Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
Well, like so many others, I kind of stumbled across copywriting as a career choice. I spent 15 years working in sales, marketing, and communications roles in the travel industry.
Then, after years of people asking me to help them to “write things better” I started to realise that the writing bit was what I did best.
I’m furiously passionate about keeping things human in the crazy, digital, overwhelming world we now live in, and overcomplicated things frustrate me immensely.
So, combine all of that with a dream of working for myself, a desire to help others and a yearning for a properly flexible career to work around my family, and copywriting became a natural and perfect choice.
Redundancy finally gave me the chance (or rather the kick up the bum!) I needed to go it alone.
What work are you most proud of?
My first piece of writing as a freelancer. It was a sample piece created in a bit of a hurry but proved to me that I was able to do it. I just wrote about what I knew and from the heart and the words flowed.
It meant that I secured my first job for a company that I’m still working closely with now and who have given me such positive feedback from the very start.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
But I particularly love the way Oatly fill a side of their packaging with words that purposely don’t say anything other than giving personality. It makes me smile and I think that’s a sure sign of great copy.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Mainly I’m grateful to have a job where there’s an actual name for the time when my brain is telling me to rest. Overcoming it usually involves me getting outside or moving my body…or a combination of both.
So, a walk, some yoga, a run (I’m a novice runner but I love the escapism it’s given me in the last year). Or I’ll put on some music and dance round the kitchen whilst cooking or baking.
My best ideas often come when I’m doing something unrelated, so I have notebooks everywhere and use the voice recorder on my phone if I need to get ideas down quickly.
I just need to find a way to record the stuff that comes up when I’m in the shower or driving as inevitably this is when I strike gold… and then I have to repeat it over and over until I can get it down on paper.
What are your favourite and least and favourite writing-related tasks?
My favourite is the buzz I get when a piece of writing just clicks into place. When it stops sounding like writing and starts sounding like a conversation.
And then when you get the positive feedback to confirm that the person you’re writing for has got that same buzz.
My least is the constant pressure of social media. It’s such an ever-growing, ever-changing beast and, as humans, we’re just not designed to produce or consume information at such a rate.
There are of course many benefits to it, but I try to use it in moderation and to not let it take too much control of how or what I write.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Anything that comes across as aggressive and arrogant. Whether it’s using caps, too many exclamation marks or language that suggests you know it all. A slice of humble pie goes a long way in my book.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
It’s been general life advice rather than specific career advice…and it’s to “cross that bridge when you come to it”. I’ve always been one to look too far ahead and worry about things I might not need too.
But this advice has stuck with me more than ever in the last year as we all started to realise we had even less control over how things turn out. As my business has grown I’ve had to cross bridges I might have thought I couldn’t. But I’ve learnt that as soon as you’ve crossed it, it’s so much easier on the other side.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Say yes to all the opportunities that come your way. Read lots, be inspired not intimidated by other writers…oh and don’t forget to move.
And if you’re going freelance then get some good advice on the sensible stuff. I did Hannah Abbott’s course, and it was such a good foundation for building my own business.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
I really enjoy reading blog posts and member spotlights about fellow writers, I’m nosey so love finding out about others. But it’s important too as it can feel pretty isolated working alone.
Knowing there are others out there doing the same thing and being inspired by them is a great part of being a Procopywriters member.
Where can people find out more about you?
My shiny new website www.birdsongcopywriting.co.uk