dear slim

How to become a copywriter

Hello, there!

(If you read that in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice then you’ve got a friend for life here).

I’m Ste (short for Steven), and I’m a freelance copywriter.

I still find it a bit surreal saying that. After all, I never imagined I’d actually get here.

If you don’t know what a copywriter is, essentially, I write words for a living. What kind of words? Stuff that you read on websites, product descriptions, newsletters, promotional emails, slogans, and blogs like this ‘ere one.

Day after day, I sit here in my charming little office in the North West of England, surrounded by all my various knickknacks and trinkets, making pew pew noises with my action figures, writing occasionally, and playing about on LinkedIn until it’s time to pack up for the day and head to the gym in my garage.

And it’s all rather lovely.

But it wasn’t always like this. How I got here is a tale so twisty and turny that it sometimes feels like it happened to someone else and I was just a spectator. So, let me take you back. Way, way back. As in a wibbly wobbly swirly whirly time transition with dreamy harp music and everything…

What experience do you need to become a copywriter anyway?

It’s 1996 and I’ve just started college. I’m studying art, psychology, and I.T. What the hell I thought I was going to do with all that when I left I have no idea, but I digress. I’m going to college during the week and working weeknight and weekend shifts at the local supermarket pushing trollies. I don’t know it yet, but it’s the first in a long line of customer-facing roles that will be the bane of my life for the next 20-odd years.

During that time, I’ll be a trolley collector, a warehouse operative, a customer service rep for a call centre, a brewer, a courier driver, a taxi driver, an optical assistant, and a surgery runner for a cataract hospital. Pretty eclectic, right?

But no matter what job I had I always felt like I was settling for less. There was always something niggling away inside me that I hadn’t found my true calling, that I was destined for something better than taking crap from rude people for very little money. Seriously, customer service roles are HARD, so please be nice to these people!

I remember the straw that broke the camel’s back like it was yesterday. I’d just come off a 12-hour night shift of being a taxi driver, a job I despised, and I sat there and wished with everything I’d got that I could bottle the frustration and anger I was feeling so that when it came time to go through the same old routine the following night, I could just swallow the miserable feeling I’d had the previous night and it would spur me on to do something better instead.

And I thought, ‘What a great idea for a story!’

So I started writing.

How do I get into writing?

As well as being incredibly therapeutic, I discovered that I ADORED writing. I’d always enjoyed English at school, but it never occurred to me to write just for pleasure. The story ended up being novel-length (and was pretty terrible looking back on it), but it made me realise that the spark I’d been looking for was right there. I wanted to be a writer for a living.

So, alongside my day job, I started writing for peanuts on the side to get enough of a portfolio together to be taken seriously as a credible writer. I then got my first full-time writing gig as a professional CV writer (I didn’t even know that was a thing until I started doing it!). From there, I went into marketing for an international recruitment company, then moved into SEO and UX website content writing, before finally going freelance.

I now specialise in writing blogs, newsletters, website copy, and ghost-writing LinkedIn posts, but what I truly love to do is to give brands a more human, funny tone of voice. For me, there’s no reason why content and copy can’t be cheeky, sarcastic, self-referential, irreverent, informal, empathetic, conversational, or humorous and still be effective. People buy from people they like, and what better way to do that than by having a rapport with your core audience that keeps them coming back for more?

My copywriting, blogs, articles, and content writing saves my clients precious time, money, and stress and they’re often the company’s greatest salesperson. They pull in punters 24/7/365 from all over the world, making them money while they sleep – all without ever demanding a salary, gym membership, or an early finish on a Friday to go and play golf.

And I love it.

Copywriting, although it’s exhausting at times (what job isn’t?), is an extremely satisfying way to earn a living and I can safely say that I finally found my calling and will never have to drink from that bottle of dissatisfaction ever again.

So, that’s the story of how I became a copywriter, convoluted as it is. Though I hated the numerous customer services roles I had before I became a writer full-time, each and every one of them has given me a skill or informed me of a way of working that’s useful for what I’m doing now. As I sit here today and I can pick and choose my own working hours, the projects that I take on, and the people that I work with (I have a no ar*ehole policy), I’m grateful to have been through the grinder a little bit, because it’s made me a much better writer.

Need help with your copywriting?

If there are any budding copywriters out there who want some advice on getting started then feel free to get in touch. I’m always happy to help, as is the freelance writing community, who are the most genuine, generous, and loving bunch of people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.

Likewise, if you’re looking for an experienced copywriter to work with to give your brand a kick up the backside, then drop me a line. Alternatively, you can cut out the middleman and book a 1:1 with me directly on my Calendly planner by hitting the button below.

However you choose to get in touch, I look forward to having a chinwag with you very soon!

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