Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I’ve always loved writing and the art of communication – and it really is an art! As a child, I was obsessed with writing short stories and poems, and creating fantasy universes (usually on paper, but sometimes in my own head).
I studied politics at University and, for the best part of a decade, I worked in communications roles for multinationals and trade associations.
Over the years I’ve written more press releases, blogs, news articles and briefing documents than I care to remember.
Although my career involved a holistic approach to communications, including the inevitable never-ending meetings and presentations, writing has always been my first love.
This summer, I made the leap to freelance copywriting and have founded my first business, A Quick Word.
I’m based in St Albans and work across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and London. I’m grateful for the autonomy that working for myself provides, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to use my writing skills for the good of my clients.
What work are you most proud of?
Having worked previously for a communications company in Westminster, a great deal of my work has been centred on writing political copy.
Earlier this year, I was thrilled to be involved in launching the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Great South West, a new parliamentary group made up of cross-party MPs representing constituencies in South West England.
Inevitably, the launch of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) requires a great deal of promotional material, and I greatly enjoyed writing the flyer and introductory brochure for the group, a task which involved conducting interviews with a number of the South West’s most prominent MPs and businesspeople.
To then see my work featured at the group’s inaugural meeting in the House of Commons was a real career highlight – even for a proud Lincolnshire Yellowbelly!
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
I’ve always been intrigued by the ability of the best communicators to distil a message into one simple sentence or phrase. The ability to write one sentence known my millions around the world is, to my mind, one of the most enviable talents.
While there are several hard to forget phrases that spring to mind, the one I keep coming back to is the ubiquitous “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
It seems to have spawned a never-ending supply of spin-offs and while the phrase has definitely reached saturation point (if not gone far beyond it), the simplicity and memorability of the sentence is pretty self-evident. Plus, I think it’s generally good life advice!
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I really feel inspiration can be found anywhere, but nothing is better for clearing the mind than a long walk.
On so many occasions, I’ve left my flat feeling beaten down by some seemingly intractable problem or major case of writer’s block, only to find that after a brisk walk my mind feels clearer, more focused and ready to put pen to paper. Or more accurately, finger to keyboard.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
As someone who has always had a well-developed imagination, being able to put those ideas – no matter how mundane – on to paper is incredibly gratifying.
Quite simply, my favourite task is being able to have a thought or idea, and then to see it in writing before my very eyes! I also enjoy the opportunity to switch between more formal copy, such as annual reports and briefing documents, and chattier, informal blog posts and articles.
As for least favourite, I know from personal experience that a detailed project brief is hugely important. When a client expects you to just “go ahead and do it” with little guidance and only limited information it can be tricky!
Any copywriting pet hates?
I think sometimes, as a sector, copywriting gets a bad rap.
I’ve been fortunate to have worked predominantly with clients who appreciate the importance of having the “right copy” and understand that eye-catching and informative writing can be crucial in getting a company’s message across.
I’m well aware, however, that not all organisations feel this way. Anyone connected with copywriting has come across the attitude of “oh, it’s just words.” I feel most organisations do understand the importance of effective copy, but undoubtedly there are still those who don’t.
During the process of setting up A Quick Word, I even came across a number of people who assume copywriting is connected to copyright and patenting. No, sir, I can’t help you with the intricacies of copyright law!
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Rejection, or the fear of it, can be one of the hardest parts of any career.
On a number of occasions in my early career, I was fortunate enough to have managers and colleagues who helped me to accept that not everyone will appreciate your writing style, your speaking style, or even your way of working.
The best advice came from one of my first managers: keep on learning and improving, but never give up.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
It may seem incredibly obvious, but write, write, and then write some more!
Building a portfolio, especially in the early days of your career, can be tough. Undoubtedly, the more experience you gain the better.
I’m not even referring to published work or work on behalf of a client, just developing the ability to feel comfortable with your writing and having the discipline to sit down, open your laptop and make a start.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
As someone who has only recently founded my business, it’s incredibly useful to learn from others who have experienced the same ups and downs of freelance life.
I’ve found it fascinating to read the ‘Member Spotlight’ section, and to realise that there is such a large and supportive network of commercial writers out there.
When I was doing my initial research, prior to starting A Quick Word, I found the resources and information on ProCopywriters to be really useful in helping me understand the needs of potential clients and the market as a whole.
It really is a “one-stop shop” for all things copywriting.
Where can people find out more about you?
I’m always happy to chat with fellow writers, and who knows, even collaborate!