How I apply the 12 permaculture principles to the startup copywriting process.

The 12 permaculture principles are a blueprint for living in a way that not only minimises our impact on the earth, but emulates smart natural patterns to help us thrive.

These practical guidelines were developed in relation to food-growing systems but I spot applications for them in all areas of life. Particularly in working with new brands.


Here’s how I apply the twelve permaculture principles to the startup copywriting process:

1. Observe and interact

When I start working with a new client, before doing anything, I take time to understand your category, community, competitors – the ecosystem that you’re operating in. Without making any early judgements or conclusions, I look for the patterns, the interactions and causal relationships.


2. Catch and store energy

This is about focusing on what we do best. It’s too easy to want to take control of everything, but the more we project trust and outsource the more efficient we become. 

You might spend two days on your brand story and still not like it, I might spend 30 minutes in flow state after talking to you and nail it.


3. Obtain a yield

Define what you want to achieve from the work and make sure you measure it to reach your goals. Do you want to get a certain number of followers, make X sales, or create X new impressions? Using numerical measures doesn’t take the romance out – it’s smart – it justifies the investment.


4. Apply self regulation and respond to feedback

Sometimes we get stuck in our own narrow view. Particularly with writing, when the words distort it’s important to step back and take a break or get another perspective. I take time to get out of my siloed mind, meditate, stretch and do what it takes to make sure that I can think from a fresh perspective.

5. Use and value renewable resources

I don’t do any work that is superfluous or unnecessary. If you’ve already got brand values and a TOV that’s working for you – we will go from there. And if there’s a brand that inspires you, or a story you love, I’ll take note and make it part of yours. Applying total transparency to save me time, and you money.

6. Produce no waste

Perhaps you’ve already worked on your brand, perhaps it’s existed for years. Perhaps you’re brand new. All of it’s valuable and determines where we go from here. Save your outtakes, your notes, and your edits. You never know when they might inspire you or help you reflect on how your brand has grown.

7. Design from pattern to details

I don’t jump in and write a tagline or a website strapline out of nowhere. I look at your brand values, your website, your font, your imagery and work out how it fits together. That way you get words that integrate with the brand system you are creating, rather than sit outside of it.

8. Integrate rather than segregate

As a freelancer, it’s up to me to source my workflow so I value and nurture my network. I’ve built up a sprawling web of freelance designers, developers and illustrators I love to collaborate with, and other writers I love to share projects with. Our strength is in complementing one another’s skills and giving good, honest feedback.


9. Use small, slow solutions

Don’t try to change everything all at once, unless you really have to. You’re aiming for evolution, not revolution to get there authentically. That means that we don’t need to wait for a big defining moment to make some changes. We can begin working on your evolution now.


10. Use and value diversity

I’ve learnt the most in life from people with very different backgrounds to me. But I’ve also found that if you keep an open mind, and value diversity, then you find ways to embrace it more often. Speaking to people with different outlooks, talents, abilities and backgrounds makes me stronger and more creative. It’s about wanting to be the student, more often than the teacher. Always open to new ideas.


11. Use the edges

The edge of each ecosystem is where the magic happens; it’s where there’s most diversity and where the most original interactions take place. Repetition for the sake of repetition achieves nothing. That’s why I love to work with alternative thinkers who are pushing boundaries, navigating new territories and challenging convention.


12. Creatively use and respond to change

Be proactive, not reactive, and anticipate change before it comes. External factors like competition, change in manufacturing process, or even a pandemic, might force your business to do things differently. If you choose to embrace change you’re more likely to ride the wave than sink when it comes along.


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