What Copywriters Can Learn from the BBC

This morning a design friend of mine sent me a great article called “World’s Best Headlines: BBC News” written by “usability guru” Jakob Nielsen. As the title suggests, Web writers could learn a thing or two from BBC’s headline-writing pros. Nielsen writes, “For several years, I’ve been very impressed with BBC News headlines, both on the […]

An Open Note to an Anonymous Client

I freely claim to be bad at a lot of things. Dancing, gardening, communicating with people who have a thick foreign accent, fixing just about anything around the house … the list goes on. On the other hand, I don’t claim to be good at much. Writing is one of the few categories where I’d […]

Searching for Readability Through the Fog

Anyone who writes for a living has to be conscious of readability. Or at least anyone who writes for marketing and/or advertising purposes. Since becoming a professional writer, I’ve taken pride in keeping things readable. Reining in long sentences and paragraphs. Avoiding complex words. Adopting a friendly, conversational tone. After so many years of writing, […]

Feeling Over-Stimulated

This morning I drove by my neighborhood Mexican restaurant to see their marquee now reads: “Our Stimulus Package: Buy One Lunch, Get a Second for Half Off.” A minute later on the radio, some car company was advertising “our version of the stimulus package.” And when I arrived at my destination, I saw a store […]

Dear “Awesome Children”: The Use and Misuse of Quotation Marks

In our recent Hired Pens commercial, “Graham R.” takes us on a trip to his neighborhood Chicken Shack to explain the problems that can arise from the misuse of quotation marks. The commercial got a big response, including some funny real-life examples. None was better than this card a friend of ours received:  Dear “Awesome […]

Yes, You Too Can Be a Writer for Hallmark. Just Follow These Simple Rules!

Everything has a formula: finding square roots, closing sales calls, creating nice-smelling shampoo. And I don’t mean to burst any bubbles here, but so does writing. Web page: headline, subhead, 200 to 300 words of body copy. Sales letter: greeting, introductory paragraph, features and benefits, call to action, closing. Script for a Hallmark Channel Christmas […]

Five Tips for a Successful Freelance Writing Career

When you tell people you’re a freelancer writer, they immediately make a few assumptions: 1) you spend the whole day in your pajamas, and 2) “freelance writing” is really code for “unemployed.” I say, fine: Let them think this. Who needs the competition? The truth is, if you’re smart about it, you can make a […]