Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I was a newsstand journalist after university, working on national newspapers and magazines, then fell into customer publishing when a freelance stint at what was then Forward Publishing (now Bookmark) became permanent.
I worked in agencies until my last full-time role as an editorial board director, at which point I just wanted to get back to writing rather than managing. I’ve now been a happy freelance copywriter for about seven years.
What work are you most proud of?
Any that gets a good result for the client. Recently I wrote three awards submissions that were all shortlisted, with one employee winning her category. I’m waiting to hear if another company has won with its international category.
Also, it’s satisfying when I succeed in making highly technical copy more human.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Depending on the time of day, I’ll either hit the gym and lift weights, or go to bed and let my subconscious take over. The ideas and words usually come after you’ve had a break from actively thinking about them.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
My favourite is pressing ‘Send’ when I know I’ve done the best I possibly can on a project – followed by a thank you from a client who barely changes anything.
I’m hopeless at marketing myself: I really need to up my game. I see people with much less experience doing a much better job.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Silent clients. You know when you send in the work and hear nothing back? I never know whether it’s because the email didn’t go through or they don’t like it!
The same with sending a job fee estimate: I wish more clients would just tell me if it’s too expensive rather than leave me hanging. Then at least I can try to negotiate.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Imagine you’re writing for one person who you can clearly visualise. And ‘Just do it’.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Don’t take criticism personally. Stay calm and analyse what people say – even if they say it rudely. There may be something to learn from it. And following on from that, treat everybody how you’d like to be treated. I believe in karma.
Keep examples of everything you write so you have something to show the next client you pitch to.
It sounds obvious, but when the pressure’s on, it’s sometimes easy to forget.
Read, read, read.
What’s your favourite thing about being a copywriter?
The variety, being able to work from home and being able to make a living from something I love.
Why do you find PCN membership useful?
Sometimes you can feel alone with a problem such as pricing or a difficult client. It’s good to be able to discover how a number of other people have dealt with it before you make a decision.
Where can people find out more about you?
On my website at sharongethings.co.uk, via my LinkedIn profile (linkedin.com/in/sharongethings), or by emailing me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or calling me: 07748 640 873. And I tweet @sharong2011