John Broughton is a professional copywriter and content optimization specialist with a fondness for web design and a passion for travelling. He works with web designers to give them the copywriting edge and deliver clients truly effective websites. Coming from a career in business analysis he quit the rat-race to go freelance in 2005.
Tell the readers about Vivid Copy, how it came to fruition and where you want it to go in the future.
Vivid Copy is my brand of copywriting. I wanted to get away from the misconception that copywriting is all about grammar and spelling or being clever with words. Vivid Copy is about getting people customers. My clients come in all shapes and sizes, from across all kinds of industries – mostly through referrals, word-of-mouth and networking.
I want the brand to be vivid (obviously) and the site to reflect that along with how design and copy work together. The site’s in its second version and I’m planning a third over the next few months. This new design and content is going to reflect Vivid Copy will be focusing more on content optimization and communication design.
What inspired you to become a copywriter and what inspires you to stay a copywriter?
I actually started my career as a research chemist for a major electronics company. From there I took my research, analytical, problem-solving, reporting and project managing skills into a career as a business analyst and worked for some household names.
My job was simple – help the company be more profitable, mostly through improving sales and marketing efforts. So I would analyse what the company was doing, how customers were reacting, what competitors were doing… to create better strategies to get the right message to the right people.
Over the years I became frustrated with suited-and-booted marketing teams focused not on the target audience but their egos and regurgitating MBA drivel. So I quit the ‘rat race’ and set up Vivid Copy.
What tips would you give to web designers about copy?
Don’t ignore it! A successful website is one where copy and design work in harmony. Copy isn’t your enemy and it’s not competing with your design – content is the reason a website exists and it’s what you’re designing for. Learn to use copy as a design tool and how to maximise its effectiveness at attracting visitors, engaging them and leading them to a response.
Give one piece of advice to newcomers who want to start up their own companies?
Whatever business you’re in, focus on what you want to achieve not how you want to achieve it. Then work out the best way to do it. Sounds obvious, but it’s a common mistake that even the biggest companies make. This relates to innovation. Most of the pioneers and trailblazers don’t come up with entirely new ideas – they build on what’s gone before. The difference is they have a strong vision of what they want to achieve driving how they do things.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we should be excited about?
I do! But, (cue collective groans) I can’t really go into details. I’m in the middle of a project that involves 5 or 6 websites and lots of marketing. It’s exciting because it’ll be shaking-up an industry sector that’s in dire need of it.
Other than a lot of ‘straight’ copywriting jobs, I’m hoping to finally set-up a project I’ve been planning with a network of small local travel operators in Ecuador. I’m also helping a chef in Japan introduce a range of western foods and getting involved in promoting my local area. Most exciting is a joint venture I’m developing that’s all very hush hush but will be doing some cool and creative marketing.
What applications do you swear by?
Aside from the usual suspects I’m going to be unpopular and say MS Office 2003 (not 2007 as it’s an absolute dog). I’ve tried every open source alternative but nothing has a tenth of Office’s power if you know how to use it (I’m not too shabby with VBA).
I’m totally in love with Bluebeam Revu 7 for creating and editing PDFs – it looks good, works fast and does everything I need. Love it!
Any hardware or software on your wishlist for 2010?
Quite honestly I’ve got all the kit I need on a business front but I am looking to get a camcorder to try some video podcasting and other ideas.
Name a few of your favourite website designs of 2009.
My favourites tend to be ones that put the focus on the content while creating a strong brand… frontenddesignconference.com, carsonified.com, www.somme.no, www.weshootbottles.com and www.nosotroshq.com.
What’s your view on HTML5, will you be using it and if not, when?
To be honest I’m a bit disappointed in the direction the w3c has taken. I think, while HTML5 was a necessary response to how the web is developing, it’s a turn away from the semantic web. It’s not so much what HTML5 is – it’s more that the potential of XHTML has been thrown away because the w3c is, in my opinion, is too slow and too removed. I’ll use whatever gets the job done but hope one day we can unlock the full potential of data and content with a fully semantic web.
And finally, á la Inside the Actors Studio, what turns you on?
Travel! I’ve spent more than 7 years on the road travelling the world. Exploring exotic places, meeting new and interesting people, discovering fresh ideas and trying new experiences… the world is an amazing place and full of possibilities.
Not only is travel my passion but it means I’m never at a loss for inspiration or ideas and never bored. It stuns people when they hear I don’t have a TV and haven’t had one for about a decade! With travel comes travel writing and photography which are also both passions of mine – along with scuba diving, skiing, trout fishing, hiking, offroading…
About the Author
Luke Jones is a freelance website designer and SEO from the United Kingdom. He has been working for himself for over a year and specialises in site usability and accessability standards. If you enjoyed this post, then you could follow him on Twitter (@traxor) or visit his website (Traxor Designs).
If you have any comments for the author, please use the contact page on this site and write ‘FAO Luke Jones’.