Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
When I was in primary school I wanted to be a journalist. I’ve always loved writing. I used to write made up newspaper articles at the age of nine about topics that interested me. Clearly, writing is in my blood.
Fast forward 10 years and I got my journalism degree. The funny thing is, after getting my degree I wanted to take a different path. I pursued marketing, and learned more about what makes people tick, the art of persuasion and how to tie it all in with great copy.
I eventually realised there was more to the working world than slogging away for someone else. I took courses, filled my bookshelf and networked with professionals to set up on my own as a freelance copywriter.
Three years on, I’m still going strong.
What work are you most proud of?
Now there’s a difficult question. If it makes my clients happy and gets results, I’m proud. I write all sorts of copy every day, no project is too small. I’m just thrilled to be able to offer my expertise to businesses that really need it and make a difference to their bottom line.
The long-term relationships I form are the winning moment for me, and there’s no better feeling than seeing measurable results and clients who come back for more.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
There are countless pieces of great copy in the world, it would be impossible to choose. I’m constantly learning to develop my craft and take inspiration from all kinds of copy. I love to read novels and Stephen King is my all-time favourite.
It’s all about being able to tell a great story, a skill that’s crucial for a copywriter’s tool belt.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Move away from the laptop.
Sometimes you just have to hold up your hands and say ‘this isn’t working.’ Occasionally the words don’t flow, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not a machine and I can’t just switch it on if my brain’s had enough.
I take a break, go for a walk and come back to it. There’s no point in writing something if your head’s not in it. You’ll end up creating work you’re not happy with, and worse still, your client won’t like it.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
My favourite is the moment I get the email ‘thank you so much, this is exactly what we wanted!’ Those words are heavenly. When someone else confirms you’ve done a good job, it gives you that boost of confidence in yourself. It confirms it’s all worth it and I’m on the right path in life.
My least favourite is… Well, I don’t really have one.
I enjoy every aspect of being a freelancer. Even raising invoices, updating my website and marketing myself. It’s all an exciting journey and I love seeing the payoff of hard work. Every step is taking me towards being a successful, influential copywriter. If you don’t love what you do, what’s the point of it all?
We spend the majority of our lives working, so we’d better make damn sure it’s enjoyable.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Overly salesy copy. Often when I first start working with a client their existing copy screams ‘look at me’ and ‘buy now because your life depends on it.’ They don’t take a step back to find out what really matters to their audience, to communicate a unique angle and use language that subtly persuades.
Their approach usually comes across as desperate. They have a hard time finding the right words and end up with a reckless plea for business. Something that turns the reader off, rather than winning their custom.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Keep refining your craft. I never stop learning – I’m constantly trying to improve my writing and my understanding of what makes people buy. Whatever industry you’re in, there will always be new trends to follow, new skills to perfect and new technologies to master.
The key is keeping on top of everything to stay ahead of the competition and develop your professional capabilities.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Pick an authoritative copywriter and follow their work. Look at their portfolio pieces, buy their books, read their blog, take their courses and listen to their webinars. Learn from the best and you’ll soon develop the skills you need.
Grow a thick skin and don’t take knock backs too personally. We all start at the bottom but it’s your perseverance that’ll bring success. Your portfolio is your strongest asset for getting paid work. If you don’t have any samples to show, do work for free if you have to or consider offering a reduced rate.
What’s your favourite thing about being a copywriter?
I love having the freedom to do what I love on my own terms. I have a home office with everything I need. Nobody’s breathing down my neck, if I want to take the dog out for a walk in the middle of the day there’s no one to stop me. I have that sense of freedom but I also know where my priorities are – I’ve never missed a deadline and I’m always there when my clients need me.
Why do you find PCN membership useful?
It’s great being able to network with likeminded people. We’re all at different stages in our careers but there’s still so much you can learn from each other. Every individual has had a different experience, and it’s the ability to share stories and gain useful advice I find most valuable.
Where can people find out more about you?
Here’s my website http://freelancecopywriterkarly.com/ You can also find me on Twitter and LinkedIn: