Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?
I’ve always been really creative and was determined to be some kind of artist or designer from a young age. Although I loved English in school, I’d never considered writing as something I could make a career in.
Armed with a fashion & textiles degree, I got myself an admin role with a design company where the Managing Director spotted my natural flair for writing (and a keen eye for a typo).
I eventually went from producing the occasional internal policy document to crafting all the company’s blog posts, sales brochures, video scripts, PR and advertising copy – and became the Marketing Coordinator, studying for my CIM L6.
I found myself loving the work so much that I started offering it as a sideline in my evenings. That’s how Limelight Copy began life.
15 years on, I decided it was finally time to make more impact and take Limelight full-time. Best move I’ve ever made!
What work are you most proud of?
That’s a tricky one, as I’ve been lucky enough to work on so many different projects over the last 2 decades. But I guess now, being self-employed, I feel most proud when my work directly helps another small business owner to achieve something purposeful, and thrive.
The first brand-voice-specific client I ever took on was a fun, sustainable fashion brand, and I was really chuffed with what we achieved there. Helping any passionate business owner to refine their message and get it out into the world is always a privilege, but especially so when they are doing something that makes a difference.
What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?
Branston’s mock public service announcement, when people were losing their minds over Richard Branson’s $250k trip to space. Reactive marketing at its finest! And I do enjoy their trademark British wit.
You know it’s a great piece of copy when not only does it make you feel something, but it sticks in your memory for months – even years – afterwards.
What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?
Brewing coffee is my default. I find the process of making it as therapeutic as the drinking! But business-wise I also offer brand and marketing design, so it’s easy for me to switch up tasks and get creative in other ways.
The general attitude seems to be that a good writer can’t possibly also be a good designer (or vice versa). But for me, the 2 disciplines complement each other, and it’s this daily variety that keeps my work – and mind – fresh and engaged.
Failing that, any writer’s block invariably unblocks as soon as I’m drifting off to sleep!
What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?
I love delving into a brand’s ethos, values and personality at the beginning of a project to help me get a really good understanding of the overall vibe.
Tone-of-voice development is one of my favourite word-related tasks, which is why I decided to specialise in it as part of my brand identity services. Cliché as it may sound, I think our work is only at its best if we are doing something we love.
My least favourite writing-related task is probably editing my own work. It’s much harder to decide what to ditch and what to keep when you’re so close to the work. You can’t beat having a fresh pair of eyes when it comes to the editing stage.
Any copywriting pet hates?
From a reader’s POV:
Anything negative or guilt-based that aims to influence action by essentially making the user feel bad. For example, confirmation shaming in opt-ins where “No, thanks” is replaced with something like: “No, I don’t want to make more money.” There are much nicer ways to encourage action.
From a writer’s POV:
When you’ve spent time crafting an absolute work of art, only for someone to come along and ill-advisedly ‘perfect’ it before publication.
I once wrote what I considered to be a rather excellent byline for a print ad we’d been working on in-house. My design colleagues, however, chose to ‘tweak’ the wording before sending it to print. The first I knew of it was when I picked up the publication from my boss’ desk to see a glaring typo jumping off the page! Still haven’t let that one go…
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Perfectionism can be both a blessing and a curse. Attention to detail, accuracy and a quest for quality all help make a great copywriter. Chronic perfectionism? Not so much. It hasn’t been easy for me, but try not to let your need for perfection hold you back. Because, in writing, as with most things in life, true perfection doesn’t really exist.
Also, to be an ‘expert’ in something, you don’t need to know it all, just more than everyone else in an average room of people. – This is a great one to remember if ever imposter syndrome kicks in.
What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?
Connect with other copywriters through Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, and subscribe to their newsletters for regular tips and inspiration in your inbox.
Follow the hashtag #copywritersunite, too. It’s a really supportive community to be a part of, and people often share gigs and resources, as well as the occasional meme to help keep things light-hearted and less lonely-feeling.
Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?
I always say you should never stop learning, and ProCopywriters is a great hub for learning from other copywriters.
Being able to display the ProCopywriters badge on my website helps me demonstrate my professionalism and dedication to the craft to potential clients. I’ve also had several leads contact me through my ProCopywriters directory profile, which is always welcome!