Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I’m a qualified solicitor and spent many years – too many years – working in big commercial law firms before I realised the sacrifice wasn’t worth it.
I was being pushed into an ever-narrowing niche and doing the same type of legal work every day. I like variety, so that was incredibly frustrating for me!
Coincidentally, when my second child was born I wrote an article about my experiences and sent it off to the “Green Parent” magazine.
They accepted it (and paid for it) right away. That’s how I discovered I could make a career out of writing. I spent a year testing out every type of writing I could think of – content, sales, educational materials, technical stuff. I landed on copy and it stuck.
What work are you most proud of?
The last work I did. I often look back at my early projects and compare them with the work I’m doing now. Today has to be better than yesterday. Otherwise, what’s the point?
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
So, a couple of weeks ago my daughter slapped Burger King’s now infamous “women belong in the kitchen” tweet in front me and asked, “Did you write that?” The answer’s no, obviously. But I do love words that cause a bit of a stir!
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I’m a push-through-it type of person and I’ll always try to get something down. Even a shoddy draft is better than no draft at all.
Then I’ll just move onto another project, or take a walk, or do one of the millions of chores that need doing. The ideas always land at some point. The hardest part is trusting the creative process.
What are your favourite and least and favourite writing-related tasks?
Confession: I don’t like the act of writing very much. Those people who talk about ‘getting into the flow’ where this writing superpower takes over and they can just crank out the good stuff for hours on end? Yeah, I never experience that.
Every piece of copy I write is extracted, sliced, diced, wrestled, mangled and experimented on until it’s exactly where I want it to be. Luckily, I love the editing process!
Any copywriting pet hates?
Technical gumph. I work in the B2B, tech and finance space, and it’s a tough job pulling engineers away from their jargon.
They see the value in explaining the complexities of their work in plain English, but getting them comfortable with it is another matter.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Choose a niche…but not too early in your copywriting career. I kicked back so hard against niching when I left the law and took on projects in every imaginable sector.
It helped me figure out what kind of work I did and didn’t like, and gave me the variety I was craving. I’ve gravitated back to professional services over the years, but it was a really organic process. I’m happy with that.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Play to your strengths. Look at your networks, your interests and your life skills and see what intersections are there. You need a lot of passion and persistence in the early days, so it’s essential that you’re writing about the things you care about.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
It’s an amazing screening device. The clients who find me through ProCopywriters understand that copywriting is a profession and they’re looking for someone credible.
They value quality and they’re happy to pay for it. Let’s face it, that’s not always the case in the writing world.
Plus I’m really nosy, and it’s fun seeing how other copywriters present themselves!