Half way through the year

June has been and gone, and it was another insanely busy month for me, with the result that I’ve made virtually no progress on my PPL and have had very few days off. The workload looked like this:

  • 29 educational articles (2,000 words each – 58,000 words in total!!)
  • A business profile/proposal doc for a client
  • A sales email promoting a new resource website for another client
  • Another whitepaper for the same client
  • Some social media updates for the same client
  • Two blog posts for Air Experiences
  • A three-hour meeting writing blog posts and promotional letters for another client
  • A blog post on online accessibility for another client
  • Six more events listings for the prestigious/luxury client

On top of that:

  • Our parents met for the first time when we all had lunch together in Cirencester; they got on really well!
  • We’ve flown to the Isle of Wight for the day
  • We’ve flown to Dover for the day
  • We visited Packwood House
  • We’ve started crewing for the hot air balloon again
  • And I’m still volunteering for Guide Dogs every Thursday morning, walking dogs/puppies

I’m coping ok with this much bigger workload, though I sometimes wish I could have more time off. It gets pretty intense when I’m struggling to get everything written and then I have edits to make on top of that, and new projects to price up, invoices to send/chase, accounts to keep (theoretically – still behind on that!), and a life to live. Hence why I’m not updating this blog so often now!

As ever, you can keep up to date with my non-work activities over at www.cosylife.co.uk.

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I’m still here

Hi all,

Just to let you know that I am still here. Hopefully you’re not missing Diary of a Freelancer too much. ;-)

May has been busy on an unprecedented scale. I must have written and edited many tens of thousands of words, including:

  • Tonnes more long education articles
  • Nearly a hundred meta descriptions and introductory texts for a software client
  • A blog post for a lovely lady who’s about to publish a craft book
  • Three digital marketing whitepapers
  • Two case studies for an industrial client
  • Four blog posts about Thailand and Burma for a new travel client
  • Some copy for my wedding photographer client
  • Two pages for a solicitor via a digital marketing agency client
  • An Italian pizza delivery menu and slogans
  • Copy for eight pages of a sign-maker/graphic design website

Phew! No wonder I am suffering from repetitive strain injury and general exhaustion. On top of all that, I’ve somehow also found time to:

    • Pass three more PPL exams (communications, meteorology, aircraft general knowledge)
    • Pass my aircraft radio practical exam (with flying colours!) to obtain my aircraft radio licence
    • Fly solo again for the first time since September
    • Fly in a very fancy motorglider, including in an aerotow (pulling a glider)
    • See Jimmy Carr
    • Fly to another airfield for Sunday lunch
    • Meet up with various friends and family in Oxford
    • Buy a MacBook Air
    • Buy a coffee machine (and learn how to use it!)

I’ve written a few blog posts on my other blog about non-work activities – check out http://www.cosylife.co.uk. I’ve only had three days off this month, and I’m hoping that June will be a little more forgiving.

Travel companies: get your exclusive 20% copywriting discount!

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Whatever the destination, and whatever the angle, I can promise you well-researched, interesting copy that people want to read and share. What’s more, with my SEO background, I know what works when it comes to content that boosts your Google rankings.

Travel writing is my biggest writing passion and I’m keen to work with more travel companies, so if you’d like me to write for you, get in touch now and claim your exclusive 20% discount off your first piece of content to try my services for yourself.

Smallprint: offer valid for your first piece of content from me. Offer expires 31/3/14.

On Losing My Voice

I was having a discussion with my dad the other day about the enjoyable intellectual challenges of being a copywriter, and one of the things that came up was the fact that I have to write in many different voices. As a copywriter, it’s essential that you’re able to adapt your writing style to suit the client you’re writing for. Luckily this is something I’ve always been very good at and enjoyed doing, but I’ve come to realise that in getting so used to doing this, and in spending so much time writing as other people or companies, I have started to lose a bit of my own voice.

In the last few months since going freelance, I’ve taken on the persona of an educational institution, a corporate client selling a very niche kind of software, two different American crime authors, a high-end manufacturer of luxury domestic appliances, a commercial property manager, an HR consultant, a supplier of industrial-scale electric generators, an HR agency and a web design agency. And somewhere along the way, my own voice lost its edge.

Not long ago I was looking at some blog posts and diary entries I wrote when I was 18, and I realised with a sinking feeling that they were a lot wittier and more interesting and imaginative than anything I write as myself now. I now feel that, writing as myself, I would struggle to make someone smile, let alone laugh. I read what I’ve written for my clients and am generally very happy with it. But I read my own blog posts and I’m deeply unsatisfied with them. The grammar and syntax is okay, but there’s little of the personality that used to characterise my writing.

Over the past few months I’ve started blogging a lot more on my own blogs so that I am still doing some writing in my own voice, but I feel my own writing has become boring and lacking in personality since becoming so used to writing in corporate styles. I hate reading my own posts and feel deeply inadequate when I compare my own blogs to those of others.

I don’t know why I thought writing this post was a good idea; I just wanted to get it off my chest I guess. I don’t know how to tackle this problem and the lack of time on my hands doesn’t help.

Fellow copywriters: have you experienced this? If so, how do you combat it? If you have any suggestions, please help!

9 inane phrases people need to stop using on social media

I’m a big fan of Twitter, and I mostly tolerate Facebook, but lately I’ve been increasingly annoyed by some of the utterly inane words and phrases I’ve seen people using, presumably because they think it makes them look funny, or because they think it makes their boring status update marginally more socially acceptable because it’s phrased in a way that they think is cool. The words and phrases in the list I’ve compiled below are the ones currently irking the hell out of me on social media.

NB: before you say it, yes, I know that language evolves. And before you say it, yes, I know that oft-spouted fact about Shakespeare having made up all those new words. There’s nothing wrong with language evolving, except when it makes you look a total moron. As all these ones do.

1. “Dear [insert name of inanimate object here], blah blah blah blah blah, love me”

Example: “Dear Rain. It was really nice of you to come out and spoil my walk this afternoon and get me soaked. Regards, me.”

It isn’t funny or cute to write like this, it’s just idiotic. Can the rain actually hear you addressing your little letter to it? Is it going to make a blind bit of difference to the situation? And do your friends and followers even care that the rain came out to spoil your walk? No. No. And no. So just shut up.

2. “Oh hai”

Example: “Oh hai, brand new shiny iPad”

I understand that you’re pleased you’ve got a new iPad. I would be too. But why not just say “I’m so happy with my brand new shiny iPad?” Did that really need “Oh hai”? As if the iPad can hear you talking to it? And “hai” isn’t even a word. Variations include “Oh hello” or “Why hello”.

3. “[insert massive show-off object/holiday/whatever]? Don’t mind if I do”

Example: “An all-expenses-paid trip to Barbados by private jet? Don’t mind if I do”

This roundabout way of showing off has crept into the English language thanks to Facebook. People feel the need to show off on social media about what a great time they’re having, or how brilliant their life is, but it’s not very socially acceptable, so they’ve found a method of showing off in a way that, on the face of it, doesn’t look like overt showing off, just a harmless rhetorical question. People who use this phrase aren’t fooling anybody though – we all know that they’re just bragging, and it’s almost worse for the fact that they’ve tried to disguise it. Variations include replacing “Don’t mind if I do” with “As you do”, or “Oh, go on then”.

4. “YOLO”

Example: “Quick selfie #yolo”

Otherwise known as “carpe diem”, but for those who have no intellect, YOLO (“you only live once”) seems to have sprung up fairly recently and appears to be used mostly by daft teenagers who can’t get over how amusing they are. And in the example above – an actual example taken from a quick scan of the “YOLO” hashtag – the fact that one only lives once is NOT an excuse for your habitual vanity.

5. “So”

Example: “So today I was walking down the street and I saw someone walking their cat.”

I know that “So” is a perfectly innocuous word. But as the example above illustrates, for some reason EVERYONE has started beginning ALL their sentences with it. The example I’ve given is just one of pretty much every single other sentence that would work perfectly well without the “So” at the beginning, but this infuriating habit is now everywhere. I really don’t understand how these things start.

6. “I am in you”

Example: “Brighton, I am in you!”

I don’t think you need me to spell out how wrong this phrase sounds. But even leaving aside rude connotations of the phrase “in you”, and the fact that you’re once again addressing something that isn’t a person and therefore can’t hear you, this unfortunate phrase just makes you look an idiotic crowd-follower. You’re only using this phrase because everybody else does. Why don’t you say “Just arrived in Brighton” and accompany this fairly boring fact with something interesting that’s happened along the way?

7. “Totes”, and every single other ludicrous word shortening

Example: “It’s totes amazing”

It’s not “totes”, it’s “totally”. It’s not “ridic”, it’s “ridiculous”. If you’re pushed for characters, just find a shorter word for the same thing. And don’t even get me started on people who actually use these words in their real-life speech.

8. “Amazeballs”

Example: “OMG the new Breaking Bad was totes amazeballs”

I don’t know where this word originated, but there are no words for how horrible it is.

9. “Oh em gee”

Example: “Oh em gee have you heard about so and so?”

“OMG” is an abbreviation of “Oh My God”. That’s fine. BUT IT’S NOT AN ABBREVIATION ANYMORE IF YOU ACTUALLY WRITE IT OUT PHONETICALLY. It’s the same number of letters, you absolute imbecile. As for people who actually say it out loud in real-life speech, the less said about them, the better.

I’ll probably lose a load of followers for this post, but I don’t care. If you have any words or phrases you think should have been on this list, leave a comment below and I’ll add it if I agree with you.

UPDATE

Lots of you got in touch with even more inane phrases you’d like to see the back of, and I remembered a few too.

10. “Sleeps” (as in “10 sleeps til Christmas”. Only acceptable if you’re aged four or under)

11. “.com” (as in “I’m bored.com”. Adding .com to the end of something doesn’t make it any more interesting a sentiment, and it makes you look a fool)

12. “Just sayin'” (adding this to the end of an insult is not an excuse for being rude)

13. “Get your [whatever] on” (as in “get your geek on” – what does that even mean?)

14. “Chez [surname]” (not an acceptable way to describe your house unless you are French)

15. “Le sigh” (why? I just don’t get it)

16. “I’m not being funny, but…” (no, you’re right, you’re not being funny)

17. “BOOM” – is your name Basil Brush? No? Then stop it.

Freelance copywriter for hire (me)!

I did something pretty scary a couple of weeks ago. I quit my job.

Giving up the financial security of a permanent job may sound slightly mad in these times of economic uncertainty, but I felt it was high time I did what I’ve always wanted to do and set myself up as a freelance copywriter. Copywriting is what I’ve always been most interested in career-wise, and having worked in a rapidly growing travel company and two digital agencies, I’ve had lots of opportunity to build up an enviable portfolio of copywriting work, including Skyscanner and Lancaster University.

Now I feel it’s time for me to take things to the next level by taking the bold step of branching out on my own, which will have the added benefit of giving me the flexibility I need to be able to fly on the rare occasion the weather is actually good enough (at the moment, it’s just my luck that every time the weather is nice I’m chained to my desk!).

I’m going to be officially freelance as of 15 October, offering the full range of copywriting services, both online and offline, but specialising in website content – primarily on-site copy, blogging and news sections. In preparation, I’ve already added a couple of new pages to my site, giving some information about why you should hire me and my rates.

As if this weren’t big enough career news, Lee and I are also setting up a business together doing something completely different, but that will also make use of my skills as a copywriter and my wider digital marketing experience. But more news on that in the next week or two once I finally finish building the website… Watch this space!

Meanwhile, if you’d like to have the honour of becoming my first official freelance client, just fill in the form below to send me an email!