Improve your website’s SEO performance in 3 simple steps

Okay, so this title could be a little misleading.

Yes, there are simple steps you can take to improve your website’s search engine performance, but they usually take some time, thought and persistence to pull off.

But first, let’s look at why you might want to improve how well your website performs in searches:

  • The majority of web traffic is conducted via search engines.
  • If you want to be found, you need to be on the first page for relevant searches.
  • In-bound leads are easier to convert than out-bound leads.

It’s a no-brainer. You can either take your share of the most lucrative leads, or you can leave them to your competitors, while you struggle to persuade sceptical prospects on your long list.

Search engine optimisation consists of three strands of activity:

  • Structural and technical search engine optimisation
  • Content optimisation
  • Offsite link building activities


Structural and technical search engine optimisation

In simple terms, this means making sure that your website is coded in a way that Google can interpret. You want to be sure that Google can scan your entire website.

Google wants to recommend the best and most relevant websites for every search query. So in addition to creating good content, you need to be sure that your website is also:

  • Secure – with HTTPS enabled. Google prefers sites that use this secure web standard.
  • Slow websites are less likely to be recommended. You can test the mobile speed of your website with Google’s Test My Site app []
  • Web designs that adapt to any screen size are typically faster to load than their unresponsive counterparts.


Page organisation and breadcrumbs

Creating a well-organised website can also help Google make sense of your business – and understand which pages are most important.

Make sure that your pages are logically nested (e.g.

Hidden content

Is any of your content hidden from Google?

You might have pages that can only be accessed using searches or through filtering, which Google cannot see.

Check that Google can see all of the content that you want them to find.


Content optimisation

What does it mean to optimise your content?

It means to look at every word, image and video on your website through the lens of a search engine.

Google uses software to ‘read’ your website. While humans have the ability to read between the lines, correct your mistakes and patiently sift through your waffle, the search engine software can only interpret the words you include.

Ultimately, your entire website should be reviewed so that important elements include relevant keywords.

Important elements of your website include:

  • Page titles (an HTML element that appears at the top of the browser tab)
  • Page descriptions (an HTML element that appears in search results pages)
  • Headings (using the HTML elements H1,H2,H3 in a logical order)
  • Body copy
  • Links

As well as adding keywords to your page titles, descriptions, headings, body copy and links, you should ensure all of these elements are front-loaded with the most important details. This means putting the key details first so they catch a customer’s eye.

For example: “Cases and accessories for iPads” would be better (in most cases) as “iPad cases and accessories”.


Keywords – choosing the optimal search terms

Which words do people use when they’re searching for a business like yours?

Let’s imagine you make pens.

You don’t stand much of a chance of appearing on the first page of Google for ‘pens’.

This is true for many business cases. If your business niche is at all competitive, you will likely struggle to dominate the search results without a major effort.

However, there is a simple solution to this conundrum.

Instead of targeting the most competitive keywords, you start with less popular queries, such as:

  • Retractable recycled pens
  • Pens with penguins
  • Pens made of cardboard

This approach can be used for any business. For a freelance copywriter, you would target specific niches, such as:

  • Freelance digital copywriter
  • Freelance copywriter Poole
  • Freelance web copywriter Dorset

For a software company, the examples might be:

  • Custom industrial software development
  • Cloud communications software consultancy
  • Bespoke software developers B2B

While the traffic for these niche search queries is undoubtedly far less than their mainstream counterparts, they offer two advantages:

  1. You stand a chance of appearing on the first page for a niche query. Being seen means being found – and that means a chance of making a sale.
  2. These long-tail queries may represent more active buyers. After all, who goes looking for a “cloud communications software consultancy” unless they need the help of one? A significant percentage of the huge search volumes for general queries may represent researchers, tyre-kickers and competitors – not buyers.


Consider synonyms and regional keyword variations

A common mistake with keywords is to focus on the wrong terms. When it comes to search engine optimisation, we must put aside personal preferences and use data to guide our decisions.

You might call your main product a widgette, but everyone else calls it a widget. You might be factually correct, but you’re actually wrong, because in SEO the market and the majority define reality.

You can use the Google Keyword Planner to check the search volumes of different keywords – and to get additional keyword ideas.

You want to know which keywords capture the most searches, but as we discussed above, it’s worth looking at less popular searches because you may be able to land on the first page for these long-tail search phrases.


Offsite link-building

Google assumes that every time another website links to yours, they are suggesting you have something of value. Links are like a vote of confidence. More links = better websites – at least in the eyes of Google.

This is why business owners go to great lengths to get other sites to link to theirs. These links – or backlinks as they are known – are hugely valuable in the battle for traffic.

In simple terms, there are two categories of backlink-building strategies that I advocate:

  1. Creating significant content or resources that others will want to share
  2. Taking advantage of natural link opportunities (directories, community initiatives etc)

Let’s examine these two ideas in a little more detail.

Create significant resources or content

This approach is not quick or easy, but it does help you build genuine connections within your industry. This can take many forms, and is only really limited by your imagination and your capacity. Examples include:

  • Surveys
  • Guides
  • Whitepapers
  • Calculators
  • Contracts
  • Templates
  • Reports
  • Analysis
  • Events and conferences
  • Meetups
  • Interviews
  • Podcasts
  • Research groups
  • Webinars
  • Tutorials
  • Lists


Take advantage of natural link opportunities

There are loads of easy links available:

  • Business directories
  • Professional associations
  • Location-based listings
  • Local groups
  • Social media
  • Comments and forum posts
  • Contributed articles and guest posts
  • Interviews with peers


Quick SEO wins you can implement today

There are three simple things that you can do to improve your search engine optimisation today:

  1. Update your website title
  2. Fix blog post titles
  3. Publish one massive blog post that perfectly addresses a key search query

1: Update your website title

One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make is to put pride before profit and use their website and page title to repeat their company name – instead of telling people what they offer.

Your page titles are a vital SEO asset. They tell Google what’s important on your site. If you use this space to highlight your company name, you aren’t giving Google any additional clues; you’re only going to improve your chances of appearing in searches for your company name.

If you only want to be found by people who already know about you, then carry on. But if you want to find new customers, then you need to make better use of your page titles.

For example, if you were selling stereo equipment, the following page title would be a huge missed opportunity:

Davidson’s HiFi | The best independent store for audiophiles in the southwest

Far better to focus on the keywords that people use to find a store like yours:

Stereo Equipment | Home Cinema | TV | Davidson’s HiFi

Here’s another bad example:

Hunt, McDermitt & Simon | Dorset

This firm of solicitors may as well don camouflage and lurk in some bushes. Again, it’s far better to use the page titles to focus on the keywords that people use in searches:

Solicitors in Poole | Conveyancing | Family Law | Hunt McDermitt & Simon


2: Fix blog post titles

Not every blog post is designed to be found. Some articles are ‘of the moment’ or just a commentary on something short-lived.

But when you write articles that are designed to be helpful, then you should make sure that the titles are descriptive and specific enough to be picked up by search engines.

Let’s look at some bad examples of blog post titles and how they can be improved:

Removing dust

This doesn’t tell us much about the environment or the specifics. It’s unlikely to be returned in search results because it is far too vague. A better title would be something like:

Removing dust from electronic equipment safely and effectively


How to remove dust using cleaners and products you have in your home

Or even

How to remove dust in your home if you have allergies


Choosing a development partner

This also fails to explain the specifics. The authors have assumed, rightly, that the people on their blog know what kind of development they mean. But when this content is divorced from the blog, and thrust into the sea of blog posts, it means nothing, and is unlikely to appear in many search results.

A better title would be more specific:

Choosing a development partner for your bespoke software


How to choose a software development partner for your communications company


3: Publish one massive blog post that answers an important search query

Perform a search for your most important keyword or key phrase. What do you see in the results?

While you may see some of your major competitors, you may also see smaller sites that have written blog posts addressing a common question relevant to the keyword.

Among your most important keywords, there may be questions that your business can answer. For example, if you sell wallpaper, you could write articles about how to compare different paper brands and types, or how to understand the terminology. If you sell design services, you could produce a guide to the different approaches that design agencies take – either from a service delivery perspective or in terms of design ethos.


Any suggestions?

I hope you’ve found this interesting. Have you got any top tips of your own? What have you found helpful in optimising for search engines? Please comment below.


Freelance copywriting in March 2022…

What have I been doing recently?

My work has two components.

Firstly, there’s everything I do for ProCopywriters, the association that I organise:

  • commissioning a new website for CopyCon
  • managing the design and production of our latest survey of the copywriting profession
  • creating the programme for CopyCon 2022
  • managing the ProCopywriters team
  • developing our book projects

Secondly, there’s all the copy I write for clients:

  • intranet editing and shaping for ClearScore
  • SEO content updates for ClearScore
  • articles for Tide Business Bank
  • annual report edits for the British Heart Foundation
  • email, website and long-form copy for med-tech firm Kinepict

All while training for my first marathon!

Front-loading is critical for effective online writing and SEO

Your website is probably taking too long to make the points that matter.

Writing for the web should feel as urgent as trying to defuse 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 over the text.

They don’t kick back in their arm chairs, light a pipe and soak up your prose.

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



When people are scanning down the left side of a screen or a page of text, they will be reading the first few words of each line, looking for clues that they’re in the right place.

When they see a word that is related to their query or task, they will scan along to the right, looking for additional signs that they’re in the right place.

If you hide the significant and distinctive words within long sentences, you reduce the chances of people seeing them, and increase the chances of your visitors clicking away to another source.

What does front-loading mean for copywriting?

Front-loading means putting the important details, special information and keywords at the front of sentences, headings, paragraphs, links, buttons, 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.

Examples of front-loading in action

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 save time.

Front-loading is critically important for web writing – and SEO

Shifting important details to the front of your headlines, titles, buttons and links is one of the most important factors in online writing.

The first words in your key text elements tell visitors what is important – and also send signals to search engines that these keywords are of significance.


Editor’s note: this is an updated version of an article we published in 2015. 


Crisis copywriting: 6 things marketers can do during a pandemic

Firstly, a disclaimer: I’m not an expert on Pandemic Marketing. This is just the stuff I’m going to do. If I can focus for longer than 30 seconds.


You’re probably feeling the same: how the hell do you carry on marketing in the midst of a pandemic?

Trying to sell products when so many people are suffering can feel inappropriate, insensitive and crass.

Who can focus on shopping when we’re worried about our futures?

But, this doesn’t mean that all business should cease because of the pandemic.

After all, businesses aren’t just corporate cash-sponges; they’re also lifelines and livelihoods. Some companies are delivering essential services and supplies. Others are keeping people afloat.

And that’s not to mention the other things that companies contribute to our lives, like the social connections, structure, support and a sense of purpose.

Now is probably not the time to badger people to buy your snake oil.

But now is a good time to reflect on the business you are building, and how you can support customers now, and as we emerge from this crisis.

Here are a few ideas for the kinds of marketing activity you can do right now. These ideas are fairly generic, and could, in theory, be applied to any business, all the way from solo freelancers to global corporations.

Help first. Sell second.

What can you do to help your customers?

Now is not the time to send a bland email about hand-washing, but there may be genuinely useful information or support you can offer to your customers.

For example, you might be able to offer a discount, or different payment terms, or an additional feature or function that has particular relevance right now. Think about the challenges your customers are facing right now. They are likely to be experiencing some health anxiety and stress. And they may be working in unusual settings, or trying to juggle work with childcare. Plenty more will be suffering financially. And in the midst of the all the stress and uncertainty, plenty of people will be trying to focus on demanding projects – or serving their communities in the face of unprecedented danger.

In these conditions, what can you do to help?

The answer might be: “not much”.

And that’s fine. You may just need to focus on surviving and worry about thriving later.

Focus on your current customers

Existing customers are commonly neglected by marketers.

We all tend to look around for new customers, and forget that our existing customers might be interested in buying additional products or services from us.

It might not feel appropriate to focus your marketing on your existing customers at the present moment, but you can do other things to strengthen relationships with your existing customers.

You could…

  • Improve help and support content (maybe produce screencasts or how-to videos)
  • Celebrate customers in case studies
  • Interview customers to find out what they need
  • Refine product copy
  • Run user groups
  • Create a user podcast or webinar series to help share tips and best practices


If your own marketing is reduced or paused during the Covid-19 crisis, could some of your colleagues be redeployed on other projects?

Could they support a local charity or perhaps design your corporate response to the crisis?

Post-crisis planning

It’s impossible to know what kind of world we’ll encounter when the virus subsides, but it’s likely that we’ll gradually return to normal.

How can your business position itself for success?

This may seem crass, but businesses will want to get organised so they can recover for their employees, their customers and their suppliers.

This might involve preparing several scenarios based on different levels of activity. For example, your business might take 6, 9 or 12 months to fully recover to a post-pandemic position. And in that time, you may need to operate on reduced income. Or with fewer customers. Some of your services and products may be favoured over others. You may need to pivot to a different operating model, particularly if you serve the public directly (such as in travel, retail, events or hospitality).

How could Covid-19 change public behaviour in the long term?

Will people remain sensitive to pandemic-induced behaviours, such as social distancing, frequent hand-washing and the avoidance of shared surfaces (e.g. petrol pumps, digital kiosks and credit card terminals)?

Will your business need to continue some of these new safety measures?

These are the kinds of questions your marketers could try to address. Countries like China and South Korea may offer clues about the long-term impacts of Covid-19 and how societies and economies rebound once quarantine ends.

Improve your website and content

When was your website last updated?

Now might be the perfect time to review your content.

A few things to check for:

  • Accuracy. Are all the product and service details up-to-date?
  • Consistency. Do you use the same terminology throughout?
  • Voice. Does every page sound like it was written by the same author?
  • Gaps. Is anything missing? Are there any common customer questions or concerns you could address?
  • Function. Does every button produce the desired action? Are all links live?
  • Pandemic-friendly. Coronavirus is making many things look deeply weird. For example: shaking hands. Sitting too close. Sharing food. Meeting for coffee. Leaving the house. Is there anything on your website, brochures or comms that suddenly seems all wrong?

Check your search engine performance

After the pandemic, we may find that a smaller number of companies is targeting a smaller pool of customers. Staying competitive is unlikely to get easier once the dust has settled.

What can you do to improve your search engine performance?

The first step is to assess your current performance.

Check your search position for your most important keywords. How do you compare to your competitors?

Then check your Google Analytics. Where do people land on your site? Where do they leave?

Depending on the results of your investigation, you may need to improve your on-site optimisation, create additional content, or look for backlinks.

Doing nothing is okay too

We’re living through an unprecedented pandemic. It’s weird. It’s scary. It’s incredibly hard to concentrate.

Your marketing team may want work so they can ignore hysterical headlines, but they may also need time to stare into space, scream into voids or cry into pillows.

And that’s okay too.

We shouldn’t expect everyone to carry on as normal. We’re all doing our best. And that’s plenty.

Surviving, in any way we can, might be all we need to do.

Copywriting projects January 2020

What am I writing in January 2020?

All kinds of copy for all kinds of companies.

Here’s a selection:

  • Email newsletters for a retail technology company
  • Blog posts for a renewable energy software company
  • Web pages for a contact centre software company
  • User research interviews for a global consulting firm
  • Web pages for a hedge fund
  • Email newsletters for ProCopywriters
  • Marketing emails for Copywriting Conference
  • Blog posts for a competitive intelligence firm

As you can see, these projects cover a variety of industries, skills and approaches.

In addition to writing copy (from snappy social media posts to 2,000-word white papers) I help clients by creating posts in their CMS, scheduling content for social media and also building emails in their preferred marketing platform (typically MailChimp, Constant Contact or HubSpot).

While some of my clients know what they need to say, many more appreciate having an external perspective, as well as the benefit of my experience with hundreds of other businesses over an 11-year freelance career.

Get in touch if you copy or content to support your marketing.

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.

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