Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I worked for the NHS for 10 years then took voluntary redundancy and left. There was a massive reorganisation and I hadn’t been happy for a long time, so I took the plunge.
I went back and completed my second degree (MA) in creative practice and realised how much I loved writing. I think I’d lost myself along the way in my previous job and, once I’d slowed down, I started to see things more clearly.
I tried to think of something I could do that involved writing all the time, and that was copywriting. I’ve not looked back since.
What work are you most proud of?
I’m proud of everything I’ve done, even the mistakes. It’s great to be able to see how much I’ve progressed over the years. However, I’m most proud of the web copy I’ve produced. There’s no greater feeling than seeing the final version there in front of you on the website.
I’ve written on numerous topics including hypervirtual gaming, coffee beans, finance and Chinese art, and it’s always good to see it once it’s complete. I get a real sense of satisfaction from it.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
Anything by Ernest Hemingway for me when I want to see perfect examples of writing that’s clear, clean and simple…and effective. Any short or long copy adverts from the 1950s, I geek out when I see them.
Some of them are completely inappropriate, but I love the style. I love the way they’re set out, the headlines and the images. You really see how things have changed culturally – the social mores and norms. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Not sure I want to write the inappropriate copy, but there’s something to be learnt from the setup, the simplicity, the headlines, the whole thing. Landing pages – eat your heart out.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I run. I put on my running shoes and run, and get all those feelings of anxiety and worry out of my head. I’ll also read, anything not just books on copywriting. I’m often inspired by the most random and obscure topics.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
Editing, I hate it and I always worry I’ve missed something. Everything has to stop while I’m doing it, no clocks, music, or talking, just complete silence. Reading has to be my favourite one, essential for writing and essential for my peace of mind.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Blogs which begin with “10 reasons….” Or 50 times that….” It’s the laziest style of writing I can think of and I detest it. And I detest it even more when I’m asked to write something in that way.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Most advice to do with work processes, setting up emails, dealing with admin, cutting out the unnecessary and streamlining the daily tasks you need to do in order to make life easier. It makes a massive difference in freeing up valuable time.
Spend time getting to know the client’s voice and getting to know the type of customers they have. Record conversations and ask the right questions. You can’t write successfully on a brand if you don’t take the time to get to know them.
Make sure you’re paid what you’re worth. Place a value on what you do, or no one else will.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Read anything and everything. Don’t spend too much time, if any at all, on content mills and bidding sites, it’s the road to nowhere.
Ask to be mentored by someone with more experience, ask questions and join groups and forums. Who are the influencers now? What advice can they give you? Listen to what they have to say.
What’s your favourite thing about being a copywriter?
Writing all day every day in as many different ways as you can think of, and no two days being the same. Thinking creatively, coming up with something good, client satisfaction and feeling proud of what you’ve done that day.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
ProCopywriters is a great way of finding information, touching base with other copywriters and talking out problems. It’s good to know there are other copywriters out there just like me who are going through the same things, and who can give valuable advice on how to deal with any current issues.
It’s been a really helpful source of inspiration to me over the years. And it’s good to have somewhere to go where there are experienced copywriters who you can learn from.
Where can people find out more about you?