Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
It sounds a bit of a cliché but I have always loved English and excelled in it throughout my formal education. Therefore it was no surprise that I chose to work with words following my degree.
I started out in publishing as an assistant editor and went on to edit a variety of magazines and newspapers, mostly in the B2B sector.
I tackled the heady heights of the pharmaceutical marketing industry and international counter-terrorism, rather than the more glamourous worlds of Vogue or Country Life, but it must have been the right choice as, 30 years later, I’m still here.
As long as you have a good foundation in English, you can conquer most subjects.
These days I have a particular interest in the arts and helping artists and makers to publicise and sell their work. I write regular blogs and articles for
several art organisations.
What work are you most proud of?
One of my career highlights was launching a new digital magazine for a B2B company. I was responsible for planning, writing and commissioning all the content. It was both challenging and exciting.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
That’s simples! The Compare the Market/Meerkat advertising campaign.
Back when it launched in 2009 – yes over 10 years ago – you could even visit a related website to compare meerkats. I actually did that – not sure why!
The agency really took care to flesh out the extra details that would make the campaign fun and engaging.
Today everyone is aware of meerkats and momentum has been maintained with the evolution of the brand into merchandising and cinema partnerships, among other things.
Who’d have thought an insurance comparison brand could be made so memorable and the characters kept so enduring?
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
If there isn’t a deadline looming, I go for a walk or start again another day. Research on the internet can help with inspiration or a different angle.
Often a solution hits in the middle of the night so I make a note on my phone and see if it still makes sense in the morning.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I always enjoy finding out about a company and working out a plan to repurpose existing content or develop new ideas as part of a marketing plan. This stage always ignites my imagination. Even companies that think they’re dull have an interesting story to tell.
The hardest part is making clients realise that content marketing works but it can take time to have an impact. It can be demoralising when results seem slow at first.
People seem to expect quick wins in all aspects of life, but successful businesses are built on a foundation of hard work.
Any copywriting pet hates?
As an editor first and foremost, I hate poor grammar and spelling mistakes. Unfortunately, almost every article or news piece I read online has errors, even on channels that consider themselves professional organisations.
I know everyone is racing to be the first to publish the latest scoop, but it undermines the content, and the company, if it has not been checked and corrected before publication.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Don’t start an article with the word ‘the’. This simple rule forces you to be more creative from the outset.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Don’t start an article with the word ‘the’. Try to work in a sector that you enjoy as then you will be genuinely engaged and keen to research that field to improve your knowledge and hence your writing.
With luck, your enthusiasm will be transmitted to your potential clients and they will be pleased to hire you. Also, keep up to date with broader trends in marketing and copywriting.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
As many of us work in isolation, it is great to read the blogs from other writers, both for the tips and to remind yourself that you are part of a wide network of supportive individuals who face the same challenges.
Also, being part of a professional organisation demonstrates to clients that you are serious about your copywriting career.
Where can people find out more about you?
Check out my website and business tips blogs at wordbanks.uk