It’s a Miracle

We copywriters are often miracle workers.

I’ve written for cars I never drove, audio systems I never heard, beverages I never drank and even places I’ve never been to. I suppose it’s the same for pretty much every copywriter out there.

The days of getting up close and personal with the product are truly gone.

I remember when I started out as a novice – which was far too long ago if you’re wondering –  that clients actually sent their products to the office so we may check, test, use or just fiddle around with them.

Services are a bit tricky. It would be impractical to get into a huge debt just because you need to write for a new mortgage plan. But clients still took the effort to send over market insights, strategic reviews, target market analysis, competitive analysis and the works.

Yes, I Googled this image... what?

These days however, our work really does require us to create something out of nothing, especially in the last decade. Google has become the primary source of information on virtually any product or service. ‘Just Google it’ is a phrase that now replaces ‘do you have enough information?’.

While I often admire a client’s confidence in our resourcefulness, how are we as marketing writers to develop a unique tone-of-voice based on materials sourced from Google? Indeed, Google is a great resource, but it is a vastly generic resource. And when the work delivered is not insightful or outstanding enough, the finger-pointing begins.

But there have been bright sparks. As a freelancer, I’ve met clients whom are genuinely focused on creating communications that are compelling, insightful and truly unique.

Well how are they different you ask? Here you go…

They Care
Their brand is their lifeblood, they live and breathe it. They are intrinsically wired to the growth and development of their brand. They care enough to provide relevant, insightful material along with reasonable lead time to exhaust all possibilities.

They are Transparent
Every aspect of their business open to scrutiny. They give copywriters no-holds-barred access to the inner workings of their organisation, creating the possibility of uncovering unique business traits that can result in the much coveted ‘aha’ moment.

They Work
They know the ins and outs of their business, and willing to work to translate that knowledge into a solid brief. You won’t hear the words Catchy, Punch or Juicy from these guys. They know what they want as much as knowing what they don’t want.

Whoa! Top 3…

A lot of things have been said – by many people – about Search Engine Optimization or SEO for blogs. Now is my turn, and here they are:

  1. Content is really king, especially if it is shareable content. Also, please stick to your context or keywords and never ramble.
  2. Never, ever employ black or grey-hat techniques. Goggle is extremely smart these days, you’ll regret it.
  3. Be persistent… keep those blog posts coming. If you write insightful, relevant and shareable content, your ranking will rise.
  4. Have patience. It takes time to get onto the first page… usually years. And years more to have Top Half presence.
  5. Believe in yourself. A lot of people will laugh at your efforts, sometimes to the point of ridicule. Give them the finger!

Now, I am not an SEO expert. But I have been running a blog close to 3 years. And truth be told this blog has generated more leads that anything else for my copywriting business.

Although I’m not the type to trumpet myself, check these out:

Google Ranking 1
For the keyword 'Copywriter' in - Click to Enlarge >
Google Ranking 2
For the keywords 'Freelance Copywriter Malaysia' in - Click to Enlarge >
Google Ranking 3
For the keywords 'Malaysia Copywriter' in - Click to Enlarge >

And that’s my 2 cents about SEO. Cheers to micro businesses!

Whoa… What a Year!

This was the year that I took the biggest risk of my entire life – quitting my job. And dare I say it’s the best decision I’ve ever made?

The answer to that question a little bit later.

In the past 6 months, I’ve gone from determined to take on the world to the depths of self doubt. Becoming a self-employed copywriter after 13 years in the rat race was awesomely liberating yet most unsettling.

Copywriter Search Google
Am I really Top 4 for the keyword 'Copywriter'? Google sure knows how to flatter sometimes...

If just one year ago, someone told me I will go the final half of 2011 without a monthly paycheck, I’d probably ask him to go easy on the bubbly.

But it’s strange how the dots connect. How lady luck finally gives you a peek. How you’re inspired to do the unthinkable. How you realise all the things you missed in life. How you can actually enjoy a Monday morning. And how fast you forget about that monthly paycheck.

Yes, I am aware that it’s only been 6 short months. But I have to admit that it has not been bad. In fact, the world has been kind to me. Kinda eerie if you think about it actually.

So I think a huge thank you is in order. To my clients, colleagues, friends, family and readers of my ramblings – thank you for making my 2011 an eventful and unforgettable year.

I’ll leave you guys with this year’s Google Zeitgeist’s Year-in-Review video:

Oh yes, the answer to the question. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea. Just know this, in case the world does come to an end in 2012, I’ll go with no regrets.

Happy New Year guys… cheers!

Top Half!

My first post on this blog was on the 3rd of January 2010. I didn’t really have an objective for starting this blog, except to vent my frustrations and have somewhat an online presence.

Along the way I renewed my primary objective; which was to move up the Google page results ranking.After much trial and error, hits and misses, and 562 days; here’s where I am…

Yup, I made it to the Top Half (or position 5) for the keywords “Copywriter + Malaysia”. I did make Page 1 some time ago; but breaking the Top Half proved a challenge. It does feel good now that I’m here.

But we all know Google rankings are unstable; which was why I wanted to capture the moment before I get sent back down to reality.

Hmmm… maybe it’s time to renew my objective once again. Top spot perhaps? Watch out Tim Yang… I’m coming for you!


Google Should Be Banned…

As a creative research tool that is. In fact, Google should be banned for use when sourcing ideas, inspiration, insights, trends and pretty much everything else that have to do with creativity.

Being a copywriter, I am also very much dependent on Google for developing copy. Not because I want to but because I have to – sometimes too much for my own liking – as I commented on a previous post.

You see, the modus operandi of Google is very simple. It is basically a huge index of the entire world’s online information; a guide of sorts. That’s all well and fine, I mean I’m sure none of us can imagine a life without Google these days.

Ban google for creative research
Makes for a very 'ball'sy visual doesn't it? Errr... but Google, please don't sue me

Here’s the problem when doing creative research though. Google runs on a majority driven system, which means sites with high traffic almost always get higher page listings. A top search results page listing means that a particular site has been viewed by thousands if not millions of people.

So if you are suddenly inspired or found a great idea from a site that originated from the first page of your search result, potentially millions more could have been equally inspired too.

And how many times do we go past the first page of a search result these days. Almost never.

I’m sure Google research-inspired ideas will not cause creative stagnation because most of us creatives tend to emulate rather than imitate (I need to stress the emphasis on the word ‘most’ here). But then again, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

And if goo-plagiarism is allowed to continue then creative ideas the world over will tend to look or feel eerily similar. On second thought, the solution is rather simple; just navigate to the second or third page of your search result for a change.

Kicks for Geeks?

Check if applies:

1. I spend most of my time online (   )
2. I discuss about the latest viral video with my friends (  )
3. I Keep in touch with friends via instant messaging more than on the phone (  )
4. I often have lunch/dinner in front of a PC (   )
5. I check my Facebook or e-mail the moment I wake up in the morning (   )

If you checked any two or more of the above, then you can now display your allegiance to the wired way of living by sporting internet-themed basketball shoes.

These shoes are a perfect complement to your style; which probably includes nerdy glasses, a transformers t-shirt and an unwashed for months denim. What’s more? The shoes’ built-in geo-location technology will also let your friends know about your whereabouts every step of the way. (You know I’m taking a piss right?)

In case you’re wondering… these shoes were designed by a certain Brass Monki (the name says it all ain’t it?) and not by Nike (phew!).

What’s next? Facebook underpants that come with a ‘Like’ button?

I’m going to log-off and have a life right now.

How Malaysians Searched on Google

We Malaysians are generally a predictable lot. But the latest Zeitgeist Report – a run-down on most popular search terms – unveiled by Goggle for 2010 did spring some surprises. Apparently Proton Inspira is more popular than oh-so-creepy Justin Bieber and Rajinikanth’s Endhiran (a Tamil movie) is more popular than Leo’s Inception.

Here are other interesting tid-bits on what Malaysians searched on Google this past year:

  • There was only one Malaysian term in the Most Popular for 2010 list; which was “Malaysia”.  And why would Malaysians search for Malaysia just beats the crap out of me!
  • Where would we be without initializing everything? Think KL, CC, 7-E, BB, MC and the list goes on.  One of the fastest rising search terms was “FB”, short for Facebook.
  • Neither iPhone nor Blackberry was the fastest rising searched for mobile phones. That honour goes to HTC, which completes an admirable one-two finish. Something to think about perhaps?
  • Malaysians love their football… okay badminton can also be a sport that we favour. But the fastest rising search term in Sports was, believe it or not, “Australian Open 2010”. That’s tennis guys, freaking tennis!
  • Apparently we are also a sentimental, lovey-dovey lot. The romantic drama “Dear John” led the list for fastest rising searches for movies. It’s official… more women use Google than men in Malaysia!

The full list – plus tool to dig deeper and compare data – is viewable at Google Zeitgeist. And don’t forget to watch Zeitgeist 2010: Year in Review video too, man how time flies!



With each passing year, I think copywriters are turning into writers who copy. I’ve always defended my profession claiming that what we write is original, authentic and very much involves the creative side of the brain. I’m starting not to buy into that bullshit myself any more.

You see, I’ve written for cars I never drove, products I never used, facilities I never enjoyed, places I’ve never been to, events I’ve never attended and even beers that I never drank (oh what a sin!). And how do I manage to pull enough crap out of my arse to keep clients happy? I turn to Google.

Google is increasingly becoming my ally in writing. At first, I used it as a research tool, but now even clients are saying “just Google it”. While Google is a valuable resource, it can never replace the real, tangible, tactile experience of testing, using or consuming a product that needs to be advertised.

A copy search on Google
The future of copywriting perhaps?

How am I supposed to gain that unique insight when all I do is base my thoughts on what has already been written? Would one buy a car solely based on his or her research on Google, without even bothering to test drive? I didn’t think so. How can I make a compelling argument when I have not seen or at the very least be properly briefed about the product?

If all copywriters were to research and refer on Google to form thoughts, opinions and even insights; then the ad writing profession will surely lose its appeal. Because after all, we will all become to the true sense of the words: nothing but copy writers.


Yes, Goggle is indeed a blessing. It has made my job a lot easier, with the sheer abundance of data and materials. But I still believe writers should be provided with varied resources (and of course time) to develop insightful, compelling ideas.


Breaking News: No.9 in Google

In interrupt this blog to bring you a real scoop, well, in the world of Jay Krish anyway. For the first time in the relatively short history of this blog, it has managed to break into the first page of Google’s Page Results for the search term “Copywriter Malaysia”!

Jay Krish on Google's first page!
No.9 from out of 173,000 results... not bad!

Now, whether I stay there or drop into blog oblivion remains to be seen. But to think just 10 months ago I was nowhere to be found, it sure feels good! Thanks to my followers (the very few of you, you know who you are), those who stumbled on this site and those who mistook me for someone else.


About Branding

Okay. I know I’ve been envisioning a world where advertising will be transparent, seamless, targeted and minus all the mumbo jumbo that we’ve become accustomed to. But to reach this level of efficiency, a product or service has to first establish itself in the market. Herein comes the matter of branding.

A quick example. When Apple launched the iPhone, it did virtually no advertising. The mere mention from Steve Jobs that Apple is launching a phone was enough to create a ripple onto the sea of consumers. A buzz was created first among newsmen and techies then all the way to college nerds and the average consumers. People formed opinions about the iPhone months before it was even officially launched. And when it did hit the stores, the demand for an iPhone was overwhelming. Even that that time, advertising was minimal.

So what does this tell us? It’s not that Apple didn’t have to money to advertise to create the desired buzz, they just let consumers do it at almost no cost. But to be able to do this, there are 2 key criteria:

  1. The product has to be revolutionary and ground-breaking. Something that consumers have not seen, heard, felt or used before. It has to be a product that taps into a relatively untapped market. In the case of the iPhone, it’s Mobile Phone Entertainment.
  2. An established brand presence; especially as a leader in your market segment. In the case of Apple, it’s The Most Innovative Tech Gadget Maker. It also helped that Apple had already launched other successful products: the iMac and iPod come to mind.

Granted, the big boys with the dough have the advantage. They can leverage on their big brand presence and seamlessly transition into an advertising future that’s becoming more and more minimalist. Let’s say Google announces it plans to launch an application that scans the world’s online documents and creates an article on any subject in a click of a button, with contributing writers compensated. You pay a fee of USD3.99 for each article churned by this application which is fact-checked, referenced and annotated.

Now Google is a big, trusted online brand and people would be happy to part with their money for a product that they know would be of quality. Now if Microsoft announced it wanted to launch a similar product, well let’s just say there could be a couple of issues. Remember Windows ME anyone? Here’s while the product is revolutionary, the brand that is advocating it may have a problem convincing consumers due to past functionality problems. For the record, I would just like to say here that I have nothing against Microsoft.

So what can up and coming brands that do not have the presence do? For them, the product or service becomes critical. They must get it spot on. It has to be of real use to the consumers. It must create a new market or venture into an underserved segment. In short you have to be the first in your brand category, a pioneer. No one else must have what you intend to offer, even differing USPs won’t work; it has to be a brand new product or service.

Here are some success snippets as examples:

Apple, a now revered tech company, created the iPod, a portable, intuitive digital music player.

Nescafe, the world’s largest selling coffee, was the first instant coffee.

Old Town Coffee, now a successful franchise, was the first upmarket “Kopitiam”

Perodua, now the No.1 local car brand, was the first to introduce compact cars in Malaysia

Digi, a leader in the pre-paid business, was the first to introduce prepaid calling.

A word of warning though, just being first isn’t enough. You must also be the first in the minds of the consumers. And you must work to keep the brand presence at Top of Mind levels consistently. This is why Proton is not the No.1 local car manufacturer anymore. It was the first, but never really did anything after that.