Archives for August 2013

{The Daily Creative} On Being a Creative Sponge

CAM Interior

{The Daily Creative is a regular-ish series of blog posts that explore finding creative inspiration in the everyday.}

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out. – Dee Hock 

I have to agree this is true.

I mean, think about it – how often have you been inspired by something another creative you admire is doing/has done?  So much so that you had to race right into your moleskin or notes app after you saw/read/watched the thing to scribble down a few thoughts for something of your own you would create?  

Pretty often, right?

As creatives, our problem seldom seems to be a lack of ideas, but rather the gap between having the idea and executing it.

And if you’re like me, I’m guessing a lot of that has to do with some old thoughts that are stuck in your noggin.

Thoughts like:

  • I could never do this as well as _________ does, so you know what, never mind. 
  • They’ll think I’m weird.
  • It’s already been done.
  • Come to think of it, I really don’t have time for another creative project.

When I have thoughts like these I know they’re coming from fear of rejection, resistance, or my inner critic. 


When I immerse myself in the creative work of others, especially in a museum or art gallery setting for example, I believe anything is possible.  And I’ll likely make some notes right then and there on my iPhone for something I want to explore in my own work.  It’s only when I review those notes later at home and try to begin the new project that resistance, fear or criticism creep in.

Old thoughts, indeed.

What do you think?  Do you have recurring “old thoughts” that get in the way of creating as much as you’d like to?  Thoughts that stop you from doing something you were excited to do until it was time to actually get to work? I’d love to hear your insights in the comments! 

How to Sell Any Boring Old Thing with Scandalously Good Copy

Archie McPhee Mini-Moonshine Jar Shot Glass

Archie McPhee Mini-Moonshine Jar Shot Glass

Do you think the thing you sell is too boring to write great copy for? Copy that sings? Copy that makes your readers want to pull the trigger on the “Buy Now” button?


There’s a way to make almost anything more enticing, compelling, and gotta-have-it-awesome through the use of compelling copy.

And I’m going to prove this to you by way of an example.

Behold, the boring old shot glass.  (The fun to be had during and after the use of the shot glass is another matter entirely. Ahem.)

Let’s look at how Bed, Bath & Beyond describes a shot glass:

Shot glass – fancy

These crystal clear shot glasses add style and glamour to your entertaining. The glasses have a sturdy feel and modern design, making them an easy match to your barware. Dishwasher safe. Set of six.

Shot glass – plain

The classic shape and subtle elegance of these sturdy glasses will be perfect for all occasions. The understated design will coordinate beautifully with any table setting. Each shot glass has a 2-ounce capacity. Dishwasher safe. Set of 6.

Ooooh, dishwasher safe, really?  2-ounce capacity? Sturdy? You don’t say! 

Now, if you’re shopping online for shot glasses and just want something sturdy and utilitarian (because lord knows, your shot glasses should be “sturdy” above all else), this may be all the persuasion you need to get out the credit card and place your order.  After all, it’s an inexpensive thing that doesn’t require lots of convincing to get one to click the “Buy Now” button.

But, what if, in tooling around the interwebz looking for the perfect shot glass, you came across this copy instead?

Would you like to swing on a star? Carry moonshine home in a jar?

If you’re a practicing hillbilly, the Mini Moonshine Jar Shot Glass could save your life. After you eat your vittles and get up some gumption, there’s nothing better than moseying out to your still and filling a big ol’ mason jar full of liquid lighting. However, as every health conscious hillbillly knows, a jar is a huge serving and when you’re drinking moonshine the word is “moderation.” This tiny glass jar is 2-3/4″ tall and holds 2 oz. of the hooch of your choice. See, we’re all about healthy hillbillies. Approved by the Hipster/Hobo Alliance.

That, my friend, is from the hilarious and wonderful Archie McPhee website.  Sure, they sell goofy novelty items, but their copy is brilliantly written, and you could do worse than studying how they create desire for their products through the use of dazzling copy.

So here we have product descriptions for a simple, run-of-the-mill 2 oz. shot glass.  A very simple, and even boring, product. Which one seems cooler, hipper, more gotta-have-it interesting?

Hands down, it’s the Mini Moonshine Jar Shot Glass.

What you’re seeing in action here is marketing genius – the ability to invest something utilitarian, plain and boring with real, live sparking personality.  And that’s the kind of copy that gets remembered, and more importantly, sells.

What makes this copy work?

  • It’s funny.  Now funny doesn’t always work, but for this product it does, and for Archie Mcphee as a company it does, because their whole company persona is irreverent and F-U-N, fun.
  • It shows personality – this is key.  This is the Archie Mcphee “voice.”  Even if you didn’t know where the copy came from but were familiar with the company, you’d likely be able to pick it out of a police line-up as Archie McPhee copy.
  • It’s unexpected. “If you’re a practicing hillbilly” is not something you expect to see in a product description, is it?  And it sets the tone right away for the rest of the description.
  • Notice how they “paint a picture” with copy“After you eat your vittles and get up some gumption, there’s nothing better than moseying out to your still and filling a big ol’ mason jar full of liquid lighting.” You can just see a dude (or dudette) with overhalls “moseying” out to the still to get a refreshing dose of moonshine, now can’t you?
  • It’s so damn entertaining you can’t help but keep reading.  And because of that, it’s memorable.  And memorable is good.

In the copy examples above, which one would you remember at the end of the day?  Which one would you still be smiling about? Which one would you be more interesting in owning?

So, personality – if you can add it to your product descriptions, sales pages, web copy, emails, social media status updates, and all the other content you write for your business or your passion project, you will be ahead of the “boring and forgettable” game, engage more of your ideal audience, and generate more interest in your offerings. 

[For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up for free weekly updates and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.] 


{The Daily Creative} Creator’s High

Creatives at work

{The Daily Creative is a regular-ish series of blog posts that explore finding creative inspiration in the everyday.}

Recently I was in Tybee Island and Savannah, GA for a mini-vacation.  As I was wandering around the many lovely squares in Savannah, I saw these two guys painting together.  You can’t tell from the photo above, but they were laughing and painting, painting and laughing.  Not suffering for their art, these two.  Nope, these guys were downright joyous, I tell you.

What occurred to me while watching them was how happy the simple act of creation seemed to make them. 

Do you ever feel that way?  You begin working on a project and get in that good flow state, endorphins coursing through your blood stream, leaving you feeling deeply happy and fulfilled.  You lose all track of time, and when you’re done, you feel magically lighter and more blissful than when you began.

Man, I love that feeling.

It’s like runner’s high, but for creators.  (“Creator’s high” then?)

If I feel cranky for no reason, I know I need to tap into that endorphin-producing state by doing something creative – even if it’s as simple as cooking a meal or writing an email to a friend or whipping out the iPhone and taking a few shots.  The very act of creation, no matter how small, makes me feel better instantly.  

“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”  –Osho

Is this true for you too?  Have you noticed that being in a creative flow state positively impacts other areas of your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts and insights in the comments.  Please share ‘em below!

For Creatives: The Secret to Transforming Your Boring, Lackluster About Page into an Ideal Client-Attracting Magnet

(Wherein we talk about the critical importance of a well-crafted About page that generates leads, and I show you a before-and-after of how it’s done.)

Write a Client-Attracting About Page

Did you know your About page is one of the most-visited pages on your website, and often the page that determines whether the potential ideal client who just landed there will choose you, or one of the 7,698 other creatives online who do what you do?

Yet I see so many creative professionals online who either don’t have an About page at all, or who simply throw up a standard, boring bio and call it done.

This is a huge wasted opportunity, because a knock-out About page is one of the most effective ways to set yourself apart online.  It’s essential for strengthening your brand identity, and the ideal place to create a connection with prospective clients.  And best of all? A well-crafted About page can generate leads.

Which means you don’t want to ignore this page or half-ass it. Yes, it can be difficult to write.  You don’t want to sound arrogant or full of yourself, I get it.

But here’s a little secret copywriters know for writing a killer About page that instantly connects with ideal clients, with the added bonus of being easier to write without sounding like a braggart:

Your About page isn’t about you so much as it is about your ideal client or customer and their challenges and desires, and the solution you offer that can help them achieve their goals.  You want your About page to answer the question “what’s in it for me?” for your ideal clients.

Lead with how you can help your ideal clients. Demonstrate you understand your audience and their fears, desires and goals first, then talk about your experience, training and other relevant background information. Because when a potential client lands on your site, they don’t care about you yet, unless and until you demonstrate you get them – and have the solution they seek.

{There’s a much more thorough discussion of how to write an effective About page, including a step-by-step template, in my free CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE here.}

To illustrate how this is done, I’ll show you how I transformed a dull, ineffective interior design About page into a compelling, client-attracting thing of beauty.


For this example of a “bad” About page, I found six About pages (among dozens) of interior designers who lead with writing about themselves on their About page instead of focusing on the kind of clients they want to attract.

*Every word of copy in the following example is a real, true sentence I found on an interior design website About page. (In other words, “I am not making this up,” as writer Dave Barry would say.)



Jane Smith Design is a full-service interior design firm with over 10 years’ experience in the design and construction industry.  Jane specializes in interiors, space planning, and construction management, working integrally with every member of the design and construction team. Her diverse and imaginative portfolio speaks volumes and demonstrates her diverse range of creativity.

Jane graduated from Parsons with a degree in interior design and a minor in studio art. She is an active member of ASID Carolinas Chapter and the local design community. She attends many conventions and workshops locally and internationally to stay on the cutting edge of design.

Jane began her professional career at a local architecture firm where she focused on residential and commercial interiors. In 2008, she opened Jane Smith Design, a full-service interior design firm.  Jane’s fundamental belief is that the design of interior spaces should be elevated beyond what people typically expect so that their day-to-day experiences in their everyday surroundings can be enhanced. With her varied residential and commercial experience, she is able to address the functional needs of any space while still creating the desired aesthetic.

Jane makes each project unique for each client and has a fine-tuned ability to work with a variety of interior design styles and settings.  Her signature design style combines practicality with sophistication.  Jane Smith Design can offer you everything from a few hours of design consultation to a full home or office remodel.


So, what’s so wrong with that About page?

For starters, it’s written in the third person, which puts a barrier between you and your potential clients. If you want to make an instant connection with your audience, you’re going to need to be real, be human, and be your quirky self – and it’s difficult to make that happen if your About page is written in the third person.

What else, you ask? It’s boring, overly formal and full of jargon; it’s lacking in personality or emotional connection; and it’s terribly “me-focused” – there’s not one iota of anything in that copy that shows Jane understands her ideal clients, is there?

The page’s worst offense is the way the copy doesn’t connect with the reader by talking about what’s important to them as a potential design client – it doesn’t answer the “WIIFM” question – “What’s in it for me?”

Instead it leads with Jane’s background, experience and design credentials, which we don’t care about yet as a potential design client until we know that Jane gets us and the design challenges we want solved.

Now let’s take a look at the rewritten version.

:: A Better Interior Design About Page ::

(*IMPORTANT NOTE:  If “Jane” were a real client of mine, she’d answer an in-depth questionnaire about her ideal clients, the way she works, her design philosophy and aesthetic, and other pertinent details.  Since I don’t have that here, I used quotes and information from interviews I found online with a hip young designer whose interior design work I happen to love, “pretending” she’s Jane the client and using some of her story, quotes and background info to write the “better/after” version of this About page. 

This “after” About page is crafted solely on the basis of the information I was able to find out from reading interviews with the designer, it is NOT the current About page on her website.  This designer’s business is in the South; she works with “families with young kids or messy grown-ups looking for a sophisticated interior that is human-proof – peanut butter, dog hair and red wine, no problem!”)

:: EXAMPLE: The About Page, After ::

Accessible Luxury for the Modern Young Family on the Go

[This headline speaks to Jane’s ideal customer – a busy family with a hectic schedule who want a beautifully designed interior that’s “human-proof,” i.e., “accessible luxury.”]

Dog hair, sticky kid handprints & red wine spills.

Modern, sophisticated design.

The truth? You can have both.

You’re a busy professional with a demanding career, soccer practices, dance recitals and playdates to ferry the kids around to, dinner dates with your significant other (when you can find the time), and possibly a menagerie of pets at home to boot.

Crazy-busy? Yes.  Ready to give up and give in to the idea that a young family with kids, careers and a rambunctious pet or two isn’t meant to come home to an oasis of comfortable elegance at the end of (yet another) jam-packed day?

Definitely not.

[The section above focuses on Jane’s ideal clients and their needs and desires; it demonstrates that she has a genuine understanding of what her ideal client’s life is like. This establishes emotional connection and trust.]

Hey, I know kids, pets, and red wine are facts of life (they’re definitely the facts of my life), but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an inspiring, sophisticated home environment – one that stands up (gracefully) to your energetic young family’s wear-and-tear.

[What I did here, using the parenthetical – “they’re definitely the facts of my life” – won’t always be applicable, but here it lets Jane’s potential clients know that she’s just like them – a wife and mother with a demanding career and a busy life who still believes she deserves a beautiful home.  This also goes to establishing trust, and if they don’t trust you, they ain’t buying from you.]

That’s where I come in.

I’m Jane Smith, and I create interiors that are luxurious, yet livable, for the modern young family on the go.

[Here Jane talks about herself (after she’s focused on her ideal clients and their wants and needs), and begins to tell us about the solution she offers, one that is specifically geared to her ideal clients – busy young families on the go.]

I’m a Parsons-trained interior designer and an active member of ASID Carolinas who honed my skills at the elbow of master French designer Robert Couturier.  I’ve been called a “decorating superstar” and a “Southern visionary with an impressive sense of style,” but at the end of the day?  My most important goal is create a space that works for the family living in it, so they get to experience that “I can’t believe I get to live here!” feeling every time they walk through the door.

From French Modern to Classic Contemporary to Southern Traditional with a twist, I create interiors that balance natural elegance and glamor with practicality.  My designs combine casual, organically modern style – think sophisticated finishes, elegant nature-inspired elements, and gorgeous lighting – with durability that stands up to your life:  sticky fingerprints, dog hair, wine spills and all.

[More details about Jane’s business and her design philosophy.  If she wanted to include her backstory – as it relates to her business and the solution she provides – she could do it here, or link off to another page on her site.]

What Others Are Saying

“With 2 small children under the age of 7, two dogs, and a crazy schedule, I’d almost given up on the idea that my home could be beautiful, comfortable AND practical at the same time, but Jane made it happen.  She created a true sanctuary for our family that we’re thrilled to come home to every day.” Abby M.

“She’s a creative genius, I could not be happier with the beautiful, warm, calm space she created for me and my husband.  Bonus: she’s a dream to work with – friendly, down-to-earth, and easy to talk to and collaborate with.”  Elizabeth G.

“We still can’t believe we get to live here, in our own personal magazine spread.  Our teenagers actually want to hang out at home now.”   Tom and Cindy H.

[Social Proof section:  Be strategic about the testimonials you choose – again, they should speak to the ideal clients’ wants and frustrationsYou don’t have to call this section “What Others Are Saying” – call it whatever makes sense to your personality and writing style.]

Enter your email below to grab my free guide, “From Chaos to Calm: 7 Simple Steps for Transforming Your Home into an Oasis of Practical Luxury.” (Plus weekly design tips and inspiration I only share with my email subscribers.)

[The *incredibly important* call to action.  It could be a prompt to sign up for your email list, or call for a free 15-minute consultation, or whatever specific thing you want them to do next.  It should be the next logical step in the process that deepens the relationship with you.  In most cases, that will be to sign up for your email list. This is where lead generation comes in.]



Notice how the rewritten version of the About page leads with the potential client’s challenges and desires, then later talks about Jane and her qualifications. This serves to create trust by proving that Jane understands her ideal clients and the specific solution they seek – in this case, “accessible luxury for the busy young family on the go.” This is what you want to do too if you want to attract your ideal clients.

At a bare minimum, you want to include the following on your About page:

  • A client-focused headline
  • A client-focused first paragraph
  • Then a paragraph about you and the solution you provide geared specifically to your ideal client’s challenges and desires
  • A call to action, such as signing up for your email list or calling for a free consultation, etc., so you can collect leads

Remember, a knock-out About page is one of the most effective ways to set yourself apart online, essential for strengthening your brand identity, and the ideal place to create a connection with prospective clients.  And if you’ve done all that effectively, adding a call to action to your well-crafted About page will generate leads. And who doesn’t want that?  Nobody, that’s who.

[For more on writing copy that connects with your ideal clients, sign up for free weekly updates here and get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE, plus copywriting & web marketing tips and other goodies for creative freelancers & biz owners that I only share with my subscribers, delivered straight to your inbox each Tuesday.]