Get published in a magazine: hot tips for aspiring feature writers

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    This post was written by TCCS member, Rashida Tayabali 

     

    Get published in a magazine: hot tips for aspiring feature writers

    Have you ever dreamed of seeing your byline in a magazine? I’ve had dozens of articles published in both print and online magazines.  And here are some helpful tips on how you can pitch your article ideas to editors and get them accepted.

    Having never written a feature article before, I started off with the feature writing courses at the Australian Writers’ Centre. I found these helpful because I got industry insights, skills, and learned how to avoid pitfalls when pitching story ideas to editors.

    Here are my tips for writers wanting to get published in magazines, based on my own experiences.

    Read the magazine

    And by ‘read’ I mean from cover to cover with a writer’s eye. Skip this step (as many newbie writers do) and you’re likely to fail.

    Pay attention to headlines, topics, and the content. Do the articles need research and expert commentary, or are they more about personal experience? Note the tone of each article – is it friendly, formal or conversational?

    Read as many recent issues as you can lay your hands on. Beg, buy, or borrow from your library.

    Tip: Read the current issue and three previous issues, as editorial direction can change. Read their online magazine too, as many print magazines also publish digital content.

    As you read the magazine note the following:

    • Who is the features editor? Interact with them on social media so they’re familiar with your name before you pitch a story idea. But don’t send a friend request on Facebook – that’s creepy.
    • How often is the magazine published?
    • Does the magazine accept freelance pitches? Call the magazine to find out, or study the bylines. Confirm who the best person is to send story ideas to, and get their email address.
    • What’s the demographic of their audience? From this information, you can see what topics the readers like. You can get all this information from the magazine’s media kit.

    Find the angle

    If you have a topic in mind, then brainstorm angles from which you’d write the story. Be specific. A mistake often made by new writers is suggesting a topic rather than an angle. What do I mean by that?

    Topic: Teens and social media

    Angle: How social media is making teens, especially girls, depressed.

    See the difference?

    One is a broad coverage of the topic of teens and social media. The second sentence is extremely specific about what the writer will cover.

    Make sure your idea hasn’t already been covered by the magazine. The fresher the angle, the higher the chance it’ll be accepted.

    Write the pitch

    This is the part where many writers start trembling in their ugg boots. My first pitch went from my personal Yahoo email to the editor (cringe). The story idea was relevant to the magazine, but I didn’t make that mistake twice.

    What should the pitch cover?

    • A good subject line. Spend some time on it. Write the headline in the style of the magazine, and make it as enticing as you can. Remember, some editors receive more than 50 pitches a day. Make your email stand out
    • Your name, why you’re the best person to write this story, and whether you’ve been published elsewhere
    • A brief overview of the topic, headline and angle. Tie it to recent news, a new research study, trend or a celebrity
    • What research and experts you’ll use (if required)
    • A date you can send in the final article

    You can also offer to write it on spec. On spec means you send in the final article for the editor to read and decide if it suits their magazine. It’s not good for you as a writer (if they don’t like it you don’t get paid), but if you’re willing to take the risk it can pay off in a commission.

    4 tips for new feature writers:

    1. Get the editor’s name right. The wrong name and spelling can send your email to the bin.
    2. Don’t hound the editor if you don’t get a response to your first email. Unlike you, she’s not sitting there hitting refresh on her screen. Leave it for a week or two, and then send a polite follow-up email. If you still don’t get a response, move on to another publication.
    3. Always have two publications in mind for your idea. Tweak it according to the second magazine’s style and send it off if you get silence from the first editor.
    4. If a national magazine is a little scary for you, start by pitching to your local newspaper.

    Here’s one of my pitches for Life & Style (SMH) below:

    Dear Editor

     

    Would you be interested in the idea below for Life & Style – Family and Relationships section?

     

    How to avoid embarrassment on social media by relatives

     

    Have relatives ever embarrassed you on Facebook? Facebook in Australia has over 12 million members with nine million actively using it every day, you’re bound to bump into a relative or two or twenty!

     

    What with the ranty brother spamming you with comments every two minutes, oversharing of childhood photos by mum, how do you educate them on Facebook etiquette especially during the silly season without hurting their feelings?

     

    Should you befriend your relatives on Facebook at all? The article offers tips from a social media etiquette expert on how to avoid embarrassment if you do have them on your feed especially for the upcoming holidays. Parties and alcohol in the festive season inevitably mean being tagged in photos you’d rather not have anyone see!

     

    Statistics

     

    In an online survey of 165 Facebook users last year by Northwestern University, researchers found that nearly all of them could describe a Facebook experience in the previous six months that made them feel awkward, embarrassed or uncomfortable.

     

    Case studies

     

    I’ll interview two people who have been embarrassed by their relatives or close family on Facebook in various ways, how they dealt with it plus the consequences e.g. family fallout.

     

    I can submit this article in two weeks if commissioned. My clippings are available on www.rashidatayabali.com.au should you wish to take a look.

     

    Thank you
    Rashida

    This story idea was commissioned by Life & Style SMH article.

    Over to you

    Hope you found these tips useful on how to approach feature editors with your ideas. Now it’s over to you. What tip didn’t you know before reading this post?

    About Rashida

    Rashida Tayabali is a Sydney-based copywriter and feature writer. She loves writing clever and creative content that wows clients. A mum of two, she likes to read, travel and wander in her imagination.

     

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    Contact Name:

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    Beyond the F-shaped structure: 4 language tips to make your web copy more readable

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    This post was written by TCCS member, Tanja Gardner

     

    Beyond the F-shaped structure: 4 language tips to make your web copy more readable

    Back in March I wrote a blog post on why structuring and formatting for F-pattern readers is essential. In that post I talked about how most people read on a screen, and gave you four tips to help you do it effectively.

    (Note: If you haven’t read it yet, it’s probably worth checking it out before you read this one. It’ll give you a lot of background for why on-screen readability is such a big deal.)

    Of course, there’s more to readable copy than just good structure and format.

    The way you use language can also make your copy easier (or harder) to read on a screen.

    If you’re new to web copywriting, here are four quick and easy hacks to keep your copy flowing smoothly for on-screen readers.

    #1 – Shorten or split long sentences

    In my March article I mentioned that reading text on a screen takes longer than reading the same text in print.

    Granted, screen quality and resolution have both improved in the 20 years since Jakob Nielsen discovered the 25% gap in speed between the formats. But the general principle still holds true.

    It’s easy to see why overly-long sentences cause problems for web readers. By the time they reach the end of the sentence, they’ve probably forgotten how it started.

    When I did my “Writing for the Web” training, I learned these sentence-length standards:

    • Keep most sentences under 20 words.
    • Don’t go over 25 words in a single sentence.
    • Don’t be afraid to use one-word sentences and paragraphs. (Just don’t do it too often.)

    Got any sentences longer than this? Look for unnecessary words you can delete, or find ways to rewrite them in fewer words. Alternatively, consider splitting a complex sentence into two or more shorter ones.

    #2 – Get active (at least in your voice)

    Are you clear on the difference between passive and active voice? If primary school grammar was a long time ago, here’s a quick refresher:

    • With active voice, the main subject of the sentence ACTIVELY does something, often to someone or something else (e.g. “The cat sat on the mat”). Sentences written in active voice tend to be shorter, simpler and clearer.
    • With passive voice, the main subject of the sentence PASSIVELY has something done to it, usually by someone or something else (e.g. “The mat was sat on by the cat”). Sentences written in passive voice tend to be longer, more convoluted, and more “murky”.

    Now despite what Buzzfeed-style list articles (and some grammar checkers) claim, using passive voice is NOT a grammatical error. It’s a totally valid way to write a sentence. And it can be useful, especially if you don’t know exactly who performed the action. (It’s also great for taking the attention off someone so they don’t look bad.)

    But passive voice can really bog your writing down. It makes your sentences longer and less clear—the last thing you want in web copy.

    So unless you have a good reason to keep them passive, write your sentences in active voice.

    #3 – Use the shortest, simplest words to convey your meaning

    Einstein is often quoted as saying, “Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler”.

    And it’s especially true in web copy.

    I love this quote because it recognises that the shortest word isn’t always the right one. Sure, sometimes you can just say “blue”. But at other times you may genuinely need “cerulean” or “cobalt” or “turquoise”.

    That said, creating readable copy involves using the simplest language to accurately communicate your meaning. Here are some practical tips to make that happen.

    • Check whether there’s a shorter word you can use. Most people sub-vocalise (silently speak words in their minds) when they read. The more syllables a word has, the longer it will take them to read. So ask yourself whether your readers really need to “utilise” a technique. Maybe they can just “use” it. And do they need to “purchase” your programme, or can they just “buy” it?
    • Watch out for nominalisations. These words are born when someone takes simple verbs such as “develop” and “admire”, and turns them into nouns such as “development” and “admiration”. Not only does it increase the syllable count, it also forces you to add a few more words to make it work (e.g. “the development of”). If you find nominalisations cropping up in your copy, try to cut them back to their simpler verb forms.
    • Don’t be afraid to use contractions. You were probably taught not to use contractions (e.g. “don’t” instead of “do not”) at school. But they actually make your copy more conversational and relatable. (They also cut out an extra word—bonus.)

    #4 – Write TO your reader, not about them

    When you write for corporate or academic readers, you’re often encouraged to take yourself – and them – out of the picture. It’s almost as if the writing has to exist totally independently of the person who wrote it to be credible.

    Writing for the web is different. Keeping people’s attention means proving that what you’ve written is relevant to them. And a big part of that is writing in second person (“you”), rather than third person (“he”, “she”, “they”).

    Think about it: which option is more likely to keep you reading?

    1. “People shouldn’t use third person in their copy. Their readers will find it less engaging.”
    2. “Don’t use third person in your copy. Your readers will find it less engaging.”

    It’s number two, right? That’s because using “you” makes you feel like I’m talking to you rather than about you.

    Good web copy is all about making things easy for your reader

    If you’re new to web copywriting, especially if you’ve come from a corporate or academic background, these tips might sound strange to you. You may even think I’m asking you to turn the rules of writing on their heads.

    But writing well for the web is all about keeping the purpose of your copy in mind.

    You want people to read what you’ve written, and then take action. And anything that makes it harder will reduce the chances of it happening.

    In the end, writing good web copy is all about making it as easy as possible for people to do what you want them to.

    Over to you

    Know any other tips and tricks that make writing easier to read on a screen? Tell us about them.

    Tanja Garnder beyond f pattern blog

    About Tanya

    Tanja Gardner writes copy and edits books for heart-based businessfolk at Crystal Clarity Copywriting

     

    MORE DETAILS

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    Contact Name:

    Contact Phone:

    Contact Email:

    Contact Website:

    Want to be a successful copywriter?

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    Copywriter’s Guide to Rewriting Web Content

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    This post was written by TCCS member, Gemma Hawdon

     

    Rewriting web content can be a daunting task. It’s often trickier than starting from scratch.

    After all, how do you transform pages of messy, monotonous drivel into clear, engaging content?

    The truth is, every copywriter works differently and you need to figure out what suits your style and approach.

    But if you’d like some tips, here’s my process, so far, it’s serving me well):

    Editors note: Pick up more content rewriting tips from the Recipe Success eCourse

    1. Make sure you and your client are on the same page

    Let’s face it, most of the time there’s no such thing as a ‘rewrite’. Existing content has usually been slapped together by some well-intended professional who’s probably a genius in their field, but not so crash hot when it comes to writing web content.

    It’s best to make things clear from the start so you don’t feel restricted when you begin writing. Make sure your client understands that, while you’ll take the existing content into account, you need the freedom and scope to recreate where necessary to get the strongest results.

    2. Develop a detailed brief

    If you’re going to nail any content, you need to understand your client’s business and goals. Many copywriters skimp on the brief because they’re afraid of taking up too much of their client’s time. But a detailed brief is essential in understanding –

    • The personality and strengths of the business
    • What your client wants to achieve from their website
    • The reaction they’re trying to drive from customers
    • What type of language and tone to use
    • The needs, desires and problems of their target audience

    (What’s more, I find the questions I ask in my brief often raise important points the client hasn’t considered).

    Give your client options. Ask them whether they’d prefer to go over the questions via phone or email. Try to get detailed, specific answers that will help you develop strong, relevant content.

    If you haven’t already created your own, download the Clever Copywriting School’s Briefing Template here. It’s fab.

    3. Run a content audit (optional)

    While this isn’t the most exhilarating job in the world, it can be an important one. Whether you need to run an audit or not depends on many things including the age and size of your client’s website (if they have one – you may be rewriting content for a new site).

    If a content audit is necessary, make sure you factor it into your original quote.

    What is a content audit?

    A content audit is a careful look at the existing content. It reveals how well content is performing in terms of SEO and driving traffic. It will help you figure out which content needs to be kept as-is, improved, removed or consolidated.  You don’t want to lose rankings for existing content that’s taken months/years to achieve.

    What you choose to audit will depend on the goals in your brief. A typical audit will include –

    • Checking page titles, urls and meta descriptions are Google-friendly
    • Exposing broken or expired links
    • SEO checks on content, keywords, images and tags
    • Duplicate or thin content that can be consolidated/improved
    • Most visited pages/popular content

    The Clever Copywriting School has created a content audit spreadsheet to help you manage and sort the existing content as you work through the process. This is also fab.

    4. Create a content map (optional)

    A content map is a visual technique to help you plan and organise your content in line with a website’s goals and users. It will become your point of direction when you begin writing, keeping you focused on the type of content you need to create. It can also be a great way to show your client (and their web designer) how you see the content fitting together so that you’re all on the same page.

    The key is to not overcomplicate.

    Your choice of tools will depend on the way you like to work. For the practical minded who prefer the old-fashioned approach, it might come down to a simple whiteboard. But the beauty of web-based tools is that you can save and share what you’ve created. OmniGraffle (a diagramming and mapping tool for Mac) and Balsamiq (a wireframing and prototyping tool) are two of the more popular tools.

    5. Get writing

    The fun part! But before you begin, get your head around the page you’re working on by jotting down some pointers for guidance:

    What existing content have you decided to keep?

    Refer back to your audit. Popular, relevant content should be improved, not removed.

    What do you want this page to achieve?

    Think about how you will drive sign-ups, shares or sales

    What information is missing?

    Put yourself in the users’ shoes – what will they want to know in order to act?

    What’s the tone of language?

    Humorous, authoritative, intelligent? What sort of words will appeal to the target audience? Should the language be basic for younger users or more sophisticated for your educated user?

    Have you established the page (meta) description?

    Remember, the content must deliver what you’re promising users when they click through to the page.

    What keywords are currently ranking?

    Check back to your audit or use SEMrush and Google Adwords to research keywords. Are there others the page should be ranking for?

    Keep referring back to your brief and content map and work through each page keeping the above details in mind.

    6. Polish

    Once you have the bare bones knuckled down, go over what you’ve written page-by-page asking yourself:

    • Are the titles and meta descriptions engaging enough? Do they meet Google’s character requirements?
    • Do the messages create interest and value for users?
    • Is this sentence necessary/strong enough?
    • Does the tone reflect the company brand?
    • Are the call-to-actions powerful enough?
    • Do the sentences and meanings flow? (The content should progress as a story. Sentences should vary in length.)
    • Does the content give my client an edge over their competition? (Are their strengths and points of difference clearly emphasised?)
    • Can SEO be improved without impacting the strength of the content?

    This is a good stage to use a tool like the Hemingway App to help strengthen your writing. This app highlights long, complex sentences, poor word choice, passive voice and adverbs that can be replaced with verbs.

    7. Client feedback

    Now you have your first draft, send it off to the client (go on, don’t be afraid). Explain in your email that the first draft isn’t supposed to be perfect. Rather, this is ‘skeletal’ stage to get your client’s feedback and give them a chance to highlight any concerns. It will save time in the long run.

    8. Redraft

    Continue to send each version to your client and work their feedback into the next version. With each redraft (I usually allow for 3 and a final proofread), your content will become stronger and closer to the mark.

    By the time you reach proofreading stage, there should be no further changes other than correcting spelling and grammar.

    (Breathe a sigh of relief – you’re nearly there.)

    9. Sign off

    I never used to bother with sign-offs – the client’s already told you everything’s good to go, what’s the point? The point is that clients can come back to you down the track, ‘We’re not happy with this, or there’s been a new development with that…’

    Once a project has been signed off, any future changes are considered part of a new project and can be quoted accordingly. A project sign-off also gives you the opportunity to get permission to use your work for promotional means and to request a testimonial.

    Use the Clever Copywriting School’s Sign-off Template here. (Also fab!).

    After that, there are only two things left to do – send off your final invoice and plop your feet up!

    Over to you

    Do you have any tips for rewriting existing web content?

    Who is Gemma Hawdon?Gemma Hawdon

    With over 8 years’ writing experience including writing articles for magazines, blog posts, web content, marketing copy and short stories, Gemma understands how to use language that talks to different audiences and how to create content that consumers will respond to. And having worked in Marketing for companies like GE Capital, Publicis Group and Yahoo! Gemma knows a thing or two about branding and target audience. Check out Gemma’s website.

    Check out Gemma’s profile in the Directory.

    If you liked this article please share.

    MORE DETAILS

    Contact details:

    Contact Name:

    Contact Phone:

    Contact Email:

    Contact Website:

    Want to be a successful copywriter?

    We help aspiring copywriters build a thriving copywriting business, hone their writing skills, make connections and boost their confidence.

    Copy Shop








    Stop making your copy look bad

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    This post was written by TCCS member, Jonjo Maudsley

     

    Here’s some copywriting advice from your art director.

    Full disclosure: I’m not an art director, I’m a copywriter. But I did, once upon a time, study design and typography. And though I’m not advocating we all become experts in this field (I certainly didn’t), I am insisting we all at least learn the basics.

    I’ll never get over the shock of arriving at my first agency to discover that no one – no one in the copy team understood formatting. I’ve always considered it essential, especially in a digital environment where clients and agencies increasingly look to their writers to manage CMSs, lay out webpages and collaborate with UX designers.

    Yet, in retrospect, it’s understandable. Formatting skills are only taught to students of design and typography (sometimes journalism) at degree level.

    But that doesn’t excuse you – yes you, the graduate of English/Marketing/Humanities, etc.

    If you wouldn’t submit copy to a client without proofreading the words to perfection, why shouldn’t the same rules apply to formatting?

    Here are what I consider the six worst formatting culprits. Copywriters, I implore you: add these factoids (and Alt codes) to your little book of copywriting tips, if you haven’t already.

    More to the point: stop making your copy look bad.

    1. The ellipsis

    Let’s start with a game of spot the difference.

    A: …

    B: …

    Can’t find any? I’ll give you a clue. One is an ellipsis, the other one is just three full-stops.

    Can you tell now?

    The ellipsis is A.

    And an ellipsis is always the right answer where you need three full-stops. B, meanwhile, (the three full stops) is what I call the PPC copywriter’s worst nightmare.

    The difference between these two pieces of punctuation is simple. A, the ellipsis, is one character. B, three full stops, is (if you haven’t guessed) three characters.

    Why is this significant? Well, let’s say you have 35 characters on a PPC ad copy line, or 156 characters to write a meta description, or 140 characters for a tweet. You want to make the most of your limited allocation, of course. So if you need to add an ellipsis to this copy, and you were to inadvertently use three full stops instead of an ellipsis, you’d waste two of those precious characters.

    Okay, that’s not the end of the world – but this might be: how jarring the sight of three full stops can be. In some typefaces, fair enough, the difference is barely noticeable. But in many others, full stops are not made to kern (more on this word later) with one other. Often they appear wonky, or take up lots of room horizontally.

    An ellipsis, meanwhile, is consistent. If you are using two ellipses in a piece of copy, they’ll appear identical, with the same space between periods and before and after other letters. They’ll kern well every time, and look neatly compact.

    At size 11 on a screen, you may not see much difference. But at size 10,000, on a billboard, you certainly will.

    To write an ellipsis:

    Windows: With Num Lock on, hold Alt and press 0133

    Mac: Hold Option (⌥) and press semi colon (;)

    2. The hyphen, the en-dash and the em-dash

    Let’s play spot the difference again.

    A: –

    B: –

    C: —

    It’s easy enough to recognise these three dashes are different lengths. Short, medium and long, we might call them. But beyond a superficial level, what’s the difference?

    Let’s break it down.

    A is a hyphen. A hyphen is used to make a conjoined word, i.e. to join two or more words together. That’s all it does. You should never use a hyphen as an en-dash, and certainly not as an em-dash, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

    There are three steps to using the hyphen:

    One. If I wanted to create a double-barrelled word like, well, double-barrelled, I would use a hyphen. I could go on to connect three words (devil-may-care), four (state-of-the-art), and so on.

    You can tell if a word should be conjoined by testing if it has a single, unambiguous meaning. For instance, if a carbonated drink has no sugar, you could call it sugar-free. But, if you want to give me sweets expecting nothing in return, that would be sugar free.

    Two. You can use a hyphen to join prefixes and suffixes – but you should try not to. Sometimes, it’s essential, especially if you need to add emphasis to the prefix or suffix (for instance, I would recover from an illness, but I would re-cover my sofa). A good rule of thumb is to only use a hyphen where it makes sense to do so.

    Three. Having said that, there are three prefixes that always need hyphens. They are ex (e.g. ex-girlfriend), all (e.g. all-encompassing) and self (e.g. self-confidence).

    That’s the hyphen.

    Next up is B – the en-dash (so named because the dash is the same length as a lower-case “n”).

    An en-dash offsets parenthetic clauses. Easy enough to understand, right?

    You only need to look back through this article to see what the en-dash looks like in action. Simply, the dash separates two related parts of a sentence – such as where one sentence qualifies information in the sentence before it – like this! Think of the en-dash as an alternative to the comma, brackets and semi-colon, all in one.

    There is one other way you can use the en-dash, which is to show range between two numbers. So, if I wanted to write “nine to five” in numerals, I would do so with an en-dash: 9–5.

    There’s an exception to this rule (isn’t there always?) which is if you use the words “from” or “between” before these numbers you should forego the en-dash and simply use a word like “to” or “and” instead (e.g. “from 9 to 5”, “between 6 and 7”).

    To write an en-dash:

    Windows: With Num Lock on, hold Alt and press 0150.

    Mac: Hold Option (⌥) and press the hyphen (-) button.

    Finally C, which is the em-dash (so named because – you guessed it – it’s the same length as a lower-case “m”).

    This one is nice and easy. It only has two uses. Chances are you’ll probably only use the em-dash if you’re writing a novel, but it works just fine on other channels.

    Its first use is to indicate a sentence has ended abruptly, unfinished. Allow me to give you an example by doing it in this—

    The second use is to attribute a quote.

    One example that clearly showcases both uses is from one of my favourite movies:

    “I sense something, a presence I’ve not felt since—“

    —Darth Vader, Star Wars Episode IV

    To write an em-dash:

    Windows: With Num Lock on, hold Alt and press 0151.

    Mac: Hold Option (⌥) and shift, then press the hyphen (-) button.

    I appreciate that’s a lot to digest. So let’s sum it up:

    • Hyphens join words. That’s it.
    • En-dashes separate sentences and show a range between numbers
    • Em-dashes are for ending sentences early and attributing quotes

    3. Widows, orphans and non-breaking spaces

    Here’s a picture of some dummy text laid out on a page. It looks pretty nice, right?

    Widow-Orphan-1

    Well, almost. There are actually two mistakes – can you point them out?

    By way of a clue, here’s a classic mnemonic handed down through generations of typesetters: an orphan has no past, a widow has no future. Haunting though it may be, perhaps it gives you a clue as to what we’re looking for here.

    Allow me to explain further. When setting type, your primary objective is to help the reader digest your information as quickly as possible, without interruption. Common errors – like typos and bad grammar, but also more technical things like widows and orphans – jut out and cause distractions.

    Remove them and your copy flows easier, faster.

    With that said, allow me to point out what you were looking for:

    Widow-Orphan-2-1-220572251

    In the left hand column, we have an orphan. In the right, a widow.

    Simply put, an orphan is a single word that hangs at the bottom of a paragraph. A widow is a short sentence that sits alone at the top of a column.

    Go back to the first image – notice how out-of-place they seem, now you know what to look for. We must get rid of them – but how.

    The easy way is to use non-breaking spaces. A non-breaking space is a signal to your computer that two words should never be separated. Adding a non-breaking space to the two words at the end of a paragraph ensures that there will always be at least two words on a hanging line. With correct use of non-breaking spaces, your paragraphs will never have to end with a sudden jerk.

    Widows are harder to sort out. In most cases, the easiest – and in other cases, the only way to get rid of them is to adjust the height of columns.

    Whatever solution you find, your ultimate objective is a layout like this:

    Widow-Orphan-3

    Much better.

    To insert a non-breaking space:

    Windows: Highlight the space between two words. With Num Lock on, hold Alt and press 0160.

    Mac: Highlight the space between two words. Hold Option (⌥) and shift, then press x.

    4. Roman Hanging Punctuation

    Despite its regal-sounding name, Roman Hanging Punctuation is a very simple concept.

    Let me show you a quote:

    Roman-Hanging-1-1

    Not bad. But, as you should expect by now, there’s something a little off about this paragraph.

    I’ll give you a clue: it’s to do with the alignment on the left-hand side. Still lost? Let’s draw a line down that side.

    Roman-Hanging-2

    Can you see it now?

    That punctuation – the opening speech mark – is spoiling the alignment of our paragraph. This isn’t a huge thing, of course, but with one little difference – that is, by applying Roman Hanging Punctuation – your copy will look much, much better:

    Roman-Hanging-3

    If you’re sending an ad off for print, always add a Roman Hanging Punctuation check when reviewing the finished product. It’s easy to apply Roman Hanging Punctuation with InDesign: highlight your text, open the Story box, then select “Optical Margin Alignment”.

    Remember, you can apply Roman Hanging Punctuation to web copy too. A quick Google search will usually be enough to give you the code you need for your coding language or CMS.

    5. Kerning and leading

    Kerning is the space between characters. Leading is the space between lines.

    This is well into the region of your art director’s responsibilities, but as a copywriter, it helps to know about them. Especially as the day may come when you submit some ground-breaking copy, only to have it sent back by your designer because it doesn’t kern or lead well.

    Chances are you’ve come across some epic kerning disasters on the internet (Google “kerning gone wrong” right now if you haven’t). It goes to show not only the importance of letter spacing, but of the vigilance writers must have when pairing certain letters. Certain typefaces are notorious for danger pairs. I’m always on guard around:

    • rn
    • LI
    • cl
    • FI

    To illustrate, consider reading these words at a quick glance, the letters perhaps a little closer together:

    • burn
    • FLICK
    • click
    • FINAL

    Another thing to remember is that MOST TYPEFACES ARE NOT DESIGNED WITH ALL CAPS WRITING IN MIND, SO LETTERS PROBABLY WON’T KERN WELL. IF YOU FEEL YOU OUGHT TO BE WRITING IN ALL CAPS, SPEAK TO YOUR ART DIRECTOR FIRST TO MAKE SURE THE COPY YOU HAVE IN MIND IS KERNABLE. But, hopefully, you’ll never have to write in all caps anyway.

    Kerning can be done on a letter-to-letter basis, but if you’re writing long copy, you probably won’t have the time or energy to fix every single gap. That’s why it’s important to know your typeface, how it automatically kerns, if there are any danger pairs – and if you need to fix it, how you’re going to do that – whether by using InDesign (put your cursor in the space between two letters, hold Alt and use the left and right keys), Microsoft Word (in the Font dialogue box, choose Letter Spacing) or online (usually using the format { letter-spacing: 2px; }).

    As for leading, this is a bit easier. Don’t space your lines too close or too far apart – it’s as simple as that.

    Your main hazards when working with leading are ascenders and descenders. These are the parts of characters that sit above or below the ordinary heights and depths – like the long body of a lower-case “d”, or the curly bit hanging beneath a lower-case “g”.

    When an ascender sits directly below a descender, there’s a chance they might touch. If that happens, it will look awkward. Knowing, as you should, the typeface you’re working with, you might be able to mitigate this risk in the writing stage. Otherwise, you can tweak the line spacing.

    If you do this, just make sure you do it consistently. Don’t have one line that sits way off on its own somewhere. It will look strange and disrupt the flow of your copy.

    Leading is one of the default options in InDesign and Photoshop, and can be easily adjusted in Microsoft Office too (Open Paragraph, then use the Spacing option). It’s also easy to fix in CSS – just search for the code you need and you’ll quickly find it.

    6. Numbers

    Let’s count to 12 – ready?

    One

    Two

    Three

    Four

    Five

    Six

    Seven – (still with me?)

    Eight

    Nine

    10

    11

    12

    Huh, what happened there?

    The Associated Press style guide says that numbers 10 and over should be written as numerals. Below that, use words. Trouble is, only 1 in 5* copywriters agree (* that’s a made-up statistic, don’t go quoting it elsewhere).

    What I mean is, it’s fine to break the rules – especially in headlines. Numbers create impact.

    But think hard before you do break the rules. Remember, if you’re using one or two numbers in a long piece of copy – like I did just then – using words can help readers quickly skim. If, of course, I needed to call attention to a poignant statistic like that only 2% of people do something, it would of course be better to use the numerals (writing “two per cent” just isn’t as punchy).

    As for very large numbers, are you more likely to understand 3,574,220 or three million, five hundred and seventy-four thousand, two-hundred and twenty? (Or, perhaps a neatly summarised combination: “more than 3.5 million”).

    What I mean is, screw the rules. We’re copywriters after all, not journalists. Write numbers however you think they work best in the situation. Just, as always, be consistent.

    And that’s it!

    You’ve made it to the end of this very long and information-rich article – so what should you do next?

    Know what I’m going to do? Share this article with my whole agency. Because it’s not just the Creative department that are responsible for our agency’s communications – it’s everyone from the CEO to the Junior Account Managers. And knowing how to make writing look good – with simple fixes like non-breaking spaces, proper dashes and neat kerning/leading – is everyone’s responsibility.

    Over to you

    How about you? If you liked this article, why not share it with your network or agency?

    newpicWho is Jonjo Maudsley?

    I’m Jonjo Maudsley. I live in Brighton (the English one) and write for iCrossing UK. If you’re a scout for a Premier League Football Club, sign me up on LinkedIn.

    If you liked this article please share it with your copy chums.

    MORE DETAILS

    Contact details:

    Contact Name:

    Contact Phone:

    Contact Email:

    Contact Website:

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    How to make $2000 an hour as a copywriter

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    Or, the two essential skills every copywriter needs

    What does it take to be an awesome copywriter?

    • A firm grasp of grammar?
    • A bookshelf full of copywriting books?
    • Or, a lever arch file packed with course notes?

    I’d argue it’s none of these. 

    In this article I’m going to share, what I think, are most important skills a copywriter needs, not just to write well but to guarantee a fabulous income.

    But first a little about me

    Unlike many copywriters out there I am not classically trained. I’ve never done a copywriting workshop, an ecourse or a correspondence course.

    Yes, I studied English at Uni, but it was more poetry and plays than paragraphs and proof reading.

    I’m not much of a copywriting book reader either. While many others swear by Bob Bly and his ilk, the closest I’ve gotten to reading about the craft of copywriting is flicking through a dictionary.

    So, you may ask, do I deserve to even call myself a copywriter?

    Well yes, I learned at the copywriting coalface – when I switched from my production role into a full time copywriter role. It started at Ogilvy where I was lucky enough to work on some fairly major brands, and then I went on to write copy at several UK agencies, before eventually turning back to production.

    I had several smashing creative partners, some amazing teams to work with and a few clever and insightful Creative Directors (it has to be said many creative directors can be a touch painful to work with – so I got lucky).

    I learned to:

    • Work under pressure.
    • Integrate the client brief
    • Ask the tough questions
    • Pull creative concepts out of my butt crack

    I also learned to edit, proof, perfect, define, expand, drill down, negotiate, take criticism, work with others, and brainstorm like a master.

    So yes, I learned a heap of things in these roles but I still don’t think that any of these are essential to developing copywriting skills.

    In fact I believe it was when I was a lowly receptionist, working for a pittance in some god-awful National Health Service office that I discover this one vital skill.

    It was when I was typing up those endlessly dull memos (this was pre emails) and reports that I honed my copywriting craft.

    You see I think the most important copywriting skill is this…

    You need to type fast.

    Yep, that’s it.

    Disappointed?

    Don’t be. Let me explain.

    My typing speed currently stands at around 90 wpm.

    Don’t believe me? Here’s a graphic to prove this.

    Kate Toon Typing Speed

    This means that when I’m on the ball I can type up a 400-word page in around 6 minutes.

    What’s your speed?

    If you’re not sure what you’re typing speed is you can take the test below:

    Psst: If the test isn’t showing up- just head here to complete it.

    No, I don’t charge by the word, I charge a fixed price per page, per website or per job.

    But let’s do the maths: If an average web page is 400 words, and you’re charging say $200ish per page – well that 90 wpm typing speed means you’re making around $2000 an hour.

    Let me repeat. That’s $2000 an hour!

    If I was good at sums I’d tell you based on that, what you could earn in a day, a week or a year. But I’m a words person, so you’ll have to work it out yourself.

    Okay, okay. I know that’s ridiculous.

    Those 6 minutes don’t take into account: briefing, reading, thinking, editing and proofing time.

    They don’t factor in the admin, making cups of tea, walking the dog or putting a load of washing in.

    But you see here’s the trick.

    Along with typing fast the other skill I think a copywriter needs is the ability to cut the crap and get the hell on with it.

    In my opinion too many writers spend too much time faffing about. They’re wasting time stressing about perfecting the perfect brand message, debate the quintessential tone of voice, researching a zillion competitor websites, and asking the client 9087 questions.

    They fret that they’re not good enough, they whine about writers block, they struggle to find motivation and inspiration and determination. They fanny around on social media, they chat in forums and they clean the bathroom. They do anything to avoid actually writing.

    You see after being able to type like a maniac the next skill a copywriter needs is to get stuck in.

    It’s a principle a lot of good writers use.

    (I know this ‘cos I was talking to Glenn Murray just the other day and he told me so.)

    When I get a new project, of course I ask questions, of course I do a little research and of course I grab a giant coffee and have a wee before I start.

    But then, then people I WRITE.

    I take that blank page and I write all over it.

    I write bullets, I write snippets, I write random verbs, quotes, thoughts, ideas, headlines, bullets and even the occasional full sentence.

    I write whatever comes into my head and I write it FAST.

    I don’t second-guess myself, I don’t edit, and heck I don’t even spell check. I just write. Whatever spews forth out of my cerebellum ends up on the page.

    And that super fast typing speed means I can type as fast as I think – almost, I think my brain is more like 120 words per minute – or at least that’s what my husband says.

    I get it down and I get it done.

    I can polish off a first draft of a 10 page website in a couple of hours.

    Yes it’s messy, even a bit crap. But crap and written down is better than perfect and still in your brain.

    I have the raw material on the page and the whole white page horror is dissipated.

    And now the much easier process of polishing and editing can begin.

    So that’s it people.

    • LEARN TO TYPE.
    • GET STUCK IN.

    Two skills every copywriter needs to have.

    And yes, I know I know, it was a terribly click baity title. And I know that noone could really type so fast and write so well they’d earn $2000 an hour. But I hope you still learned a thing, or two.

    Once you do know your rates why not create your own Copywriting Rate card?

    Over to you

    What do you think is the most important skill a copywriter needs? And what, come on tell me, is your typing speed!

    MORE DETAILS

    Contact details:

    Contact Name:

    Contact Phone:

    Contact Email:

    Contact Website:

    Want to be a successful copywriter?

    We help aspiring copywriters build a thriving copywriting business, hone their writing skills, make connections and boost their confidence.

    Copy Shop








    2015 FREELANCE COPYWRITER SURVEY

    How to apply

    1. Read through the job description below carefully and ask yourself:
      1. Do you have relevant experience?
      2. Can you meet the deadline or feel confident negotiating it?
      3. Can you meet the budget or feel confident negotiating it?
        If the answers are all ‘YES’ move to step 2.
    2. Send your best possible pitch to the email address included in the job description below. Introduce yourself, sell yourself!
    3. There’s no need to cc us, but of course we’d love to know if you win the job, please tell us in the TCCS Facebook group

    Job application rules and guidelines

    1. Jobs will be posted on this page as they come in.
    2. The TCCS rules still apply:
      1. Please only apply for jobs you’ve had experience in.
      2. Do not apply for every single job – you will ruin the quality of the replies for the job poster and as a consequence, we’re likely to get few jobs posted.
      3. We will be monitoring responses by following up with job posters to assess quality.  If we find that members have been applying for jobs for which they’re not a good fit, their access to the job board will be limited. 

         

    3. Jobs will be open for a maximum of 48 hours, fewer if the enquirer has advised they’ve received enough responses.

      Suggested format for emails:

      Hi Bob.
      I saw your job post on The Clever Copywriting School Job board.

      Reason for applying:
      Name:
      TCCS Directory link: (Annual members only)
      Website:
      Email:

      Phone:

      Thanks
      Your name

       

    Happy pitching and as always, if you have any questions or technical difficulty, please email admin@clevercopywritingschool.com

    JOB DETAILS

    Job status: Open

    Industry:

    Type:

    Deadline:

    Budget:

    Location:

    Brief:

    A few months ago, we launched an anonymous Freelance Copywriter Survey to gauge how rates, working hours and challenges varied around the world.

     

     

    We’re now (finally) ready to publish the results.

    We had 97 submissions from all over the world.

    Copywriter survey map

     

    The majority of respondents were from Australia, but we also had submissions from Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, England, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland USA and the UK.

    The majority of respondents (68%) were female.

    Copywriting survey male female

    Most respondents (77.3%) been a copywriter for less than 6 years.

    how long have you been copywriting

    The split between full time and part time was fairly even.

    Copywriters part time full time

    Most copywriters (70.1%) charged a mix of hourly and fixed-price rates.

     copywriting fixed rate

    Most copywriters (79.3%) charge between $40 and $120 per hour.

    copywriting hourly rate

    Over half of copywriters (57.8%) worked on average between 11 and 40 hours each week.

    Copywriters average hours

    The majority of copywriters (67.7%) felt that only 31% to 70% of their time was billable.

    copywriters billable time

    38.1% of copywriters earned under $10k (after tax) in their first year.

    International figures converted into AU dollars.

     

    Copywriting earnings first year

    Only 7.5% of copywriters are earning over $150k a year (after tax) in their 5th year.

    International figures converted into AU dollars.

    Copywriting earnings fifth year

    The majority of copywriters (62.9%) work mainly for small or medium-sized businesses.

    copywriting clients

    Copywriters regularly work on jobs involving writing website copy (83.5%).

    copywriting work types

     

    Copywriters mostly found clients via word of mouth from previous clients or friends (55.7%).

    Finding copywriting clients

    Over half of copywriters (57.7%) have no formal training.

    copywriting training types

    Of those who had taken training, 38.1% chose ecourses and/or webinars.

    copywriting training types

    37.1% of copywriters chose freelancing for the freedom it gave them.

    Why I became a copywriter

     

     

    Other answers here included:

    • All of the above
    • I wanted to leave IT
    • I love writing
    • I lost my job
    • The job market sucks
    • To have a career I enjoy
    • To stop losing my personality in the corporate world
    • Wife told me to
    • To make money while building my online business
    • Got preggers

     

    “If I weren’t’ a copywriter I’d be  …”

    • A Fiction writer
    • A CEO
    • A Chef
    • A Beekeeper
    • A Belly dancing astronaut
    • A Broke travel writer
    • A Designer
    • An Artist
    • A Horticulturist
    • A Journalist
    • A Lawyer
    • A Musician
    • A Painter
    • A Drum kit master
    • A Psychologist
    • A Brand Manager
    • A Sommelier
    • A Surfboard shaper
    • A Successful author
    • A Zoo keeper
    • The Australian Jackie Chan
    • An ESL teacher
    • An IT support engineer
    • An Antiques dealer
    • Broke
    • A Barista
    • Retired
    • The Stage Manager at the Albert Hall
    • A Web developer
    • Working in sales
    • A Comedian
    • An Underwater photojournalist
    • A Yoga teacher
    • A Private investigator
    • A Psychologist
    • Very poor

     

     

    FREELANCE COPYWRITER SURVEY 2015 (PDF 44 pages, 44KB).

    Thanks to all those who took part in this year’s survey. We hope you found the results useful. I would love it if you would share this post.

    [contactme]

    MORE DETAILS

    Contact details:

    Contact Name:

    Contact Phone:

    Contact Email:

    Contact Website:

    Want to be a successful copywriter?

    We help aspiring copywriters build a thriving copywriting business, hone their writing skills, make connections and boost their confidence.

    Copy Shop