E39 write podcast henneke duistermaat

The Write Podcast, Episode 39: Henneke Duistermaat on How to Improve Your Copywriting Skills Even if You’re a Non-Native Writer

Henneke Duistermaat is one of my all-time favorite bloggers (Enchanting Marketing). She writes copy with incredible clarity and is pretty much the queen of engaging copywriting. What’s even more mind-blowing is her story. Her native tongue is Dutch, not English: yet she’s risen to such a level with awesome blogging skills that Brian Clark has said about her, “…you should follow Henneke’s every word.” Plus, she didn’t start her online career till she was in her early forties!

Henneke is an inspirational legend – and after months of “bugging” her through a few tweets and emails, she finally said yes to coming on my show, which I will be forever grateful for! 😅I normally don’t “bug” guests, but in Henneke’s case, I had to. I love her copywriting skills way too much.

Bonus: she recently launched some mugs that I’m a big fan of! Here’s me with my Henrietta mug (which you can grab on her site!):

julia mccoy henneke

In today’s episode, Henneke shares a little of her story, some critical tips for non-native writers on how to overcome the common fears associated with “But I’m not a native English writer!”, how she completely overcame those odds (and tips so you can, too, if you’re in that spot!), and, last but not least, a few awesome tips to help you write with more clarity and engage your audience successfully.

E39 write podcast henneke duistermaat

The Write Podcast, E39: Henneke Duistermaat on How to Improve Your Copywriting Skills Even if You’re a Non-Native Writer Show Notes

2:36 – Henneke’s Story: From Corporate Marketer to Enchanting Copywriter. Henneke got her first taste of writing while working in marketing. Even though she enjoyed it and was a natural, she still didn’t think of herself as a writer for a long time.

6:06 – Henneke’s Writing Tips for Non-Native Speakers. Initially, Henneke had her work checked by native English speakers. She would pay attention to their corrections and apply that knowledge to her future work. She also recommends reading lots and lots of books in English, plus tons of other great tips.

12:12 – The Advantages of Being a Non-Native Speaker. Henneke shares some wise advice, including the advantages of writing in English when it’s not your first language.

14:05 – The Story Behind Henneke’s Illustrated Alter-Ego, Henrietta. You may be familiar with the little purple-haired cartoon character that appears in Henneke’s blogs. Henrietta appeared after Henneke took a drawing class, and is her solution for interesting imagery in her blog posts vs. boring stock photos. Henneke shares her process for adding those illustrative elements to her writing.

16:35 – Henneke’s Writing Process. Listen in to hear how Henneke writes a blog post, from rough draft to completed, edited final product with illustrations.

19:26 – Breaking Up the Writing Process. One of Henneke’s biggest tips for writing is to break up the work over several days. The reason? Your mind comes up with creative ideas while you’re not laser-focused on one task. That means your best ideas may come to you while you’re taking a walk, doing chores, or even sleeping.

22:35 – Why You Should Write When You’re Groggy. Henneke is a proponent of writing even when you’re not feeling your best (like if you’re groggy or have a bad cold). She says it shuts up your inner critic! She also says you need to find your own rhythm as a writer.

25:30 – Henneke’s Top 2 Tips for Writing Clearly – Henneke is known for her clear writing style. Listen in to hear her top tips for achieving this in your own work.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

“I think we should remember that native speakers don’t write flawless English, either. Everyone has their own quirks and everybody makes mistakes.” @HennekeD via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “Don’t be afraid that your grammar is necessarily worse than that of native speakers. If you’re concerned, work with a language coach, a good proofreader or an editor. Get some feedback.” @HennekeD via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “Another thing about non-native speakers: sometimes it’s an advantage. We can be a little bit more creative sometimes with language. We’re less stuck.” @HennekeD via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “It’s good if (your writing is) simple because sometimes people write too academically. They use too many difficult words. They write to impress rather than to explain their ideas.” @HennekeD via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “There are two different ways of thinking – a very focused and concentrated mode, which is what you usually do with writing. But there’s also a more creative and diffused kind of thinking where you come up with new ideas.” @HennekeD via… Click To Tweet “Sometimes I read my headline options in the evening and I’m not happy with them. But at night when we sleep, the mind still processes ideas. So I can wake up in the morning and I think of a new headline.” @HennekeD via @writepodcast Click To Tweet “I think clarity starts with having (a few questions) really clear in your mind: ‘What is this blog post about and what am I going to teach my readers with it? How will it make them feel once they’ve learned this?’” @HennekeD via… Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

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2 replies
  1. Gill Andrews
    Gill Andrews says:

    Hi there Julia and Henneke,

    Just wanted to leave a quick “thank you” note to tell you that I really enjoyed listening to your conversation.

    I absolutely agree that the brains of people who speak more than one language work differently, and they are more flexible, or even fearless, with the English language. Sure, sometimes they’ll say something that doesn’t work. But they’ll also come up with sentences that sound fresh and describe a mundane thing in an unexpected way.

    Another advantage of a non-native speaker: It’s easier to be funny. Take a joke you heard on TV in another language you speak, translate it in English, and voila – people think you’re funny! :))

    And Henneke, love the tip about reading your headline versions before going to bed! And I hope the next podcast with you will come sooner than in 2 years 😉

    Cheers,

    Gill

    Reply

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