Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I’ve always been interested in editorial excellence and the clear expression of ideas. As part of an in-house quality assurance role, I had the chance to write technical help content that staff found genuinely helpful. This gave me the spur I needed to fly solo as a freelance technical writer.
What work are you most proud of?
I was delighted to get the chance to rewrite some of Sky’s technical help pages. These things are never publicly credited, of course, but it’s great to know that my copy will have been read by a lot of people.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
‘Every little helps’ – but really anything that survives to find its place in everyday speech.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Clocking in at ‘the ideas factory’ (aka the shower) often helps. I must be one of the cleanest freelancers out there. Also, sleep on it – the world’s often a different place come the morning
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
Highlights: turning difficult subject matter into clear and simple output that helps others.
Lowlights: writing about topics one doesn’t know well enough, and the inevitable stream of queries that have to be sent to the client.
Any copywriting pet hates?
I can’t stand reading copy that’s unclear, especially when complex terms are used instead of simple ones. Throw out the rubbish and you’ll avoid a big stink.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Nobody ever complained that some piece of copy was too easy to read. Also, if you want things to get better, you have to get better.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Seek out those clients who see the real value in producing well-worded content. They’ll pay you what you’re worth – and you’ll get the job satisfaction we all need.
Find out more about John by visiting espirian.co.uk.