Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
My first job after Uni involved working in sales admin for a security wholesaler.
One day, a promotional flyer arrived with the office post. It promoted a free workshop sponsored by the Royal Mail teaching direct mail and promotional marketing techniques.
I persuaded my boss to send me along as the accompanying offer of discounted postage for a 1000-piece direct mail campaign would come in very handy to let our customers know we were moving premises!
The first exercise of the workshop was learning how to write a press release. I was instantly hooked and started writing press releases about anything remotely engaging that my employer did!
I knew I’d found my calling when some of those first efforts went on to generate a few column inches in the Yorkshire Post.
From there, I joined and later led the marketing team of a Building Society (justifying my economics degree). On leaving that role, and having been client-side for many years, I contracted for a while, learning how different organisations optimised the power of words in their marketing.
A short spell as an Account Director for an advertising agency brought me into contact with freelancer copywriters, and that’s when the pieces started falling into place.
By this time, having been made redundant twice, I was fed up with having my destiny in other people’s hands and decided to take the plunge with self-employment.
What work are you most proud of?
Every freelancer remembers the thrill (and terror) of their first solo project. My first was working with the Plain English Campaign to realign the brand voice of a household name company that was geographically and culturally diverse.
It was really tough, but I learned loads about the impact of communication on creating and managing change.
Other favourite projects include those where I know my copy has had a positive impact on the client personally as well as professionally. The lady whose near-catastrophic business story appeared on the front page of her local newspaper is my favourite.
A business Angel read of her plight and came forward with the help her business desperately needed but not only that, they later got together as a couple!
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
Any iconic VW ad from the 1960s onwards!
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I’ll do a bit of creative faffing like knitting or doodling to zone-out and stop trying too hard.
If my mind is still totally blank, I just start typing, the click of the keys usually triggers something.
What are your favourite and least and favourite writing-related tasks?
Favourite tasks are where I get a creatively very free brief, inventing names for Superheroes has to be my all-time favourite! Conversely, I like the challenge of injecting a client’s tone of voice and personality into heavily regulated subject matter.
Copy by committee is soul-sapping.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Mixed-case, mixed-font or alpha-numeric brand names; both reading and having to type them drives me nuts!
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
From a journalist: “Check everything, even the things you know are right.” From every workshop and webinar (thank you, ProCopywriters0: never stop learning!
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Network, network, network. Talk to people, show genuine interest, listen to what they’ve got to say, be generous with your knowledge, demonstrate your value, and charge accordingly.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
For me, ProCopywriters is a support network, an educator, and a source of work. I value the way it elevates our profession, and I’ve had some great projects through it.
Where can people find out more about you?
On my website: https://www.whatsitdoodah.co.uk
On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin/in/whatsitdoodah