Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I stumbled across it.
After a degree in English Language and Literature I started my career in direct marketing in the publishing industry. After eight years I realised that it was writing the collateral that I really enjoyed and I had become the go-to person in the department for copy queries.
It was only then I discovered there was an actual job where you wrote for a living that wasn’t being a novelist.
This was around 2004, when the web was properly entering the mainstream and I was increasingly interested in that too. So when an opportunity to become a web copywriter in a web design agency came up, I jumped at it. Another eight years down the line I knew I loved writing but the icing on the cake would be running my own and writing. So that’s exactly what I did.
Five years on it’s still what I do.
What work are you most proud of?
There are two things I’m particularly proud of.
The first is a website I wrote years ago – www.exstent.com – and which I still look after today.
It’s about a medical device that wraps around the aorta of people with a condition called Marfan syndrome, who are at risk of their aorta rupturing (something that has life-threatening consequences, as I’m sure you can imagine). The device supports their aorta and prevents this. It was invented by a man with the syndrome and he was also the first person to have the device fitted.
The second was a document that outlined Velindre NHS Trust’s strategy for the future of cancer services in South East Wales.
In both cases what I’m particularly proud of is that it was work that mattered – using my skills to be a force for good things in the world.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
Ikea’s ‘Chuck out your chintz’ was perfectly positioned and just very clever.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I sort out all the little admin things that I confidently imagine are what’s cluttering up my head and preventing me being able to concentrate on the task in hand.
When that doesn’t work, I’ll turn to pen and paper to start the writing process – I usually head straight to the keyboard.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
My favourite is research. I think all copywriters are inherently curious (nosey?) and I love the process of learning about new things and getting to grips with a subject.
My least favourite thing is proof-reading – especially proof-reading my own work – because I’m aware it’s not my strongest asset.
Any copywriting pet hates?
The slogan ‘For all your [insert what the business sells here] needs’ because almost invariably the thing the business sells something you have either never heard of or you have heard of but cannot conceivably imagine anyone ever needing.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Despite starting my career in marketing and therefore supposedly having an understanding of it, it never ceases to amaze me how much marketing you have to do to keep yourself ‘out there’. So I would say don’t underestimate the amount of time you will have to spend hustling.
What’s your favourite thing about being a copywriter?
I’m an off-the-scale introvert but I also love learning about new things and find people incredibly interesting. Being a freelance copywriter means I can spend most of my time in a room on my own but also have opportunities to go out and meet interesting people who do interesting things.
Why do you find PCN membership useful?
Because I spend so much time in a room on my own, there isn’t much of a sounding board. Being able to be in touch with other copywriters means you can reassure yourself that your joys, frustrations, fears and excitements are completely normal.
Where can people find out more about you?
My website is hellopippin.co.uk.
I’m on Twitter as @CatherineEvery.
And I’m on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/catherineevery.