This week we talk to Liverpudlian writer Paul Philbin about night-time writing, SEO copy and the evils of daytime telly!
Q) How did you get into copywriting?
A) 20 years ago, I was told I had to give up working on building sites due to a progressive wasting disease in my spine. I was foolish enough to ignore this advice for a while but soon found out the hard way that surgeons actually know a thing or two.
A change of career was needed and I enrolled myself into the University of Liverpool to study creative writing.
Degrees are pretty useless to someone who spends most of their time at home, and I struggled at first to find a channel for my new found creativity.
Then I discovered the world of copywriting.
Q) What does a typical day look like for you?
A) Dark is the easy answer here. After many months of trying to find the right daytime formula to be at my most creative, I discovered that night-time was the best option.
There are no kids playing football in the street, nobody knocking to sell me useless household products and best of all – the phone never rings.
The biggest plus for me of using content mills is the diversity of jobs on offer….these sites are a great way of keeping yourself sharp, and in tune with the current trend of copy in demand.
Q) How do you get over writer’s block?
A) To be honest I think this is a myth – or an excuse for a day off.
I think inspiration can be found anywhere, and… erm… erm……. ah well never mind.
Q) Do you have a full-time job, or are you freelance?
A) Yes! Freelancing is my only source of income, but one of the drawbacks to night writing is having to become the Cook, Cleaner and Child Picker-upper, while everyone else is at work.
This also helps you to realise that day time TV is the Devil.
Q) What do you like about copywriting?
A) I enjoy the challenge of finding new angles to be creative.
The diversity of projects on offer is staggering and each one brings with it an opportunity to blow the client, or audience away.
Achieving blow-ability every time is demanding. This is a great motivator and a source of self satisfaction when you get there.
Q) What frustrates you about copywriting?
A) Clients who value keywords over content.
Stifled creativity syndrome is the bane of my life.
Q) What tools do you use everyday to get the job done?
A) Good coffee and great music are my weapons of choice.
Trying to write without background music, would be like having a T-bone steak without first opening a bottle of Merlot.
The coffee is essential – especially for night watchmen like myself. Anything instant would be sacrilege.
Q) Content mills – necessary evil or just plain evil?
A) The biggest plus for me of using content mills is the diversity of jobs on offer. Pay per word rates are not always as important as honing your skills and these sites are a great way of keeping yourself sharp, and in tune with the current trend of copy in demand.
Q) How much do you know about SEO? How does it impact on how you write?
A) This ever changing beast has to be considered in almost everything I write, but many clients make the mistake of using it in the wrong way.
I believe the most effective SEO is in the long game. Regular quality content is far more valuable than quick fixing someone’s ranking, and will keep you near the top for much longer.
Q) Who would be your dream client to write copy for?
A) Anyone with a great idea – and a blank canvas.
Q) Who are your copywriting role models?
A) Claude Hopkins – David Ogilvy – John Carlton.
Modern day choice would have to be the Copyblogger tribe. Awesome.