Welcome to my little glossary of commonly used Entrepreneur terms.
The amount of time most parents can work between effing school pickups.
My personal mantra (and hashtag) on life – be brave, be fearless.
Testing two things against each other. Like in Vampire Diaries when you can’t decide if you like Damon or the other one more, so you line them up and compare eyes, and teeth. Talked about a lot when it comes to landing pages and email subject lines.
The activation phase usually comes after the planning phase, which is after the strategy phase but before the feedback phase. Phased out? Me too.
These days everyone is aligning their business with other businesses. For me, this conjures up images of people sidling up to other people at parties and laughing without knowing what everyone is laughing about. It’s awkward and weird, so don’t use it.
You gave away a thousand copies of your book and kept refreshing the screen until you briefly hit the top of some obscure category on Amazon – just long enough to take the obligatory screenshot.
I hope this book becomes an Amazon best-seller in the ‘Snarky, bitter business books’ category.
To turn up the volume on your marketing to an irritatingly loud roar that gives your customers a headache.
Instead of Anyhow.
The true entrepreneur flicks a switch at the start of January and doesn’t do a god damn thing for the rest of the year because their business is entirely automated. (See also integrate.)
To be a true entrepreneur you must be authentic. And then you must authentically tell people how authentic you are on a regular basis.
A generic term for humans when referring to a mass of them. So instead of ‘hey guys’ – we use ‘hey beasts’.
Big girl pants
Apparently we should pull these on before we do anything scary. No thongs allowed, and going commando is definitively a no-no. (Note: There’s no such thing as big boy pants.)
Starting a business with no money. In earlier times it was called being poor.
Boilerplate text, or simply boilerplate, is copy you fry up like an egg on a sizzle platter of goodness.
Nah not really, it’s any copy that’s reused across pages without significant changes to the original. It’s the good stuff you cut and paste a lot.
TOON TIP: Boilerplate text is often used for Calls To Action or company and personal bios.
I know lots of you love this. And I get that it’s kind of cute. But like its vile partner in crime ‘Mumpreneur’, the fact women have to be ‘boss ladies’ instead of just ‘bosses’ irks me. And if you use ‘boss lady’ and ‘sassy’ in the same sentence, I’ll probably swallow my own tongue in disgust.
Who doesn’t love a story? Brand stories inspire emotional connection (#gag) with your audience. Thoughts, feelings and cool back stories are all welcome in a cohesive narrative of your brand. This isn’t your regular show and tell advertising – it’s about making people LOVE you!
Re-purpose it into chunks of content or use it as part of finding your tone of voice.
TOON TIP: Try the brand story template in the shop.
The paintbrush font you see everywhere that should be used on all memes, especially those telling you to dream big. The preferred colour is gold.
Brief / Creative Brief / Project Brief
A spiffy little document that explains project details like scope, deliverables, budget, time frames and goals.
Copywriters send briefs to the client and hope for clear directions on what they want. They’re often as clear as mud and just as slippery.
TOON TIP: Chat through the brief on a call with the client. Be kind: documents that writers live and breathe can be terrifying for normal humans.
BONUS TOON TIP: Get your brief on with our briefing template.
So awesome or scary it makes you squeeze your bum cheeks.
Can’t be arsed (Toonism)
Can’t be bothered.
A promotional document, sometimes called glossies, and often used as part of a tender or proposal process.
Don’t be put off by the name – it’s not a complete snooze-fest. Loads of copywriters have written one as a brochure or company profile – a statement of experience, successful projects, and specialities.
C-Level / C-Suite
The head honchos – C stands for chief. So when your client talks C-Suite, think decision-makers like the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
TOON NOTE: My CFO (Chief Furry Officer) provides much wise counsel.
Chief Furry Officer.
“Close of Business”, which is usually 5pm.
Pssst lies. I call it done by 3pm.
Anything that – directly or indirectly – moves your audience closer to the end of your (sales) funnel.
Copywriters get involved in creating and promoting content across formats, platforms and audience segments. Content marketing is videos, blogs, and social media posts. It’s emails, websites and lead magnets. It’s whatever you create to engage your audience, without promoting it directly.
Lots of folks draw a big line between content marketing and copywriting, but they’re beside each other in the content aisle. With content marketing the ROI is just further away.
Conversion copywriting has one goal – convert.
Conversion might mean a sale or convincing the reader to do something there and then, like fill out a form, sign up for a course, or add something to their online basket.
Someone who’s read one article about a given subject and now thinks they can charge $150 an hour to teach you about it. Warning: likely to post a lot of motivational memes.
No, you can’t just work with someone. You have to collaborate or if you really want to be an entrepreneur, set up a joint venture. You must both be willing to talk endlessly about the collaboration, retweet like a man possessed, and name drop each other every five minutes.
A fancy way to describe the document containing all the copy and supporting materials for your copy project. If you’re the client, this is what your copywriter sends you to review. And you probably ignore.
It’s usually in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, and walks clients through the copy, SEO keywords and calls to action.
You can call it a ‘copy platform’, if you don’t mind sounding naff.
TOON TIP: Grab our copy deck template.
The words copywriters write. Some people use it just to describe a certain kind of Mad Men-style ad-copy. But copy is everywhere from your favourite website to your cereal box, to the label of your undies.
Copy VS content? Pfffft. Does it really matter? Just meet the brief. Usually, both are about getting you to buy something or buy into something.
And who gives a rat’s what they call it if they pay your invoice?
The ‘solid as oak principles’ your business stands for. Your copywriter wrote them for you, and they’re on your about page. No one knows what they are, least of all you. You think one of them may be about toast.
Australians call them chips – they are wrong.
CTA (Call to Action)
The next step you want the audience or reader to take. Common CTAs on websites are those little buttons that say Buy now, Read more, or Add to Cart.
I like to write CTAs that keep the conversation going, but without the ick of sales pressure or FOMO.
Someone who posts images of themselves on Thai beaches with their laptop just to show off and make you feel bad.
To break away from the commonplace and do something totally out there, crazy and incongruous. Synonyms: irritate, annoy, show off.
Electronic Direct Mail. Less boring than it sounds!
An unnecessarily tricky name for newsletters, promo emails and on-boarding emails.
Copywriters may write stand-alone emails or sequences that are triggered by time or behaviour. It’s a powerful digital channel for sales copy, newsletters, or personalised transactional emails.
Egg day (Toonism)
Happy Egg day = Happy Easter
A short and sharp speech to describe (for people and companies) what they do, who they do it for, and why.
A good elevator pitch lasts about 20 to 30 seconds. You’ve gotta nail it before those doors open!
How a subscriber goes from prospect to customer through strategic email communications.
Copywriters write the emails and can get involved in planning data-driven email campaigns so customers get the right email at just the right time.
People no longer read your blog posts or like your tweets. They ‘engage with your content’ instead. Just another wanky marketing buzzword.
End of Financial Year (aka End of Fiscal Year). For copywriters between tax brackets, it’s the only time of year we’re hoping not to get paid on time.
- Australia – 30 June
- US – 30 September
- UK – 5 April
- India and New Zealand – 31 March
TOON TIP: A budget spreadsheet is a no-brainer to keep track of your finances.
Also known as the Termination clause, is a part of a contract that allows parties to end their legal relationship and discontinue their obligations under the agreement.
In other words, you don’t want to have this used on you, but if a project goes wrong, it’s nice to have up your own sleeve (next to the tissues).
Procrastination by being ‘busy’ with non-billable or non-work-related activities. Essential and evolving skill for writers.
“They faffed around on social media all morning”
“I’ve been faffing around trying to …(insert vague IT issue)”
Fart arsing (Toonism)
As in fart arsing about – to faff (see faff).
To be in a bit of a bad mood or feel unmotivated.
To be tired.
My favourite food stuff (crisps, fake bacon flavoured).
I can’t write a definition for this. It just sounds too filthy. (See also Sales funnel.)
A copywriter or author hired to write work that’s published under the name of another person. They get the ‘by-line’.
Not to be confused with ghost writer, a whole other niche market.
Give good pod (Toonism)
Be a good podcast guest.
Google juice (Toonism)
The love that Google gives you via backlinks.
Grapple the Google beast (Toonism)
Decide to get serious about Search Engine Optimisation.
No, it’s not sawing that crusty lump off the bottom of your foot. Instead, it’s like taking a big bowl of idea spaghetti and hurling it at the wall – you see which ideas stick and which flop on the floor. It’s about trying all the things, quickly, without regret. And then grabbing the bits that work and running with them. Or something.
Usually the main heading on a web page. The H1 HTML tag is often the title of the page or post. It’s the first thing the reader sees so you better make it count!
Ideally your H1 contains your target keyword or phrase for that page.
Also a great first base term to check out someone’s SEO savvy. “So, how many H1s?”
Everything is a hack now, and every day I see a post titled something like “10 ingenious arse-wiping hacks” that includes ingenious hacks such as:
- HACK 1: Use two sheets of paper instead of one to avoid getting poo on your hand.
- HACK 2: Sit on the toilet rather than in the sink to ensure your poo goes in the loo.
These are not hacks. At best they’re tips, but more often than not they’re just stating the bleeding obvious.
Rather than being driven by their brain (‘brain-centred’), ‘heart-centred’ business types are driven by the red pumping mass, which makes them better people than you and me. They’re still trying to sell you a $10,000 mastermind course, but at least they love you while they’re doing it.
I personally think I’m ‘spleen-centred’, or maybe ‘Frazzle-centred’. (Don’t know what a Frazzle is? Google it!)
Instead of hello.
Holy Badger tits (Toonism)
An expression of awe – as in holy cow!
Spending time with humans.
When I see the word ‘hustle’ I immediately think of fraudsters and swindlers. But these days it’s become the byword for anyone who wants to sell with gumption. Another meaning for hustle is ‘to push roughly’, which is what I’d like to do to anyone who uses this word.
A mythical tale achieved only by people who haven’t given anybody their email address.
Just like the outer circle, only more expensive to join.
All your systems should integrate with each other, and synchronise with your social media and email marketing. I’ll charge you $10,000 to illustrate this by drawing circles with the words ‘email’ and ‘website’ in them, and then drawing wiggly lines leading from each circle.
It’s the tits / you are the tits (Toonism)
Something that is so awesome it’s nearly as good as a fine pair of boobs.
A standalone web page created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign with a single call to action (CTA).
Visitors “land” on this page after they click through from an ad on Instagram or YouTube, from an email or a Google search.
Once they land, it is your mission to write copy that makes them NEVER want to leave!
An offer or resource you promote to your audience and provide in exchange for their email address.
Copywriters can write lead magnets for clients in a format to suit the target audience and where they’re at. Think e-books, white papers, checklists, research insights, how to’s and more.
Worth the effort to engage your people!
Lick that frog (Toonism)
We’re told to eat the frog (get on with the tough task) but sometimes it’s okay to give it a gentle lick.
A popular activity in Mumpreneur groups, which involves posting your Facebook page in a stream of 8,567 other Facebook pages in the hope one sad sucker will ‘like’ it. Achieves nothing, but you still come back every week and do it again.
Like too little butter spread over too much bread (Toonism)
The feeling of being worn out of burned out (Stolen from Tolkien).
Long form home page/ landing page/ sales page
A post-click landing page that has one goal – convincing you to buy.
Long-form sales page rely heavily on long, long scrolling masses of written content. With the right psychology and word sorcery, they can significantly up conversions.
TOON TIP: A/B testing comes into its own here. Write 2 different headlines and see in real time which one tickles your audience’s fancies.
A statement of the beliefs, values, and vision for a person or business.
A system designed to attract, convert and keep customers through the sales process.
TOFU – Top of Funnel
MOFU – Middle of Funnel
BOFU – Bottom of Funnel
Customers have different problems, needs and wants at different stages of the funnel that copywriters need to keep up with.
A collection of people who’ve paid an absurd amount of money to suck success juice from the teat of some sleek entrepreneur type.
No idea. Might be one of the vampires in Twilight.
HTML tag used to describe the content of a web page. You see it below the title and URL of a page in search engine results.
It’s seriously up there for most-overlooked-but-critical piece of copy. But it’s the first pieces of sales content web users will see from you.
TOON TIP: Best practice length for Google-love is the 140-160 character mark.
Also known as title tag. Defines the title of each web page.
Search engines like Google use it to display your page name in search results.
Small bits of copy that help users do things. Or the fun copy you see on packaging that shows brand personality.
Microcopy can be digital – like error messages and subscription confirmations – or pop up on your biscuit packet or loo roll. Every word counts!
Our way of thinking, which we must be keen to change and improve. In the old days, people didn’t have mindsets. They were too busy trying not to be eaten by dinosaurs.
Mini Human (Toonism)
Your child, a child, someone’s child (see small human).
Movers and shakers
A group of Mumpreneurs at a networking event waiting for the free wine to be given out.
Not Copy Related – # used in the TCCS Facebook group to post about life stuff.
Standing in a room full of people you don’t like and trying to eat a mini quiche with one hand while giving out limp business cards with the other. (Note: May involve drinking too much wine, telling the hot dude from your business Facebook group that you really admire him, and then trying to touch his face.)
A ninja (or shinobi) was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan. The functions of the ninja include: espionage, sabotage, infiltration, assassination and guerrilla warfare.
But if you’re a marketing ninja or an SEO ninja, you’re really just a marketing manager or an SEO consultant. Yes it’s boring, but adding ‘ninja’ to your title doesn’t make you sound sharper or quicker than the rest. It just makes you sound like a twat.
Similarly, you should avoid using words such as ‘icon’, ‘rockstar’ and ‘guru’. (Unless you actually are Jesus, Bono or Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in which case go for it.)
Nurture Sequence / Email sequence
An automated series of emails sent to new signups on a mailing list. For example, you might send a subscription confirmation, then a welcome email, then a follow-up on a specific benefit or offer.
You can also set up email sequences for different chunks of your subscriber list, so everyone gets the message.
TOON TIP: Get a Leanne to set up email sequences for you, or brush up on systems like Klayvio and Marketo and add it to your copywriter toolkit!
Finishing up a project and parting ways with your client. Something one-night-stand copywriters will do much more often than those who like client monogamy.
Can involve a sign off that the project is complete – and if it’s gone well, a testimonial for your TCCS profile!
Your process for bringing on a new copywriting client.
Part process and part personality, setting up a new client is a time for clear expectations.
What’s that old saying I just made up? Onboard properly when your client signs up, or you’ll have to do it every time you start a new task.
Just one of my favourite creatures, my spirit animal. Uses: Happier than an otter in a sock Like a damp otter sliding down a tube.
Specific problems your audience is experiencing. Depending on the industry, it might be helpful to know what keeps them up at night – money? Efficiency? Fear?
You gotta know the pain to address the pain and offer the solution: whatever it is you’re selling.
A business owner who tries to touch your thigh when you meet them for a briefing.
A product that earns you a six-figure income while you sleep. It may take eight months of 40-hour weeks to create, but we don’t talk about that bit.
Piglet Jumper (Toonism)
My generic ‘keyword’ example.
To tweak your business so it goes in a different direction (e.g. “I used to be a dancer on a cruise ship, but I pivoted into being a heart-centred business coach”).
Pleasing the Google gods/Copy gods (Toonism)
Making the powers that be in the mighty heavens weep with your awesomeness.
Pain in the Arse – person or process causing grief, eye rolls or holding up the copy process.
Reviewing and correcting writing for spelling and grammar errors.
Differs from editing – most writers want you to spot errant commas, not restructure their work.
TOON TIP: Check you’re on the same page on what is part of a proofread and what isn’t. Or only bad things can follow.
An ongoing agreement to deliver a set of deliverables – like 4 blogs a month.
The client is securing their spot in your work calendar, and you have the guaranteed work for the contract period. Win-win.
TOON TIP: Simplify it with the retainer agreement template. And don’t offer the client a discount when they haven’t asked for one!
Changes to your writing suggested by the client. These are sometimes correct, sometimes woefully inaccurate, and rarely career-ending.
Do not take it personally. Rise above like a Zen copybeast high on the fumes of constructive feedback.
TOON TIP: Rookie copywriter error #53 is not allowing for revisions or capping how many rounds of review. I’ve just finished a project I started in 1998.
Request for Quote from a prospective client inviting you to pitch for the project. Often used by government and enterprise.
Software as a Service. A software licensing and delivery model where software is licensed on a subscription basis and centrally hosted.
All the things like Xero, Zoom and Asana that we pay for every month. Like expensive clockwork.
A greasy tube that becomes progressively narrower, leading your victims from the free thing to the gazillion dollar thing.
Quite literally my most hated business word of all time. And those who use it are generally the most tedious people you’ll ever meet.
Something you get in your kettle in areas with hard water.
Shaving back hair (Toonism)
The art of preparing oneself to look like a human before appearing in public.
An annoying or stupid human who behaves poorly and deserves a firm slap.
Not an 80s dance move, but rather a side thingy you do to support your main thingy. (See also Hustle.)
Refers to how much moolah you’re shoving down your pants every minute of the day. Ideally, you should have a six-figure launch, a six-figure ecourse, and be earning seven figures before you have your morning Weetabix.
You don’t need to prove that you make six figures. You just need to say it – a lot. You should provide an exact figure (such as $228,981) to make it sound more profitable. But never reveal that only 7% of those six figures is actually profit.
Small human (Toonism)
Your child, a child, someone’s child (see mini human).
Subject Matter Expert with specialised knowledge of a certain topic or industry.
You might connect with a SME to help inform your copy and content – like a software engineer, a scientist, or a business owner.
A good chat with an SME can soothe all that ails ya!
Small to Medium Enterprise. Businesses around the $10M mark (small?!). Room in there for some copywriting budget.
You no longer provide services. You provide solutions. But if you actually use this word you are a problem, not a solution.
Soulful entrepreneurs generally have more soul than you and less money. Often fond of dreamcatchers, organic muffins, and hessian underwear. (See also Heart-centred.)
Statement of work
A detailed document that defines project activities, deliverables and timings.
Copywriters may be asked to provide a SOW to confirm scope before hatching a more detailed project plan.
Sticky tube (Toonism)
Other people call it a sales funnel. To me it’s a sticky tube.
(Synonym: journey) I like stories with interesting protagonists who fight dragons, have invisibility cloaks, and ride across clifftops with flowing locks. And so the story of your journey as “A mum who started a wigwam knitting business to have more time to spend with her kids” would be put straight in the bargain bin.
People do connect with stories, but only if they’re interesting. And I’m afraid yours doesn’t cut the mustard.
And just as you should call a spade a spade, you should call your About page your About page, not ‘My Story’.
I recommend you regularly leverage the synergies you find in business, preferably as frequently as you change your toothbrush.
A phrase or short sentence, similar to a slogan, that captures your brand’s mission, purpose, or culture.
Think: Nike’s “Just Do it”, Apple’s “Think Different”, or L’Oreal’s “Because You’re Worth It”
Every time you use the word ‘passionate’ in a tagline, a copywriter fairy loses a tooth.
The big idea and purpose behind the brand or the person.
TOON NOTE: My own Why? Helping small businesses build big brands. Cos I care.
Thick as a bag of hair (Toonism)
To be stupid and useless.
So awesome it makes your thighs quiver.
Tone of Voice guide
A guide to how a brand sounds, its personality and values.
The TOV guide is a key part of the copywriting skill set.
And it’s super fun to make up names for your customer personas.
TOON NOTE: Most of mine are called Alan.
TOON TIP: TOV development gets easier with the tone of voice template.
Toon Cave (Toonism)
The little world of awesome humans I have found and adopted into my business world.
Your business cannot change. Instead, it must transform like a fat greasy caterpillar into a glorious entrepreneurial butterfly (with those aggressively white teeth we’ve already spoken about).
And its variant, Transformational, can be used to express orgasmically awesome stuff (e.g. “This ebook of five copywriting tips that my hamster could have written will be transformational to your business”).
I blame Seth Godin for this one. We no longer find customers. Instead we ‘attract our tribe’ – a group of like-minded people who ‘are all individuals’ and yet spurt forth the same mantra in the same brushstroke-fonted memes.
I refuse to have a tribe. Instead, I have a gang with shiny jackets and flick knives.
A low-cost item you sell to get people on your hallowed list so you can flog them your big expensive thing. Much like having them trip over your doormat and then while rifling through their pockets while they’re struggling to get up.
To take your business to the next level, as in “Up-level your coaching business with this simple trick”.
USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
That special something that makes a business better or different to all others.
What’s so special about you? If you can’t tell us, who will?
TOON TIP: Use your USP to write your homepage heading and introduction. This is what you want to shout to the world!
UX (user experience)
How a person feels when they’re using or interacting with systems like websites, apps or on-site kiosks.
Some copywriters specialise in UX or UI writing and work closely with designers and devs.
The selling point – the innovation, service or feature that promises a benefits to customers.
Warm bosom (Toonism)
A happy and safe place (join the warm bosom of our copywriting community).
When a product or service is branded for the buyer.
If you’re asked to white label for an agency, you’re likely to be writing for a brand without direct contact with them. They’ll on-sell your services under their umbrella.
A research-heavy report presenting insights into an industry or discipline.
White papers can vary from a 800-word e-book (stretched out by the designer), to upwards of 5000 words.
Not for the faint-hearted!
Woo woo (Toonism)
A bit airy-fairy and dream catcher and hessian and ethereal.
WIP (Work In Progress)
Projects and tasks started but not finished – wrangled into a tracker.
TOON TIP: Save some sanity with the WIP tracker from the Community Member area.
A schematic or blueprint that shows clients, programmers and designers the structure or flow of web copy.
Useful for communicating what goes where – but tread lightly with designers who don’t like mock-ups!
Happy Yule = Happy Christmas
FEELING A BIT LOST
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