Doug Nolan

Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?Doug Nolan 2
This is a bit vanilla, but the careers officer at school suggested it to me. Then at university a careers computer program (clearly the careers officer had been given the boot at this point) suggested the role of copywriter as my second most appropriate match. Top of the list was ‘fish farm manager’.

I did it all a bit back-to-front, winging it as a freelance after graduation to learn from agency folks and get paid. Bit cheeky, but it worked. Then I got my first job in as a junior writer on an account for a well-known Japanese car brand.

What work are you most proud of?
I write a lot of websites and some of them have hundreds of pages. When I look back on those, it always feels like an impossible feat. I also managed to use Zippy from Rainbow in a campaign for a communications provider. Overall though, I think I’m most proud of turning a computer and a desk into an income.

What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
There was a series of print ads called ‘Monologues’ for Land Rover in 2012, created by a very talented writer called Shahir Zag for Y&R Dubai. I absolutely love them, because they use personification to charm and inform at the same time. I still like to read them from time to time.

What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Take the dog for a walk, get something to eat, watch a film, listen to music – I just forget about it and let my subconscious do the work.


What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
Writing for my own website is always tricky, and takes me several attempts. I get a lot of agencies asking me to write theirs for the same reason though, so swings and roundabouts. My favourite is writing something that’s really way out there and the client loves it.

Any copywriting pet hates?
It’s become so much of a cliché now that even hating it is a cliché, but the word ‘solutions’ drives me nuts. It just gets pinned on there for no good reason.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

‘You should be a copywriter.’ (see question 1).

What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?

Don’t take feedback personally.

Read copy on websites, posters and packaging, see why it works or what you’d do differently. Stay abreast of what’s going on in the world, and in popular culture. And if all else fails, you could always try being a fish farm manager.

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