Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I became a copywriter indirectly through my love for travel.
After my A-levels, I fulfilled my childhood ambition of becoming a Travel Agent after spending many happy hours at my mum’s dressing table, brochure open and fake phone in hand, sending my make-believe customers to every corner of the globe.
From there I went into travel brochure production where I got involved in the copywriting, layout and design, before doing the same online.
But the real turning point for me was working for the RSPCA where I helped to improve the welfare of animals through writing for and editing the charity’s website.
And today I help to save lives at sea as Online Editor for the RNLI.
What work are you most proud of?
I’ve discovered that my passion lies in charity writing. Since working in the charity sector, my writing has really come into its own, particularly at the RNLI where I now write for a variety of digital channels, including the charity’s online magazine.
Making a difference is important to me so I’m proud of everything I’ve done that’s made a difference, no matter how small. Whether it’s an animal rehomed following an appeal or a piece of safety advice that’s prevented someone from getting into trouble in the water.
I’m also very proud to say that in 2013, I became one of the UK’s first professionally qualified digital copywriters after achieving the IDM Award in Digital Copywriting (Award DC) through The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
Sometimes the fewer the words, the harder they are to craft, especially when you need those words to convey a bigger message.
For this reason, I think O2’s ‘Be more dog’ campaign was genius. The campaign was about so much more than mobile phones – it was about being more adventurous and exuberant in life generally – and I think that’s why it resonated with a lot of people. That and the fact we’re a nation of pet lovers. I’ve certainly learned a thing or two from my dog, Sollie!
From a charity’s point of view, the RNLI’s Respect the Water drowning prevention campaign is incredibly powerful. Working for the RNLI, you could say I’m being biased. But I genuinely feel the campaign is making a difference in educating people about staying safe when in, on or near the water, particularly adult men who take greater risks.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I know what I should do, but often don’t and then realise I’ve been staring at the screen, willing the words to come and rearranging them every so often, without much progress.
It’s amazing what a difference taking a break makes, whether it’s going for a walk, getting some fresh air, chatting to a colleague or even driving home.
Note to self: Take a break!
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
• The research – My inquisitive brain loves to know all the facts and minute details so that I can tell the full story and give it the gravitas and justice it deserves.
• The analytics and feedback – That’s the beauty of digital copywriting. You get to see how well an article, email or post has been received, instantly.
• The proofing process – Not for fear of people criticising my work, although that takes a lot of getting used to too. It’s more a case of too many cooks spoil the broth. And sometimes when a number of stakeholders are involved, the original concept can get diluted.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Being a digital copywriter, I hate bad writing for the web. To some it may look easy, but there’s a definite art to it. If I am never asked to ‘Click here’ again it will be too soon!
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
A friend of mine once said to me, ‘You are not a tree.’ It’s a quote from American philosopher Jim Rohn.
If you don’t like where you are in life – change it. If there’s something you’ve always dreamt of doing – go for it.
If I hadn’t taken a leap of faith and upped sticks to be a writer for the RNLI in Dorset, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
You’re better than you think you are. Everyone has their own unique style of copywriting. It’s what brings your writing to life and what your readers will grow to love. Don’t conform to others.
Write naturally too – don’t overthink things. It’s easy to get confused when you have to adopt an organisation’s tone of voice and write for a specific audience. You can still do this while being yourself.
What’s your favourite thing about being a copywriter?
Making a difference. Great charity writing has the power to do that.
To influence and change behaviour or persuade people to take an action is a challenge. But if my writing can do that to just one person, then I’ve made a difference, and that’s a major achievement.
Where can people find out more about you?