Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
Like many copywriters I started out in public relations, writing press releases, case studies and articles for brands including Lurpak and Cravendale milk.
I then took a bit of a detour into digital marketing; project managing web development for clients including Wagamama. Although not usually the role of a project manager, any writing tasks such as creating web copy or e-newsletters fell to me and it was this side of the job I enjoyed most. So in 2009, I set up my own freelance copywriting business.
Although project management wasn’t for me, I really value the experience I gained working in digital marketing. It taught me everything from understanding website usability to how to structure an email campaign. All things that I find useful when writing today.
What work are you most proud of?
My work with Skills for Care; the charity that helps social care organisations in England recruit and develop their workforce.
I’ve completed a number of projects for the charity, most recently a guide to help organisations plan and implement effective training programmes. It was rewarding to produce something that will help those working in social care provide better services to people who need care and support.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
Mailchimp is a brand that always gets its communication spot on. It’s friendly, warm and makes email marketing really easy to understand.
I also admire the Always #LikeAGirl campaign for taking a previously negative phrase and turning it into a positive message.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
If writer’s block strikes, it probably means I’m trying to write too soon. I find it’s important to allow plenty of thinking time before sitting down in front of a blank page.
If I get stuck midway through a piece, I’ll go make a coffee. Simply switching off for five minutes usually gets the ideas flowing again. And of course, the caffeine helps.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I love the editing process, especially that moment when everything suddenly clicks and you see the piece taking shape.
My least favourite task is writing my own marketing materials. I have to treat myself like a client and create a brief and a deadline to keep me on track.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Weak straplines. You know the ones that don’t tell you anything about what the business does but instead say something wishy-washy like “progress through innovation”, or “strategic thinking for business”. I’m usually left thinking “great, but what do you actually do?”
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Know your worth and never undersell yourself. Whether it’s contributing in a meeting or setting your rates, it’s important to remember you have skills and knowledge others need.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Being able to write well is just the start. Depending on your areas of specialisation you’ll also need to know how websites, e-newsletters, press ads, or print publications work.
Talk to partners in complementary disciplines so you can learn as much as possible and add extra value for your clients.