Life as a Didsbury Copywriter

You never know what's on your doorstep, do you? I've lived by Didsbury Park for two years, but for the first 18 months or so I was agency-based.

Now I'm a fully freelance Didsbury copywriter, I'm discovering local businesses I never knew existed.

It's been great chatting with more and more local businesspeople on Twitter - even if they don't need my services now, there's always hope for the future. And it's not all about finding work, either.

Outsourced Copywriting is Good for Business Continuity

Yeah, I'm gonna state that title as a fact. If you're looking at your disaster recovery/business continuity plans for the winter, consider outsourcing your copywriting.

Why? Well, it takes a lot of the pressure off of you, for a start. Hire a freelancer, and it's their responsibility to make sure you get your content, by hook or by crook.

Freelance copywriters don't have the safety net of a permanent contract, and generally don't have an IT team to fall back on if something goes wrong. For that reason, I'm something of an expert at rooting out viruses if they ever make it through my computer's robust defences.

But it's not just about being a one-man army - freelance copywriters also probably have a backup plan, because they can't afford negative word-of-mouth. We thrive on reputation and recommendation, so if one computer goes down, we'll find an alternative.

Memory and Multitasking

How good's your short-term memory? Particularly when you're juggling several thoughts at once?

Mine's pretty good - if you saw my recent post Things You Can't Teach, you can add 'excellent memory' to the list of attributes associated with both Cancer and the Year of the Pig.

But how do I keep my memory at its best, and how does that help with copywriting?

Things You Can't Teach...

Some of the things I'm about to list maybe can be taught - let's admit that from the outset. But like experience behind the wheel of a car, there's some knowledge that's best acquired hands-on.

I've been writing (and typing) since I was about two. Typing came first, propped up at the keyboard of a ZX Spectrum. By the time I started primary school, I could hand-write in block capitals. The school were annoyed; they liked to teach lower-case first.

Be the Dance, Not the Dancer

"Put the customer first" is another of the pieces of advice doing the rounds at the moment.

I'm not sure if one blog post inspires all the others, or if something in the wider world of eCommerce triggers everyone to write about the same thing.

Either way, this post urges you to think carefully before you make your customers the sole driving force behind your pricing and marketing activities.

Carving Katie Waissel

Last year, I carved my first 'proper' pumpkin design, creating my own carving pattern from a photograph.

This year I wanted to create a Katie Waissel carving pattern - her strong features and distinctive hair seemed a good starting point for a recognisable result.

Below is a comparison of the photo I worked from, alongside the finished result - along with the step-by-step process I followed to get from one to the other.

Prune, Don't Purge

There's a worrying trend for 'good copywriting' sites and blogs to advise heavy-handed pruning of your content, in order to get it to the minimum necessary number of words that still carries your desired message.

Now, pruning is no bad thing - in fact I'd say it's a fundamental part of the proofreading and editing process. Shortening sentences helps to keep them readable and enhances clarity (generally speaking).

But purging - ridding your copy of every last word that might be deemed extraneous - raises the risk of ambiguity and can vastly cut down on the number of search-visible words and phrases your website contains.


In honour of National Poetry Day, one of my own best efforts, written when I was about 16 (ca. 1999).

As originally written - if you want punctuation, you'll have to add it yourself.


Under mandarin clouds
And lavender skies
Where the summer sunset prouds
And the black swift flies

Beneath stormy cumulus
Where evils abode
On wind swept tumulus
Where rivers once flowed

In golden fields
With foolish haste
And through poor yields
Where lives lay to waste

Between sleep and waking
Lies life without care
Lie dreams in the making
I'll wait for you there


The dream was a myth
A crumbling cliff
Awake from the tides
To where evil abides

The sleeping wake
Where all was fake
Becomes waking sleep
And you're in too deep

The fields are grey
It's the end of the day
But no summer sunset here
And no happy new year

Between waking and sleep
Where fresh nightmares creep
And crawl in your hair
I'll wait for you there


The mandarin skies turn into pure gold
The lavender becomes velvet plush
And though laser eyed wolves still lurk in the bush
The sunsets and mornings seem somehow less cold

The dream isn't over but true life prevails
The evils of night go out of the mind
Yet alone in a room, with nothing of kind
It's hard to be sure what emotion true life entails

The memories fade, like cats in the dark
A warning remembered is all too soon lost
A yearning to recall fogged by vapours tost
But its bite is worse than its bark

A bet some day soon, or maybe a dare
Something will cause that last breath
There is a place between living and death
I'll go fishing, and wait for you there


I wait for your coming and hark at the drumming
Of blood rushing within my ears
Continually counting and soon amounting
First days and then months and then years

With bait in the water I do what I oughta
I sit here and watch for your face
I'll sit, do my fishin' while constantly wishin'
I never took part in that race

For it sure ain't cunning when Death's in the running
And death is the least of my worries
'Cause there's something behind me (I hope it don't find me)
It's small, and silent, and scurries

Wishing for you and yet fishing for you
Though I must it it sure isn't fair
There's a place of my making 'twixt dreaming and waking
I'm sorry. I'll wait for you there

Steve Jobs: The Measure of the Man

Few of us, when we die, will be remembered with a global outpouring of grief. Steve Jobs died on October 5th, 2011, of pancreatic cancer, and the internet mourned one of its spiritual leaders.

Apple's homepage carried a simple monochrome portrait of Jobs, along with the years of his birth and death. Google followed suit with a simple text link bearing the same information and referring traffic through to

Twitter was, perhaps unsurprisingly, dominated by the news - my own timeline, which contains a couple of hundred creatives' musings, consisted of little other than Jobs tributes and the occasional Apple-related joke or politically charged observation.

But my problem today lies with Barack Obama's comment regarding Jobs' achievements - and particularly how he and Apple have connected people the world over, even when they are on the move.

"There may be no greater tribute to Steve's success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented."
- Barack Obama