Corinna Keefe – ProCopywriters Member Spotlight

Why did you choose a career in copywriting and how did you get into it?

I took a long, meandering path into copywriting. To start with, I studied archaeology at university! But I quickly found out that what I most enjoyed was sharing the past with other people: I wanted to write and educate about archaeology more than I wanted to dig things up.

After that, I went through a few different jobs, and I moved around a lot. I taught English in several countries, and that had a big impact on my writing: I learnt how to communicate with a range of audiences and abilities. Eventually, teaching led me to translation work, and translation led me to writing my own content.

It’s actually not unusual for copywriters to have patchwork careers like this – we tend to be an offbeat bunch. But my career’s also unusual because I chose to go freelance very early on. I love having the freedom to work on a wide range of projects and do something new every day. Not to mention being my own boss, working from home, and choosing my own hours!

What work are you most proud of?

My first book is coming out at the end of 2023. I’m really proud of it because, as well as an exciting creative project, it was a big challenge for my copywriting skills.

It’s a fantasy story where you, the reader, are the protagonist. You get to make your own choices about where the story goes. There’s also an integrated card game, so you have to fight your own battles against the monsters that you meet!

That meant the book was very technically complex. I had a ton of spreadsheets to help me track chapters, individual paragraphs, sometimes even individual sentences and choices in the story. Creating that structure (and writing a rulebook to match!) was a real test of my ability to order and explain information, without losing any of the atmosphere and adventure in the story.

What piece of copy do you really wish you’d written?

I’m obsessed with the trend round-ups that Pinterest publishes every few months. They’re so good at tapping into their users’ tone of voice. Plus, the puns are out of this world – I love it when writers aren’t afraid to be silly.

What do you do if you hit a bit of writer’s block?

Going for a walk always gives me new ideas. I once came across a tiny, ancient, cloth-covered book called Walking by George Macaulay Trevelyan. He wrote: “I have two doctors, my left leg and my right. When body and mind are out of gear … I have only to call in my doctors and I shall be well again.” That line comes into my head every time I get stuck on a piece of writing.

What are your favourite and least favourite writing-related tasks?

I find writing headlines a bit of a chore. I used to really struggle with it. A few years ago, someone gave me a tip that helped me a lot. When I have to title an article, I set a timer for ten minutes, and I write as many different titles as I can until the buzzer goes. It’s surprising what you can come up with when you push past the first few ideas!

My favourite task is working up an article outline that’s detailed, researched, and has a clear structure. If I do a good enough job on the outline, then writing the piece itself feels like just filling in the blanks. It’s an incredibly satisfying process.

Any copywriting pet hates?

It’s always a good idea to write simply… but I get furious whenever I read advice to “write so that your granny could understand it”. It’s even worse when that phrase makes it into an actual marketing campaign. “Spreadsheets that even your granny can understand?”

No thanks. There are better ways to sell a product than with ageism and cheap misogyny.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

“If every client says yes to your rates, then you’re not charging enough.” I really struggled with charging enough for my services when I started out. Sometimes, I still find it difficult!

I try to set my rates so that a third of people say yes, a third of people say no, and a third of people want to negotiate. That usually means I’m on the right track.

What advice would you give to people starting out on a copywriting career?

Talk to other copywriters! I know it can be intimidating, but even just chatting to a few people on LinkedIn can be helpful. You can learn from their skill, their experience, and their advice.

Being in touch with other writers also helps to protect you from problems. We’re a community, which means we share information and support. I’m indebted to other copywriters for helping me charge the right prices, avoid bad clients, and file my tax return on time!

Why do you find ProCopywriters membership useful?

I first came across ProCopywriters through the annual pay survey, which I still read (and respond to!) every year. It’s an invaluable resource that helps to make copywriting better for everyone.

I’ve found several clients through the copywriter directory, too. But the best thing about ProCopywriters is the sense of community. I went to my first CopyCon last year and had a whale of a time.

Where can people find out more about you?

You can learn more about me and my work at my website. Or come and say hi on LinkedIn!

What do you think?

Your email will not be published. ProCopywriters members: log in before commenting so your comment links to your profile.

Become a member

Join ProCopywriters

Connect with peers, develop your skills and extend your reach on our blog.

Become a member
Learn online

Online workshops

Every month we get an expert, an author or a professional trainer to deliver a one-hour presentation on copywriting, marketing or digital media.

Browse events