Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #5.5

Copywriting Bad ‘Uns.


A massive thank you to the people who sent me some examples of ‘underperforming’ copy, following my request on the Coast Copywriting Facebook page. (Please Like etc etc)

In fact, I’ve received so many I’m going to post a few Copywriting Bad ‘Uns from time to time. Think of them as pit stops between the main Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses posts.

Here’s a couple to get started.

I know, I know – ‘Ha ha ha, isn’t it funny when foreigners try to write English?’ I’m trying not to go too far down that road, but quite a few examples come from Ishaan from California (thanks, Ishaan) who’s been travelling the world for about two years. From a copy point of view, I would say this piece of writing starts well enough. ‘Toilet’ is short and descriptive. The first of the two sentences below ‘Toilet’ does the job, as it were, although the ‘cross’ ‘crossing’ repetition is a shame. It’s the third sentence where it really hits the fan…  Although personally I have a soft spot for the word ‘perform’ in this context.

Thanks to Catherine from Hayle in Cornwall for sharing this next one. As she pointed out, this was probably written by a Cockney, or more likely Dick Van Dyke doing an impression of a Cockney, because I’m not sure even Cockneys say pillars for pillows. Interestingly (or not) the pillars/pillows thing is a homonym – an example of two words that sound the same, but read differently. Only it’s not really, because only Cockneys/ Dick Van Dyke say pillars for pillows, of course. Glad we’ve cleared that up. Anyway, it’s surprising how often homonyms slip into copy. Remain eagle I’d.

Please keep sending examples of underperforming copy to wordsbymartin@gmail.com.

Martin Philp is a freelance copywriter for SMEs and brands. Get in touch now.

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Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #5

Punctuate Properly.

What have commas and apostrophes got to do with your business?

It’s a sick, sick world out there without appropriate sentence construction

More than you might imagine.

A customer’s first impression of your business might well be from your copy. Any mistakes in your advertising send out a very clear message – your workmanship or service is shoddy and best avoided.

Fixing spelling is a simple matter. Check it. But many people slip up on punctuation. And the biggest thing they slip up on is the apostrophe.

Avoid the apostrophe catastrophe

  • Steer clear of the grocers’ apostrophe. It’s never banana’s 50p, apple’s £1, grape’s £1.50, always bananas 50p, apples £1, grapes £1.50.
  • Use apostrophes to indicate possession. Farquar’s apples. Quentin’s bananas. Tarquin’s grapes.
  • BUT never use them with possessive personal pronouns (its, hers, theirs, ours etc). The cat broke its leg. NOT the cat broke it’s leg.
  • Use apostrophes for contractions. It’s for it is. Who’s for who is etc
  • Be careful of the distinction between its and it’s. This is probably the biggest apostrophe catastrophe of all.

Minimal punctuation = copywriting success

Good copy is all about clarity. For that you should usually use short, simple sentences. Even sentence fragments like this one.

One way to achieve this is to keep your punctuation simple. Ditch the colons and semicolons. Also, weed out excessive use of commas. You’ll often find them in long sentences that run on and on from one idea to the next. Delete them and break up your ideas into individual sentences. You’ll most likely find that your copy reads more clearly.

Clear and unambiguous copy is your best bet. And for that, simple punctuation is your best bet too.

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Martin Philp provides professional copywriting services for high street brands and small businesses.





Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #4

Be Brief.

‘Vigorous writing is concise.’ This is a quote from a classic book about writing, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. And it’s something every small business owner who writes their own copy should bear in mind.

Rupert cut, cut and cut again until there wasn’t a superfluous word

Your customer is probably going to give you seconds to tell him or her why they should use your product or service. Get straight to the point.

Some tips on keeping it brief.

• Try cutting your first draft by half.
• Consider losing the first paragraph if it’s not relevant.
• Almost always delete jokes, puns, and nice turns of phrase. In fact, anything you’re particularly proud of should be considered up for the chop, because very often writing that draws attention to itself is drawing attention away from your messages.
• Read your copy line by line, deleting any words you can do without.
• Hand your copy to a friend or colleague and ask him or her to strike out anything they think is unnecessary too.

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Martin Philp is a freelance copywriter who provides web and print content for high street brands and small businesses.


Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #3

Be Clear.

Clarity is everything in copywriting. Keep your messages simple and people will probably stay with you. Mix your messages and they won’t hang around to find out what you’re trying to say.

Simple. Unambiguous. Job done

Three words worth remembering – stay on target. That target is getting a response from a customer. Every word you write (after your brainstorming first draft) should be written with this aim in mind.

Here’s a five-point plan for structuring copy. Follow it and you’ll help stay relevant from the opening sentence to the last.

  1. An eye-catching headline focusing on the most important single benefit of your product.
  2. An introduction that gets straight to the point. No warming up. No harrumphing or throat clearing. Start with the most important benefit your product offers.
  3. The next most important benefit. (Note you are not mixing up or confusing your benefits here. You are tackling them one by one in a logical order.)
  4. The next most important benefit. And the next until…
  5. The call to action. This is the bit where you ask a customer to do something – call you, email you, fill out a form, buy. It’s the most mundane piece of copy you are going to write but it’s also the most important of all.


Martin Philp is a freelance copywriter who provides customer communications, internal communications, B2B copy and technical writing to  high street brands and small businesses.


Copywriting Tips for Small Businesses #2

Focus on Benefits, not Features.

A wig is made from artificial or man-made fibres.

That’s a feature.

Rupert got his wig for free because he didn’t want toupée

A wig covers your bald head. It also gives you the confidence to approach attractive women and tell them they’ve pulled.

These are benefits. (Although possibly not for the women.)

Concentrate on benefits, not features. It’s probably the oldest piece of advice in copywriting, but it’s crucial. This is for two reasons:

  • Benefits go beyond explaining what a product is – they explain what a product can do for someone. And this is the best way to get an emotional, positive response from a customer.
  • They help focus the copy not on the business or the product, but the customer. And you should always focus your copy on the customer.

Yes, describe the features briefly. But also use your imagination and persuasive powers to describe how that feature turns into a benefit that solves a problem, or makes someone’s life a little bit more enjoyable.

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Martin Philp provides professional copywriting services for  high street brands and small businesses. Contact him on 07414 865 222 or email.


Copywriting for Small Businesses Tip #1


Be Honest.

Shahan Hair Tonic – professional, affordable, unbelievable

Honest advertising? Cynics might think that’s a contradiction in terms, and quite often they’re right. But good advertising not only puts a business in the best possible light, it also remains credible in the eyes of the customer. And that’s why any copywriting tips for small businesses should begin with this: you really do need to tell it like it is.

From a writing point of view the key thing to look out for is superlatives – words such as best, finest, fastest and biggest. Don’t use them unless you have absolute, demonstrable proof that it’s the case. Big brands sometimes roll them out, and sometimes get away with it. When small or local businesses use them they usually end up looking pretty shoddy, even desperate.

One of the best pieces of copywriting advice I ever read was: Don’t get too anxious about being the best. Just concentrate on explaining why you’re very good at doing what you do.

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Martin Philp offers a professional copywriting service for high street brands, agencies and small businesses. Get in touch now.


How much do you charge?

Freelance Copywriter Rates from Coast Copywriting


Know how much the job costs – before we start

How much does it cost? It’s a question that deserves a clear, upfront answer and I will provide you with a free written quote that clearly states ALL fees.

This will include the scope of the work, in some detail, so we both know exactly what the job will cover. For instance, the number of web pages, the approximate wordcount per page, a round of amends etc. And it will include an exact price for this work. It’s upfront, it’s clear and it allows you to budget for the job before we begin.

Flexible day rates and discounts

Affordable Freelance Copywriter Rates from Martin Philp at Coast Copywriting

Affordable, up-front fees for one-off jobs and competitive day rates for ongoing projects.

I also work on a day rate where required, usually for ongoing clients and agencies. This rate is negotiable, depending on the length of the project. For example, if you book me for two weeks, the rate will be quite a bit lower than booking me for one day. Similarly, if you need my services 2-3 days every month, I will offer a significant discount in return for an ongoing commitment.

Why am I an affordable freelance copywriter?

In a word, because I am not a large agency with huge overheads. I work for large agencies. I deliver high-quality copy for their high street clients. But if you come to me directly you will get industry-leading copy without the huge price tag. Work with me regularly and you will most likely make huge savings.

For affordable freelance copywriter rates, get in touch with Martin at Coast Copywriting on 07414 865222 or email now.  


Are you the right copywriter for my business?

Work with a copywriter who will help you locate your key benefits and core audience – and then write compelling messages to attract customers

If you’re planning a website or print campaign, it can be hard to know where to start. My professional copywriting services can help bring organisation and clarity to your project by:

  • discovering the core benefits of your business
  • analysing your customer base
  • writing powerful, targeted copy that explains those benefits to your customers.

Of course, you might already have a very clear idea about your benefits and target audience. In that case, give me your brief and I’ll help create compelling messages with a strong call to action.

Get in touch for professional copywriting services that can help your business.



Do you write SEO web copy?

As a freelance SEO copywriter, I deliver concise, benefit-led web copy that is search engine optimised, to help attract the right traffic to your site.  


What is search engine optimisation?

Relevant keywords

Google search results focus on relevance. In other words, if your site includes the searched-for terms, or keywords, you are more likely to perform well in results. I can help you find the keywords that will help draw traffic to your site by:

  • performing keyword analysis to discover the phrases that will work best for you
  • using those keywords in your website’s copy. This will include the main text of your site as well as important areas that Google takes particular notice of: headings, bulleted text, bold and italic text, and link text
  • adding keywords to the meta information. This is the information that isn’t necessarily read by visitors but is, in most cases, read by Google. It includes page URLs, page titles, description tags and alt text. (If you want to know more about these terms, I’ll be happy to explain.)


As well as keyword relevance, Google assesses a site’s importance by its reputation, or PageRank. And a good PageRank is achieved by getting lots of incoming links.

How do you get links? There are, literally, hundreds of ways to embark on a link campaign.  One great way to get links is to include lots of relevant and useful content on a site. As a freelance SEO copywriter, I can help you do this by writing:

  • blog posts that offer useful information to visitors. As well as hosting them on your site, I can help you distribute blog posts across the web to help attract incoming links
  • press releases. Newsworthy items about your business can be distributed in press releases that draw links back to you. All good for your PageRank.

Great web copy – the most important SEO of all

I understand the principles of SEO, but I am first and foremost a copywriter. Why is this important? Because like more and more people in the industry, I recognise that well-written, relevant content will, over time, draw the right traffic to your website. Pages stuffed with keywords, on the other hand, probably won’t.

As a freelance SEO copywriter, I deliver copy that is optimised for search engines and a persuasive and engaging read for the most important visitors of all – the human ones.

Contact Coast Copywriting to find out how I can help you.




Professional Editing Services

My professional editing and web copy editing services can transform your words into clear, convincing messages that speak to customers.

For some people, it’s cost-effective to write their own copy and then get me to sharpen it. As a professional freelance copywriter and copy editor, I can ensure your copy:

  • effectively promotes your important messages
  • communicates those messages in clear, easy-to-follow sentences
  • looks like a professional, finished product.

I have 10 years experience as a professional copywriter and 15 years experience as an editor and web copy editor. I help people with reports, business tenders, web copy and textbooks.

Whatever the standard of the original copy, work with me and your messages will emerge tighter and more persuasive. And they will be free of the annoying errors that instantly devalue any communication.

Get in touch for professional editing and web copy editing services.