Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I’ve always loved writing in one form or another, so a career in copywriting seemed like a natural choice.
After completing my English degree, I landed a job as an Editorial Assistant at a financial publishing firm. While the world of tax and accountancy was unfamiliar territory at the tender age of 21, I soon progressed to Editor.
Suffice to say that a decade later, technical topics like capital gains tax and pensions tax relief were much less intimidating! After 11 years in the role and with two young children, I was ready to take on a new challenge. And that’s when Sam Pickford Copywriting was born.
Like most people, I enjoy the flexibility and freedom that freelancing offers. But it’s more than that. I love the sense of achievement that comes with being your own boss.
I still do a happy dance around the kitchen whenever I secure a new client or receive positive feedback on a project. It’s these little wins that make the coffee-fuelled starts and late nights worthwhile.
What work are you most proud of?
That’s a tricky one. I’d probably say a guide I produced on behalf of a major fintech company. The brief involved interviewing the directors and, as one of my first freelancing projects, it felt a little daunting.
Of course, I needn’t have worried; they were very friendly and the client loved the final copy.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
I have a passion for homes and interiors so I love working on anything related to this (a million miles from accountancy, I know!).
I particularly admire Loaf. Their casual tone of voice captures the brand perfectly. Who needs a sofa when you can have a laid-back loafing machine?
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I’d like to say I do something radical but that’s not the case. If I’m struggling for inspiration, I usually step away for 10 minutes and put the kettle on – after all, who doesn’t love a pick-me-up cuppa?
Working around school hours means I have to keep to a pretty strict schedule. Knowing there’s a 3pm cut-off looming helps me to stay focused and push through any writer’s block that I might encounter.
I also remind myself that no matter how frustrated I feel at that moment, it always works out in the end.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I love writing blogs, particularly consumer-facing content. It’s even better when the client gives you the freedom to be creative and bend the rules.
My least favourite task is checking facts and figures. It’s essential but it’s not the most exciting part of the job. Chasing up invoices isn’t a barrel of laughs either, but hey, it’s a necessary evil if you want to get paid!
Any copywriting pet hates?
Keyword stuffing. It’s not necessary and it does more harm than good.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Know your worth. I spent months undercharging clients, especially during the early days of my freelancing career (imposter syndrome strikes again). But if you’re good at what you do, you shouldn’t feel afraid or embarrassed to charge accordingly.
As I once read, your day rate is not your employed salary divided by 365. Clients are paying for your experience, industry knowledge and all those extra clicks/likes/sales that your copy will generate.
And let’s not forget, as a freelancer you’ll be saving them a sizeable amount in PAYE and NICs.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Initially, I was hesitant to take on projects in areas where I had no prior experience. But I soon realised that challenging myself was key to becoming a better copywriter.
I’ve now written on everything from engineering to hair transplants and worked on a variety of projects including white papers, brand stories and even an autobiography. Blogs and website content are still my first love but I’m happy to push myself to try new things.
Of course, it’s all about balance. You don’t want to endure weeks of stress for the sake of one project, but a small dose of healthy anxiety can be a great motivator.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
It’s great to be part of a community of like-minded professionals. Plus, the ProCopywriters’ website is full of useful tips and advice.
For me, becoming a member has also brought financial rewards; my highest-paying retainer came via the ProCopywriter’s directory.