Punctuation in website copywriting

Website copywriting is a tricky skill to master, and it’s not just about words, tone and composition. Punctuation can have a big impact on the credibility of your content marketing – or your entire website.

For example, look at this banner from a well-known SEO website. Do you think this looks professional?

As a website copywriter, the punctuation above contains two elements I actively avoid. One exclamation mark is bad enough: three is really pushing it. Also, the space between the words and the punctuation looks scruffy. When I look at that image, I assume this company haven’t paid a professional website copywriter to edit and improve their content.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given was to avoid the exclamation mark entirely in any kind of website copywriting. Although exclamation points are often used with the best intentions by website copywriting companies, they can actually detract from the message you’re trying to get across. They can make marketing messages seem hollow and contrived, and they can put off readers who would otherwise be interested in reading more.

Punctuation helps the reader hear your voice in the text. Badly placed punctuation can ruin perfectly good web content, and it can make your website appear amateurish. But how do you know how to use punctuation correctly? This post by Melanie Brooks gives a good overview of punctuation, particularly in reference to web content writing.

Use punctuation wisely!

We’re available for urgent copywriting this week!

Got a short notice copywriting or technical writing assignment that needs to be completed the same day? We can help. Both Mathew and I are between projects this week, and we’d be happy to help with any urgent copywriting projects you may have.

If you need app writing services or Quick Start guides for software products and services, drop us a line for a super quick turnaround!

Just to warn our existing clients: we are having our phone and internet services upgraded on Thursday and Friday this week. Although we’ll be working as usual, you may experience a slight delay of up to half a working day when you email us, and you may find it difficult to call. Any work due for delivery will be completed as normal.

People Per Hour: More Rising Fees at Freelancer Site

People Per Hour: More Rising Fees at Freelancer Site

PPH2This blog post is now out of date. Red Robot Media no longer uses People Per Hour. I’m leaving the post online in case it helps other freelancers.

– Claire (August 2013).

Over the weekend I examined a recent payment I’d received on People Per Hour. I noticed that their commission increased suddenly and without warning.

My weekly invoice for this client, which is only for £20, normally attracts a fee of 4.5% – in other words, 90p. I was surprised to see a fee of £2 had been applied by People Per Hour.

Was this a People Per Hour scam of some kind? I was worried, so I emailed their helpdesk straight away to report the mistake.

People Per Hour Fee Rise

At around 5.30pm yesterday I received an email from People Per Hour confirming that the service fee has been increased behind the scenes. The company had apparently done this without informing anyone working for clients through the site. Nobody had been told.

Staff say that the email notification that was due to be sent had failed, but that was only going to be sent after the change anyway.

Additionally, someone called their office at midday yesterday to ask about the issue and nobody knew anything about the fee change – apparently.

There has been no announcement via email, on their forum, on their blog or on their Facebook page. The pricing page was only changed yesterday afternoon after they had started applying the new fee. The site dashboard and T&C document hasn’t been changed.

Some people are paying £14.95 for Platinum membership in order to reduce the commission they pay from 10% to 4.5%. They are now effectively being charged 10% on a £20 invoice (even more on a smaller invoice), making their subscription completely ineffective. How is that fair?

Even more bizarrely, if the invoice is for £20.01, the fee drops back to 90p. People Per Hour staff say that the charge is £2 for all invoices of £20 or under. This is a lie. This was a mistake. Fellow copywriter Zoe Goodacre raised an invoice for £24 and was charged £2.

There is no longer any reason to take on small jobs for tiny businesses and individuals. (This is the kind of work that almost everyone does in the early days: it helps you to build your profile and feedback ratings.)

Shifting Goalposts: Is It Legal?

I’m interested to know whether freelancers believe it’s fair or legal to retrospectively apply higher fees to an existing agreement. It’s certainly unethical. It’s like sticking a few extra quid on a client’s invoice because you need to buy a new keyboard, or dipping into a bank account for a bonus Direct Debit without permission.

What happens when the minimum fee goes up to £10, £15 or £20? Will they tell me, or will they just take it from my next assignment and inform me later?

More information for freelancers

There is currently a thread running on the People Per Hour messageboard about the unannounced change to service fees.

Update: People Per Hour have now deleted the forum thread. It was posted on a forum ironically called ‘We Listen’. Apparently, they don’t. The new thread is here.

Claire’s article for Lifehacker

Over the last few months, I’ve been blogging for a range of websites on behalf of Wish.co.uk, an experience and gift website. I worked with the Wish.co.uk team to create content for a range of high-profile sites in the UK and US.

Tackling such a wide range of subjects was really fun and challenging; I’d never know which site was going to accept a blog proposal next. Writing for a US audience also makes a difference to the language, research and cultural reference points I had to use.

It was a phenomenally busy end to the year, but I produced some of the work I’m most proud of. In December, my writing was published on the Eventbrite blog. I’m very pleased with that article; I’ve used Eventbrite a few times recently and I think it’s such a great idea. In fact, in my time as a non-profit gig promoter Eventbrite could have been really useful to me.

Today a piece I wrote has gone up on Lifehacker. This Lifehacker article was written by me and pitched to Lifehacker by Oliver on behalf of Wish.co.uk – thanks Oliver. It’s really nice to see this one online because it was a real challenge and took me the most time out of all the blogs I wrote in December.

Interested in getting some blogs and articles for your website, either for SEO purposes or just to keep it fresh and interesting? Drop me a line now. I’d be happy to give you a quote.

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