Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
From a very young age, I’ve had a love affair with words. Words and stories bewitched me, so I knew they were always going to play a part in my life. When I was little, I would rewrite Malory Tower stories with my own characters and scenarios and make my family read them!
After studying psychology at university, I started working in marketing and advertising. Initially doing account management roles, but then I discovered this thing called ‘copywriting’ and knew I’d found my true love!
I decided to go freelance 3 years ago after having my second child. I love being my own boss, having the flexibility of working around my family, the thrill of one day never being the same as another and above all, making my crust from writing!
What work are you most proud of?
Not long ago I wrote some school pupil case stories showcasing their incredible achievements. It was really humbling to learn about the difficulties and challenges these amazing children had experienced and overcome. And how through real strength of character they had thrived in spite of them.
I was proud to be an instrumental part in the telling of their stories, and hopefully provided inspiration to others along the way.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
I recently saw a great example in a storefront window. It was after the latest lockdown restrictions were being eased, with mannequins all beautifully attired and the caption ‘All dressed up and everywhere to go’.
I don’t think this is a new line in adverting, but it felt so poignant for the times we are in. And so perfectly captured a stirring of hope and optimism within the nation.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I think writer’s block doesn’t so much hit me after I’ve begun writing, it’s the paralysis I can feel before I start a project – that glaring blank page with the blinking cursor can be terrifying! The imposter syndrome starts to pipe up and the
gremlins get to work.
But I find by just reading the brief, getting a few ideas down, or going over any customer persona details, reminds me that I do know what I’m doing. And it usually clears the cobwebs and gets those creative juices flowing!
I’ve also realised that I’m much more productive working in small chunks of time and taking regular breaks. Including getting out for some sort of exercise during the day.
If I keep ploughing on, I’m definitely much less effective. I’m currently experimenting with the ‘Pomodore’ technique, which I find is surprisingly helpful in getting me ‘in the zone’.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I love getting under the skin of an organisation and a brand. Learning what makes them tick. And unearthing who their audience is and how I can find a nugget of an idea here and there to connect with them. So, I guess I get a buzz from that initial client brief and research for a new project.
It’s also magical when the words start to flow, and I feel like the messages are forming and connections are going to be made. When it all comes together, it gives you a fantastic high!
Proofreading my own work is so torturous! Probably a sign that I need to outsource that side of things to a professional proofreader, particularly for big projects.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Copy unnecessarily littered with industry jargon and acronyms. It’s so important to speak in plain English, use the language that your audience will understand, and ultimately make that deeper connection. Otherwise, you totally alienate your reader. And clients often have a hard time seeing that!
Not a copywriting pet hate as such, but I also think content mills are pretty damaging to our industry. They really reduce the value of what a copywriter can provide. I’m not saying there aren’t good copywriters to be found on them, they’re just not been paid what they deserve.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
I recently had a coaching call with the fabulous e-mail conversion copywriter Eman Ismail. She gave some wonderful advice about how to remind yourself of the value you offer clients when self-limiting thoughts can creep in.
She said ‘Remember you’re always an expert to someone. And being an expert is only being a few steps ahead of someone else’. So, remind yourself of your value. Let go of perfectionist tendencies and know that you do have something to offer to make your clients’ lives better.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
That’s a biggie. I’ve learned an awful lot on my copywriting journey, but here are a
few tips that come to mind…
You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every project. If it doesn’t feel like the right fit or the company doesn’t sit well with you, then do yourself a favour and say ‘no’.
It might be scary but it’s incredibly empowering. And it can also save you a great deal of grief and needless ‘energy-suck’!
Also, keep a swipe file of copy that inspires you. It can be a virtual file of social media posts that have caught your eye, or email headers that are begging to be opened. Heck, it can even be an actual scrapbook of magazine ads and Oat-ly cartons!
Immersing yourself in good copywriting sparks ideas and shows you how those magnificent marketing maestros do it.
And finally, freelancing can be a lonely old road at times. So, joining copywriting communities, virtual or otherwise can be a real lifeline on those tough days.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
It’s great to belong to a community of like-minded people doing the same thing as you (see above!). Kinda like finding your tribe.
And that sense of community really comes to the fore at the annual ProCopywriters’ CopyCon where you can immerse yourself with fellow copywriters and indulge in all things copywriting.
The ProCopywriters’ survey is also a great snapshot to get a sense of where you’re at compared to other copywriters. I think it also goes some way to banishing the acceptability of poorly paid content mills and establishing an industry-standard around pricing and practices. It’s also a great big shout-out to the world about the fabulous work us copywriters do!