
  • Reminding people that you exist
  • Proving that your business is a going concern…

But all this stuff takes time.

If you want overnight success, don’t bother with blogging

Faster results can be had with other marketing tactics, such as:

  • Adwords
  • Advertising
  • Direct mail
  • Email marketing

But these tactics will probably cost you more money than blogging.

And these tactics are great when you’re paying, but as soon as you turn off the cash tap, the benefits usually stop. You don’t get much residual benefit from an Adwords campaign. And while a few people might remember seeing your banner ad – or hearing your spot on the radio – as soon as you’re offline, the trickle of traffic comes to a standstill.

Blogging pays off over time

Getting a blog is like getting a dog. It’s a commitment. And you have to be prepared to care for the thing before you get one.

But if you do get a blog, and you care for it, and maintain it, and devote a little time to it every month, then it will flourish, and support you.

If you invest in your blog it will repay your efforts with new customers, more business and a greater awareness of your organisation.

Taking over the Professional Copywriters’ Network

I’m taking the reins as director of the Professional Copywriters’ Network. You may know that founder Tom Albrighton had planned to close the organisation after many years at the helm.

I didn’t want to see PCN close. PCN is our professional association. It’s our hub. It’s also a place where copywriters can find inspiration, figure out the mechanics of freelancing and learn from their peers. Copywriters need PCN.

And fortunately, with the support of an impressive team of copywriters, we can continue the work of PCN.

Our plans for PCN, at this stage, are to continue with more of the same. The fundamental aims of PCN remain the same as when Tom and Ben Locker started the organisation.

You can expect PCN to grow in the coming months and years. PCN will do more to support copywriters of all flavours, whether freelance or in-house. We want to see PCN represent copywriters and do more to make your working life a pleasure.

You can read more about this development – and our plans for the future of PCN – on the Professional Copywriters’ Network blog.


Your business doesn’t need a slogan – here’s why.

India - Sights & Culture - Tourism Slogan

Slogans are often regarded as a fundamental component of a corporate identity – an assumed marketing requirement as essential as a logo and a website.

But does your business really need a slogan? Does your business need a single snappy line to encapsulate everything you do?

I suggest that, unless you are a major corporation or engaging in a national advertising campaign, you don’t need a slogan.

Modern businesses that do most of their marketing online are better off investing in social media, great design, informative content – just about anything other than a clever phrase that is likely to baffle, bewilder and bemuse more than it attracts, persuades or sells.

Here are my arguments against slogans:

1: Taglines are typically esoteric and evocative but lacking in meaning

Evocative and inspiring slogans are wonderful things in the right context. If you’re advertising on TV, print or billboards (for example) it’s useful to capture the essence of your brand in a few memorable words that burrow into the audience’s ears.

The advertising helps to contextualise the slogan and lend it greater meaning. So those few memorable words manage to mean a great deal because your audience has been exposed to your brand and conditioned to feel an emotional response to your slogan.

This works well when your brand is a household name, or you are running a national ad campaign.

Without this contextual support your audience may not have enough background knowledge to parse the meaning of your tagline.

2: Taglines waste valuable real estate

Taglines are typically placed in the most conspicuous places. And that is usually prime real estate on websites and ads.

But why fill that precious space with a weak attempt at an evocative tagline when you could communicate something tangible?

Why give people riddles when you can give them answers?

3: You don’t have an audience to entertain

If most of your marketing happens online then you don’t have the same kind of audience that you might have with TV, radio and outdoor ads (where the audience may be stationery or otherwise restricted).

Audiences online are not really audiences. They’re participants, and there’s nothing to stop them from clicking away to something better, something they can understand and something that leads them towards action.

4: You don’t have the budget to make your slogan meaningful

The world’s most famous slogans have been battered into our brains through repetition. Ads for Nike, L’Oreal, VW and Apple have a chance to soak into our souls because we’ve lounged through hundreds of hours of TV ads and had the copy hover over our heads on the tube. We’ve gazed sleepily at soft pictures in magazines and caught earworms off radio ads.

Big brands have memorable, meaningful slogans because they’ve invested billions in making them meaningful.

5: Taglines waste time

If someone gives fives seconds of their life to skim your website, consider yourself lucky.

There are millions of websites that can’t even get a cursory glance from a disinterested consumer.

You’ve only got a few seconds to make a great impression – so why waste those precious seconds by making someone decode your half-baked, ill-advised, quasi-cryptic, pseudo-mystical slogan which, in attempting to communicate everything, manages to communicate nothing?

The caveat…

There is still space for clever, witty, evocative and emotionally-charged copy online. Marketers still need conceptual copy to adorn social media campaigns and to capture attention on landing pages.

And slogans can still be helpful branding and marketing devices – as long as they communicate the fabric of your business as well as the fashion.

How do you choose a freelance copywriter?



How do you choose a freelance copywriter or a content agency?

It’s a tricky choice to make. But here are a few things to consider – in no particular order…

1: Personality

Do you like the copywriter, or the managers at the content agency? Will you enjoy working with them?

Personality and likeability are important factors because you’ll need to get along, especially if your project is challenging (i.e. with a tight deadline).

2: Skill

Does the writer have the skills to write great copy for your business? If you’re using a content agency, be aware that the account manager may not do the writing. Your contact might be an expert but is the writer equally qualified?

3: Experience

Direct experience of your industry isn’t always essential – and in some cases a fresh perspective can be invaluable – but sometimes you want to know that your copywriter ‘gets’ your business immediately, without you having to bring them up to speed.

Check out their portfolio and ask whether they have any relevant experience.

4: Price

It’s a terrible idea to base your choice entirely on cost, but you may have a fixed budget and need to rein in costs. It’s best to be open about your budget so you don’t waste time talking to someone you can’t afford.

5: Availability

The best copywriters are usually the busiest. So if you have an urgent project and just can’t wait, you may have to settle for a second-tier copywriter.

6: Longevity

How long has the copywriter been in business? If a copywriter has been in business for a few years it’s safer to assume that they’ll still be in business when you need them next.

7: Your needs

Some copywriters have minimum project sizes (e.g. £1000) or are only looking for ongoing client relationships. Make sure the copywriter you pick is going to be happy doing the work you need.

8: Approach

How does the copywriter tackle projects? Do they work remotely – or will they come to you? How will they get to know your organisation? How will they deliver content? How do they manage amendments? Does their approach fit with your organisation?

9: Location

Do you need a copywriter who can travel to your office? While the majority of content projects can be adequately completed remotely, there are occasions where face-to-face meetings and workshops are invaluable. Check your copywriter’s location – and whether they’re happy to travel.

Are you looking for a freelance copywriter? Get in touch to discuss your project and how we might help >>

Your ideal customer is looking for you. Will they find you?

Google Classic: Please Allow 30 Days for your Search Results (Original artist unknown) #Google

Marketing is often a process of badgering people to take an interest in stuff they don’t want to solve problems they don’t have with products they can’t afford.

Advertisers cast wide nets and end up catching all the wrong consumers. But they persist because they catch enough of the right consumers to make their methods worthwhile. And who cares about all the bycatch? It’s just collateral damage.

To my mind, inbound web marketing offers an altogether more satisfying connection between producer and consumer, a connection that’s instigated and directed by the party in need.

Web marketing flips the flow – so customers seek suppliers. And that’s an incredibly powerful difference, because…

When customers come to you, they are ready to buy

With inbound marketing, customers come to you.

Customers identify their own need and determine their preferred solution.

They search for products and services to meet their needs. They single you out as a potential supplier. They make contact. They have some questions, but because they’re already clear on their problem they have a clear sense of what they need.

And because they’ve done some searching, they know what you offer. They know how you work. Heck, they even read that blog post you wrote last week, so they have taken the time to reinforce their motivations for choosing you.

And because they came looking for you (and found your up-to-date website complete with case studies, team bios, a physical address and informative blog posts) they don’t have any doubts about your credentials or your ability to fulfil their order.

The inbound lead is ready to buy. You have less work to do – less effort to persuade them to buy. Instead of dragging a prospect reluctantly through a sale you can casually guide them to the destination that they selected.

The inbound lead has identified themselves as your ideal client – because they think you’re the ideal supplier.

The inbound lead has an immediate need for your business, and they have decided to spend money now with a business like yours.

Is your ideal customer landing at the feet of your competitor?

Customers with an immediate need for your products and services – who have a budget to spend – are looking for you.

All you need to do is make sure that your business is findable.

If your business is not findable – if your competitors are more prominent – then these promising prospects will head directly for your competitors.

Catch the perfect customer

If you’re interested in being found by your ideal customer, I may be able to help. Send me an email or give me a call.

Why front-loading is important when writing online

Writing for the web should feel as urgent as trying to de-fuse a bomb.

If you can’t get your point across quickly, the reader is going to explode. Or just stop reading.

People scan websites. Eyes flit across the page looking for something that meets their needs. People skim. They don’t kick back in their arm chairs, light a pipe and soak in your prose.

Eye-tracking research suggests that people typically scan in a vaguely F-shaped pattern (as depicted in my crude illustration below).


Front-loading means putting the important details, special information and keywords at the front of sentences, headings, paragraphs, links, list items and calls-to-action.

Put your key details at the front and your readers are more likely to discover the key messages – and less likely to get bored.

Let’s consider a few lines that are NOT front-loaded:

  • Enter our competition and win a new iPad
  • Learn how to train your dragon
  • Download documents to help you sell more cattle
  • Discover how to deal with difficult relationships

I’ve highlighted the key words in each line – these are the words that are likely to cause our reader to respond.

Clearly, it makes no sense to hide the trigger words at the end of a sentence, especially when most readers scan pages in an F-pattern.

Here are those same sentences front-loaded:

  • Win an iPad by entering our competition
  • Dragon training – we show you how
  • Sell cattle with our advice
  • Difficult relationships and how to deal with them

By moving the key words and most pertinent details to the front of a sentence, link or list item you can improve the odds of your reader seeing them.

By front-loading your copy you don’t just improve your chances of success, you improve the user’s experience by helping them find what they’re looking for.

Why I won’t be your grammar pendant*

The Egregious Sin of the Erroneous Apostrophe

Among copywriters you will find plenty of grammar pedants. It’s not surprising that people who work with words take pride in knowing the rules of language.

So you might think that I, as a professional copywriter, would be a total grammar nerd.

But I’m not.

Grammar is important, certainly, but grammar ≠ copywriting.

Copywriters must understand grammar, but it’s important to remember that copywriting is about more than writing correct English.

Copywriting is about writing compelling, interesting, clear, commanding, intriguing sentences that help organisations achieve goals.

Here’s why I prioritise effective copy over grammar:

Copywriting is about selling

Copy is there to sell, persuade, inform and entertain. Your copywriter should use words to help you achieve these goals. Clarity and correct spelling are important, but your copywriter should focus on creating an impact, getting attention, persuading an audience and inciting action.

Language can flex

The English language is an incredible beast, evolving so quickly that our dictionaries struggle to keep up. Copywriters make use of this space between canonical English and current usage – particularly in the more conceptual world of advertising. Slavish commitment to grammar can kill inspiration and leave you with dull, limp copy.

This ain’t your old-school English

Your English teacher might not approve of today’s copy. They may object to sentence fragments, split infinitives, beginning sentences with conjunctions (and, but), ending them with prepositions (about, with, by, in, on) – but these are all rules that copywriters like to break. By breaking these rules copywriters can create active, direct copy that makes a powerful connection with your audience.

Accuracy is still important

Correct grammar and spelling are still vital in all your business communications. Spelling mistakes, typos and mangled sentences can damage your organisations’ reputation. So check and double-check everything your business publishes. Your copywriter should understand grammar and they should be a stickler for the details. If your business is selling anything remotely valuable, or critical, or sensitive, then it’s doubly important that your copy is well written.

But don’t let an obsession with grammar get in the way of great copy.

*deliberate mistake

A tale of two taglines

Slogans are tricky little buggers.

It’s hardly surprising that slogans are tricky to write (and get right) because we expect so much from just a few short words. Slogans may need to sum up a brand, capture the essence of a product, or suggest a transformative experience.

So what makes a good tagline in practice? In this post I look at two slogans in action and consider what they do well and how they fail.

Exhibit A: 

2015-09-08 09.37.24 (3)


This tagline, spotted on a van, is rather mysterious: “The Total Coffee Solution”.

Unless you’re familiar with UCC Coffee, this copy doesn’t tell you exactly what the business offers. And I think that’s a missed opportunity. The tagline could have conveyed some details of the products and services offered – or a sense of the quality of those offerings. The tagline is certainly confident and authoritative, but it seems to assume the reader already knows a lot about UCC.

And we have yet another example of the word ‘solution’ used to mean just about everything (but telling us nothing). This may be a deliberate play on words because, of course, coffee is literally a solution. But I doubt it.

This company has clearly invested in their branding, but I think they’ve missed an opportunity to communicate something tangible about their business. Sure, we know they do coffee, but what kind of coffee, for what kinds of business? Do they sell beans or machines? Do they sell to cafes or corporations? What’s important to them – and what do their customers love about them?

Exhibit B:

2015-09-08 09.38.23 (2)

This sign is simple and fairly crude. And it doesn’t even include a traditional slogan – just a bald statement of facts.

But it does a good job of conveying a clear message: they offer driving lessons for young people.

The sign makes a clear offer to a well-defined audience. If you’re in the market for driving lessons then you know this might be right for you. You can look at this sign and decide if it’s relevant within 3 seconds.

The author of this sign didn’t spend hours thinking up something witty or evocative. They just wanted to communicate a message.

The verdict

High-quality branding does not guarantee results, especially if nobody can work out what you do. Your evocative or conceptual tagline might give your CEO chills but does it mean anything to the public?

Maybe you don’t care whether your identity makes sense to the uninitiated, but I think you’re wrong.

There are occasions when it’s arguably okay to be more conceptual and evocative. If you’re creating a stand for a trade show, or putting ads in specialist publications, it’s reasonable to assume that your audience already knows something about your services.

But even then you should err on the side of communication, because not everyone is an expert. Remember the grads, the newbies and the passers-by – people who aren’t yet proficient in your industry jargon but who might be future advocates for your business. You can either sell to a broad audience or you can leave these people behind.

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