Good writing starts with good thinking.

When ideas are clear, they’re easy
to write about. But when they’re not quite
polished – or, sometimes, if they’re polished
too much – they get tangled up on the page.
It’s impossible for people to see how they’re
connected, or why they matter at all.

I’m a writer. I can help you think through
your ideas. Then I can write about them
for you, in a way that means something
to your audience. I can train your people
to write this way too.

van der blog

2 birthday copy

Going solo: what I’ve learned

It’s been almost two years since I went freelance. Now, I’m looking back at some of the things I’ve learned – I hope they’ll help make your comms projects more successful.

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Why tone of voice is not your problem

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Why ditching that last draft is a false economy

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Elmwood

Elmwood is an international brand design consultancy. Their awesome designers and writers work together to give their myriad clients – beer brands, energy companies, restaurants, you name it – a creative and competitive edge. I spent some time with the team, working on everything from the tone of voice for a major train line to the character and positioning of a scrumptious chutney brand.

Connection Crew

Connection Crew is an award-winning crewing company. Whether you’re running an awards show or an away day, they can get everything set up for you. To celebrate their tenth year in the industry, they decided to rebrand their organisation. And I was very happy to help them articulate their new positioning, in internal documents and across their brand spanking new website. Now, everyone can see how the organisation connects with its colleagues and clients – and why working with them is a little bit rock and roll…

Teaching Leaders

Teaching Leaders is an education charity. They work with ‘middle leaders’ in schools – those teachers who connect a senior team’s strategy with the people delivering it in classrooms. By training and coaching middle leaders, the TL team strengthens schools – and helps more children fulfil their potential. I worked with them on some of their print and digital marketing materials, helping them explain what they do, why it really matters, and how partners can support them in their work.

Screenwriting Goldmine Awards

The Screenwriting Goldmine Awards is a competition where aspiring writers can win meetings with top telly and film execs. It’s an amazing opportunity. But when I met the team, their website – which had grown organically and a little haphazardly over the years – didn’t really reflect how special the competition is. I re-thought the site map, rewrote the content, and worked alongside a web designer to tidy everything up. We even created new photography for the homepage. And all in just a few days.

Quietroom

Quietroom is a team of writers, trainers and strategists. They help brands to communicate in a way that’s clear, vivid and real. I worked with them for several years before I decided to go solo, and I still work with them on projects to this day. They’re especially clued up on financial services – and I’ve been helping them with all sorts, from rewriting the website of a global wealth management company to running workshops for a massive financial advisory firm.

Reed Words

The Reed Words team delivers clever thinking and creative copywriting for brands around the world. They can turn their hand to anything from branding to campaigns, tone of voice to naming, ads, packaging, websites, apps… You get the idea. I’ve worked with them on different projects: helping them to tidy up a high street bank’s brand guidelines, come up with packaging ideas for a major retailer, even find a name for a new energy supplier.

Ark

I worked as Communications Manager at Ark before going freelance. It’s an amazing organisation – as well as running health and social projects around the world, they run non-selective, high-achieving academies across the country. I worked to create lots of different comms: from brochures and FAQs to help parents understand Ark’s work, to bespoke marketing materials for schools to use in their local areas.

Bannenberg Invests

Investor Cam Bannenberg supports organisations that help us to enjoy the good life. For instance, he invests in a range of stunning holiday homes, and a team supplying exquisite ingredients to restaurants – things that allow us to savour life’s special moments. I worked with him to write his website, defining his values and describing his portfolio. Now, people can see just how extraordinary his portfolio is, and why they should experience it for themselves.

Leonard Cheshire Disability

Leonard Cheshire Disability so does many different things to support disabled people, from community support to campaigning. In fact, they found it hard to explain everything they do and why it matters. I helped them write their annual report, clearly articulating the different strands of their work and explaining how each one has changed people’s lives for the better. The team now wants to use this year’s report as a template for the future.

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