How has your business changed since your first Member Spotlight interview?
When I did my first spotlight interview, I hadn’t long entered the world of copywriting and was happy to work with clients from pretty much any sector. Although I also had a number of niche areas that I particularly wanted to write for.
And then, at the beginning of 2021, I had a bit of a rebrand. I rewrote much of my website copy so that the focus was now firmly on the niche areas I wanted to write for – the Outdoors, Property & Interiors, Gardens, Travel and Photography.
I’m still writing for businesses outside of these areas, but with a clearer marketing message, I’m increasingly working with the kind of clients I was aiming for.
What’s been your biggest success since your first Member Spotlight interview?
After the past couple of years, still being here seems quite an achievement.
But in terms of writing, it has to be gaining the perfect client shortly after rebranding. They’re a company with a range of high-end outdoor clothing brands, and had approached me because they were after a particular style of writing and felt I could help them.
As part of a brand awareness campaign, they wanted copy that was evocative and emotive which is just the kind of writing I love. The second part of their brief was for a set of taglines (a first for me) to accompany a promotional video.
It was a dream project that boosted my self-belief as a copywriter. And my confidence in the path I was taking.
Why did you decide to focus on the kind of work you’re doing now?
Before becoming a copywriter, I was a freelance photographer specialising in shooting UK landscapes and the environment, architecture, heritage locations, gardens and travel. All things that genuinely interested me. And still do.
I also wrote articles for various magazines covering some of these areas, as well as the world of photography. So to continue writing about things I knew something about seemed a good idea.
And while I don’t know everything, having some background knowledge and experience often proves useful. And clients seem to appreciate it, too.
What are you enjoying most about your industry or niche?
Within each of my niches there are quite a wide-range of potential clients and so the work I get is always varied.
What are you working on just now?
Besides answering these questions, I’m currently writing some additional web pages for a returning client covering a series of new business service plans they’re introducing.
I’m also researching the various ins and outs of listed building status and regulations for a forthcoming architects project. And next week, I’ll start writing the second of 4 advertising features for a photography travel business.
Describe your desk and what’s on it
It’s an old wooden desk inherited from my dad. On it is a keyboard and computer screen along with a pot of pens, A4 notepad, calculator and lamp. Plus a pack of marketing postcards I’ve designed using some of my images and just had printed.
Tell us about your side projects
Although I no longer do any commercial photographic work, I still have quite a large collection of images on sale with several picture libraries – which brings a nice surprise most months.
There isn’t a lot of work involved, but I occasionally amend captions or keywords to images as trends or potential needs change. As well as doing the admin each month for any sales made.
How has your writing process evolved?
It hasn’t really. I approach each project in much the same way as I did for my editorial work. I still have a creative process – such as working out a hook or structure.
And copywriting also requires varying levels of research as well as editing and proofing.
What do you wish copywriters were more honest about?
I can’t think of anything that copywriters are particularly dishonest about. At least, nothing obvious.
Copywriting rates and how to price work are 2 areas where copywriters could perhaps be a little more upfront. When first starting out, I found these were the 2 most puzzling and frustrating things to work out. But copywriters really are a friendly bunch, so advice on these questions and much else can always be sought.
And, of course, the ProCopywriters survey is always a useful source of information too.
What advice do you often hear give to newbies, but you don’t agree with? Why?
Write for free to boost your portfolio. This advice is also given to newbie photographers and probably other freelancers too. But doing this not only devalues your work, it doesn’t do the copywriting profession any favours either. After all, if your work is good enough to grace the pages of a brochure or website, then surely it’s good enough to be paid for?
So, rather than write for free, consider writing at a reduced rate – especially if it’s the kind of work you want to do or the client is in a sector that appeals. And while this isn’t ideal, at least you’re being paid something for your efforts.
Any lessons you’re still learning?
Trying to get out of the habit of editing as I go. I am getting better at moving on when what I’ve written is at least OK if not perfect. I’m always amazed how other copywriters can just write the whole piece – whether it’s actually working or not – and only then go back to edit. Although I’m improving, I can’t see I’ll ever manage to do that.
What’s something about your work that makes your inner copywriting nerd happy, but you’re not able to chat about enough?
I’m not sure if it makes me a copywriting nerd, but, as already mentioned, I love writing copy that places a reader somewhere or doing or seeing something. Evocative writing that stirs imaginations and emotions.
Some see it as being a bit flowery and so to be avoided. But I find it does have a place so long as it’s for the right client and suits the purpose of the copy. And is written sparingly.
I’d love to find a few more willing clients. So if anyone reading this thinks that’s just the style they’re after, get in touch and tell me more!