Survivial Skills for Freelancers

Website copywriting for a Cotswold tourist attraction

The client: Painswick Rococo Garden

Painswick Rococo Garden is one of Gloucestershire’s best-kept secrets. As the UK’s only complete surviving rococo garden, it combines the great outdoors with a cheeky peek into the flamboyance of the early 1700s, thanks to its colourful follies and unique features.

The need

Much-loved within the Cotswolds, Painswick Rococo Garden is best known for its incredible annual display of snowdrops, which attracts visitors from far and wide – but this reputation as an early spring garden was failing to optimise visitor numbers throughout the rest of the year.

The attraction is supported by the Friends of Painswick Rococo Garden – a group of trustees responsible for the garden’s upkeep and ongoing restoration. Upcoming changes to the way the attraction is funded meant it needed to become more commercial, working harder to attract family visitors, and to become known as a garden for all seasons. A new website was the perfect starting point to address these challenges.

The solution

I met Painswick Rococo Garden marketing manager, Claire Barnes, to talk about the aims of the new website. I began the copywriting process by delving deep into the things that make the attraction such a special place, gaining a clear understanding of the opportunities that were available by promoting the garden to a new audience and attracting visitors all year round.

The previous website firmly positioned Painswick Rococo Garden for an audience of garden enthusiasts. It talked about the features, history and location of the garden, and provided plenty of practical information, such as admission prices and opening hours.

I recommended a fresh, approachable tone of voice that would appeal to a younger, family audience without alienating current supporters, a structure and flow that takes visitors on a journey through the seasons, and a frequently asked questions (FAQs) page that makes information easy to find, as well as helping with SEO.

Descriptive and emotive language throughout the new website brings Painswick Rococo Garden to life, evoking the feelings and emotions of visiting this beautiful garden, and positions it as a top Cotswold attraction and a garden for all seasons.

In the client’s words…

“Sarah immediately understood our needs and what we wanted to convey with our new website for Painswick Rococo Garden.

“She has a breadth of knowledge across copywriting, SEO, marketing and design, skilfully employing them all to create hardworking and engaging copy.

“Getting an independent, fresh perspective on your company is an extremely valuable exercise and Sarah really helped to ensure we were considering the needs of our customers.

“Sarah has been a delight to work with: very friendly, highly professional, delivering on time and exceeding expectations. We’re very excited to be launching the new website shortly.”

Claire Barnes, Marketing Manager, Painswick Rococo Garden



Copywriting and marketing support for a superyacht events company

The client: Asaro

Founded in 2012, Asaro create extraordinary events for guests travelling on luxury yachts around the globe.

They work with captains and crew of superyachts and mega yachts to create and deliver unforgettable experiences – from Ancient Olympic-style games in Greece to epic pirate adventures – that show their clients the world in a whole new light.

The need

With a small but solid base of repeat clients, George and Kirsty Brooks, founders of Asaro, were ready to increase awareness of the unique services they provide.

Their aim was to attract a new and wider audience of forward-thinking superyacht captains looking to transform their events programmes and exceed the expectations of their guests.

With marketing to the superyacht industry holding its own set of distinctive challenges, due to the privacy and discretion of the clients involved, how could they go about this?

The solution

I was introduced to George and Kirsty by brand specialist Paul Barrett, who had already done some in-depth work with Asaro to establish where they were as a brand and where they wanted to be.

My brief was to write Asaro’s new website, brochure copy and case studies, after starting with some initial messaging work to establish their new tone of voice (TOV), and producing helpful guidelines for Instagram postings.

Messaging strategy and tone of voice guidelines

I began by creating comprehensive TOV guidelines that focus on using powerful and emotive language to show potential clients how it felt to be part of an Asaro experience, rather than telling them.

I also went into some depth to describe who Asaro are as a brand, the way language supports their brand pillars, a guide to using plain English, and examples of their new TOV in action.

TOV guidelines were supported by a detailed house style guide – which covers everything from using the active voice and contractions to the formatting of dates – so that anyone writing about Asaro can do so in a consistent manner.

Website and brochure copywriting

Once the guidelines were approved, Paul and I met with Asaro’s chosen design agency, Green Chameleon in Bristol, to discuss the design approach for both the website and brochure.

Writing copy based on the tone of voice guidelines I’d created, we worked closely with George and Kirsty to create a stunning website and high-end brochure, plus standalone case study cards that brought to life each of the four types of Asaro event.

Positive feedback

George and Kirsty were delighted with the end result, and showcasing their new brochure and case studies at the 2018 Monaco Yacht Show generated some very encouraging feedback from the superyacht industry.

The project was a perfect example of how a small team with big ambitions and a fabulous service offering can benefit from bringing in experienced consultants to support their marketing, instead of expanding their own team.

Just weeks after its launch, the new website was awarded both the CSS Design Awards and AWWW awards for website of the day.

In the client’s words…

“Sarah recently supported us on our brand evolution project, which included reworking and rewriting a healthy amount of web copy for our new website, our new brochure and also a very helpful set of tone of voice guidelines and Instagram tips for our team.

“It was our first time working with Sarah, but she quickly got to grips with our core services and turned this into brilliant copy and was then very patient and flexible when working with us and our appointed design agency to deal with changes.

“We felt confident leaving this project with Sarah as she exudes positivity and passion for her craft, and showed a real interest in what we do and how to best present us.

“We’ve already had brilliant feedback for our new website, which we know is down to a combination of brilliant design and compelling copy.”

Kirsty Brooks, Founder and Director, Asaro

Start-up marketing support for an experienced mortgage and insurance adviser

The client: Stratus Home Finance Ltd

Gloucestershire-based mortgage and insurance adviser, Jez Wallace, has over 20 years of experience of helping his customers save money on their monthly mortgage and insurance premiums. Having worked for a local firm of mortgage advisers since 2006, he decided the time had come to start working for himself.

The need

Training in a new area – equity release – had given Jez the incentive to start his own company. As well as being highly experienced and skilled at what he does, his friendly, straightforward and affordable advice puts him in a good position to do this – but with no experience of setting up a new business, let alone how to market it, he needed help.

The solution

I was already good friends with Jez, having met him at dance classes over 10 years ago. Naturally, when he decided to start his own business he turned to me for help. We met for a chat over coffee and began by talking about the challenges he faced getting his business off the ground.

As with many start-ups, Jez didn’t have a huge budget, but I explained that investing in a great-looking, well-written website and brand identity would help him compete with established businesses from the get-go.

Lack of budget means many start-ups struggle to write or design their own website when their time would be better spent doing the thing that makes them money – which is usually the reason they went into business in the first place! What’s more, professional copywriting satisfies both potential customers and Google – helping to attract clients through clever search engine optimisation (SEO).

What’s in a name?

Jez was toying with the idea of calling his new business Wallace Mortgage Solutions. I steered him away from this obvious choice towards something with a little more gravitas that encompassed the fact that he didn’t just do mortgages, and which included the word ‘home’ because of its positive associations.

After agreeing on the name Stratus Home Finance, I came up with the idea for Jez’s new logo – a simple outline of a house forming both the H of home and an arrow (again, subtle positive associations) with a stratus cloud behind it.

I introduced Jez to one of my web design partners, Narjas Carrington at Inklings Design, and set up a meeting between them. Together, we decided on a structure for his new website – home page, about page, services overview and sub-pages, a page of testimonials, and contact page. While Narjas set to work designing Jez’s new business cards and stationery, I began writing his new website.

Throughout the process, I worked closely with Narjas to find the right images for the site, and to ensure the copy and design worked hard together to make it easy to use.

Get social

I helped Jez to set up a Facebook page for Stratus Home Finance, suggested he list the business on various local directory sites to increase his chances of getting found online, and rewrote his LinkedIn profile – giving it more personality and reflecting his new role.

Jez was delighted by his professional new website and social media profiles, and has already begun to attract new clients to his business as a result.

This project was a great example of how brand new businesses can benefit from clever start-up marketing. Taking a step-by-step approach to marketing can be a great way to raise awareness of a new venture.

In the client’s words…

“As a mortgage adviser I know very little about marketing and even less about writing a website, but having set up a new business I knew I needed one. I was anxious about the entire process but I needn’t have worried.

“Sarah knows everything there is to know about marketing and copywriting and made the process so easy from start to finish.

“She worked with my website designer to make sure the structure and appearance of my website worked and she wrote the words I needed with minimal guidance and input from me. She even gave me lots of useful business and marketing tips.

“I now have a website I’m proud of that’s helped me get Stratus Home Finance off the ground. Thanks Sarah!”

Jeremy Wallace, Owner and Director
Stratus Home Finance Ltd

Copywriting myths debunked: time to stop making excuses!

You know exactly why you need a copywriter.

You know a copywriter can help get your business noticed for all the right reasons.

That they’ll help you identify the special essence that’s unique to your company – the things that make you stand out from the crowd.

And that they’ll help you articulate the spirit of your business in a way that convinces your target market to choose your business, buy your products, and hire your services.

The reason you haven’t hired a copywriter isn’t because you don’t know you need one.

It’s because you’re making excuses.

You’ve begun to believe those myths you churn out to justify why you keep writing your own copy. Those same myths that stop you taking the plunge and choosing a copywriter who can take away the pain, save you time and help you get a head start on your marketing.

Here are four of the most common barriers to using a copywriter.

Which do you identify with?

Copywriting myths

Myth 1: It’s only words

“Surely, I can write the copy myself – why do I need a copywriter?”

Whether you consider yourself a reasonably capable writer or you have an English degree, there’s a big difference between everyday writing and writing to sell.

A copywriter will get inside the head of your customers. They’ll help you identify the things that make your business different – special, even – and articulate those things in a clear, concise and compelling way.

However confident you are about writing your own marketing materials, writing for the web is a different skill.

A copywriter knows how to write in a way that speaks to your customers and to Google – and their words help your business get noticed online by your target audience.

Myth 2: It’s all in your head

“No one knows my business as well as I do!”

That’s true. But a good copywriter knows the questions to ask about your products and services, the problems they solve for the people who buy them, and the sort of customers you want to attract.

They’ll talk to you about your marketing goals and the reasons why you’re in business. And they’ll work their magic to transform that information into words that work hard to promote your company.

Myth 3: It’ll cost too much

“I can’t afford a professional copywriter – it’s too expensive!”

Like anything that works, good copywriting doesn’t come cheap. But your time is money – and if you’re spending that time trying to write your own website or brochure when your skills lie elsewhere, you’re not saving money – you’re wasting it.

The most effective marketing is a collaboration between hardworking, clever copy and great-looking, functional design.

Designers just love working on projects that are being professionally written – it makes them look good. So remember: if you blow your marketing budget on graphic or web design and have no money left to spend on copy, you’re missing a trick.

Pay a professional to do a proper job, and focus on the superpowers that make you money. Chances are that’s the reason you went into business, after all.

Important note: any time you’re tempted to cut corners and buy on price alone, remember this mantra: you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Myth 4: It’ll take too long

“I don’t have time to brief a copywriter – it’ll be quicker to write it myself.”

Earlier this month, I had a meeting with a website designer, who told me that seven of the beautiful websites he’d designed had stalled, simply because the client had decided to write their own copy.

In the time you spend agonising over the best way to promote your business – not to mention the stress and headspace involved in doing it yourself – a professional copywriter could have written your website copy ten times over.

That’s valuable time your shiny new site could be live and doing what a good website should do – getting your brand out there, promoting your business, building trust, and selling your products.

Time that your competitors are out there doing just that… and pinching your customers while they’re at it.

If any of those excuses sound familiar, have a quiet word with yourself and make this the year you leave your copywriting to the professionals.

Copywriting and marketing support for a professional footwear manufacturer

The client: Toffeln/WearerTech

Established in 1978, Toffeln develops supportive, protective and comfortable footwear for professionals who spend their working lives on their feet, with a core audience of nurses, surgeons, and chefs.

The need

Toffeln had a strong heritage as a British-based family business, plus a solid track record of sales – particularly in the medical and catering industries.

Despite this, brand awareness among their target audience was low, and a clear marketing strategy was needed to grow the business further. What makes their shoes stand out in the professional footwear market is the science, research and customer feedback that go into them – but they were missing an opportunity to shout about it.

There was huge potential to capitalise on the company’s credibility and position within the marketplace, and to build on what they had already achieved – particularly as little had been invested on marketing in recent years.

Big changes were afoot within the company, fundamentally affecting the structure of the business and its sales channels, as well as the way they market their products. This included the introduction of a planned approach to marketing through two key channels – the catering trade, and the medical profession.

Without an in-house team to support him, their new marketing director needed help – and fast.

The solution

I was initially recommended to Toffeln by Mat Jolly, owner of Cheltenham-based design agency, Jolly Good. Things kicked off with a day of naming work, in which we helped to create a new brand name and tagline that summarises the care and technology that goes into Toffeln’s latest range of shoes. They liked one of my suggestions – WearerTech – so much that they decided to use it on the shoes themselves, and to transform WearerTech into an entirely new brand, with a new website and marketing materials.

This work has developed into writing product brochures, sales process and marketing emails, video scripts, website copy, sign-up copy, packaging materials, and documents for both staff and distributors.

I’ve helped the company to establish a clear messaging strategy, and developed an informal, friendly – sometimes slightly irreverent – tone of voice that’s now being used across the board to communicate with their target audience.

Mat and I continue to work closely as part of Toffeln’s extended marketing team (a rebrand means they’re now known as WearerTech) often brainstorming ideas and discussing projects, while regular production meetings with their marketing director keep things running smoothly.

This is a perfect example of how a business with little in-house resource can benefit from using skilled and experienced consultants to support their marketing, instead of expanding their own team.

In the client’s words…

“Sarah is the kind of person that just ‘gets it’.

“She’s incredibly professional, always meeting deadlines and she delivers content that always exceeds expectations.

“The combination of her creativity, flexibility and her ability to put herself in the shoes of both our distributors and direct customers to deliver engaging and effective content, makes her a key part of the team.

“I know there is never a need to worry when Sarah is working on a project.”

Justin Rocyn-Jones, Marketing Director, WearerTech