Kate Waddon Copywriting

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

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…

The all-new, Superfast copywriter

As from last month, working from home has got a lot easier. Yes, I am still plagued by cats and distracted by housework. But – Superfast Broadband has reached our corner of Cornwall, and I am surprised by how much difference it’s made.

I’m afraid that my initial shallow response was “Ooh, Netflix!” But – to be more serious – the benefits for a copywriter that works from home have been fantastic.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, like many freelance people in rural West Cornwall I mostly work remotely. The ability to chat through websites without long, uncomfortable silences as the website creaks to life, and upload documents to Dropbox to share with clients is brilliant. Skype now works. OK, I still panic about how tidy the shelves behind me look and always wish I’d remembered to brush my hair first, but I don’t have the embarrassment of suddenly dropping out of the conversation.

It’s also increased my potential working hours to beyond the school run, as I can continue to work without losing connection speed as my kids download various random and huge things. Online research doesn’t grind to a halt because My Little Pony games are happening at the other end of the room.

Productivity and efficiency are increased, thanks to a little green cabinet by the hedge, next to a farm.

And to be honest, I just feel less out-on-a-limb.

Copywriting for the Cornish Chicken Company

This has been a joy of a job. The Cornish Chicken Company‘s first website is now live, and I’ve had a lovely time working with farmer Louise Wilson, chatting about all things chicken.

I’ve known Louise for years; and have to admit I was surprised when she announced she’d become a free-range chicken farmer. Then I was less surprised – she’s a fantastic chef, and she lives on the family farm. It all made sense. Louise had spotted a gap in the market for free-range chicken reared in Cornwall (there wasn’t any), and in real entrepreneurial style, went about filling it. Now she supplies some of Cornwall’s best restaurants, as well as running stalls at local farmers’ markets and selling at farm shops.

Why has copywriting about Cornish chickens been such fun? Well, lots of reasons really. I rarely work with friends or family, so when I do, I thoroughly enjoy it. Then there were the trips down the stunning coast road to Louise’s farm in remote West Cornwall to see the chicks in situ. I also had the opportunity to work with the marvellous ­Meor Design in St Ives. I’ve admired their stuff for ages, mainly as they kitted out one of my favourite lurk-spots, The Hub.

Above all, it was great to write about a product I really believe in. As well as tasting superb (the slow-growing breed Louise uses has a lovely, gamey flavour, thanks to its robust lifestyle on the cliffs), it’s so wonderful to see such considered animal husbandry in action. What I’ve rather euphemistically called “the whole process” is carried out on site, removing that stressful final journey for the mature chickens. If you care about the provenance of your food, watching these chooks in action in their beautiful meadow is a really marvellous sight. There should be a category of chicken called “Extremely Free Range”.

Have a look at the website and enjoy Ruaraidh Monies’ evocative photography. The design, images and words have worked together to capture both the wildness of the Cornish coast and the fun of Louise’s young family down on the farm. As I said, a total joy.

Update from Cornwall

Having banged on about the importance of looking after your blog, I have pretty much neglected mine during March. To return to my original analogy, if it were a plant, I would now be standing it in a shallow bath, feeding it panicked overdoses of Baby Bio and pleading with it, out loud. Happily, blogs are more forgiving.

I wish we weren’t all so fond of declaring people “passive aggressive” these days – it makes it hard to offer a genuine explanation about anything. I’ve had a real rush of work in the last two weeks and during these busy periods, my clients always have to come first (although the strategic marketing mob would shake their heads at my task-focused approach).  Here’s a quick update of what I’m currently working on.

It’s quite unusual and rather nice that most of my copywriting work is for Cornwall-based businesses at the moment. That means I have occasionally (gasp) met up with my clients. I’ve dragged myself out of my usual old-rugby-shirt-and-baggy-leggings work combo, put on, well, tidier leggings, and had the pleasure of work and coffee with some splendid and talented people.

Because as ever, it’s the entrepreneurial spirit of my Cornish copywriting clients that impresses me. This week I met up with a local farmer – a young woman who has set up her own business in a farm so beautiful and windswept, it could be straight out of Poldark*. It is going to be a stunning website, and I’ll write more about it when it’s live.

I’m also writing for a “glampsite” (there’s a smashing portmanteau word for you) which is seriously making me want to chuck everything in the car and head up to North Cornwall for a bit of comfort-under-canvas. The very lovely hotel I’m working with is also making me feel that there’s a serious lack of glamour in my own life (see the old rugby shirt reference again), as I encourage others to relax in the pool and enjoy a glass of something chilled on the balcony… These are two projects that highlight the county’s growing reputation as a high-end destination.

Then I roll my sleeves up and crack on with an engineering website that’s nearing completion. This is for a Cornwall-based company that now works internationally, so we’ll be looking at working with translators shortly. In a completely different sector, I’m about to start a project with a therapist, which will be an interesting exercise in getting the tone just right.

So that (plus a couple of copywriting projects north of Cornwall) is why my blog has dried up and needs a bit of extra watering (although it’s not as dead as this metaphor). Again, my recent work has made me feel very privileged to work with such a group of imaginative, hardworking people who are really making a go of their diverse range of businesses down here in Cornwall. Links to websites and more updates to follow when everything goes live.


*It is obligatory to mention Poldark in every conversation at the moment if you are Cornish and female.

The researching copywriter

I got to do a lovely thing today. I picked up some real, live, three-dimensional books. With each book, I turned to the index, put some post-its in the pages that I needed, and added them to the pile on the desk. I was Doing Research.

Research can be a major part of  copywriting work. Clients that ask you to quote for “writing time” don’t realise that often, the actual writing bit is pretty quick. Finding out what to write is a slower process, however it can be one of the most rewarding parts of the job (just please bear in mind that I really want to be a QI Elf, so I don’t necessarily speak for my less geeky peers). It’s also great if you get to surprise the client with a nice little snippet of information that can really add an extra something to the writing.

Most of my projects require some sort of online research, even if it’s just to double-check a spelling. I’m not sure if I should admit just how much time I spend on Wikipedia… Yes, I know it’s not always reliable, but it’s a great springboard to other sources that are.

But today was different. Easter customs in Cornwall is one of those subjects that’s so pleasingly esoteric that there’s not a lot out there. However, it’s the sort of field that lots of fabulous and dedicated individuals have written books about, and it was a pleasure pootling through their pages. It took me back to the good old days of the university library, when the only time we saw a screen was to help us find the right shelf.

I have a few more historical things to research over the next few weeks, and I may actually take myself down to Penzance library. OK, I can’t have my usual writing rider of coffee and Six Music; however I can enjoy that eureka moment when you find just the right subject in the index – far more satisfying then using a search engine…

But, I’m not about to amble too far down the (grassy) luddite path; and I’m not about to enter the whole “print-is-dead”, “screens-are-soulless” debate. It’s personal, and largely situational. I can’t imagine doing my job without the internet. It was just rather nice flicking through some books.

Why you can’t just copy and paste your copy – website writing versus printed material text

“Can’t you just copy it from our existing website?” Sorry folks, no cutting corners (or cutting and pasting) here. Web copy does not translate well to print (or vice versa), even when you’re talking about the same product to pretty much the same audience.

Just these last few days, I’ve been writing brochure copy. I’ve written for this client before, and up until now, it’s all been web copy. Switching from updating the website to starting on the brochure, with only a quick coffee break in between, was not a good plan. After I’d been writing for a while, I realised that I’d been automatically writing SEO-type headers. New habits die hard.  Oh and don’t type in a hyperlink (red face…).

So, the obvious aside, why do we need to write differently for web and printed copy?

It’s largely because people read differently depending on whether they are looking at a screen or at printed text.* Faced with something on paper, we are more likely to read it “properly”, from beginning to end, like we were taught at school. Looking at a web page, we go more anarchic, our eyes wandering all over the page, looking for headers and snippets that allow us to get to the point quickly. I don’t know if it’s reverence for the written-down word or simply a time issue, but I bet most of us read more carefully when we’re holding a piece of paper. Web copy deals with scan reading by keeping sections short and well-signposted.

Printed stuff is, well, posher. There is an expectation that printed material is a bit more formal. There’s less reliance on nice, lazy punctuation, like hyphens. The convention tends to be more “it is”  than “it’s”. This doesn’t mean that the language has to be less contemporary or more straight-laced, and it still needs to be clear (don’t suddenly morph into a Victorian author just because you’ll see your work in print).

Proofreading has to be even more careful. It’s one thing emailing your designer to say “Argh, just noticed a typo!”  –  it’s quite another to take delivery of 2,000 leaflets and spot you’ve got your name wrong on the front cover… I’m about to start on a brochure proofreading project – wise people.

With any printed copy, please make sure you like it. Websites can be changed easily, whereas a flyer is a commitment. Make sure that the writing and design (or the writer and designer) work closely together to make the best use of the space. Future-proof a brochure by not putting this year’s prices or dates on it – a link to the website with its nice updateable format is a good plan here.

So you see, this is not what we wily writers do to drum up a few extra quid. The same principles of readability, clarity, accuracy and tone apply – but those few tweaks between media can make all the difference.



*OK, for the purposes of this post, let’s forget about Kindles etc and reading the newspapers on your tablet. It’s going to confuse my point. And me.