Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I always loved reading and did an English Literature degree. From there, it seemed a natural progression to want to be a writer and I went on to do a journalism course. I have been a writer and editor ever since, specialising in work for City firms such as insurers, accountancy firms and law firms.
What work are you most proud of?
One high point was when the first corporate magazine I edited won best internal magazine of the year at the APA awards. Apart from that, I’m generally proud of the fact that I take what can be dry subject matter and turn it into something clear, readable and engaging.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
I tend to write longer pieces of copy, such as articles and whitepapers, so I always admire great headlines and think subeditors do a fantastic job.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
If I’m struggling, I break the job down into manageable chunks. Once I’ve tackled one or two small sections, the rest tends to flow from there. I also tend to write the headline and introduction last. If you start with them you can agonise over them for ages, but if you do them last, you’re so familiar with the subject that they almost write themselves.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
My least favourite is transcribing notes, so I’m increasingly outsourcing that part of the job. My favourite part of any project is when I have done the interviewing and gathered all of the information that I will need, and I can just sit down and write.
Any copywriting pet hates?
All writing is subjective, so you can write the best piece of copy in the world, and still someone might not like it. You have to develop a relatively thick skin as a result.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Know your worth. There are always going to be writers out there who will charge less than you, so you need to be confident of the value you bring – and the fact that you are unique. No one will be able to bring exactly the same skills and knowledge to the table as you.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
It’s handy to have a sector focus. There are lots of copywriters out there and anything that can differentiate you will help you to find work. Once I started specialising in insurance, law and accountancy writing I got very busy. The clients are happy because they like my writing, but they also like the fact that I ‘get’ what they do.