The Time is Now

Nil Desperandum.  Some Compelling (and Quite Controversial) Thoughts on What the Hell is Going on from a Former Sales and Marketing Director.  Now a Copywriter with 12 years’  Experience, Don’t Drop the Ball on Marketing, says Susan Beckingham

Alert: A Very Personal Piece.  With business stuff included.

Like the third person introduction?

You know that expression, “Physician, heal thyself”?  Well, it SO applies to me that it’s just embarrassing.  Why?  Just look at the last time I wrote and published a blog.  Pathetic.  My excuse is that I write blogs for clients all the time, plus web content, plus all manner of stuff.  Plus plus plus. I’m at the bottom of my own marketing list, it would appear.

In a sunny pub in Brighton.  Where we no longer go…

(Andy Kerr Photography)

Apart from now.

It’s March 2020, and this is THE most extraordinary period of time I have EVER lived through.  And, I’m super-old (56).  Hah.

The Worst of Times?

I’m so glad my parents aren’t around to experience the consequences of all this revolting panic-buying.  This virus is real, the pandemic is real, the curtailment of our lives is real.  The astonishing arsehole behaviour is out there, it’s happening right in front of our eyes.

For me, as a committed networker, nearly everything is cancelled.  I’d consider myself a “people person”, so this is dreadful.  Whilst I develop my business through my own search engine optimisation, referrals and via word-of-mouth, networking events have disappeared from my professional and social calendar .  For good reason, of course, I understand that.  I feel their loss.

And, I fear this virus.  No point in saying otherwise. Not only for my family, but also for the human souls out there whose futures now may not happen.  Children unborn, lives unfulfilled.

But, I know this much is true: whilst it may be challenging for me, it’s much more of a problem for other people.  Much harder.  I chose not to have children, for example, and I have a second income with Utility Warehouse.

Here’s Where We Are

My Facebook and LinkedIn feeds have changed dramatically over the last few days. Reading between the lines, there’s not a lot of sunshine out there.

Where once there was light and positivity, there’s now a truckload of tension. I’m picking up subtle hints of increasing concern. Many of my colleagues, friends, associates and the people I meet at networking are hard-working, talented freelancers.  They’re decent.  They’re nice.  Good company, too.  They offer valuable services to other businesses and, at the risk of stating the completely obvious, their livelihood depends on regular cash flow. These people have families, financial commitments, regular payments to make.


It seems like the safety curtain has suddenly come down mid-performance.

So far so obvious.  This applies to me, too.  Do us “creatives” offer nice-to-haves, rather than essentials?  Is refreshing your website content a luxury now? Has a well-crafted sales letter suddenly become pointless? Well, no.  The opposite, in fact. The problem is that while we’re contemplating Coronageddon and an end to all that we know and love (I like to exaggerate for effect), we’re all sort of, well, frozen.  Suspended in aspic, caught in a stop-frame whilst we were trying to get on with our lives.

Here’s the problem in the shell of a nut:  It’s all about the extended delivery chain.  Let me explain.

Bookings for your driving lessons have declined.  Your trade fair has been postponed.  People have stopped coming to your fitness classes.   So, you try to save money by cutting back on..your marketing.

Something’s got to give.  Or, has it?  Well, yes and no.  It could be a false economy.  In difficult times, your clients and prospects still want to hear from you.

My take on it?

The Time is Now. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the time to work ON your business rather than IN it.  Yes, everyone says this, blah blah.  But they’re right.  Deep down, you know I’m right, too. What do I mean, though? Well, this is business stock-piling, but in a good way, and it won’t make other people want to kill you.  Regarding your business development, it’s time to pay it forward.

With everyone standing still…your forwards motion is a Good Thing.

Let’s get real here: Your competitors may be grinding to a shuddering halt.  How about getting ahead while you can?  They’re waiting, waiting, waiting.  You could overtake them.  Think about it.

Here are a few things to know 

Google isn’t ill. 

It’s a massive computer with all sorts of algorithms.

These algorithms dovetail with what I do and from experience and results, support my skills. Namely, relevant, high quality content and good, relevant backlinks.  Yeah yeah, enough about me.  Google wants to make sense of all the information chaos out there.  But it’s not ill.  It won’t get ill.  Once this is all over (and it will be over at some stage in the near future), it will STILL be ranking websites that have:

  • Lots of excellent content
  • Fast-loading pages
  • “White hat” on-page SEO
  • Good quality links from other sites

I work with people who can create great websites, and I’ll do all the rest.  Good, organic search engine rankings are hard to explain in a few words.  Watch this space for the next blog on SEO.

Power is the Ability to Act

Any good Business Coach or Mentor will tell you about a Big Thing.  It’s not a secret, but it does work.


Action.  Take action.

Doing stuff is where you need to be.. If you do nothing, nothing will happen.  Freeze, cut down, stop acting, and in the months to come, you’ll be facing one hell of mountain to climb.  We live in troubled times, so getting your message out there well, no – I mean really well – is not easy.  The solution?  Oh hello.  You’re on a copywriter’s blog.

  • Blogs are good.  I’ve got 10 million wonderful subject ideas and I can write them for you.
  • Newsletters.  Explain, communicate and reassure your audience.
  • Re-vamp your website content.  I’ve written web copy for over 250 sites.  I’m good at this kind of thing.
  • Consider your on-page SEO.  Got a WordPress site?  Great.  I’ve got some powerful software that actually shows me what people are looking for when they search for your services.  And, I’m an SEO person, too. Yes, I know – I’m shameless.  Get over it.

The Opportunity Cost

I used to share an office with someone just starting out in business, in a highly competitive sector.

Apologies, but I simply can’t tell you how much I disliked this person.  Why?  Because she tapped away endlessly on her computer keyboard, tip-tapping away (I called her Little Miss Tippy Tappy in my head), writing her own (very poor) web content.  She’d already spent several working days if not WEEKS “learning about SEO”.  When I looked at her website – it was terrible.  The whole thing was appalling.  It lacked empathy, had spelling mistakes, rambling long sentences, no keyword positioning…

And how much business did she have?  Nothing.  Zilch.  Zero.  But she was just sooooo busy.

Don’t waste your time like this.  Focus on developing your business whilst outsourcing all the words and the SEO stuff to someone who knows what they’re actually doing.

And breathe…

Can You Afford It? 

I hope so.

Am I cheap?  No, no and no.  If you’ve put money aside for your marketing, now could be a good time to commit to a professional content writer.  In my opinion, you will gain a great deal in terms of awareness, branding and potential leads.  Excellent web copy will “sell” you as a business long before you receive that all-important website enquiry.

A note of caution: there are no guarantees.  Google can take a while to wake up and smell the coffee.  Or rather, those search engine robots aren’t always on your case immediately.  But, it does work. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

Oddly, regarding fees, someone recently told me that they weren’t expecting my costs to be “that high”, yet their charging structure was the same as mine.  I think that’s a whole other blog topic right there about perceived value and what’s worth paying for, I guess…

And Finally,

Where am I at the moment?  Still working, still busy, I’m glad to say.  I hope that you are, too and that your business, whatever you do, continues in its present form at the very least.  On a personal note, I’m a bit anxious, I must say.  All this has come on so fast.

It’s 19th March 2020.  My Dad Jack died 14 years ago today at the grand old age of 89.  He was a radar operator in the Second World War, and married my Mum Dorothy in 1946.  I wonder what he would have made of all of this.  I hope he’s proud of me.  I think of him every day.







Thoughts on Networking…A Very Personal View By One Who Knows

Greetings from Brighton

We’re hurtling head long towards the end of the year.  Merry Christmas and a very prosperous and peaceful New Year to all ye fellow business people out there – past and present customers, and those yet to darken my door and give me money for doing something I love.

2018 has been an amazing year for me: my biggest and best yet.  Why?  Because I’ve optimised my site to the max, I have a great deal of repeat business, and I’ve had loads of referrals.

I’ve worked a lot of weekends and as an early morning person, been up with the proverbial larks to get stuff done.  However, much of my business comes from…NETWORKING.

How about you?

As someone who runs networking events, attends a fair few and knows how to follow up properly from them (more later),  I thought that you may – or may not – find it useful to know what, in my experience works, and what doesn’t work.  At all.  Please don’t do the “what doesn’t work stuff”, that’s not good.

I’ve had an interesting year of networking.  Mostly good.  A few interesting moments, too.

This isn’t a “top tips” or “5 ways to…” or anything like that.  Most blogs should be written in this give-away-information style if you want to get found on the tinterweb.  However, indulge me, do.

Networking: It’s My Thing.

For the last five or so years I’ve been running Third Friday Brighton at the Pitcher and Piano near the seafront, and for the last three and a half years, Second Friday Hove, at the deeply wonderful Watchmaker’s Arms, in Goldstone Villas, Hove.  Both these events are part of the First Friday Network, founded 14 or so years ago by a talented graphic designer and branding expert called Steve Wilson, based in Chichester.  Steve is great, and very supportive.

There are a fair few First Friday Networks in and around the South and they’re all very good: very friendly, informal and FREE.

Loving the Networking

I’ll be upfront here and say that I love, love, love running these events.  Really, I do.  They’re quite hard work, you have to be “up”.  What I mean is, friendly and welcoming even when you feel like you’d rather be watching daytime TV or cleaning the oven.  Also, I have to maintain and add to a database, send regular newsletters and lately I’ve been organising for food to be served.

However, even if I’m feeling antisocial, which isn’t often, meeting interesting people, socialising and making sure that everyone has a good time is a thing of marvellousness.  Long may it continue.

It’s making a small difference in our local business community and that can only be good for our economy.

One-hit Wonders

I can always, always tell when someone comes along to networking that I will never, ever see again.  Apart from my spidey senses kicking in, one-time networkers tend to over-estimate what they can achieve in terms of “lead generation”.

Good networking is about building long-lasting and stable working relationships, even friendships.  You need to keep coming along.  On a regular basis.

By the way, I don’t get paid for running Second and Third Friday.  In fact, I pay an annual fee for each event but that’s easily do-able and enables me to expand my network massively.  I’m now known as someone who runs friendly networking events.

Friendly, you say?

Yes.  But only if this happens:

It helps if you actually have a business. 

Yes, try having something to promote that will genuinely engage and interest other people.  I’ve had a few people come along this year (and other years) purely interested in getting out of the house to meet some “vibrant young people”.

Whilst other clubs and gatherings cater for the lonely, I’m sorry but Second and Third Friday are not for you.  You’ll embarrass yourself and other people.  And, it will be me that gets the complaint emails.

Also, funnily enough I’m not keen on:

People who insult my business.

Did you know – and why indeed would you know – that I’m a fairly successful and committed Utility Warehouse Distributor?  Despite 25 years plus as a Sales Director and nearly 10 years’ experience as a copy and website content writer, UW is the best thing I have ever done in my life.

I save people loads of money, time and bother (they draw all your bills together on one supplier).   Oh yes, they’re multi award-winning, too.

So…don’t insult UW and then discover that I run a networking event you would like to attend.  If you use foul language about this business, or Sussex Copywriting Services, and then expect to come along to one of my events the answer will be…No.

Business is actually very easy. People make life difficult.  Don’t be one of those rude weird people.  OK?

OK, a few other slightly less controversial tips:

Come on.  Have business cards printed

“Hey, I met a fabulous hat designer at Second Friday and I’d like to buy one of her hats.  But she didn’t have a business card and I can’t remember who she is” could be one of the saddest things ever ever.

Why?  Because you have lost a customer for your lovely headpiece.  Your fedora has failed.  Your boater has bombed.   You are a milliner manqué

Having a business cards with readable writing, please (I’m 104 years old), elevates you to the position of a real person who takes their business and their marketing seriously.  Also, it means that I can put your email on my database quickly and easily so that you can come to lots of other meetings.

You’ll Need a Website

Ideally, you should have a website.  I do however know people who can create a bee-yoo-tiful site for you.  It doesn’t have to be fancy pants but if you’re a digital marketer without a website people will think you’re a bit crap.  If you run social media campaigns and you’re sans website, you’ve lost a bit of credibility right from the get go.  See what I mean?

Other thoughts...

Photographers:  Bring along your portfolio.  An album with your images printed out, if you please.  Only ONE photographer in five years has done this.  As a writer, I can’t actually print out stuff to bring along – there’s too much for a start, and I don’t know what you’re into.

But those fine folks who take wonderful pictures?  Go on, it will be very good for your business.

Don’t bring food and offer samples.  That’s so disrespectful to the people running the bar so don’t do it.  If they spot you doing this they will ask you to leave.

Try to arrive early.  There’s something about birds and worms here but I resist cliches like the plague, of course.

Follow Up Properly

No, people won’t think you’re pushy.  No, they won’t judge you as a “sales person” for sending a polite email expressing genuine interest in their business and asking them to meet you for a coffee.

I get business from networking because I send direct emails like this:

“Hello, J

It was great to meet you at Third Friday Brighton last week and I hope you enjoyed the event.  I do hope that you will keep coming along etc etc…As a website content writer, I’ve had a good look through your website and it looks great. 

I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve got some ideas that could make it sparkle a little bit more.

Also, I don’t meet many people in business who make iron railings for a living.  In fact, you’re the only person and as someone who organises networking events, I’d like to recommend you to other people in my network.  How are you fixed on (date) at (time)? 

Fancy a posh cup of coffee at the Hotel du Vin?”

Or something like that. Simple, to the point.  Asking for a meeting and showing a genuine interest in what they do and how they do it.  

And then keep doing it.

Oh yes, what else?

  • Don’t get too pissed.  It’s a pub but it’s still not a good look.
  • Don’t turn up in a tiny mini skirt.  Not a good look on men, in general, and on women:  come on ladies: it’s a BUSINESS NETWORKING EVENT, not a nightclub.  Your lack of judgement is showing.  Leave your compulsion to show off your body to another time.
  • Do show authentic interest in the people you meet.
  • But…Don’t aggressively fire questions at people.  They are not passing some sort of ridiculous “test”.

And finally…

  • Don’t put fizzy powder up your nose in the toilets.  You know who you are and I can tell.  I’m quite smart, you know.

So, all that remains, as they say, is for me to make a graceful exit.  If you found this blog useful, tell all your friends.  If you didn’t – you ain’t seen me, right?

Merry Christmas.

Susan Beckingham

Purveyor of tales, narratives and other wordy stuff.





I don’t cut my own hair, fix my car, or design websites.

Why?  Because it’s not what I’m good at, qualified to do or want to learn. You’re writing copy for your website yourself why, exactly?

This blog post is a bit of a rant and it’s called:

4 Simple Reasons Not to Write Your Own Website Content

As a copywriter in and around the deeply groovy city of Brighton, I do a lot of networking.  In fact, I run networking events (of which more in another post).  The success is in the follow up.  I’m good at following up.  I used to be a Sales Director and getting in front of people is what I used to do – and what I do now.

I look at people’s websites after I meet them.  As you do, and should.

But here’s the thing, and I’m sorry to say this: most of the websites I see have very poor content.  There’s a lot of  we and I, plethora of what we do rather than what we can do for you and there are…hideous spelling mistakes.  Or split infinitives, shock horror.

And yes there is a difference between “their”, “they’re” and “there”.  Mistakes like these give me the rage and yes, I AM judging you for them. But not as much as your audience will, believe me.

Most web content is not in-depth enough, not relevant enough, not persuasive enough and just not very good.  No calls to action.

What else? Oh yes, duplicated content and, in some cases, text that’s been blatantly copied from other sources, even Wikipedia.  People, Google will penalise your site for all of these things.  Here’s my take on why you should ask some word-obsessed website copywriter to create your content for you:

1. You’re too close to your business

I’ll play nice here but I mean it: you are very good at what you do.  You are a whole lot better than you think you are.  You don’t realise just how excellent your skills are.  This, ladies and gentlemen, has been my experience with many of my customers.

You may not know in a true objective sense:

  • how many “strands” of service you offer, ie how much you actually do
  • the true benefits of what your business offers your customers
  • what makes YOU different

Working with a copywriter who a) isn’t you and b) has good commercial experience will enable you to put your best foot forward.

2.Writing may not be your forte

And why should it be? You’re an accountant, or a personal trainer, or you run a security company.  I meet many business owners, who, faced with the task of creating web-friendly, SEO-focussed, persuasive, high quality content – and LOTS of it to engage search engines, simply can’t do it.  Or, do it badly.  (I also struggle with people who think that they’re fantastic writers..and who really, really aren’t.  I’d like to say that you know who you are, but you don’t).

Website visitors have a very short attention span, so compelling content will encourage them to stay on your site, and then  contact you.  Google’s latest Rank Brain algorithm focuses on “dwell time”; the clock is ticking, folks.  Three minutes and 10 seconds is the minimum time you need people to keep reading.

You don’t just pay for the hours a content writer takes to write your copy.  You pay for their expertise, experience and skill.  Copywriters can create crisp, focused website content that speaks to your target market and that gets results.

3. You don’t have the time

Picture the scene.  It’s Friday morning.  You have a choice of two activities:

You could write your blog or start a new branding campaign for a client.  You could create a page of content for your website, or spend a couple of hours greeting and serving customers in your business.   Perhaps you need to write an e-book or white paper, but you also need to be in front of paying clients. Which will immediately make you money?

Writing your own website content, blogs or brochure copy is, my friends, taking you away from what you do best and where your primary focus should be: on business development or service delivery.   Outsource, my friends, and all will be well.

4. You don’t understand Search Engine Optimisation – and you don’t want to.

I’m not surprised.  The behemoth that is Google is an all-consuming beast.   Even webby wordy people have to take the time to research all the latest goings on and it’s time-consuming.

The bad news for many is that the old “black hat” techniques (cheating, in other words) no longer works.  Google rewards sites with lots of rich, relevant and shareable content.  Relevant back links are good, for example, and you need excellent on-page SEO via the Yoast plug-in as a start.  Traffic to your website via social media is a Good Thing, too.  Lots of important stuff that you may not know or have the time to learn.

However…don’t think that search engines are going to notice a small, static website with hardly any content.  Please don’t assume that your target market will find your website if you’ve not created content that:

a) speaks to your target market and

b) is search engine friendly

Search engine friendly content is in-depth, excellent quality, relevant to its subject matter and with a proportion of key words (although the latter are not quite as important as they were, funnily enough).  SEO content is so good that it gets shared via social media or other platforms.  It should be informative and helpful.  It also has links to previous content and to external sources, as well as images.  It has H1 and H2 headings.  It has rich anchor text diversity.

Confused?  See what I mean?

Fret ye not.  There are good copywriters out there who can help you.  Know anyone?

Susan Beckingham from Sussex Copywriting Services creates lickety spit content for websites.  Call her on 07816 684 756 to find out more.



8 Words that Describe Brighton? Are You Sure?

As a keen member of the Brighton Chamber of Commerce, I often attend their debates.  Apart from the opportunity to meet new people and catch up with my existing networking contacts (there’s wine involved mostly), the subject matters are often exceedingly interesting – sometimes even controversial.  And they’re free, which is always a bonus.

So, it was with a degree of anticip…ation that I sallied forth in June to a debate called “The Future of Business in Brighton”, chaired by the charming, erudite Miranda Birch with a selection of jolly nice people on the panel.

I was particularly taken with the early part of proceedings: what words best sum up our city of Brighton and Hove? This question was offered to the audience (every seat was taken, by the way) and it solicited some interesting responses.  With your indulgence, as a self-employed Brighton resident of some 20 years, I would for what it’s worth like to offer my opinion, as some of these surprised me a little bit.  And some didn’t.

Here are just some of the definitions suggested by other Chamber members:


That’s for sure.  You can’t move for “creatives”; you can’t even leave the house for tripping over “creatives”.  I’m one of them.  Admittedly, my skills are nowhere near as cool as those of a graphic designer or web developer but there are still swathes of us out there offering you words, images and other marvellous technical stuff.

Seriously, we ARE a very creative city and not just in the digital arts: Brighton teems with musicians, actors, comedians and artists.  Why? It’s just the way it’s always been; a place full of certain types of people simply attracts other people with the same sorts of skills, perhaps.  It certainly makes for lively discussions at networking events.


Oh yes.  This word should nearly always be tacked on to “creative” for surely there is nowhere like Brighton to find the boom and bust culture that is our freelance economy.  Too much work to cope with, when you’re working 15 hour days…then not enough work to pay the rent.

What does this mean, though?  You (yes, this means you) need to get regular, retained work, get a reasonable fee for it and, as uncomfortable as it may sound, you need to be good.  If you’re just average, your competitors will get the job the next time it becomes available.

Brighton is however a fabulous place in which to set up shop.  I couldn’t think of a better place to have client meetings than the café next to the fountain at the Steine on a sunny day.  Lovely.


See above.  Again.

Goodness me, can someone please explain how people on average Brighton wages actually afford to live here?  Rents are sky high where I live (yeah, ok, it’s Kemptown) but even further out you’re looking at silly money just to rent a one bedroom flat.  And how on earth do people manage to buy property?

The consideration of why Brighton is so expensive was a key part of the debate.  The general view is that everything to the south of our city is water and unless I’ve missed something, building houses and starting businesses in the Channel isn’t going to happen anytime soon.   And, the South Downs to the north is a protected National Park.  We’re compressed.  There’s less space.  This makes entirely good sense.  This, and perhaps the fact that house prices in London have driven people out to places that are commutable – Brighton, perhaps.


Is Brighton a caring place?  Yes, I think so.  There’s a good community spirit here, I think.  People talk to each other in pubs, they greet each other when they’re out on walks and, what I particularly like, we thank our lovely bus drivers for taking us from A to Z.  I’m still waiting for a jolly “mind how you go!” from one of the drivers to make my life complete.

Tolerant and Inclusive

Well, of course.  We live in a veritable bubble of tolerance here.  Things I have seen in the last week:

  • A drag queen roller blading on the seafront esplanade. Nobody really took much notice.
  • A man out walking his pot-bellied pig. This did attract a fair few sideways glances, to be fair.
  • Numerous openly gay couples of both genders walking hand in hand.

Love of course, doesn’t discriminate and neither, it seems, do we.  Brighton was the first city to hold a gay marriage and the amazing Brighton Pride hardly needs an introduction or explanation.  We take our tolerance for granted, shrugging our shoulders to one another, “it’s Brighton, isn’t it?”


Now this word attracted a bit of comment because an audience member took umbrage (politely of course) and calmly asked how many black or Asian faces there were in the room.  There were almost none.  So, the argument went, it’s all very well to be super-tolerant when you have almost nothing to be tolerant of.

Brighton and Hove, is in my opinion, the ideal place to live but it is NOT a diverse city of ethnic cultures – far from it, in fact.  Having been born in Lewisham, I grew up in south east London and believe me, in comparison to the mix of races, backgrounds and cultures on offer there – which I almost didn’t notice as I took it for granted – when it comes to a multi-coloured, multi-race population,  we are nowhere.


Not sure if this is an actual word but sure, we’re not particularly corporate in Brighton, are we?

Very formally dressed, before I saw the light and moved down here, I used to commute to central London and now I don’t even own a suit.  People are pretty relaxed down here and that’s all to the good.

Or, have a missed something and are the good folks of American Express going to have a word with me?


Goodness me, have you BEEN to the Brighton Fringe Festival?  It’s just amazingly experimental, and full of whacky performances and theatre productions which would not otherwise see the light of day.

The architecture and style here is excellent, too.  The fresh, light and airy Jubilee Library nearly won a Stirling prize a few years ago and whether you love or hate the i360, you’ve got to admit that it’s certainly an example of someone pushing the design envelope.

What else was mentioned during the debate?  We’re also Productive (some of us), Hopeful and sometimes, as a city, we have Too Much Personality, although I’m not sure a city can ever have too much personality if it wants to carry on being the best place in the world to live ever ever ever.

Finally?  The subject for another blog perhaps:  Brighton-born, or did you just move here?  This, too, is A Thing.  Most of us weren’t born here, or so it seems.  But we love it just the same.


Embracing the Unknown

If you’re going to this year’s Brighton Chamber of Commerce Summit in October, you’ll be aware that it has an intriguing theme: “Embracing the Unknown”.  As change has been a feature in my business and commercial life over the past few years, I thought that I’d pen some words on the subject.

Doing new stuff is hard.  Really hard.  Human beings don’t cope very well with change. Why? Because we all fear failure.  Failure (or the fear of it) stalks us, it follows us around.

Sometimes I think that eventually, somehow, I’m going to be caught out. Uncovered.  People will realise that I’m just a bit, well, rubbish. But it’s not true.

As a copywriter, I get to grips with the unknown all the time: new industry sectors, tough deadlines, very challenging projects.  Sometimes I wonder if I actually can write 350 words on coffee tables, or about commercial carpet cleaning.  But I always do.

How do I do this?  Here’s some advice, which I hope you’ll find useful:

  1. Time for some visualisation, people. Picture yourself succeeding.  What does success look like?  A tough work assignment may be way outside your comfort zone, but so what?  Get your imagination working overtime: imagine the email or phone call from your client to congratulate you on a job well done.  Create in your mind that fantastic piece of work in front of you, something that you’re exceptionally proud of.
  1. Understand where these feelings have come from. OK, sorry but it’s probably your Mum and Dad or a particularly strict teacher at school but them’s the breaks, folks. You can’t do anything about the past but you can be a different person now and you don’t have to be scared. You CAN and you WILL.
  1. You are better than you think you are. Oh, yes you are. You wouldn’t have a business unless you were good at what you do.  The fear of messing up stalks us all so break down the “unknown” bit of whatever you’re facing into more manageable chunks.  Start with the easy bits.  It’s not that bad now, is it?
  1. You’ve already done lots of things for the first time. And, you didn’t die.  You left home, got a job, started a business, went on holiday on your own, learnt to dance the Argentine tango.  The list is literally endless of all the unknown things in your life with which you are familiar.  OK, maybe not the tango.
  1. Think to yourself: what’s the worst thing that can happen? None of us know what the future holds, so a Plan B may be helpful here. It’s also worth thinking about what could happen if you don’t face the unknown:  what could you lose, for example, if you turn down the opportunity to move to a new country, or even a new City?
  1. Finally – and I’m not being weird here – embrace failure. Failure helps us learn and grow and is an inevitable part of life.  The more you fail, the more you succeed.  Understand that the unknown is just something that we don’t know yet.  It may work and it may not.  But it’s always worth trying.




Google Has Spoken.

It seems that Google is actually telling us stuff that we need to know.

Yes, they have just ACTUALLY published a rather long and exacting 160 page document on their new quality guidelines. This gets us SEO people all excited. Yes, I know it’s tragic. If you so desire you can read it here

Google never actually tells us how they rank websites. Not really. We just know that if we do certain things within a website (quite a lot of things, actually) the search engine crawlers take notice and start ranking it higher than the crappy websites with no SEO on them – or worse, dodgy SEO.

Having read the document and not actually died, I thought that you may like to read my take on what it’s all about.

Firstly, though, there’s a chap called Brian Dean that I’d like to credit. Although his writing style is a little too in-your-face for my liking, his posts educate, inform and are easy to read. And, they get shared a lot, which is the whole point of it. And I’ve learned a lot from him. Hmmmm…maybe not so bad after all. Anyway, my old mucka Brian is the inspiration for this post, so thank you very much, Mr Dean.

So, what’s all this about?

Google, that MASSIVE search engine that decides where to place your website in the rankings on search engine results pages has for the first time published a list of its Search Quality Rating Guidelines. Why am I pleased? Because, as a copywriter, it’s all about the CONTENT and for YOU this means that good quality content writing is once again at the top of the tree when it comes to website rankings.

Here are the top three points:

1. Highly meets, vs. Fails to Meet.
In a nutshell, and I’m actually quoting Google here, “The guidelines reflect what Google thinks search users want”. So, they like ranking pages that satisfy a search term, in effect a question. If someone was searching for, oooh I don’t know, “Copywriter/Sussex” they’d find me, what I do, how I do it and how I’m different from most copywriters.

Tick. Highly meets (although I do say it myself)

2. Front and Centre
Your content should be the FIRST thing that website visitors see. Any scrolling down the page to find out about your services and Google does the upside down opposite of smiley thing, thus :-(

Is your content at the TOP and in the CENTRE of your page?

3. Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness

If you know your stuff, Google likes you. If you make it VERY clear that you really know your stuff, the king or queen of the search engines approves and will rank your website accordingly.

Don’t know your stuff, or you’re not sure? Borrow it, quoting other experts or sources and link back to them.

Reputation is important, too. Awards or recommendations from trusted experts in your field (the topic must be related) is vital. If you’ve won a Best in Show award and you breed dogs, mention it on your website (again, with a link). If you’re part of the Leathersellers Guild and you make handbags – yep, you’ve guessed it. No idea if such a guild exists, I just hope it does.

What else?

Well, they couldn’t really make it any clearer: you need a “comprehensive amount” of main content and the “main content should be the reason that the web page exists”.

Of course, the opposite applies, so if your website is deemed to be of low quality (mainly down to its content), it may well sink like a stone. Bad news. To finish, and yet again, I quote from the Google article: “ We will consider content to be low quality if it is created without adequate time, effort, expertise, or talent/skill.”

So, before I keep repeating the word “content”, I’ll stop. Know any good copywriters? Hmmm?

Susan Beckingham

December 2015


How to be Perfect (at SEO. Hint: It involves Content)

Greetings, everyone out there in online content world.

OK. I promise to use the expression “Content is King” only once throughout this entire article. It’s an increasingly clichéd term that’s even driving content writers a bit potty, although they make their living this way and perk up no end whenever anyone mentions it.

However, you’ve got to get with the programme if you want to have a website that works for you. What I mean by “works”? Well, a website generating good quality enquiries that you convert into customers is a thing of beauty and I think that it takes a degree of knowledge, some money (maybe, OK probably, OK yes definitely) and lots of regular input and upkeep.

Being found and indexed on the internet used to be easy. You could stuff your site with keywords, buy create lots of cheap and nasty links to other sites and generally get up to all sorts of webby-style shenanigans that got you higher up the rankings than your competition.

No longer. Google now uses over 200 different algorithms to rank websites. Nobody knows exactly what they are because they don’t tell us – OK, they tell us some of them but not all, as they like to divide and conquer a bit, but here’s the current low-down on how to do it right:

Get your site developed by a professional if you can. You may want to speak to Richard Russell on 07403 202 601, he really knows his stuff. Just as natural language follows certain grammatical rules, websites are also built using certain languages which need to follow similar legitimate structures. Try putting it through (an independent assessor of websites) to check for “good semantic mark up”. The fewer errors, the more Google approves. Fact.

Make sure that your images have your keywords on them (alt text).

Then (and this is where Content starts to become important)…

Make sure that you’ve done your research on the words people use to find your services.

Try to include your keywords and your location into your URL. Trust me on this one.

Use good header text (usually the title of an article at the top of your page); this so-called H1 text is seized on by Google who use it to determine what your page is all about and they’ll index the page accordingly.

Put your target keywords for each page into your page title and remember to keep it short. Each title needs to be relevant to its subject with no more than 70 characters. With me so far?

Write your content. Each page needs to contain between 300-500 words and must be:

Relevant to its subject.
Well written, with excellent grammar, correct word order and no spelling errors
Regularly updated
Created in such a way to speak to your target audience
Leading the user to contact you through subtle Calls to Action

Make sure that publish articles on a blog ideally every two weeks. A well written blog should be part of your SEO strategy it’s new, original content and yes, you’ve guessed it, Google really likes it!

Search engines send out spidery crawly things on reconnaissance missions every few weeks to find legitimate websites, ie those which support good quality businesses and yes, great NEW content means more or less everything.

Copy content from another site or write it badly and like a plane passing over your frantically waved flag on a desert island, search engines won’t see you.

All a bit too much? You could ask a professional team of people to do all this for you. Give me a call to find out more. I’m not perfect, but I sure am a perfectionist.

Susan Beckingham
Sussex Copywriting Services
m: 07816 684 756


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…


So how did that happen?  Last week it was the middle of April and yesterday was late October, so now I find myself with literally days to go before Christmas, working to tight deadlines and wondering if I’m going to get everything done.  This year I have been…lax.  I normally do all my Crimbo shopping well in advance but lordy lordy how useless am I this year?  You don’t have to answer that but believe me there is uselessness aplenty this year.

Anyway, another blog not related to content writing at all.  Hurrah I hear you say.  This one’s about Christmas.

My goodness me how I love the festive season.  I guess it goes back to being a child and having parents who loved Christmas, too.  So, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

Christmas trees.  Honestly, what’s not to love.  A real tree, with pure white fairy lights which makes the room all lovely and festive. It smells gorgeous and has presents underneath it.  Gives a warm glow, or is that the sherry I only drink once a year?

Sausage rolls.  God, I love these.  Warmed up in the oven, they taste of Christmas.  Similarly, satsumas, brazil nuts in their shells and chocolate coins.

Christmas telly.  BBC, take a bow.  ITV, really don’t bother (well, please bother with Downton Abbey, I love that)

Carols from Kings.  A pure unalloyed joy and it makes me cry – in a good way.

The Christmas Eve Tom and Jerry.  What do you mean you’ve not seen it?  Go and buy it AT ONCE.

Christmas Eve in general.  Somehow it’s a magical sparkly day and needs to involve candles, a glass of wine, a prayer for those we have loved and lost (my Dad) and fish pie for some reason.

Presents.  Of course.  Getting great presents is a joy – I got a television once – but giving them and then seeing the person in question using it and enjoying what you bought them is just great.

Board games.  Our family has a no telly rule on Christmas Day (yes, I know I’m contradicting myself) and we like to play silly games.  I even like Scrabble.

The food.  My sister makes delicious canapes that we eat before our big meal. Yum.  Also, those sausages wrapped in bacon are pretty sensational, aren’t they?

Christmas music.  OK, not if you work in a shop.

I love it when it gets dark early.

I love the routine.

I love it all.

Merry Christmas to one and all.





Failing to Plan, Planning to Fail?

I love a good networking do.  Once I was afraid I was petrified, kept thinking I could never actually go to one as it meant walking up to people, flashing my winning smile and engaging them in witty banter.  People I’d never met before! This was never going to be that easy because I’m a) British, b) a bit posh and c) rather shy, underneath the confident way I hope I come across.  I keep thinking that someone will actually expose the real me one day but so far I think I’ve got away with it.

Gratuitous picture to illustrate SHYNESS

Anyhoo, this blog isn’t necessarily about networking, although it’s been on my mind in the last couple of days and I’m somewhat distracted. No names no pack drill.

I often ask fellow business owner networkers who they sell to (and yes, I know it’s “to whom they sell”. Shut up, already) but this often leads to discombobulation.  Why wouldn’t you promote your services to anyone who’ll have them? After all, it’s income, whichever way.

Except it’s not.  Why sell lots of small pieces of business when one big chunky one represents the same amount of income with massively less effort?  And what sort of company or individual is most likely to write large cheques?  Which sector tends to be the most responsive?  And why?  You know that you need to know this.

So OK.  Have you done a Business Plan? Hmmmm?

I meet lots of people at networking dos who haven’t and sometimes (not you, of course) you can tell.  A business plan is an essential tool because:

  • It will enable you to describe accurately your business to customers, backers, suppliers and competitors.
  • It helps you focus on what you’re doing and how you’re planning to do it
  • It will help you identify: your skills, your service offering, your market, your segmented market (which bits of your service you want to sell to which sectors), your USPs
  • you can establish the appropriate ways to promote your business, broken down into stages with time frames attached.
  • It will get you funding, if you need it. And yes, the banks are still lending.  They lent money to me because they really liked my plan.

A good business plan is a living document. You’ll be able to compare where you are now with a) where you thought you would be and b) where you want to be.

Oh Dear Now I Feel Baaaaad (This is me being you.  It’s called role play)


Solution Ahoy

OK.  I will. I write business plans for people.  I’ve written three of my own and several for my clients.  I’ve got 25 years oh God I’m so old 20 years’ experience in sales and marketing and I’m very good at not only turning your ideas into well written, documented, tangible stuff, I can help you uncover aspects of your business you never knew existed, new people to sell to and most importantly…ways in which you can reach and sell to them.

I offer a series of intensive one-to-one sessions at which I ask you lots of penetrating questions, whilst looking at you over the top of my blingy reading glasses.  Worth the price of admission alone, I think.


I’ve got documents to email you in advance of each of our meetings with tips on how to research your market, how to work out your profit margins, break-even levels, everything everything everything.  I can’t be your financial-guru-soothsayer – you’ll have to do your own projections –  but everything else…sorted.

There’s a certain way to lay out business plans; ignore the templates on the internet, they’re just annoying. I, Susan Beckingham, hand-holder extraordinaire have the fluffy-cloud, 24-carat template that even God complimented me on the other day.  I made up that last bit.

The finished result will be astonishingly useful. You can show it to your bank manager, potential business partners, affiliates and associates, your Mum but chiefly it’ll be the best way to tell the story of how you intend to run your business and ultimately, to earn more money.

Anyone fancy earning more money?

By the way, I can’t publish this blog without acknowledging the lovely Su Shanson in all of this, who is now a good friend.  Thank you, Su.  Thank you so much.

Susan Beckingham is a copywriter who knows about business.  She writes business and marketing plans for people.  Give her a call on on 01273 721 306.







A Fan Letter From Brighton.

Dear Mr Fellowes

Re: Downton Abbey

I’m just writing to let you know just how much I love you.  Indeed, such is my adoration I’m coming round to your house to lick your face.

The early part of the 20th Century was surely a period of astonishing social change, a bridge between the old world and the new.   When we first met Robert Grantham et al, life seemed to run along the same lines as it had for centuries; roles and places in society were unchanged, but by 1920 hardly a single aspect of life had gone unchallenged, I guess due in no small part to a devastating war.  Ah, how I love thee – let me count the ways:

I love that the folks above and below stairs are so totally intertwined in each other’s lives and that although there are strict hierarchical rules, even in how they address each other, there is mutual respect and kindness.

I love the fact that you’ve modelled the Earl of Grantham on your father and that he’s such a fine chap, kind to his servants and slow to condemn.

I want Matthew and Mary to be totally loved up forever and to have lots of  babies.  Please make this so.  Their scenes together make me go all misty eyed.

Similarly, Anna and John Bates.  I want to be like Anna, she’s such a good person.

I love Thomas.  And O‘Brien.  The actors who play them inject menace and resentment into their portrayals in equal measure and they are delicious.

I’m rather keen on social history so your astonishing attention to detail makes me very happy indeed. I love that certain characters embrace change, while others keep it at arm’s length for as long as they can.

I love Lady Edith and how life never quite deals her a full hand. She’s certainly the unluckiest of the Crawley sisters and one of the others has died.

I’m slightly in love with Matthew Crawley.  I may write to him, too, in a non-stalkerish way.








Please say “thank you” on behalf of the women in Britain for the gorgeous clothes and jewellery.  Although it pains me to say it, I just need to hear the first bar of the signature tune for my inner girlie to be released and run around unchecked for an hour or so.

I love the fact that Branson Tom Branson has at last embraced the family he has married into and that they’ve accepted him, too – well, nearly.

The music.  Lots of strings. Lush. Take a bow, John Lunn.

I also love the script, it’s so utterly engaging and precise.  You’ve given Maggie Smith all the best lines but her acting without words underlines her brilliance. I recall her slight stumble whilst crossing the hall after Sybil’s death, which spoke a great deal of her grief for a lost granddaughter. Do not let her leave the series. Ever.

I want to live at Highclere Castle.  Noone will notice if I sneak in, will they?

Oh, and there’s a Christmas Day episode, you say? Joy unbounded.

Lots of love,

Susan xxx

PS: I forgive you for “Titanic”.

PPS: Next week I won’t be writing to you as I need to blog about copy and content writing again.  Sorry about that.