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The FAQs Inside My Head {about Copywriting, Online Voices, & Messy Brands}

by Abby Kerr

in Uncategorized

About this column

Welcome to the FAQs inside my head.

{Yep, I’m both asker and answerer.}

Bird chirping -- using its voice -- on a branch.

It’s time for your voice & your web copy to meet. And say hello to search engines.

Today I released PHRASEOLOGIE LUXE into the world. It’s a digital copywriting and brand voice development experience for indie online entrepreneurs. Specifically, those who care about voice. And those who care about specificity. {Both of which are obsessions of mine — which is probably one reason writing with voice, and great specificity, is one of my gifts.}

As I spent the past few weeks revamping my copywriting services into what is now PHRASEOLOGIE LUXE — which is the fullest expression I can manifest of my past two years of working with creative entrepreneurs on their copy, their branding and marketing approach, and their voices {oh, those elusive voices} — I caught myself asking questions: who really needs this? should I be this explicit about voice? should I launch this while my own brand is in transition? And, as it turns out, I found myself answering those questions — more easily than ever.

Here’s a peek into the FAQs inside my head . . .

Do smart, creative entrepreneurial types really need an ally to help them develop their online voices?

Uh, yes — and you know they do, since copywriting is where the bulk of your income has come from since closing your shop two years ago.

You know that every time you write someone’s copy, it’s never just about the words. It’s always also about the voice — and the voice is the entrepreneur’s invisible, indelible signature on everything she does in the marketplace.

Every tweet, every headline, every product description. When the voice works, her right people respond. When you’re using your voice in a way that is powerful, vivid, faithful to you, your people respond. Your right people get voice. It’s why they work with you instead of hiring their 16-year old niece who gets an ‘A’ in English every year to write their web copy. Or another professional copywriter, who may have a startlingly powerful voice in her own right — but not be as attuned to her clients’ voices as you are.

Yep, your readership needs and wants this.

Some of your clients are online entrepreneurs with well-developed platforms and beautifully presented visual brand identities. Others have brands in the chrysalis phase. You work well with both. Is voice a good piece to start with if people have a ‘messy’ brand? {In other words, should you be this ‘obvious’ about how you help develop voices when you write copy for people?}

Yep. You know that your own brand is going through a messy phase — a renovation.

You’re launching a new site this year that’s a clearer portrait of who you are with your clients, and what you believe in. You’re in the process of rewriting all of your site’s main pages. You’re so ready to swap out the tagline in your header for your updated one, it’s not even funny. You have an archive full of blog posts that need to be weeded out for currency and relevance, because they’re a reflection of a different time in your own entrepreneurial development. Your free e-course on nichification needs pulled, updated, and re-released as a product. You can barely stand to look at your website right now.

The good thing is — you can now relate more than ever to the phase most of your clients are in: renovation, revamping, rebranding, and giving fresh voice to what is true for them, right now, and like never before. And the best thing about all this is that voice is the through-thread that will connect everything up. Your voice is indelibly with you and it will inform every revelation.

You know this is how it works when you write for your clients, too. Trrr-ust.

Your clients and readers can really grow if you get more explicit about the voice thing. Are you going to show them? It means taking a risk.

Well, this has been a year of taking risks. Why stop now? ‘The voice thing’ is my thing. And that can only mean one thing: lead with it, unabashedly. So here we go. A friend once told me, “I like it when you talk about other people’s brands. You say things like, oh, So-and-So, here’s what I see her doing. And you say, oh, This Guy. His voice is like X, Y, and Z. And you’re right! But you don’t really do that on your blog. It would be neat if you could show people what you really do. It’s your form of genius.”

So true. I haven’t really talked about it extensively and explicitly on my blog. I shared here about how I unintentionally mimicked someone else when I first came onto the indie entrepreneurial scene. And I wrote about how to start noticing when you are sounding like yourself. I also wrote about the difference between unintentional mimicry and collective consciousness {both of which occur frequently in the entrepreneurial blogosphere}.

But there’s so much more. And I can’t think of a good enough reason to hold back any longer.

So, this year, I’m going to articulate what I see online entrepreneurs doing in the realm of voice — how they give clarion calls to their right people, why this tweet landed so well and that one didn’t, and how an indie entrepreneur can create community around her ideas by really leaning into her purest and most powerful voice — the voice that only she can claim.

And back in the day, Abby, you used to do audio — you had a podcast series, and then you stopped. You loved it. You’re bringing that back, but with a different focus. This year, you’re going to interview indie online entrepreneurs about how they use their voice to support their business and embody their brand. Entrepreneurs from all different sectors — coaches, wellness practitioners, writers, designers, retailers. Your people need to hear strong, centered, vivid voices and need to hear you articulate what the voices are doing and how — so that they can hear their own more clearly in contrast.

Today’s the day I start showing you what your voice can do for you. This is PHRASEOLOGIE LUXE — where your voice and your digital copy meet {and say hello to search engines, because they do matter a little}.

I’ve got a commitment going with another online friend that I’ll blog twice a week during March and April. Wouldn’t that be nice for my voice? If you haven’t already, subscribe to the blog here so you don’t miss a drop.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

What do you know about your own online voice? Notice differences between it and the voice you use when you work with clients, or talk with friends or peers? How do you feel about that difference, if there is one?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherry Isaac March 2, 2012 at 3:11 pm

As a novelist and short story writer, voice is part of my every day. I’ve been part of a group blog for a while, but feel my audience response is most positive when I post from the heart rather than posting about what I do or how. An important distinction as I launch my individual blog (, as important as understanding my genre, my craft and my brand.
Glad I found your site, Abby.


Abby Kerr March 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Glad you’re here, Sherry. Thank you for commenting. I, too, write fiction and what most draws me to the craft of writing is voice. Glad that this resonates with you across genres! Wishing you all the best with your new blog. :)


Silver Huang May 1, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Hi Abby, I’m late to this party but this post really resonated with me because I’m a new blogger who’s currently trying to develop my brand and probably just learning that I don’t even really know what a ‘brand’ really is LOL

I have been told multiple times that I have a strong speaking and writing voice (writing voice just rediscovered recently, long story) but I can’t seem to bring that to work for me to brand myself.

How do you understand your target audience like an X-ray machine when you are just starting out? I feel that I don’t 100% know my target audience yet and that affects my brand, even if I’ve got (I hope) a writing voice?

PS. Just read your primer and t’was a godsend, thank you :)


Abby Kerr May 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Hello, Silver —

Welcome to the party! ;)

These are amazing questions — very important, and huge. So I’ll keep my responses as pointed as possible:

Branding is a holistic process of representing your voice, your message, the relationship you want with your audience, and your own idiosyncratic ‘vibe’ or ‘style’ through every signal you send online. Branding includes your copy, your social media conversation, and your visual identity. Branding is an iterative process that never really stops. Most online entrepreneurs reiterate their branding in small ways and large ways every few months or years, depending on how quickly the market changes or on how dramatic the shifts they want to make within their own platform. It’s not a once-and-done proposition. ;) That said, all brands have to start *somewhere* and it’s okay to make changes along the way.

The best way to start understanding the people you want to serve through your brand is to start creating and interacting. Seek out relationships with likeminded entrepreneurs and take special notice of the people who come to your site and comment, interact, etc. Notice whether they present themselves as the people you have in mind to serve or if they’re just who’s happening to show up right now. Ask questions, create conversation, be yourself. Keep experimenting and iterating. And keep it simple.

This is the best and most pointed perspective I can offer in a blog comment. You are so welcome for the primer. Glad it was helpful. Glad to have you here. :)


Silver Huang May 3, 2012 at 12:35 am

Hi Abby,

Thanks for that, that was the single most succinct answer to branding I have read in the past 2 to 3 months. 

And man it ups the ante for me too LOL, it’s simultaneously simpler and tougher all at once, but my plan doesn’t change.

It’s still one step at a time and at this point, that step is still just: 1) Putting out blog posts as frequently as I can, 2) Using what I learn from churning out those posts to refine my understanding of what I’m doing, offering and who I’m offering it to and why and 3) updating my blog’s pages accordingly with my new and currently very rapidly evolving understanding. 

Oh and updating my site’s design in the next month or so :p

Social media is going to have to wait for just a short while longer till I’m sure I’m getting the hang of even this.

Will continue to write and try to seek like minded folk out to interact with and learn from.

Thanks for your advice! :)


Abby Kerr May 3, 2012 at 12:55 am

Thanks for that, that was the single most succinct answer to branding I have read in the past 2 to 3 months.

You are so welcome! Wishing you all the very best in your journey. May it be fun. :)


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