Clare Jennings

PRO

24 January 2017

Clare Jennings

is in the PCN spotlight this week...

Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?

I didn’t choose the copywriter life, the copywriter life chose me. At school I was the English student, reading everything and writing anything, but never knew that you could have a career as a writer. Authors were always ‘poor and struggling’ as portrayed by the media, so I was steered in the direction of a ‘sensible’ job like nursing or teaching.

After a ten-year career working in the NHS, I’d started to struggle with the stresses of working with a palliative caseload. A return to writing proved to be an outlet for me, and after considering a career in marketing, I discovered the niche of copywriting.

It hasn’t been an easy transition, with financial responsibilities, I have studied, networked, volunteered, and worked simultaneously whilst raising my family. I started writing blogs for local businesses and volunteering within marketing agencies to develop my skills, learn from others and build a portfolio, and over time my client base has grown.

One of the best things I’ve done has been to take part in One Minute Briefs on Twitter. Messing about with ideas, getting feedback, watching creatives in action, it’s a lot of fun, and the opportunities it has afforded me through competition wins and pieces for my portfolio have been invaluable.

What work are you most proud of?

I’m proud of all the work I’ve put in to achieve my dream of writing for a living.

Some people wish for a yacht in the Bahamas, I wanted to do something that didn’t make me feel sad every day and gave me time to spend with my children.

From my first paid job, a content mill blog for £2.50, to a published advertisement in a national newspaper, I’ve been proud of each piece of work that has brought me closer to a career that brings a lot of enjoyment to my life.

What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?

Anything that makes me laugh out-loud.

I can recall a time before smart-phones, when to pass the time in the bathroom you’d read the back of a shampoo bottle, I remember reading the copy on some Aussie packaging, and thinking ‘who gets to do this job?’. I’d never had a beauty product crack a joke with me before.

What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?

I head outdoors when I hit a bit of writer’s block. Walking, cycling and running seem to release my thoughts. Or I hang out with my children; they come up with some hilarious ideas and often inspire me in the most unexpected ways.

What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?

My favourite writing related task is procrastinating. Checking social media, catching up on that TV boxset, grouting the tiles in the bathroom – it’s all valuable thinking time.

My least favourite writing related task is procrastinating.

That ‘thinking time’ becomes increasingly stressful as deadlines loom. The concentrated timeframe serves to focus my efforts, so that I deliver a great piece of work on time, every time, but I always vow to ‘do a little bit each day’ on the next project.

Any copywriting pet hates?

I’m not alone in this, but it’s the use of jargon. When you visit a website and you have no idea what the company do because they ‘leverage solutions’.

I’m sure I’ll acquire more pet hates over time.

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

One thing I’ve experienced since entering the copywriting world, is the never-ending support from the community, and the advice that comes with it. Every copywriter and creative I’ve encountered has wanted to give something back, to offer that next step up or at least a shoulder to cry on.  From hints, tips, reading recommendations, offers to skype and talk things through…every knock to my confidence has been demolished by an outpouring of copywriting counselling. I think my favourite advice has been ‘don’t let the rainbows go grey’, I try to stay positive even when things have been tough.

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

Reach out to other copywriters. Attend Copywriters Unite evenings, join Facebook groups, follow copywriters on Twitter. Ask questions. Ask some more. Read. Write. Write for the bin. Volunteer to build up your portfolio, but don’t sell yourself short when your time comes. Join in with One Minute Briefs on Twitter.

What’s your favourite thing about being a copywriter?

It suits my personality and it fits around my family. I get to meet so may interesting people, learn loads of obscure facts, and try to be funny on an almost-daily basis.  (Oh, that was more than one thing)

Where can people find out more about you?

You can find out more about me, and the bits and bobs that I do, at www.ampersandwriting.co.uk or follow me on @clarewords on Twitter.

  • Clare Jennings