Being a member of the Procopywriters Network, the UK’s largest association for commercial writers, comes with a lot of benefits. For an annual subscription, it gives me a whole lot of support as well as networking and work opportunities. But it also means I can get to shout about my story and how a copywriting life really works.
One of the areas on the PCN site is the Member Spotlight page. Here, copywriters get to answer a set of questions that shed some light on how they became a copywriter, their process, and their life as a freelance or agency copywriter. Not long after I joined PCN in 2015, I was asked to take part, and you can read the answers to that interview here.
Almost four years on from that first spotlight, the fine folk at Procopywriters asked me to do another one, this time under the ‘revisited’ banner. Who was I to say ‘no’?
What have I been up to? How has my writing process changed? What lessons am I still learning? The answers to these probing questions were published on the Procopywriters site in early February 2020, but I’ve added the full Q&A below.
Grab a brew and enjoy!
How has your business changed since your first Procopywriters Member Spotlight interview?
I don’t think anything has fundamentally changed since the first interview. But that was a little over 3 years ago, so now I’m clear on the type of client I want to work with. And I’ve refined my offering, certain practices, and my pricing.
Those are organic changes that come with time and experience, but at the heart of it all, there’s still the desire to help clients with their copy.
What’s been your biggest success since your first Procopywriters Member Spotlight interview?
Probably the fact that I’m still here and doing it at all. It sounds a bit extreme, but when you’re a freelancer, everything is down to you – finding clients, getting work, getting paid, so perseverance and tenacity are key.
Why did you decide to focus on the kind of work you’re doing now?
My copy staples are blogs, case studies, and web pages. Those are my main focus and interest, and my main source of income.
It comes down to not enjoying the process as much for writing emails or social media, so I decided not to promote those services any more. I’ll still do them for clients if they ask though.
What are you enjoying most about your industry or niche?
I don’t have a niche. I’m a generalist and that’s what I enjoy most. Part of my decision to leave my old job was because I was writing about the same thing day in, day out. Having a variety of different businesses and different sectors to work with, all with different needs, is what fuels me.
What are you working on just now?
I’ve just come out of a crazy busy December and January – which included working with a new client on their customer messaging for their app, text, and email comms – so I’m just catching my breath right now.
But I’ve got two web projects (both in their early stages), plus regular blogs and a couple of case studies scheduled in so far for February.
Describe your desk and what’s on it
A lovely, big IKEA Bekant desk. I’ve always been a stickler for keeping a tidy desk, so as I write this I see my phone, a calculator, pens, A4 notepad, oh – and the iMac. I try and keep it fairly clear most of the time.
Tell us about your side projects
No side projects on the go. They’re not something I’ve ever had the desire to do. Unless you count getting case studies and blogs written and posted on my own website? That’s an on-going side project.
How has your writing process evolved?
By working, almost incessantly, over the last 4 years, I’ve become more assured in my writing style while honing the ability to get the clients tone and personality into my work too.
Through practice and experience, my confidence has grown too. Combined, they’ve helped the process overall, but as writers, we’re all constantly evolving our styles and processes.
What do you wish copywriters were more honest about?
I rarely think ‘I wish people would be more honest’ when it comes to copywriters. I feel like we’re a pretty honest bunch really.
There’s plenty of posts on LinkedIn/Twitter etc from copywriters who are displaying their honesty – from how much work they have/haven’t got, to their pricing or how to find clients. I don’t think there’s much we keep to ourselves or try and be evasive about.
What advice do you often hear given to newbies, but you don’t agree with? Why?
Not much at all. If there is something I don’t agree with, I check myself. That nugget of advice doesn’t/didn’t/wouldn’t work for me, but it might for someone else. As long as they persevere, read lots, and write daily – and remember their tax POA – then they’ll be fine.
Any lessons you’re still learning?
Plenty. How to juggle a bulging workload and how to cope with lean periods. Every day’s a school day.
But I’ve learnt to be more relaxed about stuff and the writing process in general. I no longer feel I need to go at 100 miles an hour to get stuff done when I know many deadlines are largely arbitrary.
What’s something about your work that makes your inner copywriting nerd happy, but you’re not able to chat about enough?
I never feel like I can’t talk about anything like that. Twitter is a great place to share those things because other copywriters will get it.
But even at home, I’ll happily talk to my wife in an unrestrained, excited manner about any copy, good or bad, that catches my eye. She’s mildly interested, but on the whole, she humours me.
Want to find out more? Get in touch and we can take the opportunity to see how I can help you and your business with your web and print copy and content.