‘Tis the season to be positive

Positively prickly holly

Do you sometimes feel you’re surrounded by negativity?

Negative stories in the press, ear-bashings from colleagues, ranting and raving posts from friends and family on Facebook. The list goes on…

And some of that must rub off, right?

Put your positivity to the test

How positive have you felt over the last 24 hours?

Take this 2-minute positivity test – you might be surprised at the results.

How we are affected by negativity around us 

Being around negativity has an effect on us.

Use your weapons wisely - Cialdini's 6 principles & a story from Bali

What do you picture when you think of Bali?

White beaches, turquoise seas, mysterious temples?

In 2001, I headed off across the world with a couple of friends, to see for myself. It was indeed paradise, but while we were there something happened that I’ve never made sense of…Until last week!

Bloggers - Move on over to Canva

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a tendency towards faddy obsession. Exhibit A - Twitter!

I have often been a bit stumped when it comes to finding new ways to produce graphics for my posts. I've tinkered a little with Photoshop, but never having time to get my head around it I’ve often resorted to using photos straight from the iPhone. Or, worse, screen grabs from a Word document, when I’ve needed a picture in a hurry for a blog or social media post.

But not anymore!

Here's looking at you, text

I saw this advert on Twitter earlier, with someone noting it contained an 'orphan'.

Advert with orphan
Can you spot it?

stared at the advert for a while before I worked out (with a little help from the big G) what an orphan was and indeed where it was on the advert. Having done a little research I’m not sure that this is technically an orphan. But nevertheless once I'd spotted the lone word ‘soak’ on the third line, I couldn’t help but think the paragraph would read better without that unnatural break in the sentence.

It bothers me that it doesn't quite look right, and could so easily have been corrected!

It’s not just me, is it?

Perfectionism is spelled paralysis

Perfection is spelled paralysis

Oct 2014 progress update

Month: 7/12 (58%)
Chapters completed: 10 / 21 (47%)
Assignments completed: 6/ 11 (55%)

I know, I know…I need to speed up if I’m going to get through the course in a year.

And yes, yes, rap me over the knuckles again, I have barely updated this blog over the last couple of months. I want to blame all sorts of things like working hard, selling my house and buying a new one, and answering 74 "why" questions from Toddler on a daily basis (no exaggeration)! 

But do you know what? Yes I have been doing all those things, but actually the reason I've been struggling seems to be the  dreaded confidence bug again!

What can we really learn from the 'YouTubers'?

Its difficult to look at Twitter these days without seeing something about the new breed of You Tube stars, how amazing they are and how they're all planning to publish books soon...Oh, and how much they can teach us about branding and marketing! 

I spent a bit of my lunch hour the other day reading this article, Five behaviours marketers can learn from the new YouTube stars from Marketing UK. And then I wished I hadn't, because I spent most of my afternoon staring at spreadsheets with this blog post buzzing around inside my head…

These are the ‘lessons for marketers’ highlighted by the article:

Why attitude is all important

It is often said, when you fall off a bike you should get straight back on again.

Get back on the bike*
Obviously, in reality, if you fall off your bike that’s the last thing you want to do. Your instant reaction is to retreat into a corner to lick your wounds in peace while you wait for the embarrassed red flush to fade. 

To be able to get back on the bike you need to dust yourself down, work out what went wrong, maybe practise a bit, and make sure you do it better next time.

Easy to say. But hiding is not going to help you do that!

Social media for business - A blessing or a curse?

Social media is one of the quickest ways to market your new business these days. Brands are constantly told that Twitter, Facebook and the like are not only useful, but essential.

But, if you are considering a foray into social media marketing for your business, I say proceed with caution!

Let me tell you a sweet story…

A small reminder of the importance of friends

Guess what?

The fact I am writing a long overdue blog post may give you a clue.

I finally finished the assignment I was getting my knickers in a twist about…And I got a reasonable mark too.

The importance of friends - quote
I’m hoping that now I’ve got past that particular brick wall I can move onwards and upwards with a little more confidence. If I take that long faffing about every assignment I won’t finish my copywriting course until 2016!

Knuckling down and getting the job done, though, was not without issue.

By the time I had written both a ‘home’ page and an ‘about’ page and all the associated metadata, I felt slightly like I had birthed another baby (Complete with J-breaths for the ‘hypnobirthers’ amongst you! No, seriously!). I was terrified when I sent it off for marking, and very relieved when it came back with positive comments.

Is this what it is like sending copy to clients? Jeez, I’m going to need beta-blockers on repeat!

The biggest issue, though, is the realisation that in focussing on getting this far through the course I have totally and utterly neglected all those around me!

Overcoming a crisis of confidence

July 2014 - Copywriting Course Progress

Month: 4/12 (33%)
Chapters completed: 8 / 21 (38%)
Assignments completed: 3 / 11 (27%)

Best bits:

Amazing feedback and lovely encouragement from assignments submitted so far.

Worst bits:

The trainee copywriter who went up a mountain...

Have you ever climbed a mountain?

Inspiring mountains - The Langdale Pikes
The Langdale Pikes, The English Lake District

I mean truly climbed a mountain, one stumbling step after another, leaden legs refusing to speed up when the rain is closing in and the summit is not yet in sight.

Top 10 tips for beginner bloggers

Blog Strategy

Maybe it’s just my love of writing a good process document, but I did actually set out a blog strategy (of sorts) before I started my blog – overkill you might think – and you’d probably be right!

I set 27th June as a date to review the document. So this seems like the perfect opportunity to share some of the things I’ve learned, as well as some of my goals for the next 4 months.

Creative writing exercise: People stories

"I'd like a people story" 

Creative writing: People stories
A small selection of 'people'
I don't think it's exaggerating to say I hear the phrase, "I'd like a people story," 20 times a day.

Toddler has become hopelessly obsessed with those little plastic Happy Land characters (I'm sure any parent of children above the age of 18 months will be well aware of these).

Having bought him a few, and unfortunately inherited a whole lot more, we now have upwards of 50, all shapes, sizes and colours, carefully designed to ensure total political-correctness.

Whatever you think, someone will think you should think the opposite

Whatever you think think the opposite by P. Arden. The book.
Whatever You Think Think the Opposite
I picked up Whatever You Think Think the Opposite, by Paul Arden, on a recommendation from a renowned copywriter’s website.

I’m more of a romantic fiction girl myself, so this was a bit of a departure, but in a quest to further myself and my copywriting I have committed to reading one relevant book a month.

I surprised myself by devouring it in one sitting – but then it’s that kind of book. 

More of a coffee table book (albeit a small one, and probably more at home in a creative agency’s waiting room), and is in fact, as much about the design as the text. The two work together to create the feeling of immersion in Arden’s ideas, he uses subtle persuasion; showing not telling.

Live tweet tips inspired by #DrLisasHen

#DrLisasHen live tweet collage

I've spent the last few weeks helping to organise my friend's hen do.

I tell you this not just because it's the best excuse I have for not updating my blog enough, but it's also relevant (sort of!).

Scared your web developer might mention search engine optimisation? Don't be.

Think about your perfect customer

You sell homemade jewellery and gifts.

You wrote your website all by yourself and you’re really chuffed with it.

Your Granny said, “Wonderful darling,” but you’re not convinced anyone else has seen it.


...in an office just up the road, Mr Perfect-Customer is online. He’s in a hurry. He has 5 minutes, between meetings and he’s searching for a birthday present for his wife.

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is about getting your website in front of Mr P-C.

Not enough hours in the day? That’s just an excuse!

Never too young to be too busy
Learning from Mummy?

When I started my course  I was super keen and flew through the first 6 chapters submitting my assignments like a 15-year old delivering papers without getting off his bike

And then, suddenly, I stopped…I haven’t lost interest, quite the opposite, I’ve been reading lots of relevant content on blogs and of course Twitter.  However, my beautiful study plan has gradually slipped and slipped until this week I am in danger of getting behind for the first time.

So, what’s changed?

The impotence of proofreading

I've had a few embarrassing proofreading incidents in my time!

The worst, a good few years ago, was when I offered to make some invitations for Hubbie's parents (he was only my boyfriend then, so I was out to impress!). It was their 40th wedding anniversary and they were inviting all their friends to a party in Shepton Mallet.

Only I thought it was spelt Shepton Mallett.

And I didn't think to check.

Tackling a burgeoning Twitter obsession - The 5 commandments

Part One: 12 Noon

I have a day off today.
Checking Twitter on to do list
To Do List

I was looking forward to spending it studying and writing. Perhaps even sitting in a cafe in manner of real life freelance writer.

My morning has gone something like this:

One for the portfolio – Hanson UKIT intranet pages


Hanson UKIT


Wording required for a new intranet site to provide key information to other areas of the business.

The client wanted the copy to focus on the people, and give the message that IT is both approachable and easy to work with. He also felt it was important to get across the valuable work that the department was doing to help strengthen the business.

Raising a toddler is great copywriting experience

Cheesy copywriting?
I have now been studying my copywriting course for about a month. I love it, but still worry that without experience it will be hard to get paid work.

I said this to a friend the other night, and her response was,

“You can do anything, you’re a mummy to a toddler!”

This got me thinking – there are a LOT of ways that raising a toddler can get you ready for life as a copywriter.

The #nomakeupselfie - Why it worked, and what Dove already knew

It’s day 6 of the #nomakeupselfie campaign, and the newspapers claim to have uncovered the source – a teenage Mum from Stoke.

Fiona Cunningham wanted to do something to raise awareness of [breast] cancer as it had touched her family. What happened next was an unprecedented viral campaign which has raised more than £8m in less than a week – one of Cancer Research UK’s most successful fundraising campaigns to date.

£8 million raised by #nomakeupselfie
Picture shared on Twitter by @CR_UK

While Cancer Research may not have come up with the idea, they certainly helped it along, putting their weight behind it and setting up a text number to make it even easier to donate and share.

The premise is a simple one, post a picture of yourself on social media wearing, shock horror, no make-up and make a donation to help beat cancer.

Starting a distance-learning course? What's the first thing you should do?

Buy new stationery of course...

But after that? 

You need to write a study plan.

A brief history of me and study plans

Whether doing GCSEs, A-levels, or uni exams, my routine was always the same:
  1. Browse through the rows of stationery in Staples. Buy a pack of different coloured pens, a folder and some post-its.

  2. Take them home

  3. Lay them out neatly on the desk...Any-one with me here? No? Just me then

  4. Make a cup of tea

  5. Set about writing a study plan

Comma Confusion

It's amazing, isn't it? As soon as you know that you are being assessed on something, it throws up a massive question mark in your mind as to whether you actually know what you think you know.

Take the pre-course assessment essay I have to write to get onto the copywriting course I chose here. Never have I doubted my use of common punctuation quite so much!

And what was the source of my little punctu-breakdown?

Copywriting - To train or not to train

To train or not to train

When considering a move into Copywriting, it is tempting to just have a go and see what happens. After all it is one of those things that, assuming some writing ability, can't be that hard can it?

I have a sneaking suspicion that is not true.

Maybe I CAN be a copywriter.....The first 'client'?

Today I thought I would share with you my first copywriting success...And I think I've got the bug!

It was only a small thing, a favour for an elderly neighbour -  a free classified ad on a well-known local site. But it worked!

But so what? I hear you cry, millions of people sell tons of stuff using online auctions every day of the week - that doesn't make you a copywriter.

I think what has surprised me is success of this sale against the odds!

CA - Copywriters Anonymous


My name is Nicky and I want to be a copywriter - there we go I've done it, I am OUT!!

Now for the caveat! I am actually quite happily working part-time in a job in IT Project Support,  and I don't want to give that up.

So I guess what I mean to say is my name is Nicky and I want to learn to copywrite...see where it takes me...and then who knows...

The wuss' guide to career option exploration(!)

Why writing?

From as early as I can remember I wanted to be Enid Blyton - OK so I guess that's not entirely realistic, but having spent my childhood writing short stories and poems, work experience at the local newspaper confirmed to me that I wanted to write. 

So how did I go about following this dream?


Well after some pretty good GCSE results and let's face it some pretty shoddy career advice I studied A-levels in maths and science, had no idea what to do with them and eventually embarked on a degree in business! Various project roles later I'm still spending more time looking at spreadsheets than writing sentences...

Since then I have continued to do a little creative writing, but my dreams have been overtaken by life, love and a very lively toddler.

But why learning to copywrite?

I don't profess to know everything  much anything about copywriting, but what I do know fascinates me! It would allow me to stretch out those knotted up writing muscles, yes, but it is more than that! 

Copywriting is somehow more scientific, less subjective...and that appeals to the logical side of my brain - is that the left or the right? 

There seem to be a lot of different areas that you need to get to grips with to be really good at it...And let's face it what's the point in starting something if you're not aiming to get really good.

I covered enough marketing in my business degree to understand a little bit about branding and image, as well as the obvious importance of conveying these consistently online, but what hadn't occurred to me whilst 'liking' my friends' statuses, sending 'Pins' and devising witty hashtags, was the over-riding importance of social media for the businesses of today.

These platforms allow even the smallest start-up to get themselves out there without breaking their advertising budget.....But can it really be that easy? 

A quick 'refresh' of Google+ on the smart phone whilst sat on the loo floods today's consumer with more links than they can possibly click. To cut through all the crap your message has to be the best, the most noticeable and, I believe, the most sincere.

I have recently noticed a number of brands using social media to engage in a different way, not just responding to queries and logging complaints, but actively seeking out conversation.....And what can be better for business than improving the way you talk to your customers?

First Direct use social media to enhance customer engagement

First Direct Bank is one of a number of companies using
Twitter to seek out dialogue with their customers

So as well as learning the skills of writing good copy from a sales perspective it puts an emphasis on understanding and utilising these social media platforms, keeping up with new technologies and developments, understanding SEO & google algorithms, as well the psychological aspects of modern buyer behaviour...it was at this point that I was hooked!

I bought a couple of books and started reading.....

And why blog about it?

I have numerous reasons for setting up this blog: 
  1. To plan and document my journey
  2. To motivate myself to continuously learn and progress
  3. To meet and converse with like minded people...including perhaps experienced copywriters who might be so generous as to offer me some advice and guidance... :-)
  4. To learn to blog
But mostly it's about writing.....As I keep being told, the best way to learn to write is to write, write and write some more.

So where better to start....

If you have any pearls of wisdom or encouragement then I would love to hear them below. 

Check back to follow my progress...