Confessions of a copywriter

How did you get into copywriting?

I knew I wanted to be a writer from about age 13. It was the thing I was best at and most enjoyed at school. I even wrote on holiday and at weekends (and still do).

What do you specialise in?

Writing without waffle i.e. making complex information seem simple so it doesn’t waste anyone’s time.

What are you working on at the moment?

Mostly web copy, newsletters and blogs.

What makes a good brief?

Clarity about the objective, the target audience, the competitors and the product or service offering.

Which comes first, copy or design?

As a copywriter, of course I would say copy! I’ve met too many designers who put the most important emphasis in the ‘wrong’ place which ruins the communication.

US or UK spellings?

Depends on your readership.

Noise or quiet when you work?

Quiet. Ssh.

Biggest frustration about being a copywriter?

People who think they can do it themselves and don’t know what they’re missing.

What can clients do to make your life easier?

Pay on time!

Where do you get your best ideas?

Walking in the park, listening to live rock music, driving down the motorway (I phone my voicemail to capture those thoughts, hands-free of course).

What are your views on txt spk?

I love it as an alternative language, but not as a replacement language.

What’s the best line you’ve ever written?

My favourite is my Writing Without Waffle slogan which was inspired by a testimonial that a fellow copywriter wrote about me. It has been my ‘lead-in’ to ££££s of business over the years.

What are your career highlights?

Publishing my books that both reached top ten in the sales and marketing listings on Amazon. Achieving an Open University honours degree while working full-time. Contributing blogs to the Huffington Post.

What’s the secret of injecting personality into the written word?

Don’t get stuck thinking you have to use archaic corporate language. Instead, write as you would talk to your best friend.

What’s unique about your writing style?

It varies according to the tone of voice of each client, but my preferred style is simple, chatty and friendly.

What’s your definition of copywriting?

Copywriting is about prompting the reader to take action.

What training, qualifications and experience do you have?

Over 30 years experience as a full-time copywriter, degree in psychology (focusing on how people process words and symbols on paper and on screen, as well as what makes people tick), qualified NLP Practitioner for a deeper understanding of the power of language to influence behaviour, creative writing course run by Sue Townsend on a Greek island. Originally qualified as a journalist.

How do your clients find you / what’s your route to market?

98% find me by word-of-mouth recommendation and referral.

What tip would you give upcoming copywriters?

A writer writes.

What do you wish you’d written?

Adrian Mole, Harry Potter or Bridget Jones’s Diary.

What is your top tip to Fresh Business Thinking readers?

Use a professional (like wot I am)!

Is there anything that you’re promoting at the moment?

If you like the hints and tips I provide in these newsletters, you might also like to sign up for my Writing Without Waffle ezine at http://jackiebarrie.com

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

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