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If I had £5 for every time someone said, “I don’t want a lot written – it’ll only take five minutes”, I would be rich.  The fact is no copywriter will attempt to write something as important as marketing copy in a few minutes.  If they profess to … I would seriously doubt their professionalism and standard of work.

Long copy or short copy?

Many people assume it takes a lot longer to write 500 words than it does to write 50 words.  Wrong!  It is much easier to write 500 words on a given subject than to summarise that message into 50.

Try it for yourself: write a twenty word sentence and then try to say exactly the same thing in four or five words.

Writing short copy needs economical use of words, command of the language and a great deal of skill.  It’s not something you can do in five minutes.

The copywriting process

Before starting writing, your copywriter needs to understand your business. That takes time.  If you engage your copywriter on an ongoing basis, they will of course become knowledgeable about you and your company, which speeds up this part of the process.

Your writer will also have to be briefed.  They must understand the ‘proposition’.  For example: they need to know the purpose of the copy, how and where it will be used, and who your target market is.  That takes more time.

With that information under their belt, your copywriter will move into the planning stage.  Everyone works in different ways.  Some writers will plan the copy on paper or make a list of the main points perhaps, while others map it out mentally.  Time-consuming research is often needed too.  How are we doing for time?  Is that five minutes up yet?

The next stage is actually writing the draft copy.  While an average typist will have a typing speed of around 40 words a minute, remember this is a  copy typing rate.  It does not allow for the creativity and time needed to craft powerful copy.

Once the draft copy has been written, it must be printed and checked.  The copywriter will check every word carefully to make sure it is correct, accurate and is delivering the right message.  Here at WORD-right, the copy is always checked by two different people.  That’s because when you try to proof something you’ve written yourself, you only see what you think you’ve written, not what is actually there.  Is the time up yet?

Next, the copywriter has to compose the email to you, attach the file and send it – OK that bit doesn’t take long!

Now it’s over to you: the client.  You might want some revisions.  So the copywriter goes back over the copy, ‘tweaks’ it, and the printing and checking stages are done all over again.

So even if you just want a short bit of copy, can you really expect anyone to do all that in five minutes?

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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The price: what you pay a professional copywriter
The cost: the damage to your business if you don’t

As copywriters, we use an external proofreader to check all the writing we do for our clients.  This isn’t because we don’t know how to spell, or don’t understand grammar, it’s about maintaining professional standards and attention to detail.

When we run our Masterclass sessions or in our work with student writers, we stress how hard it is to proof your own writing.  You only see what you THINK you’ve written and it’s easy for mistakes to creep in.  It only takes a slip of the fingers or a misplaced apostrophe to create a mistake.

A post on the BBC website yesterday said poor spelling can have a significant impact on business, and is costing millions in lost sales.  The fact is – poor copywriting in general will cost you sales.

Unfortunately, few people realise the very tangible benefits of having professionally written copy.  There is a considerable difference between just being able to write and good copywriting.

Last year a new client was concerned about the performance of their website.  Despite paying for SEO services, it didn’t appear on any searches, even in their local area, and wasn’t bringing them any business.  We reviewed the site and it was obvious the problem was in the copy.  It was poorly written, didn’t provide a good visitor experience, and wasn’t optimised.  Less than two weeks after rewriting the copy, the site had shot to the top of Google and was generating business.  That’s the difference between being able to write and good copywriting!

While we use our wonderful proofreaderto check our clients’ copy, we don’t always send our own in-house copy to be checked.  That’s something we’re about to change.  Yesterday we found a glaring typo in the first line of our WORD-right newsletter!  No excuses – we both checked it more than once, but it still slipped through the net.  And that is, quite simply, unacceptable and it certainly won’t happen again.

We frequently see inaccurate copy which has been written by professional writers.  Because we know our copywriting service will increase your sales, we don’t take any chances.

Now we’re going to make sure we do the same for ourselves.  So it’s time to wind up this post and send it off to our proofreader!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Having recently celebrated WORD-right’s 5th birthday, we’ve spent some time thinking about the last five years.

Like many people who venture into life as a full-time copywriters, I had several illusions which were quickly shattered.  My plan was to work like mad through the winter months.  In the summer I would work part-time … sitting outside with a long cool drink and a laptop, creating compelling copy in the sunshine.  The reality check started on 4th July 2006!

Real life copywriting

A copywriter’s life is fascinating, sometimes stressful, but never dull.  Because we work from home, we are seldom off duty and frequently speak to and see clients in the evening, as well as during the day.  Deadlines must be met and we often burn the midnight oil to complete a rush job.

The past five years have been a roller-coaster ride.  We moved from Sussex to Chipping Norton, with a two month stay in Portsmouth in-between.  Not many businesses can boast launching in three different counties in their first nine months!

Mine of information

In my opinion, a copywriter must have a thirst for knowledge.  This is an essential attribute if you are going to become a freelance writer.  Some of our more ‘eclectic’ copywriting subjects have included Santa’s Grottos and Christian Healing!

We were fascinated to learn how Pringles tubes were made.  Writing about alpaca breeding provided a firm footing for a dog breeder’s website.  I’m now almost an authority on beauty treatments thanks to Serenity at Sibford, and The Cutting Edge in Banbury is educating us in the art of hairdressing.  And have you any idea how many different types of hairdressing scissors you can buy?  We didn’t before we met the Scissor Man!

The delights of freelance copywriting

Apart from satisfying our desire for knowledge, our greatest pleasure has come from working with a host of amazing people.  We tend to work with our clients on an ongoing basis, several of whom have been with us since 2006.  Each business is unique and the people working in these businesses are hard-working and inspirational.

As well as clients, we work alongside other professionals who help us deliver our service.  A special thank you must go to our pernickety proof-reader who has been making sure our every ‘i’ is dotted and ‘t’ crossed for the past two years.  In our opinion, every copywriter needs a Proof Fairy!
So you want to be a copywriter?  Recommendations …

We are frequently contacted by would-be copywriters looking for advice.  If this is you, here are some of our recommendations:

  • Be prepared to work long, often unsociable hours – the job isn’t over until the deadline’s met
  • Give your clients 150% and then some more – remember who pays your wages
  • Learn your craft, never stop learning and pay attention to detail
  • Keep up-to-speed with everything going on – technology doesn’t stand still and nor should you
  • Don’t forget your work-life balance – copywriters need days off too!

Finally … if you dream of sitting in the sun writing, invest in a large garden umbrella … or you won’t be able to see the screen on your laptop!

What the future holds for WORD-right

WORD-right’s services have evolved over the past five years.  We added WEB-right, our small business website package, to the mix in 2009.  In 2011, we launched our Copywriting Masterclasses.  This year we have also gone ‘International’, working for an interesting combination of overseas companies.

Because we are passionate about the power of the written word, we want to help encourage more talented writers make a career in copywriting.  That project is already in the pipeline.

And of course, most importantly, we will be continuing to work with our client companies.  Thank you to them all.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

With our Professional Copywriting Techniques Masterclass being held next week on  the 26th May, we are giving away a free place to a charity.

This would be ideal for someone who works in a charity’s fundraising or marketing department.  Attendance at our half-day Masterclass will benefit someone who has to write appeal letters, website copy and other promotional material.

The half-day Masterclass will be held at Bloxham Mill Business Centre, Bloxham, near Banbury, on Thursday 26th May between 9.15am and 12.30pm.  Full details can be found on our website.

What’s the catch?  There isn’t one!  We have a couple of places spare and decided there are plenty of worthwhile causes which could benefit from coming along free of charge.  Apart from that … we need someone to help eat the Danish pastries mid-morning!

If your charity would benefit from some free copywriting training, please send us an email and give us a little information about the work you do.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Oxfordshire copywriting company WORD-right, has announced the launch of a series of Copywriting Masterclasses.

The first in the new series is ‘Professional Copywriting Techniques’ which will be held on Thursday 26th May.  The second: Website Copywriting, will be held on Tuesday 28th June.  The half-day classes will all be held at Bloxham Mill Business Centre, near Banbury, from 9.15am until 12.30pm.

WORD-right held a pilot Press Release Writing Masterclass in early April.  The class was fully booked and ten people attended.  The positive feedback has prompted the development of additional copywriting Masterclasses.

The Masterclasses take a hands-on approach, with students having the opportunity to put their buslearning into practice.  The classes are designed to help small business owners and marketing professionals improve their business writing skills.

The Copywriting Techniques Masterclass will cover such subjects as accessibility, writing styles, and what to write.  The Website Copywriting Masterclass will illustrate why writing for the web is different, and students will each write a web page for their own company.  Each attendee will receive a comprehensive take-home notes pack covering the content of the class.

While each Masterclass can be booked separately, prospective students wishing to attend the Website Copywriting Masterclass are being encouraged to also attend the Copywriting Techniques session.  This will ensure they have the appropriate writing skills needed to make the most of the website writing class.

Joy McCarthy, WORD-right’s principal copywriter comments, “We asked the students who attended the Press Release Writing Masterclass what other subjects they would like covered.  Their input has resulted in the creation of the new series of Masterclasses.  The popularity of the subjects meant several of the places were booked within hours of their launch.”

The cost of each Masterclass is £40 + VAT.  Places can be booked online at http://www.word-right.co.uk/copywriting-masterclass.html.  Anyone booking the Copywriting Techniques and the Website Writing Masterclasses together will receive a £10 discount, paying £70 for the two instead of £80.

– ends –

Notes to Editors

WORD-right is a copywriting and marketing consultancy based in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

The company, which is division of IDEAS-right Ltd, was founded in 2006.  It specialises in small business marketing, working for a range of companies in different industry sectors in the Oxfordshire area and further afield.

Joy McCarthy, WORD-right director is an experienced copywriting tutor and has worked with almost 100 student writers from all over the world.

For more information, please contact:

Joy McCarthy
Tel: 01608 642845
Mob: 07880 980095
Email
Website: www.word-right.co.uk   

Yesterday saw our very first copywriting masterclass held at Bloxham Mill near Banbury.  We had a full house of 10 people from a range of businesses.  Although we expected everyone to be local, one of our delegates travelled from Hertfordshire to attend the masterclass!

PR Masterclass training in Oxfordshire

Wearing PR hats!

The ice was quickly broken when everyone was tasked with making themselves a PR hat … from a sheet of newspaper.  They didn’t know origami was also on the agenda!  Later in the morning, Ray Avery the general manager of Bloxham Mill, popped in to judge the results.

 

After covering some PR theory, everyone got down to work writing their own press release.  Their enthusiasm was inspirational … as were the results.  At the end of the session, each delegate was given a comprehensive take-home pack of notes to back-up their hands-on learning.

 

The feedback was very positive, with many of the students demanding more copywriting sessions!  Here’s what some of them had to say:

“Word-right’s PR Masterclass was really enjoyable and very informative. A relaxed way of learning.  I would definitely recommend this class. Joy has a great deal of knowledge which I would love to tap into further.”

 

“An excellent, concise course with a comprehensive take-home pack. Would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone who wants to write eye-catching press releases.”

 

“I never thought I would be able to write press releases, but now I have the tools and confidence to do so.”

Future copywriting masterclasses will be announced shortly.  For more information, visit the WORD-right website or call Joy McCarthy on 01608 642845.

The Gallery, Ryehill Golf Club, Milcombe, Banbury.
31st March 2011.  7.30 – 10pm

Wedding photography by Fiona Baker

Photograph by kind permission of Fiona Baker

The Cutting Edge Hair and Beauty Salon in Banbury  has nominated Banbury’s Tiago and Alison’s fund as the benefiting good cause at its ‘Fantasy Fairytale’ bridal evening at The Gallery – Rye Hill Golf Club on Thursday 31st March 2011.

The Cutting Edge directors were moved by the story of four-year old Tiago Dos Santos and his mother Alison and their appeal.  Tiago, who lives in Banbury with his mother, has cerebral palsy.  The fund has been set up to raise funds for his treatment at London’s Bobath Centre, to help pay for additional physiotherapy, and other specialist equipment.   Tiago’s father Paulo, was killed in a road accident in 2006.

A percentage of the ticket price will be donated to the fund.  Included in the Bridal Fantasy Fairytale evening’s entertainment will be a raffle draw.  Prizes are being donated by the event sponsors.  The star prize is a set of TheO heated rollers worth around £200.  Other prizes include a £100 voucher from The Cutting Edge in Banbury and  50% venue discount donated by The Gallery, Rye Hill Golf Club.

The highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the winner of the Bridal Princess competition.  Entries are still being taken and forms are available from www.the-cuttingedge.co.uk.

Tickets are available from The Cutting Edge, Rotary Way and Henry’s of Banbury in the High Street.

Included in the evening’s entertainment will be hair and beauty demonstrations, and a fashion show with bridal wear from Katherine Allen and Henry’s of Banbury.  Close-up magician Richard Young, will be on-hand to perform his magic for the audience.

Fifteen local companies are co-sponsoring the event.  These include wedding photographer Fiona Baker, and the Balloon Lady. Cakes for All will be providing bridal cupcakes on the night.  The event will be compèred by Ken Norman of Chipping Norton’s Best Man Boot Camp, which provides speech writing and delivery training for wedding speeches.

Cutting Edge director Kirsty Pearce said, “We wanted to support a local charity at this event and when we heard about Tiago and Alison, they were the obvious choice.  Our event sponsors are generously donating raffle prizes so we’re looking forward to helping swell their fund.”

Tickets for the event are priced at £7.50 and include a Bucks Fizz reception and light buffet.  Each person attending the event will be presented with a free ‘Wedding Welcome Pack’ which includes a pair of Pilgrim earrings worth £10 per pair, donated by Lilly Maes Gift Boutique of Brackley.

The event’s sponsors include:

The Gallery, Rye Hill Golf Club

Fiona Baker Photography
Katherine Allen Bridal Wear
The Balloon Lady
Henrys of Banbury
Ken Norman: Best Man Boot Camp
Cakes for All
The Sweet Company
Banbury Wedding Cars
KNR Jewellery:
Richard Young Magic
Blueice Roadshow
Lilly Maes Gift Boutique: Brackley
Fresh FX Video Production

Original concept by WORD-right – copywriting and marketing

As I’m sure you know, the WORD-right crew are big fans of social networking.  In our opinion,  Twitter and Facebook are musts for any business.

As a copywriter, I follow other writers on Twitter.  We regularly communicate and there is a great sense of fellow-feeling.  But I’ve recently unfollowed three copywriters – all for the same reason – swearing!

There is good and bad in every business sector.  There are as many good builders as there are fly-by-night ones.  Copywriting is no exception.  I always urge people, if they are planning to use a professional writer, to check out the standard of their work.

Perhaps now I will recommend checking them out on social media too.  A copywriter is meant to be good with words.  If the best they can manage is to string together a few four-letter words, would you want them writing about your business?

If a copywriter can’t express him or herself clearly and succinctly without resorting to profanity, my recommendation is they find another job where professional standards don’t matter!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Email newsletters are an essential part of your marketing strategy.  They are low cost and help increase your company profile.  However, electronic newsletters and email marketing is subject to legislation and it’s important you understand this and adhere to it.

While you might be forgiven the occasional mistake, companies which persistently breach the law are at risk of being reported to the Information Commissioner.  The penalties are severe, with fines of up to £10,000 levied.

The WORD-right copywriting office received two emails this week which have both broken the rules.  They have prompted this blog offering a little advice to help you keep on the right side of the law.

Email ‘A’ was an unsolicited sales message which came from a company in Kent.  As it had been sent to our generic email address and we have a limited company, the sender had not breached the legislation.

However, the mistake he made was using an online email marketing service which strictly forbids the use of its system for unsolicited sales campaigns.  If reported, his account could be suspended.

If you use an email marketing system, it is important you read and understand the small print in your agreement.  Setting up your email system takes time and effort.  These companies take reports of spamming very seriously and they will act if they see you abusing the system.

Email ‘B’ was a newsletter I recently subscribed to.  However, the company’s whole approach turned out to be unprofessional.  Rather than using suitable software, this newsletter is created in Word and sent as an attachment.

There is an obvious security risk here – viruses can be transmitted via attachments in emails.  But worse still is this company’s practice of entering all their subscriber’s email addresses in the ‘To’ box.  This means I have access to hundreds of private email addresses which I could steal, spam, sell, or otherwise abuse!  Not only is this unprofessional, it is also a breach of the Data Protection act.

This newsletter also breached the email marketing legislation in other ways: there was no unsubscribe option and no contact details on the email.  Last week we sent this company a friendly email, gently suggesting how their email marketing could be improved.   Sadly  today, they’ve sent another newsletter – breaking all the same rules!  I have now emailed asking to be unsubscribed.  I only hope they act on this request – email addresses must be treated with care, and confidentiality is essential.

Email marketing legislation is slightly vague in the UK.  But you still have an obligation to adhere to it.  If you are unsure, it is in your interests to take advice on the subject, or commission a reputable company to manage your email marketing for you – a £10,000 fine won’t do your reputation or your bank balance any good!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

When we first set up our copywriting business some 5 years ago, we offered our services (free of charge) to several charities and good causes.  Why?  We wanted the experience and had time on our hands.  Much to our amazement … nobody ever responded!  We were totally ignored.

Having worked in the charity sector, this really shocked me.  Willing volunteers are hard to come by and my policy was never to refuse any offer of help.  In fact there were times when I had so many volunteers they became a positive liability, and took a lot of management!  Other neighbouring charities could never work out how I managed to find such an abundant supply of able-boded and enthusiastic young men and women (and no, I’m still not telling!).  But I appreciated every offer and the help and support they gave me and our organisation.

Today we still are involved with some charity work and I’m pleased to say we haven’t been turned down in years.  But the purpose of this post really is to support a fantastic offer which one very kind-hearted person has made.

Courtesy of Twitter, I came across Joanna Geary’s blog – she is offering her services to a (preferably) English speaking organisation for 2 – 3 weeks this year.  If you are involved with a charity or have charitable connections, please take a look at Joanna’s skills and experience and remember – gift horses really shouldn’t be looked in the mouth!

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