Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I didn’t really choose it, as such. After graduating from design school, I was getting rejected from every job application I made. After a few torturous months, I came across a position at a really good design agency–for a copywriter.
I thought “writing was easy” and that it might give me a way into the design world. I was surprised when they invited me to come in for an interview and completely terrified when they asked me to bring along a portfolio.
But as I went through the work I’d done in my final year, pretty much every project had been based around words. And it dawned on me that this might be the right path after all.
I had an incredible mentor who gave me a crash course in all things copy. His patience and encouragement helped me stick it out when I realised writing wasn’t actually that easy (ha!). I went on to work at a branding agency and got stuck into the more strategic side of copywriting before going out on my own in 2015.
These days I work with clients and agencies on all kinds of word-based projects, specialising in tone of voice, naming and messaging. But I will basically write anything you pay me to.
What work are you most proud of?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with a few arts organisations over the years, including Sydney Opera House and Sadler’s Wells. I think the arts play an important role in culture and society generally, but only if everyone has equal access to it.
I’ve really enjoyed helping these brands and others find a way to appeal to lots of different kinds of people without losing that sense of creativity and excitement.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
The Innocent Smoothies tone of voice. I can sense the groaning, but hear me out. If I had played a part in writing copy for those early Innocent campaigns, you would all know my name and wheel out my examples in presentations, for better or worse. When you think of tone of voice, you can’t not think of Innocent.
Right now I’m quite into the language for this meat-free chicken nugget brand Simulate®.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
This may sound a bit inane, but if there’s enough time before the deadline I’ll do nothing. Literally nothing.
Like, stare at the patch of damp in the corner of the office for an unspecified amount of time. Eyes glazed. Mouth hanging open.
Sometimes I’ll go and make a cup of tea. Sometimes music helps. I have a couple of go-to playlists for when the pressure is on and the page is blank.
What are your favourite and least and favourite writing-related tasks?
This is a tricky one because no matter which bit of writing I’m doing, the other bits look way more appealing.
Any copywriting pet hates?
I’m surprisingly relaxed about copywriting styles. I find it quite exciting to see trends come and go. I don’t even mind the adjective-as-noun thing that was popular a couple of years ago.
Actually, there is one phrase that really pisses me off. “Like no other”. It’s so lazy. Says nothing. Total waste of time.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Like many writers, I struggle with the idea of self-promotion and tend to brush over details that might sound too much like bragging.
A few weeks ago I was given some brilliant advice completely out of the blue. I was told you have to “earn the right” when you’re introducing yourself to a new client or giving a presentation. (I think it’s a common technique in public speaking, but I’d never heard of it before.) You can’t expect people to assume you’re worth listening to, you have to tell them why you’re there.
Earning the right involves stating a few facts about yourself, like what you specialise in, how long you’ve been doing the job, projects that are
relevant, etc. Focusing on the facts takes away that sleazy salesman vibe.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Read more, worry less and be nice to people.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
It can get a bit lonely being the only copywriter in the room, and knowing there’s a bunch of other people having similar experiences and sharing their stories and advice is reassuring. And real clients use it to find writers, which is very helpful.
Where can people find out more about you?
My website lexcourts.com
Although I feel the need to mention that I’m in the process of redesigning it, so there’ll be more recent case studies soon and it will be much easier to navigate.