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Posts Tagged ‘copywriting for print’

chas no 1

Watch your step for giant Palmetto bugs and random typewriters

Today we learned that Travel + Leisure magazine has once again named Charleston SC the America’s No. 1 city, and No. 2 in the world. “Readers were asked to rate cities they had visited on sights/landmarks, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, shopping and value.”

Of course, that’s a survey of people who are just passing through. What’s it like for those who live here and try to make a living in the copywriting trade? I am referring specifically to ME.

Humble Copywriting Origins

I hit town in 2006, knowing precisely nobody. I fanned out in every direction, burning up my 28K dialup internet (!) carpet-bombing every web design, marketing, advertising and video production agency from here to hell-and-gone. (Hell-and-gone includes Asheville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Greenville, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Hilton Head, Savannah, and Augusta. Mostly due to “good timing” I got a few bites, a few initial gigs, and things slowly (SLOWLY) took root.

Mixed success, as you can imagine. I can say that the agency relationships I have made here in Charleston, including great names such as Colophon New Media and Metatation have endured.

Charleston Copywriting Must-haves

I have done my share of writing for two big Charleston staples, real estate and travel & tourism. Both have been very good to me. Check out my thoughts on local Real Estate writing here. And some fun travel and tourism stuff here. (Scroll down to Charleston Travel/Tourism Blog)

Now, there’s also Technical Writing.  The type of writing where (in Charleston anyway)  “tab A into slot B equals cruise missile.”  I can do it, I even completed some tech writing coursework at Trident Tech, but I guess I have never pursued it aggressively enough.

I ended up doing quite a bit of technical writing at Philips, though. That wasn’t the plan; it just turned out that way. Ah, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, the one that quite literally got away. (They closed the office and it got away!) But before it did, one of my pieces for them won a Bronze Addy award, so there’s that.

Ten years later, how’s it going? Well, it’s definitely going. Social is bigger than ever, and a big part of my mix. I went and earned a Social Marketing Certification from Hootsuite. This has been pretty helpful in framing the conversation when discussing a client’s digital marketing options.

Charleston Copywriting Outlook: 2017

Meanwhile, businesses are shaking off the cobwebs, and celebrating the new economic optimism that seems to be going around. Meaning, lots of web refreshes going on, from a six-page interior designer website, to a 30-page dentist’s site to a FIFTY page digital marketing agency website! (2017: the year the cobbler’s kids get shoes!!) Now, 2017 is setting no records, but it sure beats the windswept desert that was 2016!!

So that’s the copywriting life in America’s Number One city. As the Bedouins say, the dogs bark and the caravan moves on. If you’d like to be part of this rich copywriting pageant, contact me at  LivelyExchange (at) gmail (dot) com!

Photo: Charleston Post and Courier

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handmaid

Original 80s cover art, for the purists!

Allow me, Dystopian Literature Fan Number One, to be officially the last person on the web to discuss The Handmaid’s Tale.

First of all, I’m happy to see that 7 episodes in, people have finally stopped screaming how TIMELY it is. Written in the mid-80s, it was a response to the way Reagan installed a right-wing Christian dictatorship, took away women’s rights and shipped black people off to camps. If you don’t remember that happening then, that’s because it didn’t. But, TIMELY!!!

Anyway, the first 5 eps, I was riveted, watching the book come to life after reading it maybe 10 times. (Let us not speak of the 1990 theatrical release – as much as I love the late Natasha Richardson!)

handmaid 2

“So…see you at the Ceremony later?”

The last couple of eps, which have veered almost completely from the novel, I fear I am losing my buzz a bit – even though it is very well done. And I wonder, is this what it is like for those unhappy Game of Thrones book nerds?

I give them credit for trying to expand the story, even if the results are mixed. Seeing the breakdown and overthrow of the US? Excellent. RiotGrrl Ofglen as a symbol of resistance? Very good. The revelation about Offred’s husband? Maybe. Sympathizing with Serena Joy about how the revolution disappointed her? No. And the entire Mexican Ambassador thing? No me gusta!

I see that next week will bring to life just about the last remaining set piece of the novel, other than the ending. And now word comes that the series has been renewed for a second season. For the life of me, I can’t imagine what an episode 19 or 20 will look like. Despite all of this, it’s still appointment TV, and I am enjoying the ride for now. As for Big Splashy Hulu Adaptations, it’s much better than 11/22/63 was.  What do YOU think?

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Have you done your NCAA brackets yet? I did – I wrote Cincinnati Reds in all the slots just to mess with the poor dude in the office pool. So far, I’ve lost $260! Aside from that, what’s on the content and copywriting menu these days? Let’s take a look at what is flowing at various stages of the ol’ pipeline…

Fancy Pig says: Somehow, it doesn’t seem like March in South Carolina!

  • Writing a direct mail piece for landscaping supplier in South Carolina
  • Writing long form brochures and trifolds for a consumer electronics firm in Upstate New York
  • Blogging and social media management for a global leader in floral chemicals
  • Blogging for an Extended Stay motel chain in the Southeast
  • Writing a series of print ads for a gun manufacturer
  • Writing a website for a digital marketing agency in the Midwest
  • Writing a website for a dry cleaner in South Carolina
  • Writing a website for a real estate attorney in South Carolina
  • Writing a website for a pressure washing service in South Carolina

And the really important stuff:

  • Trying to decide if I am going to see Reverend Horton Heat on 3/25
  • and Freaking out that there’s only 4 weeks until Better Call Saul returns!

Do any of these sound like the type of thing you’re looking for? Print writing, web writing, video scripts or social media content? Spoiler talk for Better Call Saul? Anything is possible, so give me a holler at LivelyExchange (at) Gmail (dot) com!

frost

Beater Batmobile says: I am confused, as well!

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Yes, but it's a MOIST heat.

Like some fast, furious flying thing, summer is flying by fast and furious. Here’s how I have spent my copywriting summer so far, in feels-like-110-degrees Charleston SC :

  • I wrote a website for a Speaker’s/Talent agency. The client knows Joel McHale! Jealous.
  • Meta tagging a home improvement website. Sounds tedious – and it was – but six solid billable hours. No complaints!
  • Writing a print brochure for an animal hospital. Aww, puppies!
  • The previously-mentioned gun ad and gun cloth website (see below)
  • Maybe producing a demo reel for a standup comic. The show is in 10 days, and I haven’t heard a thing. Hilarious!
  • Moderating a closed group on Facebook regarding the Casual Dining industry
  • Working on a different, super-secret blog/Twitter/Facebook project
  • Working on a THIRD social media program for a floral-industry giant
  • Writing a new headphone website for Philips
  • Writing Philips sell sheets for a new line of Kindle cases
  • Editing a sales presentation for a financial advisory firm
  • Finishing a Real Estate website refresh
  • Getting ready to start another Real Estate website
  • Completing my Kroger alcohol trilogy: Beer, wine and, now, Liquor!

I guess the big story is how the social media thing is growing. I am reading everything I can on how to do it well. And you know how I hate to read the manual! Anyway, that’s the spillage. How’s YOUR summer?

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You may not have heard of this little mom 'n' pop operation

As a companion piece to our last entry, here is a website I wrote* for Johnston Brothers Custom Imprinted Gun Cloths and Bags, a South Carolina maker of… wait, I knew it a minute ago!

This was a writing gig that was probably more fun than it should have been. First of all, it was 4 hours start to finish – including the client interview – and I received payment in under a week. What’s not to love?

Secondly, I love the client’s entrepreneurial spirit. I am always in awe of that kind of carve-a-niche energy some clients have – because I sometimes (ahem!) find it lacking in myself!  Here is a guy who saw that 90% of the little gun shops in the US do little to no advertising or marketing. They basically count on the fact that they are the only shop in the neighborhood.  So this client makes gun cloths, which every serious shooter must have and use, and personalizes them with the name of the shop and contact info.  That’s about all I can reveal, but the benefits should be obvious.

Anyway, you hear a lot of doom and gloom about small businesses. In order to survive, small business has to get creative. This is exactly the kind of quick, inexpensive yet good-looking website that can do the trick. It’s exciting for me to be involved in this kind of solution. Take that, commies!

*hat-tip to Charleston SC designer Studio 7 Design, and programmer Metatation. Thanks for the gig, fellers!

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I wrote a print ad appearing in Soldier of Fortune in either June or July.  Won’t my artsy liberal friends in Charleston be thrilled!

Sort of like the Wild West replica ads, brochures and web content I wrote way back (and for the same client) I had to get inside the mind of someone looking to purchase a badass-looking piece like this. Of thinking like a Navy SEAL when in realtity you’ll probably use it to shoot possums by your trash cans.

All I had to go on was the word “Carbine,” which is like a rifle only shorter and less powerful.  Why would you want this and not the other? When you’re closer to the enemy, on the move, need to be ready in an instant to fire. Who might use a carbine? Special forces. And so it went.  I managed to paint the picture of kicking in the door and capping a room full of terrorists, prefaced with the clever “You may never have to…”

Anyway, here it is. BTW, my original headline was SPECIAL FORCES! The client changed it to HOMELAND SECURITY, which is also good. The callback at the end makes no sense now, but who cares? If you’re the guy this ad is intended for, you’re just drooling over the picture of the gun anyway! BLAM!

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Downtown Charleston Homes: Lots of Charm for LOADS of Cheddar!

And now a few thoughts on Real Estate writing – Charleston’s third most popular professional writing topic (behind Old World Charm and Missile Guidance Systems!)
Writing for Real Estate is tricky, especially in a town the size of Charleston SC. Whenever a realtor comes to me, he or she needs writeups on the usual things like Home, About, Services, etc. So far so good. 

But then they want me to write charming descriptions of the part of Charleston SC where they specialize. And, in a town this size, “everywhere” is our specialty!

When I first got to town I had no clue about West Ashley or Mt. Pleasant or Park West…or anywhere. So it was research, research, research. I believe the pieces I wrote were fine, especially considering my lack of knowledge of the area. They did the trick and got the Google hits. I don’t believe, however, that the reader would get the sense that the author had “lived it.”

Time took care of that. Now, all these years later, I know the Charleston SC area pretty darn well. The stuff I write about Isle of Palms or South Windermere actually DO sound like they were written by a local.

home sale

Cozy and charming. And in Downtown Charleston, it’s only $575,000!

The final piece of the puzzle was Historic Downtown Charleston. That’s how you’re supposed to say it. Downtown had always been a once-every-few-weeks occurrence for me. Usually a Saturday, and usually to chill on a lawn chair at the Battery or something.

My 8-month stint at Philips changed that. I only worked a 20-hour week, but I was there every day. Working in Ansonborough, lunching on East Bay, vendor meetings in the French Quarter, happy hour on Upper King, and so on. The feel of Downtown started slowly seeping in.

So, when a realtor asked me to write a big SEO-drenched essay on Historic Downtown Charleston, I was ready. Now, I can say “Ansonborough is a charming neighborhood of Charleston Singles and Doubles, refurbished row houses and even modern condos with harbor views” with confidence! I LIVED it, by gar!

Anyway, check out my Historic Downtown Charleston SC Homes article! And a special shout out to Realtor extraordinaire Heather Lord!

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If YOU need compelling copy  – real estate or otherwise – that feels like it’s been lived in, please contact livelyexchange (at) gmail (dot) com!

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