Sharon Gethings — ProCopywriters Member Spotlight Revisited

How has your business changed since your first Member Spotlight interview?

The biggest change is the sheer number of people wanting to be copywriters. Every job/project I see advertised on social media is swamped with applications in minutes.

I think there are a number of reasons for this such as cutbacks in journalism, redundancies in other professions, and some people wanting to top up non-writing work salaries because “anyone can write, can’t they?”

This is all fine but I hope we don’t go down the road of national journalism, where losing sub-editors and proofreaders has led to a drop in standards, alongside a drop in rates.

It breaks my heart when I see bad grammar and spelling in published media. Why a client would want to pay less for poorer copy is beyond me – it’s their brand on the line!

What’s been your biggest success since your first Member Spotlight interview?

Honestly? Navigating the pandemic financially and managing my anxiety when work is sparse! I also worked on a couple of massive bids for two international companies that were fascinating.

Why did you decide to focus on the kind of work you’re doing now?

If you mean freelance copywriting, it’s because I enjoy the freedom of working from home on my own clock. I would like to do more advertising and naming copy as I enjoy it and have a knack for it.

What are you enjoying most about your industry or niche?

I don’t really have a niche. I didn’t want a full-time job because I don’t enjoy doing the same thing week/month in, week/month out.

I love learning about new topics and projects, although it can sometimes be hard convincing a client you can do it without an exact replica of the work in your portfolio.

My rule is that if I can write copy that I understand, then a layperson (or potential customer) will understand it.

What are you working on just now?

A blog and press releases for a tech insurance company and some advertorials for a financial publication.

Describe your desk and what’s on it, or the view from your window

OK, again I’ll be honest. I usually sit on the sofa with a laptop on my lap. I know it’s wrong in so many ways but it’s where the creativity flows.

If I have lots of papers and research, I will sit at the desk looking out over the lovely geraniums in our window boxes.

Tell us about your side projects

We board dogs when owners go away on holiday. My partner is a freelance IT consultant and does all their walking as I have relapsing remitting MS.

This means I have to pay extra attention to making sure the hounds have enough love and play when they’re in our flat.

If I could do this full time and combine it with, say, writing about dogs, I’d be in my happiest place.

How has your writing process evolved?

As well as second reading my copy after a break, I ask my partner to read it. He’ll often spot an inconsistency or non sequitur I’ve missed with his fresh eye.

What do you wish copywriters were more honest about?

How much they charge (though people are becoming more transparent about this) and when they’re struggling to find work.

I know it can look bad to clients when things are quiet, but we can be honest in private groups. I sometimes think I’m the only one having a really bad time while everyone else is having to turn work down.

What advice do you often hear given to newbies, but you don’t agree with? Why?

That anyone can train to be a writer. I think you can train to be a better writer, but the skill or ‘magic’ is innate.

Any lessons you’re still learning?

I really need to up my marketing game.

What’s something about your work that makes your inner copywriting nerd happy, but you’re not able to chat about enough?

I’m not really nerdy about writing. I think it should be free and flexible. If you know the rules well enough, you know how to break them.

What do you think?

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