Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I’ve wanted some form of writing job since I was small; I know that sounds glib. I mostly wrote stories and comic strips back then, as well as bizarre advertorials for things such as lipstick, teabags and nose jobs (?).
This vague writer dream led me to study English with Creative Writing at university, and that’s where I first considered copywriting as a profession. Even then, I had no real career plan when I graduated.
I ended up in a Bristol press office collating market research surveys. Eventually, after piping up enough times that I preferred words to data, I bagged a role on the creative news team.
For 2 years I wrote slick news copy for brands and PR people, eager to get their stories in the national press. One of my first bylines was in the Metro: a hard-hitting piece about a guy who had been loyal to his same hairdresser for 40 years.
Following a career break (classic mid-twenties travelling stint), I took on a role in a small travel-tech startup, writing their destination content and itineraries.
The business grew, and within a couple of years, I was heavily involved in content marketing for the brand, heading up all Ethics and Sustainability communications and managing a small team of content writers…
…Until our fun-hating chum, Covid, came along and deftly turned the travel industry, and my team, to crumbs. So that was that.
It was very natural, the decision to go freelance, almost like it was decided already. During the winter lockdown, SIXMOONS was birthed. So you could say I was pushed into copywriting, but it was always there in the background waiting for me to say, ‘How about now?’
What work are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the work I’m creating right now, for a sustainable, millennial/Gen-Z period brand I’ve just taken on. They’re exactly the kind of client I was hoping for when I launched, so I went directly to them, asked to work together and they said yes.
I’m loving the work itself (writing feminist, inclusive copy and content with a sense of humour – the dream) but that I’m doing it at all is a lesson for me in being bold and going for what you want.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
So many pieces. I’m hesitant to choose the big corps, but I shamelessly loved KFC’s ‘FCK’ campaign that time they ran out of chicken.
Also, one of my favourite storytelling concepts was Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner ad from that same year (2018). It is very funny, acutely aware of its audience and of itself.
Content-wise, Sonder&Tell’s newsletters are enviously great – full of brand voice tips and industry insights. As an agency, they’ve nailed how to show off their skills in a way that feels generous, not self-serving.
That said, I get most of my inspiration from books, film and comedy. Lately, I love Patricia Lockwood (author of Priestdaddy and No One is Talking About This). She has a real talent for an unexpected turn of phrase, often to note the absurdity of everything.
Special mention for her weird tweets – ‘I am a Dan Brown novel and you do me in my plot-hole. ‘Wow,’ I yell in ecstasy, ‘This makes no sense at all.’ I’m highlighting or screen-shotting constantly when I read her.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Oh, I’m well-versed in the old block.
For me, having a set of routines and rituals is my baseline for writing well in the first place. If you still hit a block, get well away from it; go outside, breathe some air, give yourself time (if you have that luxury).
If it’s more of a deep set block, I find reading something intriguing or looking for art outside of my industry always gets me into the flow again. If all else fails, cold shower and dance around naked.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
My favourite, and I’m sure all writers agree, is when I have the freedom from the client to be creative or break the rules a little bit.
The least favourite is having to scour through dates and figures to fact-check things. Very important and dull.
Any copywriting pet hates?
I don’t like aggressive selling or guilt-tripping as a way to hook your audience.
Shame tactics have been the go-to in advertising for decades but thankfully, thanks to social media, I think we’re moving past the whole, ‘Are you beach body ready?’ era. Thank god.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
I can’t choose, I live for good advice. Most recently, I got so much out of Jia Jiang’s TED talk 100 days of rejection.
Basically, rejection is something to be expected and even sought – over and over and over. The quicker you desensitise yourself, the more you open the door for magic to happen.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Network with other copywriters, they are great for advice and mentorship and might also throw you some work.
Work on your mindset, as you’ll need to be your own biggest cheerleader.
Say YES to what makes you buzz with nerves. But don’t feel bad saying no to what feels misaligned or boring. Why go freelance to be bored?
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
The blogs and resources are great, potential clients have found me there, and it’s just comforting to feel part of a national hub of friendly and talented copywriters.