Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I had been working for some years as a journalist and author, so it chose me, rather than me choosing it. I found myself consulting for brands and PR firms, so it was a natural progression over time.
I still mix copywriting with ideas consultancy, writing non-fiction, the odd piece of journalism and being involved in social history and arts projects.
What work are you most proud of?
I think the copywriting I am most proud of was all the work I did for Debt Hacker. It was a few months of frenetic work, but we achieved a lot with a small team, getting millions of pounds back for those in debt due to high-cost loans form payday lenders.
But I’m proud of a lot of my editorial work too, having written for the Guardian, Telegraph, Dwell and many, many others.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
This is really tough.
I tend to write longer copy than slogans or single lines. So probably something from Orwell that has become a part of the language, like “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
That said, my work has somehow found its way into several dictionaries, which is always a nice surprise.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I don’t have it often. But a walk or a bath are my solutions.
What are your favourite and least and favourite writing-related tasks?
I think admin is my weak point. I love to create, but don’t really love invoicing or filing.
My favourite part is coming up with ideas. So much so that I now do a kind of ideas consultancy, where I go into businesses and run brainstorming sessions with them, their staff or clients. It really works and throws up all kinds of original thought.
Any copywriting pet hates?
People who are overly precious about their copy and about edits. Copy is there to do a job. You can write your novel on your own time.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Never work for exposure or a promise of more work to come.
I come from a working-class background, so I always work on the basis that I am like a plumber for hire. I am not coming round to plumb in your bidet for exposure, thank you.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Always put a little of yourself in the copy. Whatever it is.
You’re not a machine and people are paying for you to write for them, rather than someone else. So always try to inject a little something that could only have come from you, even if you are writing copy for a shampoo bottle or packaging for a letter-opener.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
It is a great place to show people my portfolio, which tends to be scattered across the web in all kinds of genres and styles.
Where can people find out more about you?
My portfolio and contacts are on thisidea.co.uk.
You can also find my really out of date website at iainaitch.com (which very much shows me up as a cobbler with holes in his shoes).
And you can find the social history company I’m a Director of at rendezvousprojects.org.uk