Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
Like many people, entirely by accident! I spent 17 years in the teaching profession, going from Secondary English specialist to Special Educational Needs lead, then manager of a unit for emotionally vulnerable teenagers. I also tutored and marked GCSE Language and Literature exam papers for many years.
But when I had my first baby, I realised that this emotionally intense, all-consuming job was not going to be sustainable. It didn’t fit around childcare, and I would have been demoted if I went part-time.
So I tried the stay-at-home-mum thing. It really didn’t suit me. I needed something intellectual to occupy my busy brain – but switching careers is tough!
It was a marketing friend of mine who pointed out my transferable skills. Turns out, all these years studying and honing my reading and writing skills for other people’s benefit, was the perfect training for a career in copywriting! She gave me my first freelance gig, and I never looked back.
What work are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my growth from copywriter to brand strategist. Now I get to take people on the whole journey. From finding their “why” and brand essence, to crafting their core messaging, website and content. The process is so revealing and can help people see their strengths and opportunities through new eyes.
I’m incredibly proud to have done this work with businesses like Brightelm and Ritch Digital. It’s a powerful and transformative process which goes way beyond the words. It really sets businesses up for success.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
I’m a sucker for the fun, the lively, the witty and the entertaining. Whatever makes me smile. And I’m a musician too, so I’m going to choose a song – is that allowed?
The classic Milky Way ad “Red Car and the Blue Car had a Race” has never left my mind in [ahem] years. And that’s seriously impressive. When I’m not writing copy I can often be found making up silly song parodies with my ukulele in hand – so this is like the epitome of witty, fun copy + music.
Does it count as copy? In a broader marketing/advertising sense, I’d argue it does. It tells a clear, memorable story, captures the imagination, sells the benefits of the product, nails the target audience and makes you want to join in the fun.
My kids even know this ad because we sing it to them, just as a fun song and story to share. They don’t even know it as an ad – so it’s transcended its medium. I’d call that a powerful success. And very, very inspiring.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Ask someone else! Honestly – I think if it’s not coming together you can waste a ton of time faffing about. I’m all for getting someone else’s take in order to move forward. And I return the favour too, of course.
Usually, I’ll reach out to someone in my copywriting network. Just chatting it though informally can really help. As can chatting about something completely different, just to refresh the mind. I’m here for my copywriting pals and they’re here for me – they’ve helped jump-start me out of a copy impasse more than once.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I love the mixture of writing jobs that copywriting brings. One day I could be working on a series of straplines, the next day I could be writing an informative blog. Variety is my favourite!
My least favourite is trying to rewrite someone else’s work. It can get very frustrating trying to make changes and restructure sentences here and there while preserving someone else’s style. Often it feels like it would be easier to start again.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Bro-speak is a pet hate. Punchy, short, single sentences in a list, that somehow feel like you’re being attacked, or shouted at aggressively. I don’t know anyone who responds to that. Copy should feel natural, like a conversation.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
That I am a writer. It took me a long time to allow myself to say it. It’s daft isn’t it, but it always felt like the term “writer” was the preserve of the gifted few, and not for the likes of me. Until a friend of mine told me I needed to stop hiding from the term – I am earning money as a writer, therefore I am a writer!
Now I accept it, and with that has come a ton of self-belief. We shouldn’t shy away from our talent. Effective communication is an essential life skill and we deserve to feel good about our capabilities.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Your network is your strength. Build yourself a family of writers and complimentary professionals. Help them, refer them and they’ll help you and refer jobs to you in return. Copywriters are an incredibly supportive bunch who, in my experience, cannot do enough to help each other succeed.
I’d also encourage aspiring writers to get a really solid grounding in the building blocks of the English language. My degree and English teaching career gave me a deep foundation in grammar, structure and technique – knowledge which I rely on every day.
And finally, I’d say never stop learning. It’s easy to forget about professional development when you’re self-employed, but it’s essential to progression, growth and remaining competitive.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
It’s a great source of inspiring writers and has a fantastic bank of essential skills.
And the survey is invaluable. Many times have I drawn on the “average daily rate” to show a client what copywriters should be getting paid. It’s such a fantastic resource for the profession.
Where can people find out more about you?
My website is cleanslatecopywriting.co.uk I also deliver webinars and training, so please get in touch to see what’s coming up.