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As you may or may not know Im rebuilding the entire Joomlabamboo site from the ground up and as a part of the rebuild I procured the services of Paul Hassing to do some of the copywriting. I first met Paul on Twitter via someone elses tweet and a quick look at his bio made me want to know more. In a matter of a few clicks I was deep in conversation with Paul, finding out what he does and more importantly how he could help me. Paul Hassing, is the Founder & Senior Writer for the Feisty Empire and the following is an overview on what he does and his views on writing for the web and using social media for internet marketing.

What do you do?

I’m a professional copywriter, editor and proofreader. I optimise my clients’ communications by making them clear, concise and correct. This builds their brand, creates the best possible results and delivers the biggest bang for their marketing buck.

Where are you based?

I work at Empire House in Abbotsford, 3 km northeast of the CBD in Melbourne, Australia. As my whole operation is online, I can easily serve clients in New Zealand, England and elsewhere without leaving my desk.

Who do you write for?

In 20 years, I’ve written for over 1,100 clients of every size and sector. Now that I’m 100% freelance, I have around 40 regular clients, ranging from sole traders to global firms.

What area of copywriting do you specialise in?

Having spent a decade in human resources before turning to full-time writing, my speciality is recruitment advertisements (job ads). I’m particularly good at filling ‘nightmare’ vacancies that have been advertised several times, at great expense, with no success.
I’m also good (and fast) at distilling reams of rambling writing into punchy paragraphs.

What are some common mistakes people make when writing web copy?

Big blocks of writing are the worst. Attention spans are tiny and it’s hard to read online, so you must break paragraphs into easy-to-scan portions.
Fancy fonts, clashing colours and reverse type are also generally bad news.

Should we write for search engines or real, live people?

SEO is a bit of a ‘black art’ for me, though I’m striving to get a foothold on this fast-changing ground. For now, I write directly to the target reader.
If SEO boffins give me keywords to weave in, so much the better. But no amount of SEO can save a bad message. Content must interesting, relevant and true to cut any ice with today’s savvy public.

Do you have tips for people starting to write their website?

Plan the site first. Like writing a book, simply starting at the front, with no idea where you’re going, is a recipe for tears. Map out what you want to say, and where.

Once you’ve got your structure (ideally approved by an IT expert) start fleshing it with bullet points. It’s easier to ‘join the dots’ than to write a perfect manifesto from scratch.

What’s the difference between writing for the web vs writing for print?

Newspaper (i.e. print or press) ads are dying, but they provide a good example. Because they’re so expensive, you must say a lot in a little space. Web ads can be infinite, but there’s a trap.

Some people think that since you have so much space, you can go nuts. While it’s OK to expand, throwing whole job descriptions and policy manuals online only turns readers off.

In writing for both media, I’ve found that a well-crafted newspaper ad needs little modification to succeed online. A bit more info, some specifics, a few keyword permutations and you’re done!

I met you through Twitter; is this a valuable resource for internet marketing?

Twitter delivers ten times more traffic to my site than everything else put together. Even better, it gives me switched-on, paying clients like you!
In the bad old days, I got only one new client for every 900 individually-personalised emails I sent to companies advertising in newspapers. It was soul destroying. By stark contrast, Twitter is easy, effective, efficient and fun.

How does Twitter affect the way we write and how do you set tone in 140 characters?

As a rabid exponent of concise writing, I love how Twitter forces people to cut the crap. Less really is more, and some tweets are poignant – even poetic – in their brevity.

140 characters means you can’t ornament with adverbs and adjectives. The content sets the tone. Vicious rant, nasty tone. Heartfelt post, lovely tone.
I love such transparency and truth!

How can people contact you?

Check out the feisty empire for samples, testimonials, tutorials and interviews. If you like what you see and hear, reach me any way you like via my Contact Page.

Once I know your needs, I can give you a best/worst case proposal. I’m not cheap, but I know what I’m doing and work fast. By solving your problems permanently and transferring my expertise (rather than hoarding it) I’ll likely save you many times more than you pay me!

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