This week we talk to Sam Lawes about his transition from 9-5 to freelance writer, and why copywriters are the ideal candidates for TV quiz shows.
Q) Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into copywriting?
A) After my undergraduate degree, like a great many other graduates, I wanted to spend a bit of time abroad. I ended up in Istanbul, writing web copy as an interesting and surprisingly well paid way of sustaining myself as I took in the culture, started to learn the language and tinkered around with hefty half-written pieces of my own, which I still have delusions of one day publishing.
Q) What does a typical day look like for you?
A) Thus far the notorious ‘typical’ day has yet to manifest itself. I rather hope it doesn’t.
Q) How do you get over writer’s block?
A) The unfortunate fact is that anybody who writes for a living will find the ease of putting words on a page comes and goes. Sometimes the remedy is just to crack on; plenty of web copy is about clarity and good tone, not poetic inspiration. For some copy, it’s possibly to wrestle the imagination into a state of begrudgingly coming up with the goods.
Q) Do you have a full-time job, or are you freelance?
A) I’m currently stepping over from the latter to the former. The flexibility of freelancing can be excellent, but the lack colleagues, larger projects and being able to clock off at 6pm is the price you pay for it.
Q) What do you like about copywriting?
A) Copywriters can choose their topics, follow their interests and explore different styles of writing. It’s also a surprisingly good way to learn about obscure topics. If you did it for long enough, you’d probably be able to earn a supplementary income through winning TV quiz shows.
Q) What frustrates you about copywriting?
A) It is inevitably the case that you’ll end up writing too many articles about topics that don’t interest you. Rummaging around in the paintbox of your mind for anything new to say about this or that issue or industry is par for the course.
Q) What tools do you use everyday to get the job done?
A) I use one index finger and have nine spares.
Q) Content mills – necessary evil or just plain evil?
A) I and many writers I know do enjoy putting some reasonably well written, informative and hopefully very readable stuff out there.
Q) How much do you know about SEO? How does it impact on how you write?
A) It’s is one of those things that writers know in the sense of knowing how to do it, but know nothing about the internal workings thereof. I tend to pick up keywords and have them in mind as I write. Slipping them in so they don’t spoil a piece of writing is more a knack than a skill, but it’s one that takes some time to perfect and you can spot less than professional, experienced SEO copywriting when you see it.
Q) Who are your copywriting role models?
William Shakespeare was one of the greats.