Shaun Weston – ProCopywriters Member Spotlight
5 September 2023
I published my own magazine: a double-page journal of life as an eight-ear-old, with song lyrics and local weather reports. I charged my sister 2p, which she paid on the promise of being the star letter each issue. It was an auspicious start!
My family broke in the 70s, I danced and made mischief through the 80s, and the 90s was a blur. I wrote through all of it. After university, I got into retail management and wrote freelance as a side hustle. As I learned more about leadership and business marketing, the two disciplines converged. The natural next step was a creative agency, where I could learn from senior copywriters and business owners.
Corporate copy has dictated my income for two decades. It bores and excites me in equal measure depending on how much creative freedom I’m given. The last senior position I had was with a fintech company in Amsterdam. I left to move back to the UK, started my own company, and find I’m more excited about being a writer than ever before.
I’m not sure I’m proud of a specific piece of writing, but I am proud of bringing my best self to the job. I’m glad I’m that type of person (it’s easy to not be, and I’ve met plenty who aren’t). I’m proud of the relationships I built with my favourite clients, even when life didn’t turn out as they expected. Most achieved success, and some didn’t. Regardless, when the chemistry is there, it makes me root for the client and magically work beyond what I think I’m capable of, simply to see them thrive and feel part of their journey. When I think back to what great clients motivated me to achieve, I’m proud of what I came up with.
Probably Digging by Seamus Heaney. Or the endless simple, yet clever lines Apple comes up with for new product launches. Or “Vorsprung durch Technik … “ (which they should bring back).
My issue is actually over-processing strategy and logistics. I can busy myself for hours finding new ways to perform immaterial tasks, and when I remember I’m a writer, I snap out of it. The blank page is refuge from a restless mind! And there’s always 10:30am coffee with my partner.
Writing website copy helps me get into the client’s personality. It’s an enjoyable process in ways a white paper will never be. White papers are soporific. They excite me like lettuce on a cracker. They are lazy extensions of corporate doctrine, and I believe a good copywriter’s duty is to encourage clients to ditch or rethink them.
Corporate buzzwords can sneak up on you. One week, they’re original. The next, they’re everywhere and your copy is out of date. You really have to keep your eye on them, the little buggers! They disguise themselves as “startup speak” and before you know it, every niche-industry business is a carbon copy of another.
“Everyone’s making it up as they go along. Be conscious of this, but work hard and stay humble.” I also try to live by this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
Bring your best self to every project, whether it’s what you want to do or not. Every paying client deserves the best version of you. Approach every task with your A-game. Also, ignore naysayers and office politics. They lead to the same place.
Being a ProCopywriters member is a status symbol for some clients. They’ve told me it’s reassuring to work with someone who feels it’s important to belong to an association. I’m glad about that. For me, it’s enriching to feel surrounded and encouraged by people who do what I do, even if I’m not the best networker. (Must try harder this year.)
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