Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I didn’t actually choose a career in copywriting. I’m a sales, marketing and SEO specialist and copywriting has just played a big part in what I have done throughout most of my working life.
I’ve always loved writing and when I was at school I wanted to be a journalist. This didn’t happen because I decided I wasn’t interested in going to university. I wanted to get a good job though and I got my first job at 18 in a different type of media role – namely “media sales” for a big publishing company.
I guess that’s where my copywriting experience began, as I used to write some of the classified adverts that I sold.
Throughout my career, I went on to writing copy for all sorts of other sales and marketing areas, such as sales literature, media packs, press releases, flyers, mailshots, press adverts etc
Then, during my time in the digital sector (which spans 20 years), I have been heavily involved in most aspects of digital and SEO copywriting.
This has included website writing, SEO writing (on-page and off-page), PPC writing, blog writing, digital media packs, digital press releases etc.
I now do digital consultancy and digital/ SEO copywriting, alongside strategic work. A lot of content planning is involved in this. I believe the planning stage is a very important part of digital copywriting, particularly when it comes to writing sales and marketing copy and/or SEO orientated copy that is set to get results.
What work are you most proud of?
I think the fact that I’ve written many pieces of website/SEO copy that have achieved good sales enquiries and/or search engine results have to be the answer to this.
However, as far as my writing is concerned, I hope that my proudest moments are yet to come. I am currently working on a number of different writing projects (books, poetry etc) and this work is an area I hope to achieve a great sense of pride from in the future.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
It is not so much what piece of copy, but what area of copywriting I wish I’d gone into. I love lots of the copy that appears on big brand adverts and wish I had written copy for a major ad campaign!
When I was in my early twenties, I did a project at a sales and marketing course, which was judged by a senior creative from a well-known ad agency.
The project was to come up with the concept for an imaginary TV/radio advert and write the copy for it. I did really well at it.
Afterwards, the ad agency representative suggested that he thought I was in the wrong job. He said he thought that I should seriously consider trying to become a copywriter for a major ad agency. I didn’t follow his advice and sometimes I wish I had looked into it further.
I think copywriting for an ad agency would have been far more creative than many aspects of SEO/ digital copywriting.
If I’m honest, I think I have a natural flair for this type of creative copywriting. On occasions, I have wished I’d taken a different copywriting path.
That said, there has never been a better time to be involved in the digital sector than now! So, I certainly don’t regret taking the digital route.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I very rarely have this problem! I love writing and I’m usually full of ideas and generally find it easy to put pen to paper.
For me, the issues I encounter with copywriting are usually to do with other things. Condensing and editing copy is something that I can find annoying. Also, having to focus on other areas of digital work when I’m in writing mode can be very frustrating at times.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
Favourite tasks: research about the project, coming up with ideas, the actual writing, keyword research (for SEO purposes and communication with clients. I also love the creative element when writing ad copy, tag lines, slogans etc.
Least favourite tasks: editing and condensing, spelling and grammar checking, and having to hold back on creativity due to SEO constraints (when writing SEO copy).
Any copywriting pet hates?
I don’t really have copywriting pet hates as such, but I do like my own space whenever I’m writing. One pet hate I do have when writing, is being interrupted in mid-flow (by people talking loudly, music, or phones ringing etc).
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Probably the example I gave in question 3, but seeing as I didn’t act on that advice, then I would say it’s the following: “You need to put yourself in the shoes of the potential searcher (reader).” I can’t remember who told me this, but at some point in my early digital career, someone did.
It was a really excellent piece of advice for so many areas of digital activity! It’s definitely a fundamental consideration in good SEO work, and applying this advice is probably one of the key reasons why I have done so well in SEO. However, it also applies to all sorts of areas of digital copywriting.
With most digital copywriting (including but not limited to writing SEO copy), I believe you need to think about how the ideal reader thinks.
This means that identifying the typical target audience before writing and thinking about their potential “needs” are two integral components of good digital copywriting.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a
A number of important things come to mind:
- Aim to work in (or write for) a sector that interests you. Ideally, it should be one that you think you will enjoy writing for and are likely to want to progress in.
- No matter how much you like writing, it can be quite a solitary role. Therefore, looking for something that combines the opportunity to write and do some other things too could be a good option in the early days.
- These days, there are many digital roles where copywriting forms part of the role, but where you also have the opportunity to get involved in other areas.
- I would say gaining training in some sort of digital copywriting as early on as you can is highly likely to be a worthwhile thing to do!
- Last but not least, if you’re thinking of a career freelancing then you’ll need other skills as well. It’s certainly not just about the writing!
You’ll require a good understanding of how to gain clients, communicate with clients, market your services and manage your business effectively. Thought and planning and learning will need to go into all these areas.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
I think that it’s useful for various reasons.
One benefit it offers is providing opportunities like this – to get information about your writing in front of an audience that is likely to have an interest.
Other benefits include the regular events, newsletters etc and being part of a membership association with people that work in a similar field.
I also think it adds potential “sales value” to be a member. By taking the time to join and create a good profile, I think it is a good way to show potential clients you are a high calibre copywriter.
In the digital area in particular, there are a lot of people claiming to be digital copywriters who don’t really have the credentials to back up the claim. So finding ways to stand out from the crowd is important. I think Procopywriters can help experienced copywriters do this.
Where can people find out more about you?
You can also follow brandplanning.co.uk on Twitter @ukbrandplanning. I often tweet informative posts relating to digital sales/marketing/copywriting and SEO.
I also write rhyming picture book texts for children and I work with a great illustration/design team on this. We haven’t had any of the work published yet, but we plan to get some books published in the future.
You can see more about this side of my writing at https://www.booksandgames.co.uk