Kate Waddon Copywriting

We all need words. Let me help you find the right ones.

Keeping it calm

I wrote recently about the importance of capturing the right tone for a client. I’ve just finished working on a website for Nicky Rangecroft, a therapist and mentor – a great case study on how to work with a very specific and sensitive voice.

Nicky, a Psychology of Vision-trained coach, works with individuals, families and businesses who have identified a need to change; and through coaching and workshops, Nicky guides them as they work towards these changes.  As you can imagine, this is an interesting tone of voice to get right. It needs to have warmth and understanding, yet mustn’t drift off into vague healing speak which is not what Nicky is about, and could alienate her corporate clients. Like any business website, it needs its calls to action, but these mustn’t jar.

The answer, of course, came from Nicky herself.  Nicky speaks beautifully – you can see why she does the job she does, as her language is very calm, very reassuring, with a lovely rhythm and flow to this. Capturing this simply involved taking notes from our conversations – I haven’t written that much by hand since my finals – and taking down verbatim as much of her own phrases as I could. (Slight digression – I once worked with a wonderful writer, a museum head of interpretation. A highly-qualified woman, she told me that actually, the most useful course she’d ever done was shorthand.) The result, I hope, is copy with integrity that reflects the client’s own idiom, with calls to action delivered in a friendly, inviting way.

The designer on this project was Lena from Biz and Bytes. I’ve known her for years, and she put me in touch with Nicky. We formed a nice, productive triumvirate of Cornish freelancers. Like the copy, the website is cool and uncluttered. Nicky works internationally, but the style has more than a nod to her native Cornwall. Copywriting for Nicky was a joy – there is clearly something calming about writing in this voice. I didn’t even mainline coffee. I hope Nicky’s clients get the same feeling from it.

Ghostblogger (who you gonna call?)

OK, I grew up in the eighties and so am obliged to reference the hit film about slimed academics… But this post has nothing to do with crossing the streams; and neither am I referring to the blogging platform Ghost – this is about the art of writing for someone else.

We’re all familiar with the idea of “ghostwriters”, without whom no celebrity novel would exist (hmm, maybe I’ve just un-sold this concept). Now, of course, we have ghost blog writers, and I am happy to be part of that spooky-sounding tribe.

Yes, we all know that we need a blog. Search engines need you to have a blog. Your current customers need a blog. Your potential customers need to see a blog to know you exist and that your business is live and current. Social media needs blogs in the same way the rest of us need breakfast. And so it goes on.

There can be a reluctance to hand over blog writing. After all, isn’t it some sort of diary, which is a personal thing? A blog is an informal way of connecting with your audience, and as such, shouldn’t it have a more personal tone than your other web pages?

This is where the ghostblogger comes in. Here’s why they are a good idea.

 

They always have the time

It’s the writer’s job, so they have to deliver. If you write your own blog, it can easily drop to the end of the To Do list on a busy week. Particularly if you don’t actually like writing…

If you outsource your blog, you can also work with your blogger to create a content calendar, so you know what posts are coming up.

 

It will read well

No need for false modesty here. A professionally-written blog post will have a sparkle and a flow to it – at the very least, it will be proofread.

Not everyone enjoys writing.  Contemporary culture has forced the written word on many people who really would rather never write. That’s fine. Some of us love to (winning smile, winning smile…). You can even outsource your Facebook and Twitter accounts #justsaying…

 

It can be written in any voice

Don’t worry about losing that personal touch. A good writer can write in a tone of voice that suits your business. A good chat or meeting at the start of the relationship will help to establish a style – and, ssssssh, no one need ever know that it doesn’t come from the owner/CEO/marketing team/figurehead…

 

You will get the content you need

You will be guaranteed regular, high-quality content, which both the search engines and your customers require. The content will be properly researched and referenced, and will be pitched to speak to the right audience.

 

So there’s the case for outsourcing your blog to a shadowy figure who will speak to your audience for you. The original Ghostbusters said “no job is too big, no fee is too big”. Don’t worry. Ghostblogger here starts at a mere £30 per blog post.

Kotomski Classic Interiors

I write for all sorts of organisations and areas, and as every parent knows, you don’t have a favourite. However, I have to say that after writing lots of technical stuff, it was a joy to sink into the luxurious chaise longue that is the world of interior design.

Kotomski Classic Interiors is a London-based interior design company. I wrote most of the copy for this website, working with Martin Kotomski, whose company offers a bespoke interior design service. He works mainly in the Classical style, timeless and elegant, so that set the tone for the copy…

As the company is very much about Martin and his skills, to have integrity the web copy needs to reflect his own idiom. This sounds fancy, but mainly means writing in my notepad like a mad thing while the client speaks, and trying to capture as many of their own words and phrases as possible. These can then be woven into the main text or occasionally used as headers or captions. When an individual is putting themselves forward as part of the brand, this lexical identity is essential. So, Martin and I chatted a lot, I scribbled lots of notes, and he sent lots of info through on email.

However, the copy here is very much in a supporting role – it’s the pictures that will get the main response from the audience. Me too, to be honest. I am completely captivated by the black claw foot bath on the home page…

 

The Bandaluza

“We need some case studies”, I tell my clients. Ever good at ignoring my own advice, it’s about time I started writing some of my own. So following on from my recent piece about Cornish Chicken, my next few blog posts will be about recent projects, starting with the Bandaluza.

It’s lovely to work on a product that is just so, well, happy. The Bandaluza is a two-handled banner which can be customised to show your team’s/country’s/company’s colours/flag/logo, with the fab addition of programmable LED lights in the handle. “Supporter paraphernalia”, I believe is the official term for such merchandise; and the parent company, Euphoria Sports Ltd, has been granted the official licence to sell Bandaluzas at the forthcoming Rugby World Cup . At last, a job to make my rugby-supporting Valleys family proud of me…

What was my role? With a new product like this, the copy has to find a balance between a marketing and descriptive tone. It’s mainly business-to-business, so we focussed on short snippets of text highlighting the different uses of the Bandaluza. As I’ve blogged about in the past, I write catalogue copy, so used this most concise of copy styles to describe the range of Bandaluza uses. As the website is going to be translated into several languages, I also had to stay away from any UK English idioms and keep it simple – which let’s face it, is always the best way to write web copy, translations or no.

It was great fun to write about such a lively subject, and Leonardo at Bandaluza and the team at Creative Steam London were a pleasure to work with. I shall be watching the crowd as well as the players at RWC15…

My first week on Twitter

This week, I have been mostly – staring at Twitter. Startled by how quick and easy setting up @KateWaddon was, I suddenly found myself live on Twitter with very little knowledge apart from “StephenFry” and “Trolls” and “Hash tags”. It all felt very frenetic. I felt old. I wanted to run straight back to Facebook.

But then – ooh, interesting people. “Who to follow”, it said. It was like some crazy famous person shop. Columnists I admire. Chefs. Musicians. Susie Dent. I began clicking like a nutter. Then I started searching for contacts, Cornish businesses and potential useful networks. The purpose of Twitter for business suddenly became clear.

I contacted a couple of tweeting friends and announced that they would now be my Gurus. One of my new Gurus sent me a great introduction to using Twitter. Aimed at academics (now there’s a tricky line to walk – how to pitch at a bunch of people who could tweet before they could walk, without Trying Too Hard or being laughably luddite), it was also very useful for general professional use. It suggested three tones to use: substantive, conversation or compromise. I chose The Middle Way. OK – I have a handle (the @ thingie), a style, two Gurus and a business plan. Let’s tweet.

My Husband/Small Business Advisor doesn’t do Facebook. That’s probably helped our relationship no end– he is spared the inanities of my personal page and I don’t get a business critique on my professional page. But he does use Twitter… “You’ve tweeted Lauren Laverne!” Er, yes (blimey, how does he know that? Oh yes…) “And she didn’t favourite your tweet!” Damn. Social media fail hanging out for all to see.

Because it’s all so public. That feels quite strange. Before each tweet I still feel as if I am clearing my throat and about to pronounce in front of a large, possibly critical, audience. Logging onto Facebook felt like returning to a warm, loving embrace. It felt like my Mum. I snuggled back into its welcoming arms and burbled away happily.

So, why am I doing this? Even four days in, I can appreciate that it’s a great way of reaching an audience. My main copywriting market at the moment is businesses in the South West, and Twitter is a great way of letting them know I exist. At the moment, this seems to be mainly through gentle stalking and ingratiating favouriting (that’s a word?!); however once I build up more tweets and gain more followers and start being retweeted, it will be an amazing way of reaching an audience.

From a writer’s point of view, it’s a marvellous exercise in being concise. Limited to 140 characters per tweet because of its SMS-based origins, there’s no room for waffle. It’s like the good old days of texting on unsmart phones, where a message could become a mini masterpiece of condensed writing. I was sure I could remember how to communicate in this way, but many of my words ended up shaded in pink – I am too long-winded for Twitter. I began pruning. I am aware that I overuse the ellipsis – Twitter could cure me of that…Maybe…

So will I continue to use Twitter? Oh yes. Already, I feel its strange pull. I get daily words of wisdom from Susie Dent. The joy of being retweeted resulted in a hideous, blokey air-punch. I messaged one of my Gurus instantly to tell her (on Facebook, ahem). I’m not yet at the stage of offering to manage clients’ Twitter accounts yet, but one day…

My confidence is growing. Today I may even attempt a hash tag.