So you’ve got a website. Now the work starts.

Building (or buying) a website is really just the first step. The work doesn’t end there.

Assuming that you want to be found online, you have a lot of work to do.

So, what should you be doing to ensure that your website is found by your potential customers?

1: Update your content. Look at your website regularly. Is it up-to-date and accurate?

2: Blog. If you have a blog, make sure you have a plan for updating it. Who is in charge of creating your blog content?

3: Be sociable. Share your blog posts online and join discussions with your professional community.

4: Plan for future content. What kind of information do you want to share online? How does this content support your brand or your business objectives?

5: Review and remix. Websites are easy to change, so if you discover that you need a portfolio, or case studies, or staff bios, don’t hesitate to add them. Your website can do an amazing job of reassuring your potential customers, but only if you add the right content in the right places.

Being Funny in Web Copy: A Guide to When and How

Funny Church Signs
Have you ever wondered whether it’s okay (or appropriate) to pepper your web copy with humour? How do you decide when it’s a good time to be funny?

Humour can please your audience, but it can easily offend, confuse and disappoint.

I’ve been writing copy for a few different social networks and they often need something light-hearted. After puzzling over when, where and how to inject humour into the web copy, I decided to write a sort of ‘humour style guide’ that dictates when it’s okay to use humour.

This is my own guide (use it if you like):

Good Funny

It’s good to be funny:

  • When things go wrong
  • When people don’t follow instructions
  • When you’re giving people a longer explanation of a feature (humour helps break up the educational journey)
  • When it’s appropriate (ha! Whatever that means…)

Bad Funny

It’s bad to be funny:

  • All the time (relentless attempts at humour are very tiring)
  • When people just want to get something done
  • When space doesn’t really allow
  • When it obscures meaning
  • When it complicates something that should be simple
  • When it’s forced
  • When it alienates a section of your audience

Note: this was something I mainly cooked up for MyMotor, a social network for people who love cars. And some of it arose from thinking about how to write for ArtBuzz, a micro-blogging site for art lovers.

How to Do More on the Web – Part 4

See also: P1 / P2 / P3

Part 4: Helping Searchers Find Your Site with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

People are looking for you. Every day, they go to a search engine (like Google, Yahoo or Ask) and type in the words that reflect their query. The search engine scans the internet, and offers a list of results that match their query.

If your website appears high up the list, the searcher may click on your site. If your site is the 120th result in the search results, you will probably not receive a visit from that searcher.

An overwhelming majority of people never make it to the second page of search results. This means that if you’re not on the first page, less than 20% of people will even see your website, and even fewer will actually click through to your site.

Clearly, it’s crucial to appear as high as possible in the search results whenever people are searching for an organisation like yours.

Getting Started with SEO

A good place to start is keywords. Keywords are the words that people use when searching. Your keywords may be your:

  • Company
  • Industry
  • Products
  • Services
  • Brand names
  • Activities
  • Key people
  • Common questions that people ask

Pretend that you are a potential customer. You are looking for yourself. Now think: what keywords would I use when searching for the things I provide? Make a list of all the words that you would use.

Think laterally, and remember that not everyone uses the same words to describe a thing. Consider every synonym and possible way of approaching a query.

Now, go to the Google Keyword Tool, and type in your list of keywords. Google will provide you with an extended list, including every similar term that it thinks is relevant. Bear in mind that Google is just a computer, so it may produce a few bad results.

Google’s Keyword Tool is useful for two reasons. Firstly, it helps you consider all relevant keywords, and may suggest a few that you hadn’t thought of.

Secondly, it shows the monthly volume of searches for each term. This means you can see exactly how many people are searching for each keyword – which means you can decide which keywords are worth aiming for.

A Note on Selecting Keywords

Because ranking highly in search results requires a concerted effort, you should prioritise the search terms that will bring you people who want to buy something.

So if you’re a hairdresser, there is little value in attracting a million people who are searching for hairdressing advice. Those people are not likely to be buying anything. A more profitable search term is hairdresser Brighton, as this suggests the searcher is looking for someone to cut their hair.

Pursue the keywords that will bring in relevant traffic. If a hairdresser appears #1 in search results for hair loss, there is no real benefit. The hairdresser would get lots of visits, but the visitors would not be looking for hairdressing services – making the visit pointless and without value.

Using Keywords in Your Website

Google ‘reads’ the pages of your website. If you use words like hairdresser, hair, products, beauty, conditioner, shampoo and styling, then Google will know to offer your website when people search for a hairdresser.

There are a few important places that keywords should be used:

  • Meta keyword
  • Meta description
  • Page title
  • Headings
  • Sub-headings
  • Body copy
  • Links

Meta Data

Meta data is information contained within the code of a website. It’s invisible to human visitors, but readable by search engines. Think of meta data as a signal to the search engines.

Every single page on your website should have a page title, meta keywords and a meta description. These are all opportunities to tell search engines what that page is about. Don’t be tempted to stuff keywords into these areas – just be honest and use keywords that relate to the content on that page.

On-Page Keywords

Headings and sub-headings are deemed to be important carriers of information by the search engines.

How does a search engine know what text is a heading? Because web developers put headings inside heading tags. The main heading is encased thusly:

<h1>Main Heading</h1>

The second heading uses <h2> and so on.

It’s important that, wherever possible, your headings include relevant keywords for that page. Using keywords in this way does not have to mean artificially stuffing keywords into every space available. It’s often perfectly logical to include keywords in relevant pages, because they help your human visitors to scan a page quickly, and know that it contains relevant information.

Once you have written headings and sub-headings that contain keywords, ask your web developer to make sure they are contained in heading tags.

Body Copy

The text beneath your headings is known as body copy. It’s important that this copy also contains your keywords. Don’t worry about how often your keywords are used.

Providing that your copy is clearly about the subject you are hoping to appear in search results for, and you use the language that other people use when thinking about that subject, Google will be able to interpret your website correctly.

Links and Anchor Text

It’s important to understand how search engines interpret links in your website’s pages. The important thing about every link on your website is your choice of anchor text.

Anchor text is the text that makes up a link. In this link: Jam Jars, the anchor text is Jam Jars.

When search engines ‘read’ your web pages, they read and follow links. Because my link to the website of Freeman & Harding has the anchor text Jam Jar, search engines assume that Freeman & Harding has some relation to Jam Jars.

This is a crucial point. It is very important that you understand how search engines interpret links. Every link on your website has multiple benefits. Links not only help your visitors to navigate your site, but they help search engines understand where your links are pointing.

If you use anchor text without keywords, you lose an opportunity to guide the search engines’ interpretation of your website.

Link Anchor Text Example

A hairdresser might have a link on their Home page, leading visitors to their Products page.

Good: Now view our professional range of hairdressing products

Bad: Click to view our hairdressing products

The good example contains relevant keywords, and gives search engines some context. The bad example is a wasted opportunity, unless you are hoping to rank highly for something as generic as products (which would be folly).

Links to Your Website (Backlinks)

Search engines use complicated mathematical models to calculate the relevance of websites to a searcher’s query. One piece of the equation is the number of links to your website from other sites.

These links are also known as backlinks. Search engines consider every link to your site to be an indicator of quality, on the assumption that nobody would link to your website if you had nothing good to offer. The more links your site has pointing to it, the better the search engines’ perception of your site.

This is why many website owners will beg, steal and borrow in order to gain good links to their website. Good links are valuable, and can have a significant influence on your site’s performance in search results.

Good Links, Bad Links

Not every link is good. A link to your website from a ‘bad neighbourhood’ – a part of the web populated by spammers – is not worth much, and could even lower your site’s reputation.

Links are good when they are placed in good, reputable websites. Good links are also those that use keyword-rich anchor text.

If somebody wants to link to your website, ask them to use anchor text that reflects the keywords people use when looking for you.

Developing Good Links

It’s not easy to gain links. The best approach is to offer things that other people want. Then people will want to link to your website. Without some kind of useful content, it’s hard to justify links to your site.

Guides, tutorials, resources, interviews, articles and blogs and are all good, honest ways of providing useful material that people will want to link to.

One effective strategy is to write articles for other websites. Many blogs request contributions from outsiders – and these normally offer authors a by-line (a one-line bio that says who you are and what you do) and a link or two to your website.

Writing one-off articles for good, well-established blogs takes time, but you will gain good links from a quality website. The alternative is…

Article Marketing

An article marketing industry exists which purports to help people gain links by offering their articles for free to any website owners who want them. It’s a nice idea, but the reality is that the only site owners who want these generic – often poorly written – articles are spammers or people with low-grade blogs. So you might get a few links, but they will be from such poor sites that they provide absolutely no SEO value. Good links come from good sites with at least some PageRank.

Directory Submission

Many people believe that submitting their site to hundreds or thousands of directories is the easy way to gain links. While you will gain plenty of links, those links will be buried in the depths of dusty directories, far from the eyes of man and a long way from anywhere valuable.

DMOZ is the most important directory, closely followed by Yahoo (which you will have to pay for). Join a few other directories, but don’t invest a huge amount of time in this. Very few people use directories to search for businesses.

Further reading: Bad SEO: Polluting the Web


There are many ways to advertise on the web. Advertising can be costly, but it can also be very effective. A well-judged ad in a well-chosen space can drive significant numbers of qualified visitors to your website.

Google Ads

If you decide to run a Google Adwords campaign, one of the most important things to do is to run two different adverts for the same product or service. Monitor which ad is more successful, then replace the less successful ad with something better. Running a split campaign allows you to constantly refine your ads.

Because Google Ads are very small, the copy must be used with care. Every word counts!


London Cocktail Bar

Covent Garden Cocktail Bar WC2
No Hire Fee for Private Parties

A note of caution

It’s easy to spend lots of money with Google Adwords. They can be very successful, but make sure that the return warrants the investment.

Writing for Your Customers – Your Web Copy

The words on your website’s pages are what do the work of selling, persuading, inspiring or communicating. Graphic design, imagery and clever web technologies like Flash help to create an impression, but it’s the copy that talks to your visitors*.

(* Unless you’re offering complex or novel software or web applications, in which case a professional screencast may be the best way to demonstrate your offering. Not sure what a screencast is? Ask me – I can recommend a professional screencaster.)

At the start of this guide I asked you to think about your customers. When you come to write copy, draw on your findings. Your copy must appeal to your visitors. It should start by telling them quickly and clearly what’s on offer. Then it should explain why that offer should interest them.

Make sure your copy details the features of your products and services. Then, explain how those features provide benefits to the user.

Further reading:
Writing for the Web – A Quick Guide on What to Write and How to Write It
10 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Marketing Copy

How do Your Customers Think About Your Products?

What language do they use? Make sure you use this language in your copy. Your internal corporate language may be jargon-rich, and intimidating or nonsensical to outsiders. Don’t try to sound clever or ‘professional’ by littering your copy with fancy words that only industry-insiders will understand.

Good copy is conversational and uses words that everyone understands.

Bad copy is cold, formal, and distancing.

Good copy brings people into your world.

Bad copy creates a barrier.

Short sentences are good. Contractions (can’t, don’t) are good.

Simple, plain English is good. Clarity is good.

When writing copy, aim to deliver a message. As soon as the message is delivered you can (and should) stop writing.

Ask a friend or colleague to review your copy. The best reviewer is someone who is unfamiliar with your products, services and industry.

Ask them if, after reading your copy, they understand your offer enough to consider buying something from you.

Provide Detailed Information (for Those Who Want It)

While it’s important to deliver information carefully, in a controlled manner, don’t forget that visitors to your site may have many questions. You need to answer their questions.

Ensure that detailed information about your products, services, working methods, company structure, key personnel, qualifications, contact details, clients, experiences, attitudes, world-views and waist measurements is available to those who want it.

Obviously, the key thing is to make this information available, but not unavoidable. Don’t litter the path of the fleet-footed – the nimble visitor who wants a modicum of information before they decide whether or not to contact you.

Calls to Action

Your website exists to achieve something. Whatever that may be, it probably requires your visitors to take some kind of action. Now, if you want somebody to vote, or buy, or register, then you must ask them to do so.

The simple of act of asking a visitor to take a course of action is called a Call to Action. It’s as easy as writing:

  • Order now
  • Subscribe here
  • Register today

This may sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked. The Call to Action is an essential ingredient in successful websites.

Social Proof – Evidence of Previous Interactions

Because the web is fertile ground for spammers, con-artists and thieves, web users are naturally cautious and suspicious. If you want to sell on the web, you’ll need to address this issue. How can you build trust with just your website?

One very simple and honest tactic is to harness the power of social proof. Social proof can be provided in the form of testimonials, client logos, a portfolio of past work – anything that proves that your organisation has done real work with real people.

It’s good to get into the habit of requesting testimonials from clients. If you’re shy, try LinkedIn’s interface for requesting recommendations. This way you don’t have to put anyone on the spot.

If possible, display testimonials with links back to the person or company who provided it. This gives your social proof depth and authenticity.

Giving It All Away

Offering a sample or some kind of free trial is a good way to begin a business relationship with your new customers. Free samples are another way to overcome the problem of trust: by sampling your goods or services for free, people can evaluate your offering without any risk.

Improving Your Search Engine Performance by Providing Useful Content

A popular strategy for getting more visitors is content. If you are an accountant, your website may not be very interesting. You can reasonably expect people to visit your site when they want an accountant. Everybody else is going to ignore you.

Clearly, if you’re an accountant and would like a more lively website, you’re going to have to add something more interesting. If you provide useful or informative information – in the form of guides, articles, calculators, widgets, links, tools or advice – then people will visit your site. People will also link to your website, which will help your search engine performance.

A great example of providing useful content to customers and website visitors is

Creating a Journey through Your Website

Every page of your website should have pathways. Always give your visitors places to go. Each page should lead logically to the next. Gradually lead each visitor through your website – enticing them with your product’s benefits, explaining your product’s features, answering all of their questions about the ordering process, reassuring any concerns they might have, and finally asking them to place an order.

Contact Details

Make it easy for people to contact you. Don’t hide email addresses – you may be worried about spam but a good spam filter will prevent 99% of junk getting through. Have a contact form, but also provide an address, a phone number and all relevant email addresses. Websites that only offer a contact form appear to be distancing themselves from their audience, or just plain hiding.

Further reading:

Gaining Trust on the Web

Social Media

‘Social Media’ means blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, forums – any media that involves or allows social interaction. Social media allows a website to exist in other spaces. Social media allows you to appear before new eyes – finding a new audience and expanding your reach.

Social media is difficult for businesses to use well, because these are largely social spaces, not commercial. The people who inhabit social spaces often resent organisations that burst in with a marketing agenda.

If you want to explore social media, and how it might help your organisation, step in cautiously – listen, look, and contribute gently. Represent you first and your company second.

Further reading:

Twitter: Make the Most of Every Tweet (You Receive)

Corporate Twittering: A Marketing Mess in a Social Space?

Why Twitter? – Method in the Mayhem

Twitter – the Simplest Little Big Complicated Website in the World


One of the most crucial aspects of a successful website is clarity. From any page, at any point in your website, it should be immediately obvious where you are, and what is being offered.

A strapline, tagline or slogan is the short sentence that accompanies an organisation’s logo at the top of their website.

The strapline is a good opportunity to increase clarity, and explain exactly what you do.

Good straplines are descriptive and short. Bad straplines are witty, clever or vague, such as: Creative solutions for business.

The End

That’s it for now. I’ll compile all of this guide into a PDF for you to download. As I probably said at the start, I wanted to put down a few ideas for selling on the web – a few basics that website owners should know.

Let me know if I’ve missed anything significant!

How to Do More on the Web – Part 3


Part 3: Thinking About Your Website

Websites are versatile, powerful extensions of an organisation. Your website can do many things, but not without your help. You may have expected your website to take care of itself, to run quietly in the background, pulling in customers and generating new business.

You might not have a Website Manager, or Webmaster, or Weblord, or someone steering your website through the crowded digital seas. But to find success on the web, somebody (probably you) will need to start thinking about your website. And that somebody will need to add and remove content, make changes, update information, spread the news and find an audience.

Left to their own devices, websites do absolutely nothing. Without human involvement, websites are lazy, good-for-nothing cash-sponges.

Working Out Where You’re At

Before you think too much about where you’re going wrong, or what you should change, look at your website’s traffic statistics. You should be able to see things like:

* Daily visitor numbers
* Popular content (what people are looking at)
* Traffic sources (where people came from)
* Length of stay
* Bounce rate (percentage of people who leave your site immediately after arriving, without viewing a second page)

If you don’t have access to this information, ask your web developer to provide it.

If you have this information, spend some time looking at it. Analytics data can highlight many things. Such as:

Misleading inbound links

If your website appears highly in searches for cheese pizzas, but you only sell cheese cloth, then people may come to your site looking for something you don’t offer. As soon as they realise their mistake they will leave. If lots of people do this, your bounce rate will be high.

A high bounce rate could also indicate that nobody likes your website. Is it ugly? Offensive? Poorly constructed? Horribly written? A hideous website could be turning customers away. Ask a few trusted friends and colleagues for a brutally-honest critique of your website.


Look at the most popular exit page. This is the page that your visitors look at before leaving your site. If the most popular exit page is a contact form, or the sales/enquiry page of your site, then people are doing what you want.

If you find that an unusual page is popping up as a frequent exit route, check the page for any suspicious activity. Is there something wrong with the page? Does the navigation work, and are visitors offered a next step on their journey?

Unusual Traffic Sources

The list of traffic sources can be revealing. Sometimes visitors come from unexpected places. And sometimes this can show a new way of finding people.

Unusual Keyword Choices

Scan the list of keywords that people have used to find your site. Any surprising choices? Keep your eyes peeled for anything that suggests people are searching for you with keywords that you hadn’t considered. It may be worth integrating these keywords into your copy a little bit more.

The Complexities of Web Analytics

Web analytics is a large and complex field. Explore it as much as you feel is necessary. For many small organisations with a website to keep alive, a weekly perusal of the statistics will suffice.

Of course, don’t just gormlessly look at a few numbers: think about what they imply. Draw meaning from the numbers. Consider what those numbers say about the people who visit your site. When looking at website analytics, you’re looking for insight into the minds and behaviours of your potential customers.

Gathering Web Analytics – Use Google

Google Analytics is a free program that provides fantastic traffic stats. If you don’t have it, or something similar, ask a friendly web developer to install it for you. If you don’t know a friendly web developer, ask me – I know several very charming geeks.

Getting People to Come to You

The biggest problem that any website faces is invisibility. The web is stuffed with great websites, and if you want any chance of being seen, you’ll have to fight for people’s attention.

Websites do not automatically generate traffic. Without a good reason to visit your site, nobody will visit your site.

If you want a healthy flow of human traffic to your website, you’ll need to purposefully cultivate that traffic.

In Part 4, we look at Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

See also:

Part 1: A Thoughtful Approach to Crafting Web Success

Part 2: Thinking About Your Products and Services

Nyouse: Connecting People to Press

To diverge slightly from copywriting for a moment; I’ve been busy cooking up a side-project which might interest you:, pronounced “news”, is a new website that connects people with journalists.

Do you have a story to tell? Do you have breaking news that the world needs to know? Do you have a whistle to blow or an announcement to make?

If you do, then use Nyouse! It’s very easy…

Just follow these steps:

  1. Log in to (you’ll need a Twitter account to use Nyouse. But they’re quick to set up and free to use.)
  2. Write a message that explains your story. Twitter messages (a.k.a. tweets) are limited to 140 characters so you’ll have to provide a flavour of your story, rather than all the details.
  3. Direct your message @nyouse or include the hashtag #nyouse
  4. If you want to indicate the location that your story is connected to, include the first half of your postcode as a hashtag. e.g. #bn1 for Brighton
  5. Wait for a journalist to get in touch.

Find out more about Nyouse on the Nyouse Blog, or read my post on Words By Me.

Nyouse is built on Inuda’s SocialPlume Twitter application, and is sponsored by Inuda and Kendall Copywriting.

How to Do More on the Web – A Few Ideas

How to Sell More on the Web:

A Thoughtful Approach to Crafting Success

This guide isn’t just about selling more on the web: it’s about achieving your goals, whatever they are.

That might mean selling tickets to your gigs, or getting donations for your charity, or building support for your big idea. Whatever you’re trying to do, the principles and ideas covered will apply to you. Just bend the suggestions until they make sense for you.

Good websites are full of people’s ideas. Anything worthwhile needs a bit of brain-space. As soon as you start thinking about your website your chances of success increase dramatically. Most websites suck and fail because they are designed and built in haste and then left to gather dust. Always view your website as an evolving work in progress.

If you get stuck, and can’t find a way to progress, email – if I can spare a few minutes I’ll think about your conundrum.

This guide should answer questions like:

  • Why doesn’t anyone visit my website?
  • Why do people come to my website, but never buy anything?
  • What can I do to create interest around my website?

Who is this for?

This guide is designed to help anyone with a website. If you’re a very experienced website creator/owner/manager then this guide might not offer anything new. But if your website doesn’t do a lot, then you might find a few useful ideas.

Success Doesn’t Have to Lead You to Evil

Selling more things, or recruiting more donors, or persuading people that your scheme is brilliant does not need to involve under-hand tactics. Success does not require evil.

If you’re offering something useful then you should let people know. This guide is all about how you can let people know.

Part 1: Thinking about Your Customers

Before you think about your website, you need to think about the people that you created it for: your customers.

  • Who are they?
  • What do they want?
  • Why do they want your products?
  • What can you offer them?
  • Where are they?
  • How can you get in front of them?

Who Are Your Customers?

If you’re going to sell anything to anybody, you’ll need to establish who wants what you’ve got. Are they:

  • Young, old, or in-between
  • Male or female
  • Organised around a niche
  • Highly web-literate or borderline Luddites
  • Pinko liberals or conservatives?

Identify your target audience. Think about who they are. Imagine you are them. Step into their shoes and consider their motivations. Ask yourself:

  • What do I want?
  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • What are my concerns?
  • What would make me happy?

Why Do Your Customers Want Your Products?

Okay, so you know what you’re offering, what it does and why people use it… or do you? Do you really know why people use your things, or engage your services?

You might think you know exactly what people are doing with your stuff, but you might be surprised to learn that people are misusing your products – or that they really just want your services for a reason other than the ones you intended.

Luckily, it’s easy enough to find out what your customers are up to. Just ask them. And you don’t need to set up a survey and harvest reams of data. Just call a few people and have a chat.

A few examples of products that have found unintended uses:


Thanks to the following for their suggestions:

Meeting Your Clients in the Middle

Your products and services might be valued for reasons other than the ones you know about. If people think about your work in different ways to you, address this in your website’s copy.

Related blog post:

Apple’s Honesty Policy

What Can You Offer Your Customers?

Are there other ways you could help your customers? Are there additional products or services that fit with your existing range? What would people like from you? How can you make people’s lives better, easier or more fulfilling?

Don’t just assume that your products and services have to stop where they are now. If there’s something more you can offer – something real, something useful and desirable – then start offering it.

Crafting Your Offer to Match Your Customers

Many businesses decide what they do, then create products and services that they think are required, then offer them for sale. Rarely do businesses ask what is required – what is wanted – and then offer it.

It’s easier to sell the thing that people want, than it is to sell the thing that you need to sell. So if you’re struggling to sell something, consider changing it until it meets people’s needs.

Again, it’s a good idea to spend time talking to your clients. And don’t make it complicated. Just pick up the phone, dial a number, say hi, ask some questions.

Related blog post:

Don’t Treat Your Website Like a Commodity

End of Part 1

That’s it for Part 1. Part 2 will look at your products and services (although really we’ve already thought about this, but in relation to how your customers think about your products and services.) Part 2 is the shortest section.

In Part 3, we’ll explore the aspects of your website that might be failing. This will cover SEO, social media and other wonderful things.

The Absence of Marketing

Oh, and did you notice that I haven’t mentioned marketing ? There’s a good reason for that. Many people in marketing are disreputable,  unlovable rogues who smarm their way through life with slick grins and thin lies. ‘Marketing’ is a word so loaded with negative connotations that I prefer to discuss ‘marketing’ without using the word.

Catch a Fish from the Sea… new site now live!

I’m very pleased to announce that the first website produced by Kendall Copywriting is now live. The product of a collaboration between Jay Alvarez, a freelance web designer, and myself, is the online home of author Nasreen Akhtar.

Nasreen recently published her first book, Catch a Fish from the Sea (Using the Internet), after creating her own publishing company, Greenbirds.

A brief synopsis of Catch a Fish from the Sea (Using the Internet):

Catch a Fish from the Sea (Using the Internet) is Nasreen Akhtar’s beguiling account of her online dating adventures, and an ordinary girl’s search for an extraordinary guy.

Battling traditional South Asian sensibilities and the wilderness of Internet dating, Nasreen fearlessly searches for someone to love – or even like. Witty, heart-breaking and bitter-sweet, Catch a Fish from the Sea is a memoir that provides a hilarious, moving account of life in multicultural Britain.


Having read Catch a Fish from the Sea I can heartily recommend it. You can order your copy direct via the website. And don’t forget to tell Nasreen what you think about her book! You can also vote for Catch a Fish as a Book to Talk About.


If you have any thoughts on Nasreen’s website, Jay and I would love to hear them.

Web marketing services – fresh thinking & effective strategies

Web copy to web marketing

I write a lot of copy for websites. After writing web copy, the natural progression is to ask: what next? And:

  • How will people find this website?
  • How will the right people know about this website?
  • How will this website develop a life of its own?
  • How can we make this website sell?

In short, writing copy for websites leads to thoughts of web marketing. And quite naturally my work has slipped from pure copywriting into Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and web marketing. I recently added additional pages to explain these services – read about my approach to web marketing.

Web design from a web marketing point of view

Being a marketing kind of person, I view things from the point of view of the customer. I put myself in the shoes of my clients’ customers. As with all marketing, it never hurts to consider the marketing of a thing when you’re deciding the fundamentals. So don’t be afraid to ask a copywriter for their thoughts on your project.

Dropbox – snazzy online storage

I was lucky enough to get an early invite to Dropbox, a new online storage application (thanks BNMers!).

Now, I’ll be honest: I didn’t know what Dropbox was, or why people were excitedly swapping invites. But, succumbing to a bandwagon mentality, and ever keen to explore everything new on the web, I signed up, downloaded the application, then wondered what the hell it was.

It seems that the Dropbox website copy has improved recently, but when I registered it wasn’t too easy to tell what I was registering for. I knew it was storage, but questions remained:

  • What did it cost?
  • How much space could I use?
  • Why was everyone so excited about it?

But by using Dropbox, I quickly found the answers to my questions. Dropbox gives you a special folder that you can drag and drop files into. These are cleverly whisked away and stored remotely.

Share large files with ease

That’s nice and easy, but the thing I really like is the Public folder – which allows you to produce a URL for any file you drop here. I’ve been working on a massive document recently, and this feature has made it very easy for me to update my client with the latest version. I just drop the file into the Public folder, then email client the URL.

Another cool thing about Dropbox is that you can access your folder from the web, so you can retrieve anything you put there from any computer.

Dropbox is available for free with a 1GB storage limit. If you want more space you have to pay – but I think it’s money well spent if that’s what you need.

I’ve probably not done Dropbox justice – but it’s very good, so check it out: Dropbox.

A few thoughts on head – the web conference

Yesterday I went to the Brighton hub of <head> – the global web conference that is largely being carried out online, reducing the need for travel. It was especially easy for me to get to the Brighton hub because it was at The Werks, where I happened to be yesterday.

I saw three talks which were all interesting and relevant to a web copywriter, but Andy Budd’s was particularly interesting.

Architecture and the web

Andy drew parallels between the architecture of buildings and the design of websites. Andy suggested that by understanding the way architects plan structures, and the spaces within those structures, we could all build better websites.

If web developers put the same kind of thought into designing digital spaces as their physical-world counterparts, every website would be useful, pleasurable and effective. Web developers would research, plan and test their websites. The purpose of each website would be quantified, pursued and achieved.

The ideal world meets the real world

In many cases, little thought goes into a website. Clients want a website, and developers provide them. Colours, fonts, graphics and copy may all be judged and evaluated, but mostly in the sense of ‘oh that looks nice’.

Are clients naturally thinking:

‘how will this feel for my visitors?’

‘what are my visitors coming here for?’

‘how will the right people find me?’

Web developers often struggle to appease their non-geek, non-expert clients, for whom a website is something like a business card, a letterhead or a sign on the door; it’s one of those things that a business has to have.


I love Andy’s thinking, and similarly believe that people should put more thought into their websites – asking themselves what people will actually want to use them for – but I can’t help wondering how this kind of deep-thinking fits with small-budget projects, and the small businesses that need small, cheap websites.

Of course, cheap doesn’t have to mean stupid. And I suppose a great deal of the thought, research and planning needed for a beautifully-designed website can be expedited by an astute web developer, but still, I wonder if there are systems or tricks for making the potentially slow and expensive process of researching, planning and testing quicker, and more affordable. How can you provide time-consuming services to someone who cannot afford the time?

Do you have to be loaded to have a great website? Or can you work around a limited budget and still create an online experience that users will love – and benefit  – from?


One way for small business owners to get more from their websites is by them getting personally involved. Perhaps that’s the key. If you want an amazing website but haven’t the budget to pay for one, you’re going to have to get involved.

If businesses want to improve their websites, they may have to become web-masters of their own domain.


I suppose the biggest cause of websites that suck is owners who don’t understand the web. Many people don’t appreciate the complexities of the medium, don’t respect the culture that they operate in, and don’t get the very nature of the web.

Architectural farming

I’ve blogged before that having a website is like running a farm, because websites need regular care and attention. But if we take Andy’s ideas about architecture, and try to think about websites as being similar to buildings, we could start to think of websites as actually something like a farm that’s open to the public.

Perhaps the questions that should start the relationship between client and web developer should be:

  • What is this website for?
  • Who is going to use this website?
  • What do you want to achieve with this website?

My updated website design…


The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that my website has been renovated. Shaun Morrison, a Brighton Freelance Web Designer, has tidied up my WordPress theme. My site is now more compact, more cohesive and nicer to look at.

I can heartily recommend Shaun’s skills as a freelance web designer – he understands the kind of things that matter to me when it comes to web design – usability, simplicity and SEO.

Thanks Shaun!

A new kind of news website…

Have you got a story to tell?All the news that fits

UPDATE 15/12/09: Nyouse is all over. It was a nice idea, but rather too ambitious for a busy copywriter and a young father who has approximately 0 hours to spend on something like Nyouse.

I’m helping to create a new kind of news website. It’s called and it aims to put you back in the centre of the news. There won’t be journalists or editors. There’s just you and me and everyone else. We are the people and we are the news.

If you’ve got something you’d like to share with the world, tell us, and together we’ll tell everyone.

From the massive to the minute

Your story could be a local issue, or your opinions on a global issue. It could be a sports report, a theatre review or an expose of an outrageous scandal. It could be business, technology or science news. It could be a discussion of our recent past, or an eye-witness account of something happening now. Anything that’s of interest to someone else is newsworthy.

Kudos and publicity is a free website that wants to help people share their news. will not pay for any articles. All content remains the property of the author. All authors will be clearly credited for their work.

Making the news

You can get involved in a number of ways. You can submit an article, or help edit others’ articles, or help spread the news about Nyouse. Please contact us to find out more.

(Picture courtesy of Jurek Durczak)

Linger longer over my words

I’m pleased to see that visitors to my site and blog spend (on average) 5 minutes here!

Thanks to you for stopping by and reading my words. I’ve recently been compiling my blog posts into permanent content which you might want to check out. Of course, this may take the length of your visit beyond the 5 minute mark!

Copywriting on the farm

Cows by Edgar Thissen

I really like this idea, taken from Writing for the Web by Susannah Ross:

“Many people talk about setting up a website or having one. They don’t talk often enough about running or managing one. Having a website is not like having a book or a film to show people. It is more like having a farm.”

Anyone starting a website should not be put off by this statement. Websites require regular maintenance and care but they are, rather like animal husbandry, very rewarding. Though unlike farming there is no poo.

An untended website will soon deteriorate into a derelict dump of broken links and irrelevant information. So embrace the farm analogy and tend your herd like your life depends on it!

(Picture courtesy of Edgar Thissen via Flickr)

Page Rank Joy

I experienced a rush of pure geek joy this week when I found my website had been blessed by Google with Page Rank !

My Page Rank of 4 has come after several months of online marketing efforts.

As a copywriter who specialises in writing for the web, it is has been hugely useful to monitor my own site’s progress in the SERPs . I have read the theory on web marketing but it’s great to experience it for myself and learn what actually works.

Let’s chat about your projectContact us