Here’s what I learned as a first-timer, at the Copywriting Conference 2018

Packed with lots of learning and laughter, it was a day well spent for me. The copywriting conference comprised of a combination of fabulous talks and informative workshops. These were separated by short breaks for coffee, lunch and networking.
I have been a freelance copywriter for a couple of years now. And I admit that I was already familiar with some of the things mentioned in this blog. Nonetheless, they were great reminders. And it was reassuring to hear about them from the learned speakers. That’s why I have included them. As they might help someone else.

Without further ado, here are my key picks:

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Keep it simple

The first talk by Dr Draper had the entire audience in fits. With a light-hearted tone, he stressed upon the power of simplicity. A copywriter’s job is to minimize the distance between thought and language. As a brand storyteller a.k.a a copywriter you must avoid unnecessarily fancy words. Keep your language bullshit-free.
Unless your B2B client wants you to rank on Google for their innovative product, steer clear of words like innovative and passionate.
Later during the day, other speakers including James Daniel and  Anna Johnston emphasised on the same point in their own style. Remember to keep it simple and conversational. Whether you are writing a direct mail or trying to convey your message through a story, make it easy to read.
Use relatable events and realistic examples.
Even if you are writing for an educated audience, remember that the average reading age of people in the UK is about 9 years. This may be because the literacy levels of a large number of adults in England are below those expected of an 11-year-old.
OR because life is busy. And while reading off the small screen of your smartphones, you appreciate a clear writing.
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Communicate with the client

There was another important takeaway for me at the Copywriting Conference. That is: ALWAYS set out your terms and conditions clearly before starting any new project. Make sure that both the client and the copywriter understand the expectations.
It is a great idea to spare 15-20 minutes to fill out a brief document. It helps to bridge the gap between the client’s expectations and the copywriter’s understanding of the work.
Having a brief takes the guesswork out of the project. Instead, it helps the copywriter to understand the required tone of voice better.
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Charge for the value

Copywriting is much more than a bunch of words. It’s about using the right language to persuade and sell. So, when it comes to quoting a price for a project, a copywriter should look at the value of the work done. Charge for the value and not for the number of words shown on your computer screen.

Use online tools

Throughout the copywriting conference, the keynote speakers recommended several free online tools. These are great to make our copy more effective – and our lives easier.
Not in any particular order, they are:
The Hemingway App aims to make writing less complex. Just copy/paste your text into the browser. It’ll highlight and suggest alternatives for anything that can be simplified.
Grammarly is a writing assistant. I’d recommend using it even if you’re not a copywriter. Writing spelling mistake-free and grammatically correct English never hurts anyone. Grammarly also lets you choose between American, British, Canadian and Australian English.
There is a paid version available. But the free one is good enough.
Answer the public is a keyword research tool. It takes search results from Google & Bing. And creates a visual search cloud to help you target keywords.
Portent’s content idea generator is one of the several digital marketing tools available at This will help any copywriter overcome a writer’s block. It does this by suggesting title ideas related to the keyword entered.
Tweak your biz is another title generator tool. It boasts to create killer titles for your articles and blog posts. Enter your topic and get a wide variety of title suggestions based on your keyword.
Character Count Online lets you count the characters, the number of words, sentences and paragraphs in your text. This is particularly helpful when writing social media posts.
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And some of the other good stuff

It’s hard to squeeze in the wealth of knowledge that I gained at the Copywriting Conference into a single blog. But I tried my best. And really it would be unfair to exclude these wonderful points which were covered in great detail on the day.
  • Don’t sell. Instead, channel demand.
  • When writing, create a customer avatar to address.
  • Have a consistent tone of voice for a brand on every medium (social media platforms, website, etc.).
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Why go again if you have been to the Copywriting Conference once before?

This is a question I had in mind. I asked other copywriters why were they willing to travel miles, to attend a conference, they had been to before. The replies I got were quite inspiring, to say the least.
Every year at the Copywriting Conference, there are new talks and workshops. Each covers a variety of topics from which a copywriter can benefit. The keynote speakers all bring along years of expertise. And they are happy to share it with the audience. You get to network with copywriters, with diverse backgrounds and different experience levels.
At the Copywriting Conference, I met people who had been in the writing business for over 30 years and then there were others who started only last week (really!). You don’t often get a chance to speak to so many professional writers.
A day before the Copywriting Conference, this was one of the replies to my twitter post:
copywriting conference
Thanks, Kelly. I did love it!
So, if for whatever reasons, you missed it this year, I’d highly recommend going to the Copywriting Conference 2019.
This post was originally published on Bisma Hashmi Writes.


19th October 2018

Jackie Barrie

Thanks for sharing some of the tips and tools from my session. I’m glad it was useful and wish you every success with your copywriting career.

20th October 2018

Bisma Hashmi

Thank YOU for the wonderful workshop Jackie. I really appreciate that you shared so many tools and useful information with us in a short time, while also answering questions. Thanks for your wishes.

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