Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I spent over 20 years in sales and marketing roles in a global drinks business. The more senior the roles became, the more time I spent on strategy, budgets and people management instead of creative work. Writing copy became a bit of a guilty secret!
I was always glad when anyone came to me for help with words, whether it was for brochures, packaging, sales tools, tender documents – it didn’t matter, it was an excuse to do something fun. A regular corporate restructure allowed me to think about what I really wanted to do in the future. I wanted to have more flexibility and fun in what I did, so I switched to being a freelancer.
What work are you most proud of?
It would have to be the ‘Crafted’ craft beer handbook we produced at Carlsberg. It was based on research that showed the explosion in the craft beer category had overwhelmed many licensees with too much choice.
I worked with a team to produce an accessible guide on how to range, communicate and promote craft beer. It mixed trends, training and opinion. It won the Beer Marketing Award’s Best Corporate Communication award twice. I still have copies on my desk today.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
A little obvious after many years in that business, but it’s got to be Carlsberg’s ‘Probably the best lager in the world.’ It’s simple, confident and focused on a single core value. I still love its classic ads like Complaints Department https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oTs6Oz-
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
I relax and do something else. If you’re mowing the lawn or doing some admin with your brain on autopilot, it’s amazing how often different words or approaches materialise.
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
My favourite part is the initial brief when clients share their existing material and creative inspiration for the first time. At that point, it’s all possibilities. Shamefully, my least favourite task is marketing. The thing I love doing for clients still feels like a chore when I do it for my own business.
Any copywriting pet hates?
I find feedback that I can’t action (‘I don’t know, it’s just not there yet’) or that’s not from the perspective of the target audience frustrating. Give me feedback that I can use to make the copy as effective as possible – direct, specific and based on understanding of your target audience.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Life’s short. If what you’re doing isn’t either making you happy or a stepping stone to something that makes you happy, reflect on why you’re doing it.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Don’t be afraid to specialise if you’re passionate and knowledgeable about an area. It can be scary when you’re starting out – you might feel you’re restricting your target clients – but it makes marketing and communicating your business simpler.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
It’s a great resource for learning from other copywriters; seeing diverse perspectives, approaches and tips. It’s also reassuring for potential clients; the directory provides a credible showcase for people looking for copywriters.