I’ve joined some business networks recently, and I’ve been pushing to build the audience of my online networks – Facebook and LinkedIn – and I’ve been promoting myself more and more with these networks to try and share the work I do and reach more potential customers.
One question I’ve been asked more and more often (after “what is copywriting?”) is how I got into this line of work – so I thought I’d share a quick blog post explaining it!
I started university studying a degree in journalism. I loved the writing, the storytelling, and the craft – but I detested the relentlessness of it. It may just have been the course leaders (who had both come from a Daily Mail background…) but it all seemed rather cut-throat and snide, with an ‘at all costs’ mentality to get the story, whether people were hurt in the process or not.
I’m a big people person – and I just couldn’t pair that attitude with my own morals and values – and knew that, because of that, I wouldn’t make it in that kind of professional environment either. So I spoke to the university and made the switch to creative writing.
Creative writing, however, wasn’t a full degree – so I had to pair it with another short course to make a joint honours degree, in order to get enough ‘points’ to qualify with a BA. I picked contemporary culture – a topic nobody has ever heard of, and even fewer understand!
It turned out to be a study of modern culture – subcultures, histories, politics, music, art, drama, TV, film – everything and anything that makes an individual’s identity, and what ties us to others. The ways we are similar, the ways we are different – and what draws us together.
I had expected to love the creative writing, and to merely tolerate the contemporary culture as a means to an end. It turned out that it was entirely the opposite – and I loved the dynamics of people, their personal stories, the way we interact, engage, seek out similar people and like minded peers.
Through university I was also rampantly present online – I was on chat forums, Livejournal (the first blogging platform), DeviantArt, anywhere and everywhere that people congregated to share their stories, ask for advice, network, build relationships. Many of my still most enduring friendships came from that online world – and it’s where people first began to ask for my help writing things for them; CVs, profiles, short stories, helping people to write or edit essays for their own degrees, proof reading dissertations – nothing dodgy, just helping people to communicate what they wanted to say better. That branched out into people making websites and wanting help to write the content for those – and I learned to do that, and to code designs for websites because it was great fun.
I’d never really considered it as a career, and after I graduated I went into retail management – but still did a lot of the online writing, loving all the chances to communicate and help people to connect, and helping people out.
Then people started insisting on paying me for that help – and I hated retail management (seventy hour weeks, poor health and minimum wage are not a fun combination!) and when I left a job I found myself floundering a little about what to do next – and some online friends offered me paid copywriting work to keep me going.
It all built from there – I’ve been a professional blogger, I’ve run and edited an online magazine with a team of 30 writers who were also honing their craft and building a portfolio of printed works, I’ve supported businesses from the smallest start up to global networks.
It still took me a long time to realise that what I was doing wasn’t a stop gap between “proper jobs” – it was paying me better than any 9-5 ever had, I was enjoying the creativity and relationships it allowed me to have with a range of clients, it kept me stimulated and interested because the work has always been so varied, and I got to choose which clients I did and didn’t want to work with.
Since deciding to stick with it permanently, the business has grown and grown – and I’ve trained more in social media and marketing to build on the self-taught knowledge and experience I’d been building up.
Now I have some long-standing clients, a range of newer clients, some with huge contracts and some who just need half a day per month of support to write social media content or blog pieces. The work is still stimulating, varied and fun – and I’m very happy that I shrugged that day in the Dean’s office and opted for the joint honours degree that showed me where my passions really lie, and what I thrive doing.
And that’s how I got into copywriting!
If you’re one of those small businesses who might like some blogging support, by the way, check out the small business retainer offer – and give me a call; I know how challenging it can be to find time to write some content for your website or newsletters, and how thinking of something to say on your business page on Facebook can make your brain grind to a halt! Let me do that for you – and you can get on with the things you do best, and love doing.