Sarah Kean-Price

23 April 2013

Sarah Kean-Price

When and how did you become a copywriter? What did you do before?

I started in November 2011 and hit the ground running.  I emailed some charities to ask about any free work they needed doing and one said “Oh, we need a copywriter!  What are your fees?”!  At which point I emailed a couple of local experienced copywriters to say “Argh, help, what are my fees?!”

Before this, I was unemployed.  But, a bit further back before this, I’d just finished a short-term position in IT support, graduated with a First in Philosophy, Ethics and Cultural Studies and had been primarily working in care jobs with adults with learning difficulties.

What made you want to be a copywriter?

I love researching and writing.  I’m a competent, sincere and genuine writer with a strong personality, I like to keep tasks varied and I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades so being paid to research many things in relatively simple terms suits me.

What types of copywriting do you do, and for what clients?

I provide digital content and marketing materials for a local charity, a stable of job recruitment websites, an aggregate review site and an educational trainer.   Mostly it’s blogs, articles and direct e-mail but I’ve also done some backlink outreach and market research as well.

I also have on-off voluntary work with a local hearing-impairment charity and LGBT support group over the past year.  I’m currently discussing possible work with an economic architecture financial service (interesting as it is complicated) and another recruitment site.

What do you enjoy most?

Knowing my clients are always pleased with what I’ve produced, getting things finished, getting great feedback and then (of course) the invoicing. I’m basically a teacher’s pet who loves to do things well and be rewarded for it!

What sort of working setup do you have?

Until recently, I rented desk space but with a change in circumstances, I’m going to start working at home again as it’s more cost-effective and being in my new cottage by the Kennet & Avon canal makes me really happy!  I’ve converted my closet into a mini-study but you’ll usually find me writing in bed.

What one book should copywriters read, and why? (Not necessarily about copywriting.)

Blimey, I don’t know …I read a lot and it’s never really that simple to delineate one book everyone should read when there’s so much in the way of genre and theme to consider.  I have plenty of copywriter reference books but none have been particularly stand-out as The One Book You Must Read.

But, I can tell you that I’ve been binging on old SF magazines like there’s no tomorrow.  Great story-telling and the way they set up a certain premise and follow it through appeals to my philosophical side.

How have things changed in the time you’ve been a copywriter? What’s better, and what’s worse?

I’m only just approaching a year in the game so I can’t help here.  The only change I’ve experienced is my career gathering momentum.

What are you most proud of in your copywriting career?

My LinkedIn recommendations because they show that I do do as good a job as I want to do!

If you could change one thing about your working life as a copywriter, what would it be? 

Improve my writing stamina.  My brain gets so tired from concentrating so much!  I’m presuming this comes with experience.

What advice would you give other copywriters?

That if you’re not getting commissions, you’re not trying hard enough.  Email everyone under the sun – you WILL find someone that needs your work.  Balanced with Mark Twain’s advice:

Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.

Also that, in my experience, combining self-employment with partial traditional employment really helps takes the stress out of both worlds!  Some guaranteed income, enough time with people to not get lonely but enough time away from the world to recharge and run things how you want to run them!  Problematic as your clients start to want more work than you have time for but this way, you’re in control and not desperate for work.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a few lean months with 9p noodles a-plenty but never have to worry that I can’t at least pay my bills.

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