24 Ingredients for Persuasive Writing

Posted on October 9, 2020 in Uncategorized

Get people to LISTEN to you  – ETHOS, Ethical/Trust        

  • Establish rapport – think about their emotional state
  • Make them feel you understand their needs
  • Use an engaging tone of voice
  • Show you understand the issue – explain things from their point of view
  • Use questions to gain attention
  • Apply some flattery!

Add WEIGHT to what you say – LOGOS, Logic

  • Demonstrate the benefits – what’s in it for them
  • Use evidence and statistics – point to lessons from history, customs, etc.
  • Show how your credibility – via your performance, expertise, testimonials
  • Address their objections – give them space to back down
  • Use alluring language: awareness words (Imagine, Notice … ), tag questions at end of sentence (… Don’t you?); negative scenarios before yours, etc.
  • Use stories, metaphors and analogies, especially for more complex ideas
  • In any analysis, be logical, coherent and factual – don’t go ‘over the top’
  • Use rhetorical questions, with obvious answers
  • Explain why they need to listen or change NOW
  • Compare against alternatives, being fair in any comparisons (pros, cons etc.)
  • Be flexible – persuasion can be a two-way process, requiring give and take

Advanced editing

Posted on September 24, 2020 in Editing/Proofreading, Writing books

Editing is a real skill, not one to be sniffed at. And being an editor of your own work isn’t easy — it’s actually pretty difficult.

Indeed, lots of writing ‘fails’ merely because it hasn’t been very well edited: things haven’t been spotted. And I don’t just mean grammar, punctuation and typos, I mean problems of structure, tone of voice and content.

So here are 13 advanced editing tips from me, under three themes. to make your editing jobs quicker, less stressful and a lot more effective.

1.) Step into your reader’s shoes

  • Imagine you are one of your target audience/readers reading your text, or a first-time reader who doesn’t know anything about the subject. Ask yourself: ‘Is the tone right?  Do the headings make sense?  Does it answer their questions?’ etc.
  • Of each of your sentences, ask yourself, ‘So what?’ i.e. Check you have: included the essential content; explained and demonstrated things; etc.
  • ‘The reader is more important than the writer.’ What matters more than your clever phrasing and elaborate sentences etc. is can your reader easily and quickly understand, and will they then do what you want them to.

TONE OF VOICE – its meaning, and some ideas

Posted on June 17, 2020 in Uncategorized

Everyone can IDENTIFY a robin, but can they reproduce its bird call – i.e. its tone of voice?

Maybe you are you trying to decide your business or organisation’s tone of voice? How to articulate it? How to get it reproduced across staff and colleagues? Or how to tweak your tone into something more akin to you and your brand – something more appropriate?

Fuel for your thoughts now follows .. .

I have carefully distilled 150+ different tones of voice (that I researched from across the web) into what I believe are 12 main types .. . and here they are, below.

12 Types of tone of voice

What I suggest are the 12 main types of tone are listed below, with supporting examples and slight variations for each one. It should help stimulate, guide and develop your thoughts when you look at your tone of voice.

Need help with your tone?

  • Download my chart to show you how these 12 tones are related, in my special diagram – download it here.
  • I have developed a tone of voice function – this explains how your tone is determined, and what you can do to influence it.

Contact me here to talk through these ideas, and what you want from your tone of voice.


thoughtful, earnest, genuine, downbeat


gentle, simple, apologetic, timid, nervous



Audit your blog’s effectiveness

Posted on April 13, 2020 in Uncategorized

Want more followers to your blog, and more comments?

Unsure if your blog is achieving your gaols?

Use this checklist (below) for some ideas for acitons that you can take:

Your blog is easily FOUND on Google

  1. Effective SEO, keywords etc. – matches people’s searches, topical etc.
  2. Plenty of posts
  3. Alt text on images

GOOD and USEFUL content for visitors

  1. User-focussed – Content meets people’s needs, focussed, answers their Qs, etc.
  2. Scannability, and clear headings
  3. Visually attractive – and infographics, video blog posts etc.
  4. Variety of posts – and think of new mediums: slideshows, webinars, podcasts, pdf
  5. Simple navigation, menu, categories
  6. Links within blog, and between posts and pages
  7. Has ‘authority’ – demonstrates knowledge and experience of subject
  8. Added benefits: Freebies, recommendations/ideas, redirects etc.

Opportunities for INTERACTION – Give readers a reason to RETURN

  1. Like/Social Media buttons – for readers to like and share your content
  2. Comments fields, with responses by you
  3. Frequent, varied and good quality posts
  4. Invitations to reader: polls, questions, set challenges


Gutenberg WordPress Editor – 8 Pros and 7 Cons

Posted on May 17, 2019 in Uncategorized

Here is my review of the new WordPress editor, Gutenberg.

Will be interested to hear your views…

Many ‘Positives’

  • Overall, greater range of content possible, and easy to set up
  • Particularly good for images: lots of different options re size, background etc. 
  • Good visual impact also, with lots of styling options: text colours, background colour, drop caps etc.
  • Wider range of formats possible beyond just text, e.g. tables and columns
  • Flexible and quite good fun to use
  • Works well on mobile (apparently)
  • Smooth insertion of Social Media and other links – Slideshare, YouTube, etc.
  • Can revert to Classic Editor (plugin available till 2022) – even for only one ‘block’.

… And also ‘Negatives’

  • Overall, for the first-timer in particular, WordPress no longer feels quite as easy to use as before (or as other software, e.g. Word).  Rather a headache when you get started.  Somewhat fiddly menus, etc. 
  • You could quickly waste a lot of time doing all the formatting – whereas using a page-builder theme would be a lot quicker
  • Two/three different menus, which isn’t neat; and Classic Editor has only an abbreviated menu
  • Occasional gremlins and some unusual features of questionable usage (e.g. Verse mode; Markdown)
  • You can’t format small passages of text without putting it first into a separate block – and you lose formatting if you cut and paste text from Word
  • Plugins, and themes from small companies, may not have been updated to work with Gutenberg
  • Rated poorly for people who are blind, visually impaired and dexterity impaired

You can see Gutenberg in action here

One other negative …

It is surprising that there isn’t a simple list of menu options for Gutenberg blocks …

So here is mine:

MOST USED – For example
Short code
Pull quotes

(as above plus…)

FORMATTING (inc.coding)
Pull quotes
Classic (old editor)
Custom HTML

LAYOUT ELEMENTS (arrangement on page)
Media and Text
Page break

Short code
Latest posts
Latest comments

Social media
Poll Daddy
And many more

Related posts
Sub form
Tiled gallery

Untitled reusable block

What do you think of Gutenberg?

Ramp-up Your Google Ranking – 10 Websites

Posted on May 13, 2019 in Copywriting, Writing for the web

Research your Keywords – 5 Great Websites

Answer the Public – Great for generating ideas for your next blog

Google Ads Planner – Keyword finder

Keyword Shitter – Get help with your keywords (Excuse the French)

Search Console – Analyse your website/blog

SEMRush – Compare yourself against competitor websites/blogs

2 Websites to Build Backlinks & Up your Digital ‘PR’

Ahrefs – Grow your traffic (se Blog articles)

Moz – Explore and develop inbound links to your website/blog

Follow Top-ranked Content – 3 Powerful Tools

BuzzSumo – Review top performing content

Google Alerts – Keep up to date with new posts on your chosen subjects

Ahrefs Content Explorer – Ideas for improving your profile

Which one did you LIKE BEST? – Would love to hear …

WHEN DID YOU LAST ‘PULL’?! — Self-test your website’s engage-ability

Posted on March 21, 2019 in Writing for the web

When did you last ‘engage’ through your writing?

It is easy to forget the frame of mind of people visiting our organisation/business website. 

When we write our website text, and tweak words here and there, we can forget what matters most. For example:

  • People dart in and out of websites very, very quickly.  — Speed
  • They are often searching for particular things and key words (though they may not have formulated them precisely in their heads). — Search
  • They make snap decisions as to whether or not a website (yours) can help them. — Snap

Don’t agree? / Agree? 

If you need a little persuading, cast your mind back to the last time you used the web to trawl through several websites, for example to find a budget holiday, or choose somewhere to stay.

Think how quickly you made judgements of different websites, and their offers. And how quickly you decided whether or not to spend more time investigating any given  website.  

Did an attractive PICTURE (e.g. a luxury bedroom, or tasty-looking buffet) or CATCHY HEADING (‘River view’, ‘Convenient for …’) lure you into looking further… or maybe to book?

I make those comparisons as a reminder that people browsing websites are reading so fast that your text has to engage with them in a flash, and/or catch their attention immediately.

A picture is worth a thousand words’ – the saying goes.

But the right words can achieve the same ‘pull’.

Mistakes to AVOID

With this in mind, here’s the main heading on 5 homepages of websites that I reviewed recently – followed by my comments and suggestions.

1) ‘Finding clients for our customers’

How effectively does that engage with target customers. Instead, I’d suggest ‘We find you more clients. Guaranteed!’?  — Be absolutely clear with your main message

2) ‘Increase your online presence in Style!’

What is that about?  Putting something like this requires reader to read further in order to find out. But will people bother?  — Make sure you have an impact.

3) ‘No sooner said than done’

That was used by a promoter of voice recognition software.  But I’d argue it is a little cryptic. Instead, I suggested something clearer, like ‘Discover how to type at double speed – no course required.’ — Don’t try and be too clever.

4) ‘Welcome to …’

Looks a nice greeting, but people have already typed in your url, or selected it on Google, so do they need it?  Plus, it means they are crowding out their main message.  — There is no need for such ‘Happy talk’ on websites.

5) ‘Working with small and large businesses in the UK. No job is too small’

Don’t a lot of companies claim things like that?  Does it distinguish you enough, I asked them? — Try and be unique, if you can

Advice for your homepage

The way to engage people, and lure them into your website, is by making sure your homepage’s words ‘speak to’ the reader in one of two ways:

  • Pick up on ‘problems/issues’ that they are looking to solve/answer


  • Highlight the benefits that your product/service can do for them. 

Good Luck!!

For further information

This is one of a series of articles to help you ‘self-test’ your website and the effectiveness of its writing.  In my next article I will look at how to Engage more clients through your text.

8 Reasons for using a professional copywriter

Posted on March 9, 2019 in Copywriting

We encourage you to consider using a professional copywriter to draft the text for your new website.  Here are eight reasons why, connected with the written content and the production process :


  • Correct perspective – Being external to your business, a copywriter will see things from the perspective of one of your customers, not one of your staff.  So there’ll be better able to describe your service/product, and its benefits, and create copy that engages well with target customers.
  • Freer to ask questions – Because they are not one of your staff, freelancers are freer to ask questions that may arise when writing about your business – questions that a staff member might find awkward or hard to ask of colleagues or their boss.
  • Appropriate tone of voice – The way your website speaks must reflect your brand, the culture and values of your business, and match your customers’ expectations. A copywriter can ensure your tone of voice is consistent across all marketing collateral, and draw up tone of voice guidelines if you don’t have any.
  • Will go the extra mile – As ‘wordsmiths’, copywriters love playing with words.  So they have the experience, and are willing to go the extra mile, in order to find just the right words, phrasing and tone for your new website. 


  • Refresh/recycle existing content – If the text on your existing website has got a little tired or dated, a professional copywriter can refresh it and give it a new lease of life.
  • Websites are more powerful when the design and text work together – Your new website will use visual and written media, and their messages are more effective when the graphic design, images and words are created alongside one other. This can be achieved by your design agency and copywriter working closely together.
  • A perfect fit – Another benefit of developing design and written content in parallel is that approximate word-counts for body text can be agreed in advance, which means that draft text fits well first time around, rather than needing lots of cutting and editing later on.
  • Avoid delays to your new website – Most copywriters can write with ease and speed.  Not least because, once contracted, they will clear their diary for the job in hand.  Plus, they don’t have the everyday distractions and commitments of employees, which can sometimes hold up the launch of your new website.

How to say ‘No’ politely – 10 Ways out of a Predicament

Posted on December 2, 2018 in Copywriting

It is is not easy to get the right tone of voice – for example to politely decline when we are asked to go somewhere, do something, or be at a certain place and at a certain time.



At times like these, many of us are overcome by guilt and responsibility.  We feel we really ought to say ‘Yes’ … but really, we want to say ‘No’. 


How can you avoid feeling guilty?  How can you say ‘No’?   

Here are 10 ways to answer those difficult and embarrassing questions … 




1.    Use modal verbs  (i.e. could, might, should, would)

  I would have loved to have come, but I don’t  think I can – I might have come, but I have another engagement

2.    Put things into a question

 Would it be OK if I came on another occasion? – Might/Could   I come back to you?


3.     Express some doubt

        I don’t suppose you could ask me again in a few days time?

4.    Be apologetic, even for small things

  Sorry to disappoint you, but I might not be able to attend.


5.    Use If – If followed by will, would, can or could

  If you don’t mind, I will look at my diary and come back to  you. – If you wait a few days, I could get back to you.

6.   Use the past tense even though speaking of the present

 I thought we could have a chat about it – I was wondering if we could talk? – I wanted to ask you a question about it.


7.    Include the person’s first name

 Robert, I am awfully sorry but I don’t think I can come.

8.   Use polite phrases, eg Sir/Madam etc

 Madam, can I consult my diary and get back to you.


9.   Be approximate and indirect, rather than specific

 Would it be OK if dropped in more of less around midday?

10.   Use longer words for things

  Could I ruminate over that and get back to you?


Good Business Writing – The Benefits

Posted on November 15, 2018 in Copywriting

Clear and effective written communication is an essential requirement of any business – be it for reports and proposals, press releases, marketing brochures, websites, or even everyday jobs such as email and letters.

The cost of poor writing is miscommunication, but also lost business opportunities, and a damaged company image and reputation.

Good writing isn’t as hard as writing in a foreign language, but there are some essential skills for all of us to learn. For example, how to

  • Write a press release that will grab media interest;
  • Compose web pages, reports and proposals that will engage and influence readers;
  • Write emails that get those everyday jobs done efficiently and smoothly.


Experienced trainer in writing skills

As an experienced trainer in business writing skills, I can offer SMEs a fairly unique blend of experience – described below.

  • As a former journalist (five years writing features for the Guardian and The Telegraph), I  can show directors and managers the tricks and techniques used by professional writers – so your writing is clear, engaging and effective.
  • My wide employment experience – I have worked as a manager in local government and the voluntary sector, and a private sector consultant – means I can relate well to many different types of business/organisation, their ethos and way or working … and their writing style.
  • Indeed, I have delivered training for high-profile clients such as the World Trade Organisation and European Commission, several high-street clients, and the University of Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education, for whom I deliver six business writing courses every year.

My training style is engaging and interactive.

According to people’s needs, I can run intensive, bit-sized, 90-minute sessions through to day-long courses.


Training ideas

A full list of my course repertoire is available here, on my website.

Would any of the topics already mentioned be of interest – or an amalgam of some of them, such as these?

  • Winning reports, proposals and press releases
  • How to attract and engage an audience – Marketing materials and press releases
  • Making your working day smoother – Tips for effective emailing
  • How to write with ease and speed
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING? Just let me know ...Send Robert an email