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Claire Jennison — ProCopywriters Member Spotlight

Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?

After teaching full time in secondary and primary schools for 12 years, I switched to supply teaching whilst caring for my dad when he became very ill. I loved the flexibility of supply work and the opportunity to spend more time doing things which were really important to me that didn’t involve lesson planning, marking or analysing data!

After my dad died I realised I didn’t want to return to full-time teaching (or any conventional full-time job for that matter!). So I created my own writing, editing and proofreading business instead.

The three strands of my business have always been my three personal and professional passions and I feel very fortunate that I am now able to make a living out of combining them all.

What work are you most proud of?

As I’m still relatively new to the copywriting profession, I’m proud of being able to work with clients in a professional capacity so quickly.

I’m currently working with a debut author to edit and proofread his upcoming book, as well as create a synopsis and a query cover letter for his chosen publishers.

It’s a great team effort and so rewarding seeing the book grow from a few unstructured chapters into a bona fide manuscript in a few short weeks.

What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?

I don’t necessarily wish I’d written it but earlier this year, KFC had to close their UK restaurants because they ran out of chicken. They faced the problem front and centre by creating an advert that included a play on words (or letters!) to apologise to their customers…‘FCK, we’re sorry’. I thought that was a really clever way of turning a catastrophic negative into a memorable positive!

What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?

Downing tools and doing something completely unrelated always helps break through the block. Physically removing myself from the page or screen to walk or read or clean or drive, usually gives my brain enough of a reboot to start again a while later.

What are your favourite and least and favourite writing-related tasks?

My favourite writing-related task is buying new stationery (which is every writer’s favourite task!)because new stationery often feels like a magic key to new ideas and possibilities and productivity. Every new notebook might be THE notebook which holds your best ideas yet!

Aside from that, definitely editing – nipping and tucking and making writing even better than it was is simply brilliant.

My least favourite writing-related task is difficult to pinpoint because I genuinely enjoy all writing-related tasks immensely. Ideas can be tricky sometimes. Researching can be laborious sometimes. Overall, though, the writing process itself is pretty great.

Any copywriting pet hates?

Misspellings! As a professional proofreader as well as a writer, I automatically notice spelling errors and always wonder how they could have been missed. Quality control is crucial in copywriting!

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

“Throw your hat in the ring.” I was given this advice from my mentor towards the end of my teacher training. I was unsure whether to apply for a particular position in a school I really wanted to work in, thinking I wouldn’t stand a chance because I didn’t have enough experience.

She told me to ‘throw my hat in the ring’ and apply anyway. I got the job. I learned then that if you don’t even try, you definitely won’t succeed and you may end up missing an amazing opportunity!

What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?

Be credible. Anyone can write but it’s a skill to write well so keep learning and developing. It sounds obvious but as a freelancer often working alone, you can forget to actively make time to learn new things as you’re constantly focussing on working for other people.

Invest in professional training or make time to watch YouTube videos and/or listen to Podcasts. Look out for any free local training to take advantage of too – it’s great for your sanity as well as your CPD!

Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?

Despite still being a relatively new freelancer, my ProCopywriters membership has already generated a new lead which has resulted in an on-going paid work project!

The ProCopywriters community is brilliant too – all freelance writers need a gang to go to for help or a chat from time to time.

Where can people find out more about you?

penningandplanning.com or my Facebook page for everything Penning and Planning, or LinkedIn and Twitter for everything me!

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