Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I don’t know if I ‘chose it’ as much as I fell into it, and then couldn’t possibly imagine myself doing anything else.
After doing an English degree at Lancaster Uni and some advertorial writing for a local magazine, I went for an interview at a marketing agency. The role was described as ‘journalist’ but was actually PR and Copywriter, and I loved it. I was there for around 9 years.
I’d been thinking of going freelance for a while, and then the company went under while I was off on maternity leave and it turned out to be just the push I needed to set up No.16 PR & Copywriting.
What work are you most proud of?
It’s not necessarily the cleverest or most exciting stuff, but the pieces I’m most proud of are the ones that were really appreciated by clients. The websites where they just didn’t know how to start, or the press releases about themselves they hadn’t realised were unique and newsworthy.
I like a good pun too (as long as it doesn’t sound too forced) so I’m always secretly smug if I can get one into a headline. Last year, I wrote a blog post about employees being given time off to get vaccinated called ‘Jab seekers allowance’.
I’ve had particularly positive feedback on one of the stories from my blog too; I was invited to share it on Graham Norton’s infamous red chair. But my mum wouldn’t let me…
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
It’s usually things that make me smile, because I think they’re the messages you go on to share with people –
and that’s the goal for copywriters isn’t it?
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Write a load of rubbish and then leave it for a while.
It means that when I come back to it I’m not faced with a daunting blank page, I can either edit and improve what’s there, or I’m likely to have gained a bit of perspective and can see what I actually should have written.
It’s often helpful to describe the project aloud to someone; talking about it in simple terms can help me articulate it better on the page.
If I really don’t know where to start, I tend to go on a walk or ring a friend for a chat, a change of scenery or topic can help get rid of that ‘stuck’ mindset.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
My favourite is editing and condensing someone else’s writing and my least favourite is editing my own! Apparently, I find it much easier to kill someone else’s darlings.
Any copywriting pet hates?
Not many really, but I don’t like overly technical text. It can alienate readers just for the sake of trying to sound clever. If you really understand your topic, you don’t need to hide behind big words and industry jargon.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Don’t be afraid to ask.
Whether it’s asking other copywriters for help, asking other freelancers for business advice, or asking your client to clarify something on the brief – people are always keen to help, and there’s no point struggling on your own with something; especially as you might be wasting time and energy on the wrong track.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
A. Don’t worry what other people are up to, just concentrate on what you’re doing.
There are so many phenomenal copywriters out there, it can be hard not to compare yourself to them and get overwhelming imposter syndrome. But, in my experience, all the copywriters I’ve come across have been incredibly helpful and not at all competitive.
B. Try not to write and edit your work on the same day.
C. You’ll need biscuits. And plenty of them.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
For clients, it’s a good way to demonstrate at a glance that I’m committed to professionalism, and I’ve found the resources and community support really helpful.