Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I’m a writer. I always have been – scripts, books, websites, emails, blogs. You name it, I have probably written it.
At first, people came to me to make their writing better, then people started asking me to write an article or web page at the weekend. One day, in 2015, I realised I had enough of a portfolio to take it full time. And I’ve never looked back.
What work are you most proud of?
A website I created this year. It let me bring together a whole range of additional skills I developed working with agencies, like SEO research and UX.
Of course, it centred around my core copywriting abilities. I researched, designed and wrote the entire site. And it’s pretty darned good.
The project took around two months. I analysed the client’s existing site as well as their competitors to find the most valuable SEO terms and plan their customer user journeys. This gave me the structure for the website.
Then I designed, built and wrote a Wix site that the client’s customers would enjoy spending time on (I’m part of the Wix Partner programme).
Happily, they’ve seen a 137% hit increase since the relaunch and are going from strength to strength.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
The resulting ads were inspired and won a stack of awards. The Guinness surfer ad is still regularly at the top of ‘best ad’ charts over 20 years later. The copy is perfect.
Finding your tone of voice and core message elevates everything you produce.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Mull. I love a good mull (and it works). If I mull things over, I find a way through. My subconscious works wonders if left to its own devices for a night or so.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
Website writing is number one for me. And blogs, which are part of all good websites.
I found out how inquisitive I am as researcher for Holby City. So, I love the chance to research for my clients. At the start of a web-based project, I usually have to ask loads of questions so I can write a well-structured and effective website.
I wring out the essence of their answers and distil it into webpages that pull in customers. It is very satisfying.
Last year, I discovered I love case studies for the same reason. I’m less keen on product descriptions or social media, mainly because they are undervalued.
It takes time and skill to deliver strong copy, but clients rarely have a realistic budget for these areas. That is why you see a lot of product description work in content mills or Virtual Assistants delivering social media. Clients literally ask the admin support to do it.
The problem is that social media is the public face of the business almost as much as the website. Everything you put out needs to have the right tone of voice and be well written. Not every client gets that.
But when a client sees the value of good branding, I’m there for it – diving into the qualities of the product, or designing and creating campaigns the public will love.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Word count, budgets and niches.
Budgets set by word count happen in content mills or when people haven’t worked with a copywriter before: a 250-word web page often takes more time, effort and skill than a 1000-word blog.
Coming up with a strong tag line might take days of interviews, research and brainstorming for one sentence or a few words. And that phrase could have immense value for the client.
This is why I usually quote for a fixed project scope rather than by word or by the hour.
I also have a problem with niches. A professional writer should have strong research skills and love learning about the world. We have to know how to interview well to get the information we need.
I’m confident I can write about your business whatever industry you’re in because I do my own research and ask the right questions.
I’ve written on everything from international shipping, forex trading, cybersecurity and telecoms to anniversaries, child psychology, coworking and fried chicken. And that’s not a comprehensive list.
You don’t need a niche writer. You need a good writer.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
“Why not you?”
With that question, a door unlocked in my mind. As a child, I’d always seen TV as a glamorous career that was bestowed onto some mysterious magical people. Not something a policeman’s daughter from Brighton could ever do.
The fab Ms Winton opened my eyes by challenging this belief. These people have to come from somewhere, she argued, so why not you?
That advice has propelled me forwards my whole life. It took me to the script rooms of Holby City and Silent Witness in my 20s, it took me backpacking on a one-way ticket to Australia at 30, and now it gives me the confidence to run my own business.
Some people are lucky enough to work from home being paid to write about anything and everything. I am one of them.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Do your homework, avoid content mills, and find your tribe.
A short but sweet answer for a change.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
ProCopywriters connects me with my copywriting tribe as well as sending new clients to my door.
I’ve got to know so many copywriters by going to the ProCopywriters conference and connecting with them on social media.
Early on, I realised other copywriters are not my competitors, they are my cheerleaders and support network. We learn so much from each other and there’s plenty of work out there.
Where can people find out more about you?
If people want to see more of my work, my website (www.wordsbypage.com/) is a good place to start.
But I’m always up for a quick chat on the phone. That way I can point you to the most relevant work I’ve done, and you can tell me about your project.