what I do
I take on a whole range of projects – anything from a one-day editing job to a three-month web project. I can create copy from scratch or edit and polish the words you already have. Whatever you ask me to do, the writing will be clear, the grammar will be spot on, and the copy will be working hard to get your messages across.
Your annual report should be a hybrid between a promotional brochure and a performance review. It needs to give stakeholders confidence in your business. I've written and produced about 40 annual reports over the last decade or so. A small triumph perhaps?
The annual report service works like this: first, I'll develop a content plan and production timetable (if you don't have one). Then, I'll do the research, interviewing and writing. Next, I'll finish off with some detailed proofreading before it goes public.
My approach? Well I know your readers won't pour over every word so I try to make it easy for them. Pull out facts and stats, clever use of picture captions, 'at a glance' boxes and infographics all help to get information across quickly. As well as the writing, I can manage the creative side of it too. I collaborate with graphic designers who are good at making sure your report gets noticed.
My web writing service starts with a game plan. I'll need to understand the purpose of your site – what you want it to achieve and who you want to target. Once I have some answers, I'll develop a web strategy (if you don't already have one). This will give your content edge, clarity and believability.
Next comes the writing. My rules are: no waffle, no jargon, a bit of personality and content that informs, persuades or sells. The copy should be scan-friendly, with short paragraphs and informative headlines. Anything else will drive visitors away.
When it comes to design, I can create a brochure-style website using the Squarespace platform. Have a look at some sites I've created for The Well and Wyre Landscapes. If you want something more commercial with lots of whistles and bells, I can hook you up with an experienced web developer.
This is where my creative copywriting skills come in. The trick with sales brochures is to uncover the hidden benefits of what you're selling. And there will be some, I promise you. When I'm writing your sales copy, I'll want to know how your product or service can make customers' lives easier, happier, healthier or more interesting. It's almost like solving a puzzle.
One copy technique is to let the reader picture themselves using the product or service. For example, in a brochure to promote a new penthouse apartment, I used the following lines: With a rooftop dining area that opens up to the outdoors, you can catch up with friends in the coolest of places. Even inside, with wall-to-wall windows, you can gaze at the night sky. Soul-stirringly beautiful. By the time I'd finished writing the brochure, I wanted to move in myself!
By 'online content' I'm talking about social media posts, blogs and promotional emails (e-shots). There's a skill to writing this stuff because here's the thing: your reader won't care about your business or what you're offering. For this type of content, you need to become a problem solver, not a product seller.
There are lots of analytical tools out there to help you monitor what gets read, liked and shared. As a writer, this type of data analysis frustrates me. My advice is simple: find out what your customers are interested in. Ask them what they want to read about. And, together, we'll sock it to them with short, snappy, value-infested copy. Another thing – search engines don't like spelling mistakes or poor English. Mess it up and you won't even get the visibility, never mind the clicks and shares.
Newsletters and e-bulletins
Whatever business you're in, it's a good idea to communicate regularly with customers and other stakeholders. You might want to tell them what's new, what's changed and why you're so good. But you should also include items that give value to your readers.
For newsletters aimed at customers, articles that offer advice, tips, discounts and lifestyle ideas should be regulars in your contents list. Don't subject them to a page-long article about how Mike in Procurement spent his day. Staff stories are a big no-no. Reader focus groups are a great tool for gathering content ideas. My newsletter writing style: short paragraphs, lively headlines, plenty of subheads, pull out copy and bullet points. Job done.
I started out working in media relations, so crafting press releases comes as second nature to me. Think of the press release as your publicity starting point. Journos will scan the first couple of paragraphs to decide whether your story is worth taking on. It HAS to have a newsworthy angle, and this needs to be apparent in the headline and first paragraph. And of course, the release needs to be written in plain language, third person and with an objective slant. If you have a story to tell, I'll pull out some news angles and construct a press release that journalists won't want to ignore.
We all love to read about other people's lives (unless it's Mike in Procurement, of course). I'm taking about inspirational stories where we can feel a connection with someone. A story that delves into a customer's life and talks about the challenges they've overcome will stay with your readers long after they've moved on from your marketing materials.
What's more, well-written case studies show how you're putting your vision into practice. As well as encouraging readers to take action, they're great for your reputation and staff morale too. It's a no-brainer: case studies should play a key role in your content strategy.
Bids and awards
Whether it’s a bid or an award submission – make no mistake, this piece of writing needs to be your ultimate sales pitch. For bids, you’ll need to show a real and absolute need for your service. And you’ll have to spell out what the measurable benefits will be. As well as stuffing the document with hard evidence and quality stats, the content should be clear and compelling. Bids should be: easy to read, easy to digest and easy to say ‘yes’ to. And that’s where I can help.
For awards, it’s all about storytelling. Often, there’s been a journey of some kind – the creation of a new service or a personal struggle perhaps. As well as answering the necessary judging criteria, the writing needs to connect with the reader. Deadlines are always tight. So if you’re looking for a lifeline, I can either write your submission from scratch or inject some pizzazz into your drafted version.
Editing and proofreading
Tap into my editing and proofreading service if you want your copy putting into plain English, editing down or checked for spelling, grammar and flow. But we warned: I can be a bit nit-picky so don't come to me if you don't want some honest feedback. Seriously though, the copy you get back will be spot on and well worth the extra effort.