Breaking into Copywriting: My Story

Learning to be a copywriter

I started writing fiction at a young age.

I haven’t always been a copywriter, but I have forever been a storyteller and a geek. I wrote my first short story on an old typewriter when I was six years old and haven’t stopped since. When my age reached double digits, technology evolved and my interest increased. Ghetto blasters, CD players, computers, and video games crept into homes, and I became fascinated by them all. Once, I got a new stereo for Christmas, and to my mother’s shock I took it to pieces to just “see how it works”.

As the world changed and I matured (often a topic of debate), so did my vision of my future. Some days I wanted to work at NASA and build robots, androids and spaceships. Other days I wanted to be a journalist for a newspaper: I’d seen them in the movies and thought it would be cool to chase a story and interview people to get the scoop. Technology or journalism? They both appealed as a child and into my teens. Coming up with plots for stories is something which I still do all the time. I enjoy it, but it also drives me crazy! I have so many ideas, and not enough time to turn them into stories.

After many years of experimenting with computers and gadgets, working odd-jobs, and writing bits and pieces, I landed a job in IT. I was twenty-five. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted, as playing around with technology was my hobby: building systems and solutions which I’d never use. Would I still want to geek-out in my free time if I was doing it at work? For a while, I did both, but after twelve years in a professional IT role, which saw me managing hundreds of servers, desktops, tablets, and writing endless lines of code, I decided it was time for a change.

Over the years I have done a lot of writing for the web, not only for my employer but also friends and family. They would often ask me to create websites for them or help list items for sale on Amazon or eBay. All of this required concise and persuasive writing and fuelled my interest further towards a more creative career path.

I am a Writer

Novelist, journalist, copywriter? There are so many kinds of ‘writer’.

In 2012 my geeky hobbies waned in favour of creative writing. I think this also gave the left-hand side of my brain a break and passed the work on to the right. I started looking at writing as a career and was surprised by the number of options: The writer categories and sub-categories seemed endless – novelist, freelance journalist, screenwriter, script writer, copywriter, digital copywriter, advertising copywriter, and so many more.

In 2015 I decided it was time take the first step, so I began learning everything I could about the art and industry of copywriting. I took courses on Udemy and Skillshare, and read as many blogs by seasoned writers as I could squeeze into each day. Nearly a year had passed, and although I was still studying the business, I found that I was often repeating the same things over and over. Was I ready? Had I reached the limit of what I needed to know to get started as a copywriter? Should I stop reading about the craft and, as the motivational Nike slogan says, “just do it!”? My confidence wasn’t there, but that can only come with experience. It was time to let Nike show me the way.

Nike. Just do it

You have to follow your dreams. Life is too short not to.

In January 2017 I launched my copywriting business, Write Services, and went about setting myself up on various freelancing sites. To help with my inbound marketing efforts, I made business listings on Yell, Yelp, FreeIndex, and several other directories; but that is when things started getting complicated…

I wanted to be everywhere; to extend my reach as far as possible, but couldn’t use the same summary and service description texts on each site in fear of Google’s duplicate content penalty. So, I spent days agonising over each word on every listing. I wanted to keep them consistent with my brand identity and maximise their SEO potential while avoiding any penalties, but it was not a simple task. To this day I still find myself wanting to tweak things. It’s so easy to lose time in multiple edits, and it can be a dangerous trigger for procrastination if you don’t watch yourself.

Now it’s May 2017, and time for me to stop the endless cycle of tinkering and learning, and focus on getting my first paying clients. I’ve got a portfolio, and I’ve started this blog… wish me luck!

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Geek, film-buff, junk food advocate and occasional dieter.

As a kid I relished writing, singing, acting, and boasted that I could play seven instruments... So, when I grew up I got a job as an IT Systems Admin. An obvious move, right?
After many years of tech, I've gone back to my creative roots. I am now writing for a living!

You can find me on Twitter and Facebook @WScopy. Don't forget to say 'Hi'!

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