6 wonderful ways to win the heart of a web designer

August 26, 2010 by Dean Rieck · 13 Comments
Filed under: Design 

win a web designer's heartI stumbled on Sara Lancaster’s blog recently and, true to the theme of today’s post, I fell in love.

She gives solid advice for freelance writers in a deceptively simple style. After reading a few posts, I asked her to contribute a post to Pro Copy Tips.

So, say welcome to Sara.


If you’re a Web site copywriter, you typically have two people to make happy: the Web site owner (“the client”) and the designer of the Web site.

Because referral and repeat business is the name of the freelance copywriter’s game, winning the heart of the Web designer is an imperative.

Starbucks cards and links to hysterical YouTube videos will help with this mission, but you’ll also have to pull out all of these Web site copywriting stops.

Copy should come first, but it doesn’t always work that way
Web copy should determine Web site design, but, unfortunately, some Web designers prefer not to work that way. And many Web site owners can’t afford a truly original site design.

Because many Web sites are based on templates, copy usually comes second (read more about this concept in a previous post, Copywriter thumbnails and how to draw them).

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An open letter to direct mail designers

May 13, 2010 by Dean Rieck · 10 Comments
Filed under: Design 

letter to direct mail designersWhen I first published this in Direct Marketing Magazine many years ago, it ignited a firestorm of hate mail from designers and agency creatives all over the country. It must have struck a nerve. That’s what happens when you tell the truth.

Dear Designer,

When clients go to the trouble and expense of doing a direct mailing, they expect results.

Response will be calculated. Orders will be tracked. Dollars will be counted. Profits will be measured a dozen ways. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars are riding on my shoulders and yours.

So I’d like to make a few suggestions:

Read the copy before you start designing. Pour yourself a cup of coffee. Sit back. Read every word. Twice. Make sure you understand what’s being said and why it’s being said.

Be clear on the benefits, the offer, and — most importantly — the action we want the reader to take. Every element of your design should help lead the reader toward that action.

You and I are partners in generating response. I’m the voice and you’re the body language. If we’re not in sync, we’ll blow it for the client.

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Copywriter thumbnails and how to draw them

March 8, 2010 by Dean Rieck · 5 Comments
Filed under: Design 

copywriter thumbnail Copywriter thumbnails? Draw them?

You’re thinking I’ve lost my mind, right? You’re scratching your head and saying, “Why would a copywriter have to draw a thumbnail?”

(Do people really scratch their head when they’re confused … or is that just something people do in old black and white movies?)

Okay, I’ll admit that I may be misleading you a little with the photo of the big thumb.

But if you’ve been in the copywriting business for a while, you know what I’m talking about. Other than using an opposable thumb to help hold a pencil, your thumbs have nothing to do with thumbnail sketches.

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13 basic design concepts every copywriter should know

January 14, 2010 by Dean Rieck · 3 Comments
Filed under: Design 

basic design conceptsHow much do you know about design? Do you understand basic design concepts?

“Hang on,” you might be saying. “I’m a copywriter. What do I have to know about design?”

More than you think, actually.

A lot of copywriters think that “copy is king.” And that’s true. Sort of. It’s true if you mean that the message is what matters. And it’s true that, as a copywriter, you are the one primarily responsible for writing the words that deliver that message.

But you’re wrong if you think words are ALL that matter, as if design is little more than window dressing.

Let me ask you this: When you buy a ticket for a movie, do you expect to sit down in the theater and read the script? I don’t think so. I saw Avatar in 3D recently and I guarantee you that if all I got was the script and a pair of 3D glasses, I would have been very disappointed. That’s not a movie.

A movie is a script that has been brought to life visually. And advertising or marketing materials are copy that has been brought to life visually. That’s not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea.

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Who is Lorem Ipsum?

October 7, 2009 by Dean Rieck · 1 Comment
Filed under: Design 

Lorem IpsumLorem Ipsum is a famous copywriter noted for his indecipherable but hypnotic advertising copy. He is best know for this unique bit of writing:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Now that’s what I call powerful copy.

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