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Gillian Jones — ProCopywriters Member Spotlight Revisited

Gillian Jones

Taith Copywriting

PRO

How has your business changed since your first Member Spotlight interview?

I’d probably say that it’s changed in small yet positive ways in that I’ve started to focus on different things. I’m no longer a generalist, and I’ve been working more on individual pages and web content and spending more time on LinkedIn.

I’ve been targeting b2bs more now as that’s where my clients are. So no radical changes but small shifts in a different direction.

What’s been your biggest success since your first Member Spotlight interview?

I’ve found out where I’m supposed to be in terms of my brand and what I’m offering. It still needs tinkering with and there are still some elements I need to work on, but I’m definitely heading in the right direction – and that for me feels like a real success.

I feel more confident as a result and feel that clients are getting a safe pair of hands when they hire me.

Why did you decide to focus on the kind of work you’re doing now?

I find the backstory of how somebody came to run a business fascinating. I also feel like I’m on a bit of a mission to make About Pages better than a lot of them currently are, especially in b2bs. I enjoy working on giving them more personality, allowing people to see the person behind the business.

Even a team or an organisation can benefit from a well written About Page. It’s about the customer really, and making a connection and relating to your target audience, so they’ll think positively about your brand, products or services. You want a clear message and there’s no better place to start than with your About Page.

I also love web copy and this can be fascinating, especially when you go deep on a business, researching it, asking the right questions, speaking to their customers, and then providing the right words that connect with their audience.

What are you enjoying most about your industry or niche?

People’s stories. As I’ve been focusing a lot on About Pages, I get to interpret someone else’s journey and then create that in a page that will get them clients and more business.

You get to dig deep with clients and see what they’ve gone through as an individual or as a team to get to where they are now and it’s a real privilege. I feel like I’m helping them on the next leg of that journey, to bigger, better successes.

What are you working on now?

An About Page and then some web copy.

Describe your desk and what’s on it

A small area in an alcove with a desk, screen and lots of carefully folded bits of paper. There are books all around me in individual columns on the floor because I still haven’t got round to getting any bookshelves. I like to think it’s organised at the very least. More like organised chaos.

There’s an area underneath where my cat Teddy can join me for a quick nap, which he often does.

Tell us about your side projects

My side projects are more like a to-do list. I need to get a new logo and redesign my website and also add to that a professional photo shoot.

How has your writing process evolved?

It’s more precise, clearer and sharper. That’s come with practice, working on all kinds of different projects over the years and honing my craft. It’s also about learning and training along the way and learning from those who are way ahead of you.

By specialising and narrowing down on what I do I’ve got to be really, really good at one thing. One-off web pages are a thing of beauty, there’s precision and craftsmanship in getting people to do what you want.

What do you wish copywriters were more honest about?

I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and that’s not always been in my favour, but I do think there’s room for honesty. I realise it’s important to put on a brave front when you’re on a public platform, after all, clients see what you’re posting and it’s important to remain positive and upbeat – that’s how you get work.

But, among ourselves, I do wish copywriters would be more honest when it’s hard. There’s an awful lot of embellishment and bravado in this business, and I don’t think it does any harm to be more vulnerable in front of each other.

To just say sometimes that it’s not always a bed of roses and yes, it can be hard sometimes. I think it makes the rest of us feel better and I don’t think it would put me off hiring someone if I was looking, to be honest, I don’t look at vulnerability as a negative. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness it’s a sign of strength.

What advice do you often hear given to newbies, but you don’t agree with? Why?

I think there’s a lot of online courses out there, some of them obscenely expensive. Unfortunately, there’s no governing body to regulate this, so you don’t know whether they’re any good unless someone tells you they are, ‘word-of-mouth,’ so to speak.

There’s often a lot of peer pressure to sign up when people simply don’t have any money, forcing them to get into debt to pay for them. It can be quite addictive.

There are some amazing courses out there, and it goes without saying that training is an important part of learning and development. However, I often wish there were more courses available through colleges and institutions that have been validated and approved by a governing body.

I think newbies are particularly susceptible to this and the promise that they’ll go from zero to hero in a very short space of time and be earning thousands. The reality is it takes a lot of hard work and determination to be that successful, there’s no magic bullet or get-rick-quick shortcut.

Any lessons you’re still learning?

I need to appreciate more the value that I bring to a project and charge more with less hesitation. I am getting there. I’m good at what I do, and I know I have so much to offer, it’s a case of believing it and articulating that to clients in the onboarding process.

What’s something about your work that makes your inner copywriting nerd happy, but you’re not able to chat about enough?

There isn’t anything that I wouldn’t be happy to chat about if I’m obsessed enough. And that’s regardless of whether it’s copywriting or something unrelated.

I can get really geeky and nerdy about things, and if I’m asked to do something, or something is suggested to me that might benefit my business, for instance, then I’ll go away and research it before I do it. Google is my best friend, that and an endless supply of books.

Whatever it is, whether that’s using video as part of my marketing arsenal, using Loom for tutorials or being asked to be part of a podcast, I will research it to the nth degree. Forewarned is forearmed is my motto.

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