Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Write House Copywriting Service, Wolverhampton, Misused Words Series - Part 2 – Stationary vs. Stationery

Copywriting service - Write House, Wolverhampton
Wolverhampton Copywriting Service, Write House, Misused Words Series...

Wolverhampton copywriting service, Write House, continues their education in correct word usage. In part two of the series we tackle stationary and stationery. 

Firstly, happy new year! Granted it’s the middle of March, however, our time has been somewhat preoccupied with the launch of our new lifestyle blog – daddydotcom.blogspot.co.uk – and preparations for the launch of our all new White Paper copywriting service. So, please accept our sincerest apologies.

Following on from part one of our misused words series, part two takes on stationary and stationery. It may surprise you, but in copywriting circles the two words have been known to cause a few problems.

So, Write House is here to help. Let’s do this:

Stationary – dictionary definition - ‘Not moving or not intended to be moved’.
Incorrect usage – ‘I want to order some stationary for the office’.

Correct usage – ‘The vehicle at the side of the road is stationary’.

Stationery – dictionary definition – ‘Writing and other office materials’.
Incorrect usage – ‘The train at the platform is currently stationery’.

Correct usage – ‘I need to find a stationery supplier for the office.’

Don’t be surprised when typing an e-mail ordering ‘stationary’ for your office for things to remain motionless. 

If you’re ever in doubt, check it out. A simple Google search will help you to avoid those spelling mishaps, but don’t become complacent. There are some places where you won’t be able to rely on Google to - bail, or is it bale? – you out.

It might sound impossible, but minor spelling mishaps can have severe ramifications. Write House always relates to the example of re-sign and resign. The simple omission of the hyphen can have catastrophic consequences.

Write House recollects a story of an employee, sent an e-mail during negotiations over a new contract, to which he replied I wish to resign. This caught his employer completely off guard. Now, obviously the employee had wanted to re-sign, and it was not until the employee returned from holiday to discover the full extent of his error.

The employer had accepted his resignation and had since started the search for a new member of staff. The moral of the story is that correct word usage, along with checking spelling and grammar is vital, particularly in a professional capacity where first impressions count. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Copywriting without Offending the Faiths this Christmas

Write House founder and copywriter, Daniel Waldron, explores why copywriting feels the need to adapt its stance when 'religious' holidays come around.

With Christmas 2013 fast approaching, I have become more aware that my home city of Wolverhampton has become very adverse to using the word 'Christmas' across a number of its beautiful lighting displays. Terms such as 'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy Christmas' appear to have become obsolete, leaving me rather dismayed.

Instead, I find myself greeted by phrases such as 'Seasons Greetings' or 'Happy Holidays', but the question is why has Wolverhampton City Council taken the decision to withdraw the word Christmas from its displays? 

I thought there must be some reasonable explanation so I pondered some scenarios. I imagined being sat around the table with Wolverhampton City Council leaders, contemplating valid reasons for removing the word Christmas from lighting displays.

Perhaps Christmas is too long a word to make it fit on the display, or a display costs more to run because there are more letters to light if it includes the word Christmas.

However, it would appear that such scenarios were not the reason behind the omission of Christmas from these elegant displays. Further investigation revealed that Wolverhampton City Council had withdrawn Christmas for fear of offending other faiths.

As a Christian, as a worship leader at LifeSpring Church, Wolverhampton, I found this hard to bear.

The situation became even more perplexing when receiving literature from the nursery of my two sons. The copywriting had also omitted use of the word Christmas, substituting it for 'Seasons Greetings', 'Enjoy the Festive Season' and 'Happy Holidays'.

Forgive me, but I'm not offended when Sikhs let off fireworks to celebrate Diwali, nor am I offended when Muslims fast to celebrate Ramadan. So why is it that individuals, of potentially no faith, assume that those who do not celebrate Christmas are offended by Christians celebrating Christmas?

The fact that I have witnessed copywriting on Christmas literature 'altered' is disturbing and a really sad state of affairs. The truth is that if you ask followers of other faiths outside of Christianity whether they're offended by Christmas, a high proportion would say 'no'.

It is remarkable that in a society that pushes for equality, allows Muslims to build mosques, allows Sikhs and Hindus to build temples, thinks that faiths cannot be respectful of the beliefs of other faiths.

Wolverhampton is a diverse, multi-cultural and multi-faith community. Why should copywriting at Christmas be adapted to omit the word Christmas? If this is the stance that local councils are to adopt, should those who follow the Christian faith protest against the building of mosques and temples because it 'offends' them? Absolutely not.

Doesn't society try to teach us to be tolerant and respectful of others? Don't societal leaders encourage mankind to live harmoniously?

Omitting the word Christmas from seasonal literature and displays takes away the very meaning of what Christmas stands for. Christmas is a time to love, forgive and reflect on the things we are to be thankful for. 

In my experience Christmas does not create offence it creates compassion, love and kindness, acts to be embraced, not to be cast aside.

The truth is the faiths are not offended, it's those that lack understanding that fear causing offence. It's this lack of understanding that leads to irrational acts.

Hire the Write House copywriting service today. We specialise in creating captivating and compelling copy for websites, press releases, articles, social media and blogs.

We also cover a range of specialist topics including:
• Immigration law
• International real estate 
• IT
• Human Resources

Visit the official Write House website – www.writehouse.co.uk – you can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @WriteHouseUK and connect with us on Google+     

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Write House, Wolverhampton, Misused Words Series - Part 1 – Ensure vs. Insure

In a bid to eradicate the use of words in the wrong place Write House, Wolverhampton, is embarking on a journey to educate, not in a pompous way, but in a way that restores a sense of sanity to the English language by providing a series on the most commonly misused words that plague sentences across the UK and other English speaking nations.

Why? You ask. Well, having recently received an email, the fact that it was spam is beside the point, asking me whether I wanted to ‘insure my home alarm system was 100% functional’ we at Write House lost the plot.

The irony of this is that if the sentence had read ‘do you want to insure your home alarm system?’ We’d have no need to produce this blog series, but the fact that it has happened has convicted us to take action, for the sake of the world.

As another point of note the fact that we don’t have an alarm system should also be made clear (for any aspiring burglars out there that does not mean we don’t have some form of security, before you get any ideas!)

So here it is, Ensure vs. Insure – Where to use your copywriting correctly:

Ensure – dictionary definition – ‘make certain that (something) shall occur or be the case.’
Incorrect usage – In order to insure the safety of passengers in your vehicle encourage them to wear a seatbelt.

Correct usage - In order to ensure the safety of passengers in your vehicle encourage them to wear a seatbelt.

Insure – dictionary definition – ‘arrange for compensation in the event of damage to or loss of (property), or injury to or the death of (someone), in exchange for regular advance payments.’

Incorrect usage – If you live in an area prone to flooding, you may want to ensure your home in the event of flood damage.

Correct usage - If you live in an area prone to flooding, you may want to insure your home in the event of flood damage.

Hire the Write House copywriting service today. We specialise in creating captivating and compelling copy for websites, press releases, articles, social media and blogs.

We also cover a range of specialist topics including:
Immigration law
International real estate 
Human Resources
Visit the official Write House website – www.writehouse.co.uk – you can also find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @WriteHouseUK

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

There’s Copywriting in my Underwear - ‘Copywriting Encounters Inevitable’

Wherever you fix your gaze it’s inevitable that you will come across copywriting in one of its many varying forms. Advertising billboards, discarded packaging as you enjoy a leisurely stroll through your hometown or city; heck, even the tag in your underwear, all feature some form of copywriting.

Copywriting has infiltrated all areas of life and as a copywriter I guess I notice it more than most. Words positioned perfectly to pique the interest of unsuspecting consumers, placing subliminal messages in one’s head that seem to stick for a life time.

Copywriting is something we encounter with greater frequency than most other things in life. 
That toothpaste you use in the morning, that deodorant you spray over yourself and the shower gel you use (presuming that you shower of course) all feature a form of copywriting. Whether it is a catchy little slogan, or an ingredient list, these words represent the phenomenon that is copywriting.

What’s my point you ask? My point is the impact that it has on us, the consumer, without us even realising it.

Just recently, whilst curled up on the sofa with ‘Mrs Write House’ I was subjected to the new O2 advert, you know the one, the advert featuring a cat with the slogan ‘Be More Dog’. I cannot tell you how compelling I found this advert, the idea of a cat switching its mind set to that of a dog in an effort to grab all of life’s opportunities stirred me.

Silly, no? Maybe not, copywriting has done its job, the days that have followed my encounter with that advert have been some of the best of my life and it was an attitude changer.

Copywriting cannot be ignored as it serves a purpose. 

In my latest adventure towards the vicinity of the washing machine to load my unmentionables, I took the, later to be regretted decision, to ignore the guidance of the tag. I’ve always viewed clothing tags an inconvenience, especially in underwear.

Come on we’ve all been there, the tag pops out your underwear and some ‘Smart Alec’ always has to point it out to you. To me the tag in underwear epitomises the word pointless! Or so I thought. I set my underwear on wash at 90 degrees, blissfully unaware of what was to come.

Those of you familiar with washing will know that washing underwear at 90 degrees results in one outcome, shrinkage. Imagine my dismay when, upon retrieving my perfectly clean underwear, I discovered that they were more befitting of my 3-year-old son’s underwear.

What was more frustrating is that having ignored the copywriting on the label, which advises the right temperature to wash the items, the writing on the label had now faded rendering it unreadable.

There are two morals to this story, the first being copywriting is in your underwear for a reason people. This leads us to the second moral, ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.

Are you in need of a copywriter? Visit the official Write House website – www.writehouse.co.uk – for more information about our copywriting service.             

Friday, 26 July 2013

How to Write a ‘Useful’ Article

Firstly, let’s dispel an article myth. It can be called an ‘article’ if it’s under 200 words. Many copywriters would disagree with this statement. If you can say all you need to say in 200 words and convince the reader that the article is useful then hats off to you! However, most copywriting experts would recommend that an article should be 300+ words. 

What makes an article useful?

Simple, an article is deemed useful if the audience can glean information from it and make use of that information in a practical way. The most common articles circulating the web are often ‘How to’ articles, ‘Tip Sheet’ articles and ‘Factual’ articles. Why? They’re informative, they’re engaging and, perhaps not surprisingly, they’re more useful than opinion pieces.

3 top tips for writing a useful article

1. Write for the audience not the search engines – Skilled copywriters are able to strike a balance between engaging the audience and satisfying the criteria for search engine prominence. However, priority importance should be given to the reader.

Flooding your article with keywords in order to enhance your search engine ranking puts readers off. They do notice I assure you, and they quickly realise that your agenda is search engine ranking, rather than article quality. Readers do not engage with your article as they deem it useless to them. That may seem harsh, but that’s the stark reality.

During my early years as a copywriter I had to learn the hard way. Yes my articles ranked highly on Google however, dig deeper into the data, only 10 or so people were reading them, it left me disappointed.

Tip 1 summary – ‘ETA’ people… Engage The Audience – Remember the reason you took up writing in the first place, so people would read your stuff.

2. Pursue the unique – Don’t rehash and repackage content on a subject that has been covered to the point where people are bored of it. The most useful articles are those that are ‘unique’ and not reinvented from other material.

A recent client of mine asked me to produce an article on ‘donkeys’. I must confess this was going to be a test of my skill; after all I had very little knowledge of donkeys. However, rather than doing a generic article I was bold and wrote from a different perspective. I went to a farm and sat with a donkey ‘expert’ in the presence of a donkey and I asked the expert to tell me 10 obscure facts that people wouldn't know about donkeys.

Needless to say the client ‘loved’ the article; they found it engaging and useful, but more importantly, they said that they could not wait for their audience to read it – You want to know an interesting fact about donkeys now don’t you?

Well, did you know? Donkeys seek shelter when it rains because they do not have natural ‘waterproof’ coats like horses and so need access to shelter.

Tip 2 summary – Unique is useful. It requires much more work and research, but the labour for your efforts will be rewarded.

3. Research what’s trending - You can write a useful article and relate it to a trending news story. For instance, the big news in the UK at present is the birth of the ‘royal baby’, George Alexander Louis. If you’re a parent you could do a feature article on parenting based on your own experiences. The article offers a genuine perspective on parenting, rather than what parents have to read in books, which seem to give the perception that parenting has a formula.

Following the birth of my first son I wrote an article after about 6 months of being a parent describing my experiences. Before I sent it for widespread publication I sent it to an online forum for parents and asked this question, would you read this? The response from the group alone was overwhelming.

Why did it work? Parenting is always trending. Why? People becomes parents everyday it’s a 24/7 operation, therefore it’s a topic that will always be covered. Going back to point two, what makes a parenting article unique, that you've written as a parent, is that your experiences will relate to the experience of other parents.

Your tips may help other parents out who think ‘I haven’t tried that’. Therefore, your article has done its job, not only is it engaging it has become useful. Furthermore, parenting is a topic that can be followed up on with another unique article. For me, the birth of my second son inspired me to write an article on my experience of having two children.

Tip 3 summary – Relating an article to a topic that’s trending gives an article wider exposure.

Many other tips exist for writing a useful article and useful articles are what audiences crave. What’s my proof you ask? Well, the emergence of sites such as eHow.com and About.com are just two examples of content sites dedicated to providing their audiences with informative, useful content.

What’s interesting about them is that they rely on freelance copywriters to contribute content and this content is supplied to hungry consumers all over the world. Thus, proving that useful articles are of more importance to your audience than sales orientated SEO articles.

The question now is, did you find this article useful?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Write House Copywriting Service | My Copy’s Better than your Copy - Copywriters in Competition

Professional copywriter Daniel Waldron, founder of Write House Wolverhampton, blogs about the competition among copywriters.

In my regular perusing of copywriting service websites, in order to assess the competition of course, I was struck by some of the ‘shameless’ self-promotion tactics employed in order to win much coveted gigs.

Whilst I am under no illusion that competition for writing gigs is fierce, I think what disturbed me most was a heightened ‘win at all costs’ mentality that appears to have infiltrated the world of the freelance copywriter and copywriting service companies.

I enjoy some fabulous relationships with fellow professional copywriters, to the extent where I will often share work or recommend a writing gig that is not within my remit, but would suit a fellow copywriter.

Now I’m not sure if it is just me, but as a copywriter I have noticed a seismic shift in the number of ‘copywriters’ using underhand tactics in order to secure work. To a certain extent I can understand why this happens on projects of high monetary value, after all they are few and far between. However, projects of relatively low value appear to result in copywriters resorting to inexcusable tactics in order to oust the competition.

In one particular instance I came across a project whereby two ‘professional copywriters’ had engaged in online warfare, resorting to personal slander and abuse and completely neglecting all manner of professionalism and for what? A project worth £100 which, needless to say, the customer awarded to neither of the two so-called ‘professional copywriters’.

Whilst I was on a copywriting forum page, I read intently as a contributor described how they had once hacked the website of a copywriting competitor in Northampton and sabotaged the site. The person described how they posted lewd images on the home page of the rival and using ‘online graffiti’ wrote ‘my copy is, and always will be, better than yours.’

I swiftly voiced my outrage at such behaviour, reprimanding this particular individual. From my perspective freelance copywriters have it hard enough with a minority of customers expecting ‘top-notch’ copy and expecting to pay pennies. The very notion that professional copywriters are turning on each other with such despicable acts is beyond my comprehension.

Thankfully, up until this point at least, I’ve not been subjected to such underhand tactics, but there is now a heightened suspicion that this could certainly happen to me. Therefore, I urge you fellow copywriters, those of you that value business relationships, morality and ethics, stand against this behaviour so that together we can stamp it out.

If you’re a copywriter that has fallen victim to underhand tactics Write House would like to hear from you. Leave your comments and let’s display a show of unity against ‘copywriters’ that undermine our profession.

To learn more about Write House and its services visit the official website – www.writehouse.co.uk 

Write House copywriting service, Wolverhampton, was founded by copywriter, Daniel Waldron, and was established in February 2013.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

They said what?! - Who will you vote for in the next General 'Erection?'

In all my years as a freelance copywriter and proofreader I never thought I would be faced with the question of who gets my vote in the General 'Erection' stakes.

This question only serves to highlight the total disregard of content authors when it comes to proofreading their copywriting efforts.

I'm often asked 'What is the benefit of outsourcing my copywriting and proofreading requirements?' Well, I believe I've answered that question without having to answer it.

I was utterly astounded that a local government website could miss such a glaring error. It's unforgivable, unprofessional and any serious answers to this question will certainly not be forthcoming.

I appreciate that the government is making every effort to connect people with party politics, but all humour aside, this is as glaring an error as letting Boris Johnson loose on London as Mayor.

Write House cannot stress enough the importance of 'reading what you write' and more importantly getting a second person to read it.

Simply relying on spell checker will not eradicate errors such as this as 'Erection' is spelt correctly and it has no concept of what it is you're trying to say. In this case I think 'Election' may have been more suitable.

The benefit of hiring a professional proofreader for as little as £10 per hour could save you a whole heap of embarrassment from situations such as this. 

Here's why:

  • Professional proofreaders are primed to identify such errors. Your document or content will be presented to its intended audience free from grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes.

  • You can't put a price on reputation. Did you know? 82% of consumers would refrain from buying a product or service if marketing material was littered with spelling errors.

The example alluded to in this piece serves as a warning that bad copywriting and failure to proofread will certainly make you stand out, but not in the way you would hope.