Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
If I’m completely honest, I didn’t choose copywriting, copywriting chose me. It was pure luck. I’d been writing editorial copy for various different digital platforms when a recruiter randomly asked me if I would pitch to create a new tone of voice for a particular brand.
I’d never done anything like that before, but did some in-depth research, took a leap of faith and got the gig. The rest, as they say, is history. I loved the job and it took my fascination with the power of words to new, unchartered levels.
What work are you most proud of?
I headed up the copy for the digital and printed rebrand of The O2’s entire site in Greenwich. This included everything from the arena to Up at The O2. It took a long time and a lot of hard work, but it was totally worth it.
The variety of tasks I took on and the amount of different stakeholders and agencies I worked with made it an invaluable experience. Getting to see some of the events wasn’t bad either!
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
There is so much great copy out there that it’s difficult to choose just one piece.
Of course, there are the obvious words that have wormed their way into our collective consciousness, like Nike’s slogan, ‘Just Do It’ – simple, affecting, memorable and ultimately, great life advice that can be applied to almost anything. But recently, I’ve also been very impressed with the less obvious.
Barclays’ ad campaigns, especially the TV ad with the little singing vegetables warning you about sharing things on the internet is bordering on genius. It’s attention-grabbing and makes a timely, salient point in a very amusing way.
But, much more importantly, their recent campaigns are effectively positioning Barclays as a trusted company that will give you advice (not just about money) in an era when trust in banks is at all time low. That’s the real genius.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I think it’s always important to identify why I’ve hit the block early on. Am I too tired to think? Sleep. Am I too hungry to concentrate? Eat. Am I lacking in knowledge? Do some more research. Am I lacking in creative inspiration?
Get out. Read. Watch a film. Sit in a gallery. Taking a long walk and taking a break can also work.
I don’t want to dismiss that. I think it’s imperative that I understand how I got in that situation, because then it’s much easier to get out of it. Talking to a friend or colleague is also really useful if you need to bounce around some ideas.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to revisit the audience. Do I know enough about them and their motivations? What am I trying to say to them about this particular product/brand?
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
Whether I’m writing a script, coming up with a tone of voice or working out how to improve a user’s experience of a website, I love a creative challenge. Conversely, I avoid writing things that have little scope for creativity.
Any copywriting pet hates?
I love films, but the marketing copy surrounding them is seriously stale and lacking innovation. If I see one more ‘This Year’ or hear one more, ‘In a world…’ I’ll scream.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from trying to do what you want. The only thing worse than failing is the regret. In the words of Nike, just do it.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Becoming a great copywriter is only half the story, because success is not about what you know, but who you know. It’s sad that you could be the best copywriter in the world and no one would care, but it’s entirely possible.
The hard truth is that the world doesn’t work on merit. If it did, Donald Trump wouldn’t be President right now. The world functions on relationships, money and power. If you don’t have money or power, then you need to work on the relationships.
Networking is probably one of my least favourite things, and if you’re a writer, it’s probably one of your least favourite things too. You enter a room in which everyone has an ulterior motive. It feels fake. Disingenuous.
There really is no getting away from that, but it’s important to remember that everyone is in the same boat and you never know who you may meet, or where it will lead. Stick with it.
What’s your favourite thing about being a copywriter?
Harnessing the power of words every day is hugely rewarding. Playing with word choice, emphasis, syntax and tone in order to persuade, inform and entertain is both a challenge and a joy.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
See my earlier point about networking. It’s invaluable to be part of a network, particularly one that understands what you do! There are also some great resources on the site for copywriters of all levels.
Where can people find out more about you?
Pop over to my site: citycopywriter.com where you can see a few samples of my work and clients. You’re also welcome to drop me a line or give me a call. I’m always happy to hear from potential clients and other copywriters.