Some Work I’m Proud Of

May 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

One of my favourite things I’ve ever done has launched and I’m so proud. It’s had a really good reaction so far and it feels so good to just get it out there after so much fiddling about.

The campaign is about how parents can support their kids on the way to being safe drivers. It’s not just about paying for lessons and insurance; parents need to be thinking about how their own behaviour in the car influences their children at a young age, as well as helping out with finding the right driving instructor and doing private practice. That sounds arduous but not quite as arduous as months of visiting your child in hospital after they’ve had a terrible car crash.

There’s four more parts to come so the work is FAR from over but I’m excited to have so much great content to play with. You can read about what we’re doing on the ingenie blog and the first video from the campaign is right here:

The world of marketing can feel like a very hollow place when you get out into the woods and think about the fact that you’re just a talking animal. But getting to work on campaigns like this, that could really make a difference to young people’s futures, makes it way less bizarre.

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Welcome to Copywriting: The Results

May 3, 2016 § 1 Comment

“We should do a talk.”

And we all nodded like mascots on the dash of a speeding bin lorry. I can’t remember if we were drunk but we agreed to the idea blindly and happily, considering it a wonderful plan to be worried about in the distant future.

Only Kady was intending to leave the country very soon. So Welcome to Copywriting, a one-day talk about the pitfalls and parties of the copywriting life, was set for one month hence. At that point, we still weren’t worried – a month is bags of time! Even when we got to the point of a day’s planning, we were still pretty buzzed about it.

When we got to one week to go, our confidence started cracking. Dibbsy had just got a new job and was trying to keep up with freelance at the same time. Chloe had Shakespeare’s birthday – a pretty big job for an agency in Stratford-upon-Avon. I had two conferences, a holiday and freelance. Kady was trying to move her entire life to Japan.

Shit.

But somehow, we got there. The day arrived – a beautiful spring day in Brick Lane. The venue, a dusty health hazard of an attic, was perfect. So many people came that we were adding chairs. With it all going so well, I was vibrating with fear at such a high frequency that it’s possible I was invisible for most of the day.

We did it, though. I actually started my first presentation with the words “I’m shit at this,” to illustrate a point: that the things I feel I’m worst at are the things I try hardest at, and therefore usually end up doing OK in. Despite publically admitting to my terror and awkwardness, it did turn out a lot better than I could have possibly imagined.

People have been so kind. They seem pumped and happy, despite us saying a lot of things that could put you off copywriting forever. Our number one thing we wanted to push was that having friends in the copywriting community is pretty much the answer to any question you have. None of us is alone. We’re a family. We laugh and squabble and weep and give advice. #Copywritersunite is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, personally and in my career.

I couldn’t do without you all, and I’m so happy to welcome so many more copywriters into the fold.

Welcome to Copywriting

Things We’ve Achieved Together

March 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

 

We’ve counselled sadness, anger, overexcitement and scaredy-catness.

We’ve listened to 40-line direct message rants.

We’ve discussed comma splicing, malapropisms, over-adverbing and Fit Boys.

We’ve got braver with pricing.

We’ve stood up for our writing.

We’ve learned how to spot and deal with dickheads.

We’ve used our individual subject areas to help each other with scary new projects.

We’ve poked, prodded and praised our way to greater collective confidence.

We’ve developed shared principles and disagreed where necessary.

We’ve prescribed books and blogs like homeopathy zealots.

We’ve retweeted, pimped, blogged about and commented each other to higher things.

We’ve become an always-on bat-signal tribe.

We’ve become IRL friends.

*

We’ve also planned a free talk for new copywriters, to help them gather support around themselves as they get into the industry. Just like we did with each other.

Welcome to Copywriting

March 17, 2016 § 6 Comments

For those of you new to copywriting as a career, my copybuddies and I will be putting on a free Saturday talk this April.

NO MORE SPACES LEFT I’M AFRAID

Rather than a plain old introduction to copywriting, this is a welcome. In the spirit of #copywritersunite, we want to draw you into the fold with open arms. This day of copywriting camaraderie is also backed by the Professional Copywriters’ Network. So come along and be welcomed to copywriting.

I’m completely new to the copywriting world. Can you help me?

Absolutely. Do join in.

I’m a junior copywriter. Will I still learn things by showing up?

Yes. And we’d love to meet you.

I’m just starting as a freelancer. Will this be relevant to me, too?

It certainly will. Sign up.

I’m a solidly midweight copywriter or above. Is this going to be of any use to me?

Probably not. Sorry.

Who’s running the show, and how can I stalk them on Twitter?

Kady Potter – @koisurukady

Freelance copywriter, Japan fan, larger than life (on the inside).

Kady has not long reached what most people will agree is midweight level, and it hasn’t been plain sailing. It would pain her to see you go through the same while she watches in silent horror. Join us and Kady will help you to recognise terrible (if well-meant) copywriting advice. You’ll also get a few choice words from her on gimmicks, and on the race to the bottom when it comes to charging for freelance work.

Honor Clement-Hayes – @mutatedmusings

In-house content writer, pint-sized imaginarium, darling of The Drum’s 50 Under 30.

Hey, that’s me! I know about: sucking money and/or glory out of any opportunity, what it’s like to be the only copywriter in a global company, how to keep the YOU in your copy, and how to pester your idols into helping you.

Chloe Marshall – @re_scrawl

In-house copywriter, HMRC wrangler, chalk-o-genic life model.

Our Chlo’s seen it all. And if you’ve ever been to a life drawing class in the Warwickshire area, chances are you’ve seen all of her. On the day, pay attention to Chloe to find out more about starting small, being the only writer in the village (or so you think) and the many hats of small agency life. She’s also got a thing or two to say about extra-curricular activities, and the creative scene outside London (like, properly north).

David ‘Our Dibbsy’ Evans – @daviddibbs

Junior copywriter in waiting, social media manager, beloved by all.

More experienced copywriters will happily give you advice, but they can sometimes be detached from the situation you’re asking about. David’s going through the same things as you RIGHT NOW. He’ll share what’s working for him (and what really isn’t) to give you pointers that are relevant to the current copy job market.

What topics are you going to cover?

Things you will know after spending your day with us:

  • Ways to start building a client base and portfolio from scratch

  • How to make yourself and your CV look interesting

  • Why you’re not getting work, and how to start changing things

  • Where the proper money is, because it does exist

  • The pros and cons of being full-time, freelancing, and trying to do both

  • What NOT to do – tactics that are unlikely to work ever ever ever

An important note: we will not be telling you how to write. We trust that, given you chose this career willingly, you’ll grow into an amazing writer in time without our input. You’re welcome to ask us about copywriting techniques, but we’re not doing example exercises or anything like that.

Do I need to bring anything?

You might well want to take some notes, so pack that notebook / wad of A4 / dictaphone.

How much is this going to cost me?

To attend? Nothing. (We’re not covering transport or lunch, though, that’s on you.)

What the hell? You’re running this for FREE?

Yes, we are.

Where and when will this be?

At The Rag Factory, in central London, starting at 11am on April 30th. That’s a Saturday, so you don’t have to take time off from your unpaid internship to come along. The full address is:

16-18 Heneage Street

London

E1 5LJ

It’s right next to 12-14. Look for the face above the door.

We’ve formally got the room booked until 6pm, but stop and chat/network/drink with us after the talks. Assuming we don’t drone on and on, we should be done by around 4pm.

NO MORE SPACES LEFT I’M AFRAID

What The World Thinks of Copywriters

March 15, 2016 § Leave a comment

Writers have historically been seen as a glamorous lot. Quite, quite mad but in possession of a certain louche allure.

Copywriters, on the other hand, are cloaked not so much in mystery as general apathy. No one really cares who or what we are, even though they consume our pitiful offerings on the daily.

I’m being bitter. It could be worse. A fair while ago I saw what the world thinks of recruiters. Someone had tweeted some Google suggestions for “Recruiters are…” and they were pretty much what you’d expect.

 

As a person of immense self-interest and not insignificant self-doubt, I decided to self-flagellate with a quick search for “Copywriters are…”

You won’t believe what happened next. (You actually will because I have pictorial evidence, as well as time-stamped embedded tweets linked to legitimate Twitter accounts.)

We’re not even sure what we think about ourselves

 

I was quite pleased with that result. Rich, in demand, well paid, exempt from…things. Much wow! But then I realised: these things are all questions. Even though I searched for ‘Copywriters are’, I got dealt a load of questions.

No one actually knows what we are. Not even us.

As a community of over-analysing, neurotic headcases (OK, maybe I’m projecting), this seems fitting. We kind of know what we do but we’re still having an identity crisis. The rest of the world just has no idea – for all they know, we’re all millionaires exempt from paying tax and wearing ties.

Writers are…

I took part in a passive-aggressive whispering bitch fest in the old Twitter DMs a while ago. The subject up for debate: is a copywriter a writer? Should a writer of the words we call copy be proud – nay, honour-bound – to say “I am a copywriter”?

I think we’re a mixed bunch. I’m happy to say I’m a writer but it leaves quite a bit to the imagination, like saying “I’m a scientist”, which I’m prepared to bet no serious practitioner of science actually does. Copywriter may get a response of “So…you do them trademark thingies?” as my copybuddy Kady has moaned about, but it’s at least a genre. I don’t actually get called this at work: my job title is content writer. But in my mind, I’m a copywriter. Always.

For me, it’s about solidarity. We’re quite a low-key bunch and I enjoy the quietly noble club we’ve formed, growing and mutating with each new acquisition welcomed into the fold. Before I found #copywritersunite, I thought copywriters didn’t mix much and mainly stayed at home swigging Bailey’s out of their tooth mugs while peering through red mouse eyes at the squiggles of tracked changes. Like me.

At a #copywritersunite night last year, we enveloped a new mouse-eyed freak in our awkward, clammy embrace. She’d never been before; didn’t know a soul. Another copybuddy and I gathered her up and made her drink prosecco and eat burgers with us. Now: Twitter friends for life. Because she identified with #copywritersunite. She identified as a copywriter.

 

Besides, from the image above – who the hell wants to be a writer? People think writers are freaks, it would seem. Writers are lazy, lying good-for-nothing dreamers. In contrast, copywriters are hardworking, lying good-for-some-things dreamers. At least we get out of bed in the morning. Most mornings. Some mornings we even take off the pajamas. Some mornings we go so far as to put other clothes on to cover our nakedness.

Writers are the engineers of the soul.

 

Writing Content About Writing Content

February 25, 2016 § Leave a comment

I downloaded and printed Google’s content guidelines last week. I sat and read the whole darn thing (160 pages), highlighter and sticky tabs in hand.

Then I wrote two posts for Yell about it. That’s how enthused I was – one post wasn’t enough. I’ve been startlingly prolific recently. Despite reading less, I think my written output has increased hugely. The journal is to blame, I think. It sparks things in my mind that I then have to bash my keyboard in with.

Read Quality vs. quantity in content marketing and then read Page Quality Rating: what Google wants from your digital content. They’re not boring. They do sound a bit boring but they’re not.

 

Copywriter Essentials

February 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

As artists – yep, artists – who need very little beyond a laptop or even a pen and some paper, there aren’t many tools of the copywriting trade in which to indulge.

I think this makes us take the myriad variety of the few very seriously. Stationery and browser extensions are my particular loves.

My can’t live withouts:

Papelote notebook straps

I began trying to get my hands on a Papelote notebook strap a couple of years ago. You’ll very rarely see them in any high street shop and there are a minute number of online stores delivering them to the UK.

Papelote are Czech, which explains the dearth. But recently, I discovered Bureau Direct. These guys are not only a small stationery company (which makes my heart beat faster); they’re the nicest problem-solvers I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with.

I use my notebook strap for my Pilot G-TEC-C4 and a mechanical pencil that looks like a real pencil. That’s basically all my offline tools. I also strap my phone in there if I’m on my travels and it’s good for loose paper as well. What more can I really say? It’s a band of elastic with loops.

imag7224_1_1.jpg

You can get Papelote notebook straps in 13 colours and three sizes. I want them all but accept I should probably only be using one notebook at a time, negating the point of having multiple notebook straps. Sigh.

Go make them sell out again.

Brown Pilot G-TEC-C4

If I don’t have one of these to hand, I don’t write in my journal. It’s that simple. (I’ve done it once because I was drunk but I regret it daily. It’s a BLOT on my diary style.)

imag7226_1.jpg

The Pilot G-TEC-C4 is real skinny. It’s a 0.4, which is more of an illustration pen than a writing pen. I do use it for drawing too, which is probably why I like the sepia colour, but I just find it so wonderful to write with too.

I just bought a box of 30 off Amazon because I fear being caught without one so much. I felt so riche and indulgent.

Grammarly

I ignore Grammarly’s grammar advice because it’s super American and also I listen to my own internal grammar, not a browser extension’s. Tuh.

Can't live without

However, it’s fantastic for typos (you just hover and click on the right option) and I simply adore getting my weekly feedback. They tell you how many words you’ve written online, how dynamic your vocabulary was and how many mistakes you made. AND they compare you with the rest of the Grammarly community. Ugh, such joy.

It’s free for Chrome but you can also upgrade to get more stuff I don’t even know about. Think they’re having a – very relevant – Valentine’s Day sale right now too.

Happy hawking, hucksters.

 

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