Meet the copywriter – Huw Thomas

This week we talk to copywriter Huw Thomas about his life as a freelance copywriter and why this3b97f66ad1f95ee5e32c049c339b0c47 is not the career for those who enjoy office parties!

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into copywriting?

I’ve been copywriting for about a year now. I studied Creative Writing at university and after a series of unrelated jobs decided to put what I’d learned to the test.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Coffee and typing, usually. Writing in the morning, editing in the afternoon. Freelancing is quite good in that there’s no fixed location, meaning I can work from a variety of places to keep things interesting. 

How do you get over writer’s block?

I find that just writing is the main way. As long as you have a foundation to work from, most of the work is done in the editing phase. Research helps as well, finding a new angle or approach to a subject or client can fuel the fire a little. But words on the page are the biggest motivator, even if they are eventually swapped out for something else. 

Do you have a full-time job, or are you freelance?

Being self-employed means I work full time on a variety of different projects, working from wherever takes my fancy. I have clients and companies who I write for on a regular basis and others who I work with just once. It’s a full time job comprised of lots of smaller projects, which suits me well. 

What do you like about copywriting?

My commute is three feet. 

What frustrates you about copywriting?

The office parties are fairly solitary. 

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What tools do you use everyday to get the job done?

The internet is a blessing and a curse, for every bit of valuable research you can end up reading through ten meaningless blogs. Finding an application to block social media and time wasting websites was a big turnaround in my productivity. 

Content mills – necessary evil or just plain evil?!

I think they can make a complicated process simple, for both content creators and those in need of content. 

How much do you know about SEO? How does it impact on how you write?

SEO was something which I have had to teach myself and it’s an ongoing learning process. The key seems to be quality content. Just like a pushy salesman can put potential customers off a product, too much emphasis on SEO can leave people frustrated with a website. It’s important to strike a balance between being easy to find and easy to understand, between being visible and engaging. 

Who would be your dream client to write copy for?

I think writing about my hobbies would be less interesting. Clients where I know very little about an industry means the research is generally more rewarding and interesting. So I’d say my dream client would be one which I know nothing about. 

Billy Burroughs
Billy Burroughs

Who are your copywriting role models?

Leo Burnett and William S. Burroughs.

 

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Meet the copywriter – Iain Houten

This week we talk to Iain Houten about his journey from nursing to copywriting, and why there is no place for writer’s block in the modern agency. 13801

Q) Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into copywriting?

A) I trained as a nurse (badly) before realising it wasn’t for me a decade ago. After managing betting offices for four years, I then went back to university to undertake an English Literature degree. I’ve been working as a writer in London during the 18 months since graduating.

Q) What does a typical day look like for you?

A) At the moment I don’t have typical days, which will be explained in the next question.

Q) Do you have a full-time job, or are you freelance?

A) After working as a freelancer during my first 11 months in London, generally as an untrained stenographer – or ‘logger’ – in medical fitness to practice hearings, I got a job as a full-time staff writer with a creative web agency, writing about sports betting for most of the big bookmakers’ news sites.

Unfortunately, due to some of the company’s contracts coming back and forth, I was taken off staff and brought back as a four-day freelancer after six months. I fill any free days with logger shifts and/or copywriting.

Q) How do you get over writer’s block?

A) At the creative web agency, there’s no such thing as writer’s block – you get through your work or you’re out. It wouldn’t even occur to me to stop writing, because I have to pay my rent.

When it comes to personal projects – such as my blog, the book I’m working on and Copify – escaping writer’s block is somewhat more difficult. The best way I’ve found of counteracting is to write down big questions and try to answer them, such as ‘Why is the Scottish Independence campaign in such chaos?’ or ‘What is going on at Liverpool football club?’ I find this helps.

Q) What do you like about copywriting?

A) I did some copywriting work for a communications agency in Kentish Town last year and found it was a useful way to supplement my income, as well as good practice. Now, after producing five/six 350-word articles per day for six months, turning around content is relatively straightforward.

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Iain’s dream client – The Economist

Q) What frustrates you about copywriting?

A) The money’s poor, but that’s a given and I signed up to Copify with my eyes wide open. However, I do get frustrated when I log in and there’s nothing but assignments on ecommerce etc. That’s not really my bag, to be honest.

Q) What tools do you use every day to get the job done?

A) For travel articles in particular, Wikipedia is a great starting point. The BBC website is a fantastic, authoritative source of information. When writing about sport in my ‘day job’, I use sites such as Racing Post (and their Soccerbase), Planet Rugby, WhoScored? and Newsnow.

Q) Content mills – necessary evil or just plain evil?!

A) Well, they work for me. As I’ve already stated, the money is poor but I signed up to Copify with my eyes wide open and not at gunpoint.

You get through your work or you’re out. It wouldn’t even occur to me to stop writing, because I have to pay my rent.

Q) How much do you know about SEO? How does it impact on how you write?

A) From writing with a creative web agency, I know plenty about search engine optimisation and what the likes of Google picks up and passes by. I can’t say I give SEO as much attention regarding Copify pieces, as many of the searchable terms in the content are provided by the client. I just make sure they are in there.

Q) Who would be your dream client to write copy for?

A) It is a dream and you’ve got to have them. The Economist.

right-said-fred-5075f5c7df6a3

 

Q) Who are your copywriting role models?

A) Ian Write, the Write brothers and Write Said Fred.

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Meet the copywriter – Raymond Peytors

Welcome to a new feature on the blog, Meet the writer. Here we’ll talk to Copify writers about their 13788daily routine and how they got into the weird and wonderful world of copywriting. This week, it’s the turn of Raymond Peytors, a writer with over 25 years’ experience.

Q) Hi Raymond tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into copywriting?

A) I have been writing various types of material for about 25 years. I started with small articles for local newspapers and magazines, copy for events and exhibitions followed and that led to an early introduction into copywriting.

Q) What does a typical day look like for you?

A) I usually start working at around 9am on projects that I have already accepted. Then I work until the orders are completed. The day ends when the work is done. I usually work for around six hours every day, except Sundays.

Q) How do you get over writer’s block??

A) I walk around, listen to music or engage in an activity that has nothing to do with writing. I love cooking and sometimes peeling vegetables can cure the block and get my brain working again!

Peeling veg can cure writes block, who knew?
Peeling veg can cure writers block, who knew?

Q) Do you have a full-time job, or are you freelance?

A) I have been freelance for 30 years. Working for myself ensures that I actually get on and do something. Working for others is just too limiting.

Q) What do you like about copywriting?

A) I love the creativity and the fact that I learn so much about different subjects. One reason I enjoy writing for Copify so much is that I never know what my next assignment will be.

Q) What frustrates you about copywriting?

A) Sometimes I have a great idea for an approach to a job only to find that my idea is out of line with the brief. Briefs can also cause frustration if they are unclear or ambiguous. Having said that, one learns to interpret what is required.

Don't thank me, thank the Microsoft Office family
Don’t thank me, thank the Microsoft Office family

Q) What tools do you use every day to get the job done?

A) I use MS Word and I also have good dictation software. I find I sometimes produce better material when I am walking and speaking rather than typing.

Q) Content mills – necessary evil or just plain evil?!

A) Very necessary I think, especially for most website owners. Copywriting is not as easy as many people think it is. Paying a professional is undoubtedly preferable to publishing poor quality in-house material.

Q) How much do you know about SEO? How does it impact on how you write?

A) I know quite a lot about SEO and, as everything ends up on the Web nowadays, SEO unconsciously affects almost everything I write. Knowledge of SEO is essential in my view.

Q) Who would be your dream client to write copy for?

A) The Guardian newspaper, if they were brave enough to publish what I write!

Will Self
Selfie

Q) Who are your copywriting role models?

A) Will Self. He’s brilliant.

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