Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I started my career working for a PR agency before moving in-house to a marketing department. I took the leap to work for myself earlier this year which has been a huge learning curve – not least because sometimes it’s hugely beneficial to have someone you can bounce ideas off.
One of the things I love about copywriting is the individualism – no day is ever the same, and it’s great to be able to write about so many different things. One day I can be writing about recruitment activities, the next I can be writing about great recipes for vegans. It’s this flexibility which really sets the job apart from others.
What work are you most proud of?
One of my regular tasks is to write a quarterly magazine devoted to social work. I absolutely love writing and editing the magazine – having the opportunity to develop content ideas, formulate a pagination and discover new initiatives is always a thrill.
This magazine is my baby – I challenge myself to make each issue bigger and better. I feel that the content’s getting stronger which is reflected in the growing readership. I can’t wait to see how it continues to develop.
What piece of copy do you wish you’d written?
Personally, I enjoy copy which is memorable and makes me laugh. There’s no specific piece of copy which I wish I’d written but I’m hugely envious of the teams at companies such as Paddy Power and Specsavers.
They do amazing reactive marketing which is so quick to jump onto things – I’d love to work for someone with the budget and confidence to just say “yes” to things like that
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
This happens to me all the time, and anyone who says it doesn’t is lying!! Because I work from home, I generally try to go for a walk around the block at the end of every task. This allows me to clear my head and get a fresh perspective.
Sometimes you can get completely stuck so it’s always good to come back with a fresh mind and clear eyes.
On the rare days that I am completely affected by writer’s block, I tend to just stop and come back to that particular task in the morning. Great copy only comes from when you’re inspired, so it’s always wise to just set it down and come back to it another time.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I love creating comprehensive content strategies to make the most of the writing. Repurposing is everything!
There are so many ways that you can reuse your content and I believe it should work as hard as you do. Taking the time to create a content strategy means you know exactly what you’re working towards, and you can feel more confident that your final output will have a tangible impact upon your client’s overall business.
I think my least favourite is probably when a client requests academic references – sometimes the research can take a lot longer than you realise and you can end up down a rabbit hole. However, on the flip side, I’m probably prouder of academic research pieces that I’ve written because I know how hard I’ve worked on them.
Any copywriting pet hates?
It’s more of a general PR pet hate than copywriting per se, but it really bugs me that media coverage is seen as the ultimate goal, without any thought as to whether that coverage has actually DONE anything. Has the media coverage led to increased web traffic? Increased sales? Better engagement with audiences? If not, why not?
I genuinely believe that great copy encourages the relevant audience to take action. That’s why it’s so important to continually ask yourself, and the client, “what do you want to do?” “why do you want to do it” and “how are you going to do it?”. It’s the only way you can continually question yourself to ensure that you’re taking the right approach.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
If you’re writing about something which is a particularly complicated topic, always use short sentences. Too often, you read things which are lengthy and complex, and sometimes, by the end of the sentence, you’ve forgotten the start!
That’s why you should keep sentences short and bouncy – it makes it much easier to digest.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Read everything and anything. It will help you to define your style and help you to see how different writers approach stories. For instance, take a subject such as Brexit and look at how regional newspapers, tabloids, and broadsheets are writing about the same topic. You’ll likely see a big difference in the way that stories are structured and the language/tone of voice.
Once you’re aware of different styles, you can start to be more confident in writing for different audiences..
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
I’ve really enjoyed reading the blogs and getting some information and knowledge from others. Working alone can be really isolating so it’s great to be able to hear from others who are working in the same position.