When and how did you become a copywriter? What did you do before?
Before introducing my first employer Sun Alliance to my fledgling, ‘not quite the standard we expected’ copywriting skills at the tender age of 21, I was an undergraduate studying history and politics.
What made you want to be a copywriter?
I was born a writer if truth be told. From the moment I could grip those chubby little crayons in my mitts I was composing poems and stories, scribbling on any surface that would have me! I love the idea that you can inspire people to act just by placing some carefully crafted sentences or paragraphs on a page or screen.
What types of copywriting do you do, and for what clients?
I write out-and-out, in yer face, good old fashioned sales copy; anything from a letter to an advert, a brochure, a sales flyer “” you name it. I also write press releases and in the last few years I’ve written two marketing books for small businesses.
What do you enjoy most?
Writing books. At the time it’s arduous, long-winded, painful and frustrating. But nothing beats having thousands of readers feeding your delicate ego telling you how much your book means to them, with the odd one lobbing vitriol in your direction to keep you on your toes!
How do you work?
I have my own business and consider myself lucky that I am retained by 12 eclectic clients. I get to know my clients’ businesses inside out and upside down, which is vital if I’m to write response-driven copy that represents all that is good and great about their offering.
What sort of working setup do you have?
I have the most gorgeous purpose built home office complete with solid oak worktops, a fancy Italian table and leather chairs. Yes it’s all very mwah mwah darlinks. But do you know what? I either sit on the settee in the lounge writing or hide myself away in my little log cabin in the back garden.
Recommend one book that copywriters should read.
How to Write Sales Letters That Sell by Drayton Bird. The man is an irascible genius. I have learned so much from emulating his techniques and this book is a gem.
How have things changed in the time you’ve been a copywriter? What’s better, and what’s worse?
There’s so much dreadful copy around today because the business people writing said copy think it’s okay to chuck a few hastily assembled slabs of turgid text at a page garnished with the most appalling punctuation. That’s why it is so important for copywriters to persuade these folk to relinquish their pens and pursue their businesses instead.
What’s better? The Internet has made research so much easier.
If you could change one thing about your working life as a copywriter, what would it be?
I have chronic repetitive strain injury in my upper body which means that my ability to hand-write and to type on a screen is somewhat limited. Not having RSI would be wonderful.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened in your copywriting career?
A few weeks ago I was invited to speak at an event, culminating in a signing of my latest book. One of the delegates recommended an alternative marketing book to me. It was my first book. I thought that was weird and hilarious too.
What single piece of advice would you give other copywriters?
Don’t be afraid to learn from writers that are better than you. Park your ego. I have got to where I am today (sitting on the settee dictating this interview) simply by learning from writers that are infinitely more talented than I am. The desire to learn combined with the mastery of powerful techniques can take you far. If it can get me to 1 on Amazon there’s hope for all of us!