Updated: Apr 13
One question I know I'll get asked every time I go to a networking meeting is 'what does a freelance copywriter do?'. I explain that my words end up in brochures or on websites - sometimes even on beer mats and bag labels and up go the eyebrows.
No, those words didn't get there by themselves.
But how much do you know about what a copywriter does and how they do it?
We'll work anywhere
I remember finishing references for a thought leadership website piece in between sips in a coffee shop. I did the bulk of the work for the multi-national insurance company at my desk at home but for some reason, the final stages required a change of scene and a Belgian chocolate square. Then there's the time I wrapped up 116 bag descriptions for a catalogue nestled into the corner of a hospital waiting room and I can't count the times I've balanced the laptop on my steering wheel in the school car-park to meet a deadline.
Of course, I'm often working in-house with my favourite agency. That's because I love the people and the cake is to die for (not to mention the top-notch vegan nosh on the market).
And then in recent months, we've all been working from home. I've often had my laptop on the side while I've had something on the stove and I love the inspiration working in the garden brings.
We spend a lot of time thinking
Built into every project is thinking time. Time to find the story, time to research, time to structure, time to get a feeling for what it's about and what the client wants. No decent writer will start work without thinking time because it's false economy - unnecessary edits and rewrites cost time and money.
Like most creatives, integrity is important. We don't like turning out rushed work, it just doesn't feel right.
We're branding experts too
When it comes to branding, we're as important as anyone else on the creative team. Spend time and money on a visual overhaul but forget your tone of voice and you will have wasted your precious resources. A consistent message and tone that is flexible enough to tell your story and bring out your unique, memorable identity is a fine thing. It is just as vital to get this nailed in the beginning as it is to get your logo right.
We're not always typing
There's nothing like a kettle just on the boil to send you running back to your desk with another idea - often the pithy nub you'd spent half an hour looking for. I write best when my eyes aren't on the screen - it's a good job I learned how to touch type when I was fourteen.
We've an uncanny knack for knowing when three words aren't just three words
A team of writers, working over several days can fill page after page with ideas. Some concepts will open a rabbit warren of other ideas, some will stand out as winners but the majority will fall by the wayside. One minute, lovingly crafted: the next, put aside.
Whether it's a mission statement, a company ethos, a strapline or the underpinning idea behind a complete rebrand, a few words can be the product of condensing several thousand. It's surprising how quickly your customers and company will go on to own those few words - so the fact that they were so carefully chosen in the first place, will pay off many times over.
Sometimes we'll choose to niche I'm a copywriter for coaches and therapists but I do have buddies out there who work in eco-friendly commerce, ethical marketing strategy and the sphere of social media ads. Sometimes it's about enjoying the technicalities of knitting creativity and technical structure together (a bit like writing a haiku) and at others, working with people who share your passion.
But we'll turn our hand to just about anything - apart from working for nothing
Sometimes it's a matter of researching an industry or a product. At others, it's getting to grips with developments in technology and social media platforms. We're experts at filing, sifting and sorting information to find the story: with an eye on visibility, your company's identity and the market.
Good words are worth investing in - and you'll get the best if you value your copywriter's craft. There are no shortcuts.
Would you like to know more? Book a chat with me today.