Working with freelance copywriters on a regular basis gives us a great opportunity to find out what it’s really like. Last month we found out about the ups and downs of the job, and now we’ve spoken with the lovely copywriter Lucy Gray who brings some top tips to all the other copywriters out there, alongside a bit of an insight into how she got into the role. Over to you Lucy…
I must admit, I fell into copywriting and had never even heard of it before I became a copywriter. Graduating from University with a degree in English Literature and History of Art, I, like many others before and after me, had no idea what to do with my degree.
After working full-time in a pub for months and trying to find some sort of job that would suit me, it was a friend of a friend who offered me a week freelancing for him while a co-worker was on holiday. His job was writing product descriptions for New Look through an agency and, after the initial panic of trying to quickly learn all the fashion terms, I quickly fell in love with it.
Within two weeks I was working there full time, and another six weeks later, the studio was shut down and I took a transfer across the other side of the country to work on their biggest account – Debenhams. A week later, I was head of the copywriting team there and worked there for the next four years.
During my time with the agency, I worked on fashion accounts from Tie Rack to Anthropologie, department stores such as Selfridges and House of Fraser, to George at Asda and Sainsbury’s. Although Debenhams was always my main account, I always loved the diversity that came with working on a range of clients, which is why I decided to take on freelancing full time.
Of course, there are always pros and cons when it comes to freelancing. Freelancing allows you to work on a range of different clients, subjects and accounts, whereas employed copywriters get to be part of a team and completely hone in on a style and put their stamp on the brand. Of course, you don’t have to just choose one or the other. I’ve always taken on freelance clients even when I’m working full time. So long as it doesn’t interfere with your day-to-day work, taking on a few smaller freelance clients allows you to add some versatility and a little more freedom to your work.
The thing with pursuing a creative career is that it is so subjective; you can send the same work and examples to several clients and get a complete mixture of opinions in return.
During my copywriting career, I’ve worked for clients who think I’m the best thing that’s happened to them and been rejected by some who don’t think my writing is strong enough. Or worse, I’ve worked for clients long-term only for them to suddenly decide that my writing isn’t for them anymore.
Freelance copywriting requires a strong will and determination. Being rejected doesn’t mean that you’re a failure; focus on the fact that there are clients who love your writing and keep on trying. After all, haven’t most writers been rejected time and again? Just ask J.K Rowling.
Always keep the client or customer in mind: Whatever you’re writing, the most important thing is to remember who it is for. You might love a word, term or phrase but it may put the client or customer off, and it is them who you are writing for and selling to.
Combine your writing with your other passions: Writing is always easier when you’re writing about something that you’re passionate about, so if you can, try to find writing work in an area that you love.
There is always room for improvement: You may think you have copywriting for one client completely nailed but I find that you can always make your future work more customer friendly or inviting. Why not play about with your tone or approach to see if you can engage even more customers?
Take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere: You may be writing for a fashion company but love the copywriting for a furniture website, food packaging or a magazine article. Writing doesn’t have to be about the same topic for you to take inspiration from the way that the brand talks to their customer, so find anything that you’ve seen and loved and use it to inspire how you write.
Always be you: Every writer has his or her own style, so keep this with you always. You can use this within a client’s tone of voice to give a new perspective to their copy, or take your personal style and help to create a whole new brand identity. Whoever you’re writing for, always keep yourself and your style in your work.
Lucy Gray is a freelance copywriter with over 5 years’ experience. Her specialities lie in fashion, beauty and travel, having worked on some big-name e-Commerce clients. She is passionate about bringing personality to brands, honing in on target audiences and adapting tones of voice to perfectly engage with the customer.