Wednesday, 27 July 2011

You can't garden in skinny jeans and three other things I learnt this week...

It's been a thong hot summer

It has been a week of revelations, most inconsequential, but nonetheless it is good to know that this world still has a lot to teach me.

The first is...

You can't garden in skinny jeans

Perhaps I should be more specific. You cannot garden your front garden in skinny jeans.

This is because the world, his wife, and any passing person delivering 'McPizza' leaflets through your door, is likely to receive a non exclusive glimpse, of how should I say this, your 'whale tail' when you bend over.

'Whale tail' is the term taken from Roger's Profanisaurus which refers to the unsightly effect produced when a lady in ill-fitting jeans's thong rides way up for all to see.  

Anyway, don't do it.  I did it, and although there were fringe benefits - a slightly 'stranger danger' neighbour offered me his unused hedge cutter and a bottle of two euro red wine for free -  I became the cul-de-sac side-show, wriggling, hoisting and adjusting between every dig.

You can't argue with a man on the Atkins diet

The diet which supports rapid, unsustainable weight loss in order to achieve a slightly less wobbly beach body is in full swing at our household.  

Matt, who prior to Monday, drank fizzy pop like water and intravenously injected Twirl bars at 3pm every day, is in caffeine cold turkey.

This usually placid, centred soul has morphed into the testy version of Rod Hull's Emu - all black beady eyes and angry crinkled up beak ready to lunge if I do anything wrong.

So far, anything wrong has included shutting a kitchen cupboard and making a cup of tea 'too loudly'.

Dr. Atkins, you evil curtailer of carbs, you have a lot to answer for.

Some people are a bit too ok with death

I have had two slightly unsavoury encounters with death this week.

The first was during Sky news's gratuitous coverage of Amy Winehouse's demise in which they showed the poor love being transferred in a red body bag to an awaiting private ambulance.

I am sorry, did I miss the fashion memo which says your Summer '11 body bag should be clingy?

You could quite clearly see the outline of the recently departed Miss W, from her ballet pumps to her beehive.

Get that girl a box.  Ast-ounded.
The second happened at my dear filmmaker friend's beautiful barn conversion.  Plonked on a sun swathed deckchair, I drank in my surroundings: pink hydrangeas in full bloom, lavender bushes fizzing with plump bees and...holy shit...what is that?

Within flip flop distance of my pedicure was the rotting corpse of an animal.  I could see fur, backbone and tail.

I delicately drew the attention of my host to the critter carcass, only to receive the response: "Oh yeah, we think it's a baby squirrel.  We're waiting for the fur to fall off completely so we can have a proper look."

Good for you.  Why don't you make a time lapse film while you're at it?

And finally...

'You can afford shiny things by writing online' shocker

I have discovered, a lovely website where you can upload articles galore and get moolah in return.

I will tell you all about my adventures at cc in my next post. 


Friday, 15 July 2011

Say moo to content farms

Hi, I'm a freelance writer, milk me.

If there is one thing I have learned as a freelance writer, it is that working for content farms is a definite no no.

Content farms is the term used to describe companies that employ herds of freelance writers to generate large amounts of content (heavily peppered with lots of popular search terms) so that their articles appear higher on search engines. 

Their main goal is to create moo-lah by atracting readers to an article and, 'oh, look at that lovely pop-up advert for spandex shorts, I just must see more'...Kerching! for the content farmer, but sadly not for you.  

The return for writers is very low, with companies offering new writers on average 3 euros per article.  The more you write, the more euros you are likely to accumulate. But if you want to pay your bills and have enough left over for pop tarts, you will have to write a lot.      

Some writers claim they make a living through the content farm system but, honestly, there are better paid freelance writing gigs out there. You just have to know where to look. 

So take that daisy out of your mouth, dip your udders in a nice warm bath and say moo to content farms. 

Friday, 1 July 2011

Show me the funny

Funny is good, funny is memorable, funny sticks, funny makes money.

In the same way you’re not going to tell someone about that coach journey where you remembered your ticket, found your seat, sat facing forward for a bit before arriving at your correct destination,  you'll dine-out for weeks on that National Express journey, where a man (smelling suspiciously of Zoflora) projectile vomited over the teenager reading the NME before nonchalantly pulling out a cigarette and asking the coach driver if he 'had a light?'. 

The same is for copywriting. 

Of course you can deliver the reader safely from A to B, serving up salient key points and tit bits of information along the way, before directing them to C – a shuttle bus to the appropriate website. 

Or, you can take them Dukes of Hazzard style.

Blazing a trail through your content, narrowly avoiding haystacks, before throwing them, hungry for more, at the dusty boots of Daisy Duke. 

Of course it depends on who you’re writing for. The above technique doesn’t necessarily apply to Saga Magazine.

'Punny' Funny

As copywriters we're happy to litter our work with puns, the gentlest form of comedy, which allows your audience to ‘muh-huh’ inwardly.  But to go all out funny requires the talent and courage to stick to your wit.

But if you can do it, do it. 

Why funny is good

Funny is memorable
Funny ads and virals stick in everyone's mind. 

However, you want people to remember what you are marketing, whether it is you, a product, service or idea.   

For example, how often have you had this conversation?

“Have you seen that advert? You know, the one where the man is dressed up like a big moth, and he goes to a buy a tent, and his hair’s all funny and...Oh, you remember, he’s a big fat moth...”

“No. What’s it for?”

“I can’t remember. A car I think.”

When recalling your copy, will your audience remember what is being promoted?   

Big brands, like Cadbury for example, can afford to go ‘off-road funny’, as proved with their series of adverts featuring drumming gorillas and dancing dry cleaning. However, as a copywriter don’t upstage who or what you are promoting.

Ideally the funny should be the ketchup on the banger, not the banger itself.   

Funny sells

Funny is a powerful weapon when it comes to raising interest and increasing sales.  

In the same way children are drawn to anything with a smiley face, humour breaks down barriers and makes a warm, fuzzy connection with your users. 

Funny spreads

The only thing that garners a response quicker than a Facebook update saying ‘OMG! I just found out my DNA test results!’ is a funny status update.

We all know that social media is the font at which pretty much all forward thinking companies and individuals worship, and nothing will put you on the social media map quicker than consistently witty updates. 

So, if you want to be taken seriously, put your money in funny.