Tag Archives: money

Entry #1: So… copywriting.

This will be a blog/ journal/ whatever… describing to you, dearest reader, my thoughts about copywriting and documenting my experiences in trying to break my way into the industry.

It’s going to be explosive. (Disclaimer: probably not).

Entry #1:

So… copywriting.

Turning words into $. The art of making you reach for your wallet or challenge your mental status quo. The twist in your arm that makes you say ‘yes’.

It’s pretty clever, and incredibly fun to play around with.

I know it’s what I want to do and I’m even tempted to believe I might be good at it. I say so, of course, not meaning to blow my own trumpet.

Toot toot.

Yet, that’s where my problems begin. Prepare your violins ladies and gents…

Having little (to no) training in marketing or business is a stumbling block, granted. However most jobs I’ve looked at also want agency experience of at least 3 years – even for junior placements.

To boot, relevant degrees to copywriting include: Journalism, English, maybe even something Psychology-based that tells you how people are receptive to differing methods of conveying ideas.

Give me a break. Where is War Studies on the list? And what about History?

I’ve just finished learning my Vietnam’s from my Iraq’s, my Guevara’s from my de Wet’s from my Magsaysay’s and I do enough writing for the both of us – trust me.

It would be fair to say that, at the moment, I feel a little like the inverse of Uncle Sam. His rallying cry to the American public: “I want you for the U.S. Army“, certainly worked. However without such a dashing beard and fancy hat, my call to arms is a little less “I want you”, and a bit more “You want me”.

You do, don’t you? Please?

As desperate as that sounds, I’m not quite at that “bended-knee” stage yet. However if I ever do you’ll be the first to know.

In what is sure to be an interesting read, I’ll document the trials and tribulations of trying to secure some manner of copywriting employment.

This could benefit you in any manner of ways.

If you’re as clueless, yet as interested, in copywriting as myself maybe you’ll learn something.

If you’re already really knowledgable about copywriting, and have by some misfortune stumbled upon this, you may find what I say hilariously inaccurate and therefore worth reading for the rib-tickled sensation you’re currently experiencing.

If you’re not that way inclined at all, maybe you’ll just find some gratification in following my failures, and hopefully, eventually some successes.

Please do subscribe and tell your friends/colleagues/peers.

You want me“. Remember?


A Black Box for a Black Swan Moment

A practice exercise I did for a job application. I had to sell a newsletter offering penny-share investments like the one below.

The perfect penny share without pushing the boat out?
A Black Box for a Black Swan Moment:
An unrivalled bit of kit with a
global market.
– What price do you put on security? Because government’s
pledge a lot.
– One company’s little black box has provided the solution – and has already secured a contract with a large Asian country worth ¢18 million over 3 years.
– A huge market is emerging… it’s time to get on board.

Dear Profit Seeker,

What does the U.S., the E.U., and major players in Asia all have in common?

Besides A LOT of coastline to protect, they have all declared that various types of vessel within their jurisdiction require this little black box, or Automatic Identification System (AIS).

That’s a lot of vessels, and one hell of a market.

In the 21st century – the age of transnational terrorism – government’s value the protection
of their maritime borders.

In steps the little Black Box, and only the little black box.

Now that boat owners will be forced to fit an AIS, a device that utilises a Global Positioning Module (GPS) to monitor activity, they’ll sell in their tens of thousands, and there’s only one company in the market.

It’s inspiration? A rhetorical question posed by a Florida coast guard:
“Wouldn’t it be nice… if we could keep track of each and every one of those vessels?”, he said to the brains behind the black box.

Allow me to pose an even better question:
Wouldn’t it be nice… if YOU could find a company with a quality product, with a global demand, no competition, high profit margins, and a deflated share price – the perfect penny share investment?

I implore you to look no further.

Here’s why this is such a profitable venture.

Following an oversight on a side project designing radio handsets, the company placed this
part of the business into administration, sending it’s share prices through the floor.

Now YOU can pick up these shares for as little as 4.75p.

With potential for a meteoric rise, these shares have been set a target price of 30p!

That’s over a five-fold increase.

With new rules and regulations meaning vessels have to purchase the black box this could be the ideal time for YOU to cash-in on this relatively unknown business while it remains at such bargain bucket prices.

Time to ensure you don’t miss the boat on this black box technology.

Make sure YOU’RE not wishing about what could have been, thinking “I wish I had invested in that…

People are making a lot of money from tips like this right now.

Interested? Well YOU don’t need a GPS to find a great penny share.

But to make certain you don’t miss out on more great tips, how about a subscription to
Red Hot Penny Shares?

A bit of insider’s insight…

Copywriting work for Stanley Gibbons, suggesting “fine-used” Penny Black stamps as an ideal addition to an investment portfolio, but stressing that stocks wouldn’t last forever.

How about some insider’s insight as to an opportunity certain to make you sit up and take notice? Permit me to bring to your attention one smart investment that’s sure to get you smiling.

We’ve all heard of them. Penny Blacks, the world’s first postage stamps. The “first” of anything is always an attractive option for a collector, and the Penny Black is no exception.

In relation to one of my earlier e-mails, what better assurance is there in this “black swan” moment than a black penny? Allow me to explain why.

Over the last two years at major London auctions, realisations for fine-used examples have more than doubled, and demand continues to rise.

However, fret not.

Our buyers have not been resting on their laurels and have secured a limited supply of 300 of these ever-popular stamps – an asset to any portfolio or collection.

Expecting demand to outstrip supply, we will be limiting maximum holding to £10,000 per person on a first come, first serve basis.

Speed may be of the essence, but you can be sure that the decision to invest in fine-used Penny Blacks is by no means a hasty one.

For the quickest response, simply hit reply to this e-mail. Alternatively you can contact the SG team directly at mfacey@stanleygibbons.com or by telephoning +44 (0)20 7557 4424.

Why Soldiers Shouldn’t Earn Footballer’s Wages

“Soldiers should earn footballers wages”. Yes, and I should be having it off with Mila Kunis whenever I fancy. Alas, I’ve heard she’s taken. But allow me to get back on track…

Witnessing people exasperate over the injustices of the respective salaries of professional footballers and professional soldiers is essentially as fruitless as Findus lasagne is beef-less. Saying it makes you look good, but is it going to change anything? In short, no. But have the champions of this pointless campaign actually thought about the ramifications?

Now don’t get me wrong; this is by no means some form of anti-establishment dig at the armed forces. As a student of war, I am no stranger to the horrors these men and women face and this article is by no means an attempt to belittle what they do. Simply, certain reasons point to certain naiveties regarding this issue.

Disclaimer out of the way, let us consider the true nature of the beast. In the Barclays Premier League, five and six-figure weekly salaries are commonplace. But as footballers more than often demonstrate: money corrupts. When we hark back to the days before football became about oil and arabic royal families, we reminisce fondly about the proper blokes that used to grace our screens. The ’66 World Cup winners are never questioned or scrutinized in the same way that modern footballers are. Huge salaries have metamorphosized the beast into a generation of nightclub brawling, adulterous prima donnas; sometimes worse. 

The Championship, also no stranger to high wages, has provided a convenient case study. Brighton and Hove Albion players, George Barker (21), Lewis Dunk (21), and Anton Rodgers (19), for instance, currently face charges of sexual assault and voyeurism. Crimes I believe can be pinned down to an unwavering sense of superiority their status as footballers has fostered in their tiny minds. A combination of newly-found wealth and fame was a toxic combination for their moral character.

Now I love football as much as the next guy but lets consider the generalisations. It’s a game played by guys with more air between their ears than a playground air-floater. If we apply a similar filter to those that enlist in the armed forces, you see that many choose to join the army because they are poor academically or need the discipline the army provides. What if these guys not too dissimilar from the crop that are blessed with footballing ability saw their moral compass completely skewed by money?

Footballers’ antics are simply tabloid-fodder and relatively danger-proof to most others. Yet their morally corrosive salaries would have calamitous effects for any members of a military force. Within a modern war-zone any manifestation of a loss in discipline is political ammunition to the enemy. If any troops went on trial for sexual assault and voyeurism, it wouldn’t escape the journalists and would provide jihadist campaigners with a rallying cry for new recruits. Winning the hearts and minds of the local populace would be incredibly difficult if soldiers began acting on impulse, operating with a god-complex brought on by a sudden increase in wages.

Although low, our soldiers’ modest salaries discourage the type of petulant and reckless behaviour exhibited by the superstars. Armies have their fair share of cowboys mind. Think Abu Ghraib, think the murder of 16 Afghan citizens by a rogue U.S. soldier. These morally repugnant incidents, with their potential to undermine the entire war-effort are without the devilish influence of six figures.  Within the status quo uniformity is stressed; increased salaries would unravel the very pillars of hierarchical military service. Footballers’ wages are the last thing the military needs; prima-donnas armed with automated weapons would have the Taliban rubbing their hands with glee. It is vital that soldiers are able to fit their egos in their helmets.

Say a soldier receives a players-style contract. Typically there would be a goal bonus incentive. What would be the soldier equivalent? Kill quotas. Quotas are a bad idea at the best of times, in fact kill quotas are a positively nuclear idea. The kind of nuclear bomb that you arm by hand, and then seem surprised that it blew up in your face. Not only do they completely conflict with everything counterinsurgency teaches, i.e. the prevalence of minimum force and rules of engagement, they have so much scope for escalation and error. Heed the lesson of Vietnam’s Phoenix Program. The intelligence collation program, following the introduction of quota, devolved into an assassination campaign. Due to quota pressures, research got sloppy and many innocents fell victim to South Vietnamese death squads. Although defeating political subversion in rural Vietnam, we all know how America’s political war in Vietnam went. Are we all starting to see how many worlds apart balls and bullets are?

On a more practical level, why would a soldier return for a second tour? Within six months they’ve already made enough money to never need to go back; they’ve solved the financial or employment problems that forced them to enlist in the first place. After their first tour most would bid that war-zone adieu: “See you Afghanistan, and thank-you very much”. Would the army even have the logistic capability to command the amount of men that would want to join the first deployment?

Also where is this money coming from? New wages couldn’t be plucked – like the proverbial rabbit -from the magicians hat. Not unless you fill the rabbit shaped hole with other aspects of defence spending; how about the provision for new weapons, new equipment, technical support, or intelligence collection? For those that don’t believe in magic, everyone loves a baking analogy.  It would be like decorating a cake, but in order to buy the frosting you had to give up the mouthwatering multi-layered sponge to the confectioner. Yes, you’re going to have great looking frosting but you’ve got nothing to support it, rendering it well and truly moot. Everything that supports the troops on the front line from logistics to intelligence reports – the various layers of the cake – would have to be sacrificed for the ginormous salaries. But what would be the point? Without this support, the soldiers wouldn’t return home to receive their frosting.

One final, perhaps less serious, argument against raising soldier’s wages astronomically is a socialite group we all like to mock – the WAGs. In this generation even the lower branches of the footballing tree earn ridiculous sums, and with every new contract we see another lad-mag graduate promoted to this conveyor belt of unsuccessful fashion labels. The Kardashians of this world demonstrate that with money you can be famous for, well… erm… just being wealthy. Imagine the influx of drivel we’d be exposed to if our soldiers’ WAGs enrolled in this vitriolic school of reality weddings and big tits. What would this mean for Gareth Malone’s Military Wives Choir? Well they wouldn’t be singing to raise money for their troops. They’d be stumbling out of nightclubs; muff exposed to the cold winds and flash of a paparazzi camera. Camp Bastion does not need an OK! magazine culture.

As I hope you can see, the moral bankruptcy of the rich with their money, and I mean a lot of money, is not one that the armed forces needs. Perhaps I’m being too over-simplistic and attributing too much of footballers’ behaviour to money. But when I was writing this article, my greatest conviction came from a recurring thought of Theo Walcott as a soldier. This £100,000-a-week numpty, so detached from reality because of his inflated wealth, once used FIFA terminology to describe his assist to Cesc Fabregas (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAEdSSIJTIg). Put this into a military context and he’s just massacred an entire airport. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOg8NA3XN2s).

For the published article at Sabotage Times, click here.

When it comes to collectibles, I have always said – “buy the best”, and they rarely come better than this.

Freelance copy for a Stanley Gibbons Ltd investment newsletter. Brief was to describe the history of the medal and it’s unique story, as well as the investment potential in order to encourage investors to purchase it. 

Let us step back in time for a moment. Can you remember back to your first year at secondary school, when the most daunting thought was double French on a Friday afternoon? Have you got all your pens and pencils? Yes, well let me explain.

Secondary school is intimidating time for most twelve year olds. Yet, as I’m sure you’ll agree, participation in one of the most ferocious naval battles in history might just trump the horrors of double French.

Here’s where the story begins…

William Shepherd astonishingly spent his thirteenth year serving aboard the Royal Naval ship Temeraire at the battle of Trafalgar as a first class volunteer. Aged only twelve, his position – a ranking officer, yes an officer – meant he could have quite easily been in charge of men not twice, but four maybe five times his age!

His morning inventory check would have been oceans away from yours – less pens and pencils, more cannon balls and gunpowder. At the very same age you were learning your le’s from your la’s, Shepherd was commanding blood-soaked decks amidst a storm of incoming shot.

The Temeraire immortalised by Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire” occupies a revered position in the history of the British navy, second only to the HMS Victory. In the heat of battle she selflessly rammed the Redoutable – the French flagship – rescuing Victory from being boarded in the process. This herculean gesture left her vulnerably caught between two French ships: Redoutable and Fougueux. One lashed on each side, she fought them both to a standstill until they surrendered!

The Temeraire’s Captain, Eliab Harvey described Shepherds conduct: “he behaved with great courage, and has been admired by us all”. Indeed, this watershed moment sparked an impressive career. Shepherd went on to see action in Amelia in 1809, in L’Amazone and Fort Winnebah on the African coast in 1811, and Iles de Los in 1813 where he would have received a promotion to Lieutenant, if not for his age. He retired as a Vice-Admiral in 1865.

Now the opportunity to admire the endeavours of this heroic young officer is not solely resigned to those aboard the Temeraire. Shepherd’s Naval General Service medal is available for you today. Not only a desirable addition to any medal collection, this unique piece is a magnificent trophy asset for your portfolio.

Twenty years ago, the retail on a premium medal such as this would have been approximately £3500 to £3800. Today, at £22,950, Shepherd’s medal has shown a steady growth of 10% per annum.

For a full account of Shepherd’s amazing endeavours click here.

I am often asked what make a great collectible – the rarity? The investment potential? It’s history? Maybe even the piece’s romance? Sometimes you’re lucky enough to get all of the above.

If the remarkable story of William Shepherd has got your attention please register your interest with Mark Facey at mfacey@stanleygibbons.com. Alternatively, call him directly at +44 (0)20 7557 4424.

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