A humblebrag from Caroline Coxon?

Humblebrag? This morning was the very first time I’d heard that word, yet it is being added to OxfordDictionaries.com (Not, apparently,  the ACTUAL Oxford English dictionary. Note to self: Does it still exist?)

Mind you, I hadn’t heard of YOLO or side-boob either – mainly, I expect because I’m not sufficiently down wiv da kidz, or whatever it is you have to be. I had to RESEARCH. In the case of side-boob, it wasn’t a particularly uplifting (see what I did there?) experience, but then I’m a girl.


Lovely lady, but I’m just not in any hurry to try that look, thank you very much.

YOLO is okay.

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You Only Live Once – implying – go for it, carpe diem.

On the other hand, it could get a bit annoying.


Now, humblebrag. I suppose its meaning is obvious. It’s a new portmanteau word, innit?

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A portmanteau word is a combination of two (or more) words or parts of words and their definitions, into one new word.

To humblebrag: To show off about something while simultaneously couching it in terms of self-deprecation; false modesty.

Example:”How is it possible that a dimbo like me graduated from Cambridge with a double first?” or “Honestly, I’m such a ditz. Fancy tripping up in my Jimmy Choo’s on the red-carpet at the Oscars…”

(Yes, I made those up).

Now I’m going to try for my own humblebrag.

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Nope, can’t do it.

Nobody likes a show-off. People like EVEN LESS a person who’s a show off but pretending not to be.

It’s a tough one though, because, as you probably know, I’ve written a book.


It’s a fine line. Could be so very far from being adorbs.

(Do your OWN research!)

Pay Per Click – a potential customer speaks out!

(A customer of products and services, not a customer of Pay Per Click!)

At a meeting yesterday, with a new client, website content, blog writing, SEO and Pay Per Click were discussed.

Pay Per Click? Not my area of expertise AT ALL.

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Let me tell you the effect is has on me, as a potential customer, when I’m searching for a product or service online, using Google:

I AVOID all the search results at the very top of the page with the little yellow icon telling me it’s an ad.

I AVOID the column of search results on the right hand side of the page which I assume are also ads.

I choose the sites at the top of the rankings that are NOT (apparently) driven by Pay Per Click.

My client, though he uses PPC campaigns sporadically – trying them out for a while then turning them off for a couple of months, then trying again – was of exactly the same opinion as me.

Don’t even get me started on Facebook ads…

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(I don’t!)

SO – out of my comprehensive poll of two people – that’s 100% completely ANTI pay per click, from a customer perspective.

The psychology of it? I’ve been trying to analyse it, from my own opinions. I think it’s because I object to being manipulated (ha ha ha in this day and age!) and I don’t like the idea that big players who can afford the allegedly outrageous costs for PPC seem to have an unfair advantage over the little people. This sort of search engine ranking, it seems to me, is nothing to do with the quality of the product or the service but simply a function of a marketing budget (or lack of one).

It’s like paying (or begging) for votes in a contest – so that the result is generated from a popularity contest not a reflection of merit.

Me and my innate love of the level playing field…

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But it must work for businesses, mustn’t it? Why else has it become a business in itself?

I began to wonder if I really understand PPC at all, from a business perspective, so I started reading up about it and I must say I glazed over in the first twenty seconds – until I found a website with a section entitled PPC University. NOW it begins to make sense!

However, even this site admits, “Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically.”

I’m sure this is why MY business isn’t busting out all over – doing well but could do weller!

But I’m comfortable with how I go about promoting myself.

And I’m not comfortable with the idea of PPC.

Good luck to me.

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It’s a jungle out there.




“To copy is human, to create divine.”

Thus spake Jeffrey Fry, self-styled Profit Prophet. And yes, I’m human, in this instance. That was a copy of his quote!

I know…

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So. I’m back that that old chestnut of dealing with duplicate copy on a website.

I’m working on a re-write for a client whose original site has several pages which, at first glance, don’t look as though they’re duplicated, but on closer examination, the copy is simply the same paragraphs in a random order and with a different place name inserted.

This is the effect it has on me as a copywriter:

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I’m SURE this copy does pretty well in the Google rankings, however, duplication is a constant topic of conversation on SEO forums, with dire threats of ‘Google penalties’ flying around.

Yet, Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, (there’s a name to toy with!) stated quite robustly, last year, that no-one should “stress about this unless the content that you have duplicated is spammy or keyword stuffing.”

In a recent article entitled, ‘Is duplicate content bad for SEO?’ Jennifer Kyrnin suggests that if you look at the copy on your website and ask yourself WHY you’re duplicating content, then it should be easy to determine whether or not it’s a good plan. She concludes that if it’s more about YOU than about your clients, then DON’T DO IT!

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Why would you, in the first place?

  1. Writing copy isn’t your strong point so you put something together then duplicate it?
  2. You simply haven’t the time or the interest?
  3. You want to get the copy higher up the search rankings so more people view it?
  4. You want to manipulate search engine results?

Yep, all about you. Admit it. Pity your poor clients who want to find out something about your products or services and then have to wade through pages of tedious keyword-stuffed GUFF. In fact, they won’t do it. They’ll bounce quicker than a kangaroo on a hot tin roof.

The answer to reasons 1 and 2 is – employ a copywriter like me, naturally!

I’ll ignore 4 because that’s unethical.

Number 3? To create is divine! Remember that. Create more unique copy. Expand pages which do contain, through necessity, similar content. Add unique information to each one.


Employ someone who loves to do that.


A divine copywriter!

Like me.

Above all, don’t forget it IS possible to have interesting, engaging, appealing copy which entertains and informs your clients AND  puts your website high in the search engine rankings.


The blogs do work

Randomly as ever, my title about blogs was inspired by this wonderful (well, I think so!)  song by The Verve.

If you’re not now ready to throw yourself off the mantelpiece or drown yourself in a cup of cocoa – I’m pleased to report something. About blogs. One in particular.

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It’s received wisdom that blogs make a difference to your business. That’s if the content isn’t copied from another site, you update it regularly and whatever you write is engaging, fresh and relevant.

I blog every day, but I’m not selling anything – except, I suppose – me.  My blog is like Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way, morning pages. Or, in this case, evening ones.

It gets me writing. People like it. I don’t obsess about how many, how often and all that. I used to, but that was a slippery slope to insanity. The most important thing to me is that…

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Writing business blogs is slightly different. With a different outcome in mind, at least.

First the Great Google God loves the revived content. It can be an effective – and cost-effective – word of mouth marketing tool. (Perhaps it would be described more accurately as word of finger marketing?)

Blogs are the perfect opportunity to talk about products and services, share news and hype anything at all. It’s definitely handy for creating a buzz at a moment’s notice without the need for expensive mailing. Just keep it current…


I write a monthly blog for a food and wine importer. I’m being a bit secret squirrel about it, on the grounds of client confidentiality, since I write it as though it’s from the mouth (fingers?) of the company owner.

Since I started, in November last year, visits to the site have grown steadily, as have on-line orders. (Don’t ask me for the Google analytics, I’m just reporting what I’ve been told!)

In January, I wrote a piece about a particularly fine bottle of wine. Of course, I had to taste it. Quite a few times. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

To our delight, the blog was picked up by an award-winning magazine – and the wine, and concomitantly the company, was selected as Discovery Of The Month for May. Imagine the interest and the sales figures NOW

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See…as I said earlier…

The drugs don’t work. The blogs do.

“The single biggest problem in communication…”

“is the illusion that it has taken place,” said George Bernard Shaw. Yesterday, however, I was under no illusion. Communication had NOT taken place.


It was ME, by the way, lacking in the communication department. No-one else. Me.

I’d started on a new project over the weekend. ‘A monster pitch,’ as described by the agency.

This was not meant to imply that I was pitching TO or FOR monsters.


Neither was it meant to mean that the pitch was monstrous, dreadful. (Perhaps that’s where the seed of doubt was sown in my mind, if I thought that?)

It was simply BIG. Important.

I sent off my preliminary work on Sunday. Heard nothing until late Monday. It was a ‘Thanks for this and could you do more?’ And ‘Let’s talk about this tomorrow.’

I thought I’d already done what was required. So then I assumed I must have done it WRONG…that my work was unsatisfactory, that I hadn’t understood the brief.

A sensible person would do this: First thing in the morning, she would get on the phone to the agency and find out what was what, then move forward in full possession of all the facts, whatever they may be. Be in communication.

Shame I’m not always very sensible.

I spent the entire morning and the early part of the afternoon Doing Other Things – pure displacement activity. And always, at the back of my mind, or at the front…concern, anxiety, incipient panic.

‘Get a grip, Caroline,’ I might have said to myself. But I didn’t.


…until 3.15  (after I’d suddenly remembered I must make a hair appointment and pay my horse insurance.) THREE FIFTEEN.  More than six hours after I’d started work.

…when I phoned the agency, had a four minute chat, was reassured and ready for the next stage.

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Let’s hear it for being in communication!

P.S. Have a nice day? Grrrrrrrrr (see yesterday’s post)


Pause you wretched weakling and take stock of your miserable existence

You are WRONG St. Benedict. Wrong, wrong wrong!


By Heidi Haverkamp.
Because it made me smile.

Well, mostly you are wrong, St. Benedict. Except for the need to take stock. Oh, and the need to pause.

The wrong bits:

  • I am NOT a wretched weakling
  • My existence is NOT miserable

So – I am getting loads of new commissions and interest in my copywriting. Loads.


JobS, actually.

This is wonderful. I’m very grateful. And, dare I say it?…Oh, okay then, I will…I am proud of myself. All this is as a result of my networking, sharing and marketing, which took courage for me to do. It doesn’t come naturally to me. (Perhaps St. B was right. Perhaps I AM a wretched weakling after all?)

It’s also to do with the quality of my work. No amount of interest will result in commissions unless the work is good enough. More than good enough. It has to be excellent.

As a copywriter, I have noticed there are two states of potential panic:

  1. When you haven’t got enough work
  2. When you have got enough work


I’m in sector 2.

I’m in danger of a bit of a meltdown – although my work will never be compromised, dear clients. Just – I won’t have a life.

Time to pause.

Time to take stock.

Time to organise.

Staying sane with a bouncing brain

Me yesterday. Bouncing brain and staying sane.


Boing, boing, boing…

Heaps of work to do, in parallel. My decision – to rotate.


No NOT like THAT! That and the bouncing brain too? Instant nausea.

I mean, rotate tasks. Each project split neatly into sections, so I’d do a piece about clinical interventions in mental health…then I’d do a piece about mortgages…then I’d work on double-glazing (so much more transparent than a desk!)… then…back to clinical interventions.

See? Bouncing brain!

The good bit – I never got bored. Not the slightest hint of drowsiness.

The potential pitfall – I might have confused my subject matter.

Knowledge concept

© Orlando Florin Rosu – Fotolia.com

Yeah!  “Release some equity from your property with a remortgage, install double-glazing in your head and you too can sail through your International Personality Disorder Examination.”

But I didn’t. Confuse my subject areas, that is. You’ll be relieved to hear.

Bouncing brain or not…


Writing adverts

Some days I spend writing adverts. I love it. Luckily for me, I haven’t lost the passion for making words work.

“To create good selling copy, advertisement writers must be bubbling over with enthusiasm.”


“A day’s work with the glow of magic fire…”


by Alena Klementeva

“is worth a week of galley slave plugging.”


“Real copy “artists” are self-hypnotists.”


From Judicious Advertising magazine, 1912

Nineteen twelve!

Here’s an advertisement from 1912:


Attractive advert…shame about the product.

Writing adverts is fun.

As long as mine don’t sink without trace!

Why you need to update your website

Update your website? Come on, Caroline, give us a break.

It’s the first day back at work after the holidays for many of us – those lucky enough to have more than Christmas Day off.


Now those New Year’s resolutions really begin to bite. It’s one thing going on a mid-afternoon run in the sunshine to fulfil your fitness quota , quite another when it has to be done at 5 a.m. in the dark and rain, before you catch the 6.05 to London Bridge.

(Caroline has lightbulb moment: Running machines on commuter trains!)

Here’s a business resolution for you that is a no-brainer. And needn’t cause physical pain.

Update your website!


Yeah, yeah, that old chestnut always churned out by job-seeking copywriters and web designers.

Have it your own way, people, but first, consider THIS

GE Capital Retail Bank undertook a consumer survey.  81% of respondents said they researched online before making a purchase.



Are you happy that 81% of your potential customers will look at your website and see…well, what will they see? Stale copy? Last year’s news? Outdated images? Redundant facts? A blog that was written in July 2013?

At risk of repeating myself: UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE! You know it makes sense.

It’s not a resolution that will help you lose weight or run a marathon.

It IS a resolution that will ensure that you don’t risk losing customers because they look at your site and think…’Hmmmmm, well if THAT’S an illustration of their professionalism and attention to detail… thanks, but no thanks, I’ll go elsewhere.’

I’m a copywriter. I’m busy. I’m not so busy that I couldn’t take on YOUR WEBSITE.

Contact me at: cacoxon@gmail.com

I’ll carry out your New Year’s resolution for you. How good is that?




Copywriting resolutions

Copywriting resolutions? What, you mean, like, get more clients?

Nope, not for me – at least, not as a primary goal.

“A writer should be joyous, an optimist . . . Anything that implies rejection of life is wrong for a writer,” said George Gribbin, one time chairman of Young & Rubicam, the advertising agency.

Amen to that!

So – the first of my copywriting resolutions – Write  joyously.


Spinning by Donna Howard

Last year, I think I proved it’s possible to write joyously about mortgages, probate, wills and financial services. I loved doing that – so, in 2014, bring on more challenges!

“The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships” – from Leo Burnett, another advertising executive.


A fabulous description of the work, leading to the second of my copywriting resolutions – Write  boldly.

Last but not least…


Stop writing for peanuts!

Last year, I turned down two jobs – pay derisory… That might seem like a small thing to some people, but to me, a freelance writer, it was HUGE.

If you haven’t already, please read this excellent article by Linda Formichelli, The Renegade Writer and all-round guru (to me.)

On Writing For Peanuts

A little extract – “I do not believe that writers who work for cheap are depressing the rates for professional writers…It’s like saying that McDonald’s grill-jockeys are depressing the rates for master chefs.”

That’s me and my copywriting resolutions, then.

Write joyously. Write boldly. Stop writing for peanuts.

happy writer