Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
At the age of 6 I left Brownies to write a book.
Obviously that didn’t happen, but it shows that writing has always been on the radar. 30 years later, with an English degree in my back pocket, I’d had enough of my corporate HR career.
One of my best friends mentioned copywriting as a career so I googled it and decided I would do that instead. And here I am, four years later with a successful freelance copywriting business.
What work are you most proud of?
Probably a piece I wrote recently for one of my agency clients.
The end client was a silicon valley giant and the copy was an internal vision paper for some of their most senior leaders. The topic was complex but very interesting and it related to freelance workers and technology so it was highly relevant. H
Hopefully, this paper will persuade the business to invest in technology to support freelancer workers and the businesses they work for.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
I love the GRRRL website. I don’t do a huge amount of B2C but I just love their brand values and how strongly they come across in their copy: “Every ceiling we shatter, every opinion we change, every rule we unwrite is one the next generation won’t have to deal with.”
Female empowerment and body positivity is a big deal to me and GRRRL has got it down. They even use the copy on their clothing labels to encourage women to back each other and spread body positivity. What’s not to love?
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Stop. And do something completely different. Like go for a walk or tidy the kitchen.
Otherwise, I’ll spend four hours writing average copy that should have taken two. However, if I have a pressing deadline, I’ll write through the block until the words start to flow again. Then I go back for several hard edits.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I’m not a fan of copyediting as I feel restricted by what the original writer has written.
I can see how the copy could be so much better but I think there are limits when it comes to how much you change. You’re usually confined by budget and time but also because the copy is in someone else’s style.
My favourite writing involves taking complex topics – like employee bonuses, electric cars and digital technology – and making them interesting and understandable. I also really enjoy websites for some reason, no idea why!
Any copywriting pet hates?
In my world, grammar should help you to understand meaning and make your point as effectively as possible. But archaic rules like em dashes and semicolons are outdated and can confuse the reader and break flow.
I believe in bending the rules to suit the copy – as long as what you’ve written is understandable and consistent, the remote edges of grammar can be ignored.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Find your niche. I didn’t want to close off opportunities when I first started copywriting but three years in I decided it was silly not to use my HR and compensation and benefits experience.
So I niched in this area and put my fees up and my business went mad. Interestingly, I not only got busier in my niche area but also in other areas/sectors. During the 2019-2020 tax year, I doubled my year-on-year turnover in just nine months.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Know your worth, charge it and continually review your rates.
Easier said than done when you’re building a portfolio and you’re short on work and money. But as soon as you start to get busy, hike your prices.
This is a regular practice for me – I increase my rates every new financial year and sometimes partway through the year if I’ve gained additional experience or written for a big client.
You’re not only doing yourself a massive favour but the rest of the copywriting community too.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
It’s been great for me in terms of finding new customers. I always ask where people have found me and they often say PCN. I’ve recouped my membership fee many times over each year through income from new work.
I’ve just moved to Weston-Super-Mare and I’m confident the membership will boost my presence in the south-west.