Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
My career began on the busy buying floors of London, grafting as a buyer’s assistant making endless cups of tea and managing dull filing systems.
Almost ten years later, stagnant and dissatisfied, I quit my job, sold my belongings and ventured to Southeast Asia. As I travelled, what began as jotted notes about the places I’d visited and the things I’d eaten became long, dramatic and very personal prose about not only the places, but the people and the experiences.
Somewhere in Cambodia, aware of my dwindling bank balance, I decided to give remote work a try. I gravitated towards personal assistant work and my client base led me to digital nomad mecca — Bali. After working with several life coaches and healers for whom English wasn’t their first language, I realised the main part of my role (and the part I actually liked) was writing.
From there, landing my first content writing gigs was a natural step. I began with endless travel posts for a content mill whilst I honed my skills on my own travel blog, finally putting all those notebooks of ramblings to good use.
Nowadays, content is still my bread and butter, but now I’m writing in-depth, long-form content on the subjects of travel and fashion, as well as e-commerce copywriting.
What work are you most proud of?
I was approached by the editor of a new magazine called Unsustainable covering issues relating to equality and the environment. He wanted to use one of my blog posts for his first issue and it became the start of a strong collaboration.
I was living in Namibia at the time and met a couple who were planning an epic trip up the coast of West Africa in a Volkswagen Kombi teaching surfing and drama to local kids. They asked me to write a piece about their project and the moment seemed too serendipitous to pass up. I contacted Brett, Unsustainable’s editor and he loved the pitch.
To date, this is the work I’m most proud of because it tells a wonderful story about two inspiring people and the work they are doing to spread seeds of hope. Plus, it’s featured in a publication I feel honoured to be a part of.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
I grew up with the Spice Girls. They were the first band I went to see as a geeky eleven-year-old, dragging my Mum to the stage door to see if we could catch a glimpse of them.
It’s not strictly copy, but “Girl Power” is so simple, so ahead of its time and still so relevant twenty years on.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I get out into nature. As a location independent writer, I’m regularly hunting for a new home, and my only stipulation is that it has plenty of light and big windows. But when writer’s block strikes there is nothing I can do but down tools and get myself to the nearest beach, field or forest for some deep breathing and downtime.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I’m a sucker for a good research session. Finding a unique angle or an interesting statistic to bring my writing to life is like striking gold.
One of my least favorite (sic) writing-related tasks has to be translating my writing into American English. I’m a bit old fashioned that way.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Excess words in a sentence drive me crazy, and words that don’t mean anything. Usually, the two go together. I’m looking to consider driving a shift away from the excessive use of unnecessary vocabulary in otherwise normal sentences. No.
In the same vein, corporate jargon is something I love to hate. I have a mental list of my favourites picked up from my years in retail as well as my experience with corporate clients. It addles my brain how normal words become meaningless. I don’t have the bandwidth to onboard this paradigm shift, guys.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
In a classic freelancer freak out, worrying that I would never work again, my sister, a freelance musician told me to always look back at my calendar, not forward.
If your past calendar is full, your future calendar will be too. I revisit that advice a lot when I’m staring at an empty calendar month wondering what I’m going to eat.
And she’s right, the work always comes.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Don’t be afraid to accept low paying jobs at the start. Everywhere else in life you’re told to know your worth and never settle, but in copywriting I believe starting off with a few cheap gigs to get the experience and the testimonials will stand you in great stead.
When I started a friend of mine said, “I can’t believe you’re accepting that rate.” But I knew I had to play the long game. I subsidised my writing with teaching English online for the first few months until I was able to charge enough to write full time.
Every time you win a new client, charge £1 more. You’ll be earning before you know it.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
It’s great to know I’m not alone. Having come from a big corporate environment where we could discuss, compare and consult every day in the kitchen, it feels good to know there are people going through the same highs and lows as me that I could turn to should I need advice.
Where can people find out more about you?
My shiny new website deserves a visit: www.sallymfox.com, I’m on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sally-fox-content-writer/ or you can see my ProCopywriters profile. If you’d like to follow my location independent adventure, Instagram is the place to go @soi_the_journey.