Jackie Harris — ProCopywriters Member Spotlight Revisited

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

One of the things I’ve noticed over the past couple of years is the increasing number of people entering the freelance copywriting market who have very little experience.

I’m not talking about people who are genuinely interested in becoming serious copywriters, there’s always plenty of room for good people, I’m talking about say, Virtual Assistants who are selling copywriting so cheaply that it’s becoming a bit of problem in my local area.

So I’ve focused on offering a more strategic service to my clients rather than straightforward writing words. This involves helping clients shape and develop their core messages and helping them weave those messages into their marketing materials.

I suppose you could call it a hybrid of coaching and consulting. It’s very satisfying, and the clients I’m working with value it as a higher level service.

Also, I’ve been doing some in-house workshops. I didn’t set out to do this, I was asked by a client if I could teach their customer-facing team to write better content for sales proposals and presentations. I did one workshop as a tester, and in October I’ll be delivering workshop number seven.

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

I was a finalist in the EVA awards in the Creative Business category. (EVAs are for businesswomen in the North West of England). It was the first time they’ve had a copywriter as a finalist.

As part of the process, the finalists were invited to the Houses of Parliament for a special tour which was fabulous.

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

Firstly, I wanted to earn more money for my talent and efforts. Secondly, I wanted to create a stronger differentiator for my experience and skillset.

As well as being a writer, I have a strong background in marketing and corporate communications. So I decided to have a go at developing a more strategic service for my clients. It’s working well and I think I’d like to build on this.

What are you enjoying most about your industry or niche?

The key thing for me is being able to work on my own terms. Writing means we can work pretty much from anywhere and if I choose to go for a walk in the Lake District fells (where I live) during the day, and write copy in the evening, I can do it. Wild horses could never get me to give up this level of freedom.

What are you working on just now?

Right now I’m working on a couple meaty web content projects, and I have a growing number of 1-2-1 messaging sessions booked for October and November.

Describe your desk and what’s on it

I live in Kendal on the edge of the Lake District. Out of my office window I can see into my garden, and in the distance I can see the outline of the Lake District fells. I love living in this area.

I’ve recently had a new desk built into my office which is positioned so I have the option of standing while I work. When you spend long periods of the day sitting in front of a screen, it’s nice to vary position.

What are your side projects?

My main side project is to finish a novel (probably like most copywriters). In July I went to a literary conference and had a couple of meetings with literary agents. I had to submit my draft so far, and the response was very encouraging. So I need to be disciplined about blocking off time to get it finished.

How has your writing process evolved?

Nowadays I’m stricter about insisting that clients fill in my briefing questionnaire. It does actually cut down the number of edits required and I get sign off much quicker. It’s worth it.

What do you wish copywriters were more honest about?

Money and charging. I have all my prices (or price ranges) on my website. I can’t tell you how often clients tell me that they chose me simply because I gave a clear indication of price on my site.

If I’m shopping for business services, I hate it if I can’t get a sense of cost. So I make sure people can see what my rates are without having to call.

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

I’m not sure what advice is given to new people. I live in the sticks, so maybe I’m out of the loop. But my twopenneth worth would be to get proper terms and conditions done, and make sure your client signs them.

The other thing I would advise is make yourself comfortable talking about money. Learn to do it in a matter of fact way and you’ll rarely be asked for a discount.

Any lessons you’re still learning?

For me, this is all about self-belief. At a rational level I know I do a cracking job. But there’s still that little nagging voice inside saying, ‘who do you think you are?’

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

Ha ha – this made me laugh. When a client accepts my first draft without any changes I’m happy because there’s no more work to do and I can put in my invoice. But at the same time I’ disappointed. I like to have a discussion about it and brainstorm ideas with the client for ways to make it even better.

I sometimes wonder if they’ve really read it properly. It’s silly, I should be happy, but it is like someone has taken the wind out of my sails. Something only another copywriter would understand.

What do you think?

Your email will not be published. ProCopywriters members: log in before commenting so your comment links to your profile.

Become a member

Join ProCopywriters

Connect with peers, develop your skills and extend your reach on our blog.

Become a member
Learn online

Online workshops

Every month we get an expert, an author or a professional trainer to deliver a one-hour presentation on copywriting, marketing or digital media.

Browse events