I write and edit clear, compelling copy for web and print.

Working with you to make sure you engage the people you want to talk to, I make sure your brand’s tone of voice shines through.

You can find my updated portfolio on my new website, wisecopy.co.uk

Get in touch – I’ll be happy to help.

Sophie de Albuquerque


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Happy Christmas 2012

So what does a freelance copywriter get up to in a year?

Well, for me, 2012 looked something like this.

January – Helping The Social Research Association to develop and launch a new, monthly e-newsletter and WordPress website, while they worked on their new website.

February – Starting to work with sparky, Brecon-based communications agency Kindlemix, producing articles for The Health Foundation‘s monthly e-newsletter. Rustling up some copy for Quantum Kitchens‘ website and brochure, working with SeeData.

March – Writing a lively ‘introduction to autism’ article for a new magazine by The National Autistic Society – a charity striving for a world where people living with autism get to lead the life they choose.

April – Developing the brand tone of voice and writing the web copy for a new charity which, sadly, has now vanished from the radar. Ah well, live and learn. Oh – and moving to Brockley – a gem of a community in South East London.

May – Working with the bright and hard-working team at MTV Staying Alive, writing and editing copy and case studies for their printed Impact Report 2011. Editing and proofreading a series of reports on The Clean Revolution for The Climate Group.

June – Giving a talk on working with young people with autism to the staff of Lewisham Youth Theatre at Catford’s Broadway Theatre.

July – Working with the team at MTV Staying Alive again, producing copy for the launch of this new website, a new introductory brochure and a concept paper for a funding bid.

August – Drafting a new company profile for a cause-related communications agency based in Zambia called Media 365. Supporting Team GB in the women’s football at Wembley. Travelling by train to Paris, Toulouse and San Sebastian, and back again.

September – Editing a facilitator resource pack, seminar booklets and PowerPoint presentations for The National Autistic Society, covering three new Autism Seminars for Families: ‘Understanding Autism’, ‘Managing Anger’ and ‘Sensory Needs’.

October – Interviewing Professor Nigel Mathers, Vice Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, for an article about a cultural revolution in care planning, for The Health Foundation’s newsletter.

November and December – Producing a series of guides for the Bank Workers Charity on a variety of topics, from wellbeing to family relationships and keeping costs down after retirement. Writing an article for The Health Foundation about a new project to give hospital inpatients a diary of information about their stay.

It’s been a year packed with achievements that I’m proud of (see all of the above) as well as a few challenges, including what to do when a client doesn’t pay (interesting thoughts on that here). I still love being freelance. The flexibility, freedom and variety keep me happy, interested and on my toes.

If you’d like to work with me in 2013, you can reach me at sophdea @ gmail.com (removing the spaces) and I’ll be happy to talk about how I can help.

Till then, have a happy Christmas and a happy new year!

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Wiser: my first year as a freelancer

Wise Copy owl on branch with quill

Thanks to @kaichanvong

It’s been a year full of excitement and learning. Excitement at getting so much work, then learning how to cope with it. Excitement at the chance to work with so many different and distinctive organisations, then learning how to be my own account manager, finance assistant, new business consultant and boss. Excitement at my time being my own, then learning how to manage it. Or not. Then learning to turn mistakes into wiser decisions.

If we’ve worked together this year – thank you for being part of my first year as a freelancer, and having me as part of your project team. It’s been a pleasure. If we haven’t worked together yet, I hope we might do soon.

As a little Christmas present to Wise Copy, to show off my skills and remember how much this year has held, here are just ten highlights of 2011.

What I’ve been up to in 2011

  1. Getting First Great Western‘s new website up and running, sounding clear & inspiring.
  2. Advising someone making a career change, crafting a sparkling CV and covering letter.
  3. Writing up incredible stories of hope for Sparks children’s medical research charity.
  4. Researching, writing and editing MTV Staying Alive Foundation‘s first impact report.
  5. Producing a WordPress site and regular newsletter for the Social Research Association.
  6. Interviewing a helpline advisor for The National Autistic Society‘s Christmas appeal.
  7. Editing the share offer for community enterprise Bath and West Community Energy.
  8. Writing a project update for people who’ve donated to Absolute Return for Kids charity.
  9. Venturing inside the fashionable Ms Wanda’s Wardrobe for Do The Green Thing’s blog.
  10. Writing web copy and communications for pioneers of online fundraising JustGiving.

You can find my full portfolio here.

Looking forward to catching up with you in 2012…

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UX lessons from a Swedish wedding

In May 2010, my friends Danny and Eva got married in Eksjo, a small town in the middle of Sweden. Their wedding was outstanding for so many reasons. Not only was it stylish, unusual and fun (just like the couple) but it was one of the most feel-good weddings I’ve ever been to. It’s also a perfect example of great user experience. Here’s why.

The invitation

The user delight started here. Imagine the surprise of opening a wedding invitation that includes a little home-made holiday guide book. “The Rough Guide to Eva and Danny’s Wedding” turned the potentially tricky logistics of getting to a wedding in the middle of Sweden into a positive adventure. It tempted us with references to Wallander country and Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, taught us some Swedish phrases and presented a whole range of travel and accommodation options that catered to any budget. Oh and the invitation itself was colour-coded in red for English and blue for Swedish, and flanked by cartoon caricatures of the couple.

It didn’t take long to decide whether we could afford to go after that. A fun and cultural holiday in Sweden with our friends’ wedding included was excellent value.

The emails

With a lot of weddings, there’s a lull between getting the invitation and turning up on the day, while the couple keep their heads down and get absorbed in the preparation. Not this couple. As soon as people started accepting their invitation, we got excited emails from them saying how pleased they were and giving us tips on getting the cheapest flights and trains.

And when people had problems booking train tickets, we got another email with a step-by-step guide to navigating the confusing Swedish rail website.

The week before

In the week leading up to the wedding, I was walking through central London when I got a text from Danny. They were writing a couple of lines about each of the guests for the wedding programme and wondered if I could send a couple of lines about my boyfriend. Apparently it’s a Swedish tradition to include guest’s biogs like that and it struck me what a great way it was to make people feel included and help them to mix and get to know each other – especially the ones that didn’t know lots of people already. Yet more points scored for inclusiveness and delight.

The arrival

After an early start, a flight and a train ride to unfamiliar surroundings, it was really good to be met at Nassjo station by not just one, but a mini-army of Eva’s family and friends. All of them had brought cars, were at the ready to give us lifts to our hotels, and they were led by Eva’s dad waving a Swedish flag. Talk about a nice welcome. Once we’d been dropped at our hotels, we found an invitation to join the other guests for dinner later if we wanted – perfect.

The big day

By the morning of the wedding, we’d settled into our hotel and were already exploring the town in the sunshine, bumping into friends in the street and stopping for coffee and cake. The ceremony was a five minute walk from our hotel, so we had lots of time to spare.

The Metropol Cinema in Eksjo was a brilliant wedding venue. It would have been brilliant even without the specially-made poster outside that read ‘Showing today: Eva and Danny Get Married’. Even without the popcorn that we were handed by the ushers on the way in, and without the slideshow of photos and the funny short film that Danny and Eva had made for us, screened just before the ceremony started. But they all helped.

The reception was at a “mystery venue” which turned out to be a barn in the middle of green fields, with high beams and long tables of food and drinks. At every place was a traditional Swedish starter of gravadlax, crayfish, caviar and Vasterbotten cheese and – most exciting of all – a tiny bottle of schnapps tagged with your name, looking just like the magic potion that Alice drinks to get to Wonderland. There was also a programme with a tiny biog of each guest, as promised, some fun facts about England and Sweden and the lyrics to some Swedish drinking songs – everything translated into both English and Swedish. Amazing.

While we ate our choice from a buffet including fish, venison, wild mushrooms, elk meatballs, asparagus and beetroot (more gastronomic delights for the Brits), the speeches started. And in Sweden, anyone who wants to can make a speech, so all kinds of people got up to speak, from old family friends to cousins to colleagues, and everyone had a different way of bridging the language gap, from live translations projected onto a big screen to PowerPoint presentations and videos. It all ended with Danny showing a video of a rap he’d written and performed especially for Eva. Very funny. And on that high note, the dinner ended but the level of entertainment didn’t drop for one minute. We moved to the next room to sing and dance along to an Elvis tribute band.

After a few hours of dancing, we piled onto the 3am coach back to the town square (we could have got the 1am or 2am coach if we’d wanted to, but we were having too much fun).

The day after

There’s not a whole lot you want to do the day after getting to bed at 4am, but a walk to a barbecue and picnic on a hillside was just about manageable. We got to watch (and join in with – how I’m not quite sure) some traditional Swedish country dancing, and then anyone who wanted to could play volleyball while everyone else lazed on the grass in the sunshine. And again, Danny and Eva’s relatives stepped in to give us all lifts from there to the station when we needed them – not that we really wanted to leave by that point.

The follow-up

We hardly needed any more nice touches from Danny and Eva to make the whole experience of their wedding any better. But they posted a lovely message on Facebook just afterwards, and once they got back from their honeymoon they sent an email to everyone to say thank you again for coming and making it so brilliant. The email was bilingual and colour-coded in red and blue, just like the invitation and the programme, and included a photo of the two of them on their honeymoon. Lovely.

So what are the UX lessons I take from this wonderful experience?

1. Give your users a well-rounded experience. Make your brand shine out from the first contact you have with a user and make sure it persists right through to the last contact you have with them (until the next time, that is).

2. Make it inclusive. Give people options, like a choice of price range or different routes to the end goal, and make each one just as appealing. Not only will you attract more people that way, you’ll keep them happy too.

3. Think of everything you possibly can. Put yourself in the shoes of someone experiencing your product/website/business and find ways to help and delight them. What do they like? How do they feel? How can you make it fun for them?

4. Help people to be sociable. Find fun ways to introduce people to each other, let them get to know each other and help them feel part of your community. It’ll really improve and enrich their experience and make them want to stay in touch.

5. Make your users’ lives easy. They’ve gone out of their way to visit/find out about you – so how can you go out of your way to help make their experience easier and better? Think about the things they’ll find a drag and do some work to ease their stress.

I’ll hold back from sharing my own ideas about how you can put these principles into practice, because that’s the whole point. Whether you’re building a website, marketing a brand, launching a business or holding an event, the most important thing is that what you do comes from *your* imagination. From the style you create to the brilliant little details you add, it’s up to you (and your team) to make your user experience authentic, original, delightful and memorable.

* * *

Special thanks to Danny and Eva for the chance to be a guest at your wonderful wedding. Congratulations from me and from everyone who reads this post!

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Image credit

Thanks to PanoArts for this website’s header image ‘Last Light panorama’.

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