Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I set my heart on a career in writing during my student days when I was an editor on the University of Southampton’s newspaper, Wessex News. I absolutely loved writing and the buzz of seeing my articles in print and seeing people reading them.
I look back with fantastic memories on that experience. I interviewed The Prodigy and lots of world-renowned bands. I also co-founded the university’s music magazine (The Edge), which is still going strong after 25 years.
However, I do have one regret from that time. I passed up the opportunity to interview Oasis just after Definitely Maybe came out – and have regretted it ever since!
Working on the newspaper was a real baptism by fire. It was hard work – lots of late nights in the newsroom fuelled by caffeine while everyone else was in the student bar!
However, I’ve carried the skills I learnt at that time into my professional life. That experience played a bigger role in securing my first professional job as a copywriter than my English degree.
What work are you most proud of?
A few projects come to mind. Recently, I was thrilled to work on the website for my local hospice. I’ve seen first-hand the amazing work they do for people with life-limiting conditions in our community. So, it’s been a real privilege to work on that.
I’ve also managed comms for an NHS Coronavirus healthcare training project for doctors and nurses worldwide. The learning is now being used in over 100 countries and I’m proud to have been part of that project.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
There are so many examples from the copywriting world…Andy Maslen, David Ogilvy and others. But, actually, I’m going to say it’s a song rather than a specific piece of copy.
I’m a huge Beatles fan, so it would have to be ‘She’s Leaving Home’. If you want to learn how to write great words that connect with people, ‘She’s Leaving Home’ is a good place to start. The words are so simple but very powerful at the same time.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I usually go to the gym or take a walk. You need to give your mind a break when you hit a mental block. A lot of thinking goes on unconsciously and I find that a short break enables me to come back refreshed, with a new perspective and new ideas.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
Delivering a piece of work that exceeds a client’s expectations is the most rewarding aspect for me. It’s great to hear that your content has helped clients bring in new business, transform their sales and achieve their goals.
My least favourite is the bookkeeping for my accountant – I hate this!
Any copywriting pet hates?
Jargon is my bugbear. Early in my career, I worked for a very large technology company and I saw rather a lot of jargon-heavy content written by technical people!
But then, I’ve also made a career of getting rid of jargon and transforming poorly written copy into engaging prose. So, it’s kept me busy and in a job!
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
When I first took the leap into freelance copywriting, I was chatting to Steve Knight, a very experienced writer and journalist. He told me that you should never put all your eggs in one basket and rely on one client for work – no matter how much work that client sends your way.
Circumstances may change – the client may retire/move jobs or the company could fold. So, you should keep marketing your business, regardless of how busy you are, and ensure you have a pipeline of work.
The other really important career advice came from my wonderful dad, who passed away some years ago. He told me that I should only follow a career I enjoyed and felt strongly about. That advice has always stood me in good stead.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
First of all, it’s a good idea to test the water before taking the plunge into full-time freelancing. I started out part-time (alongside an employed role) and this allowed me to get a sense of the opportunities and gradually build a client list.
Secondly, don’t be frightened to approach potential clients. I’m an introvert by nature so this doesn’t come naturally to me. But, you can’t afford to be a wallflower when you’re a freelance copywriter – otherwise you’ll never make any money. You need to take the initiative and get your name out there.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
I’ve managed to secure work through the directory so the membership has paid for itself.
The webinars are very interesting, too. I would love to attend some of the events in the future – that’s next on my to-do list!
Where can people find out more about you?
You can find out more about my copywriting and social media management services at: www.brightwords.co.uk
Catch me on Twitter at: @BrightWordsCopy