Catherine Every is creative, clear, conscientious and makes complicated concepts compelling. Cool. She’s the Herefordshire-based B2B copywriter behind Pippin.
I’d always known I wanted to work for myself but I also love security, so I was wary of taking the plunge. In the first instance, I found an ideal halfway house – working part time as a web copywriter in a web-design agency and freelancing the rest of the time.
That meant I got the security of a regular income while also testing the freelance idea.
The part-time thing went on for eight years before I finally plucked up the courage to go freelance full-time, which I did in 2012.
What did you do before that?
As I mentioned, most recently I was a web copywriter in a web-design agency. Before that, I worked as a marketing manager in educational publishing.
Did it help?
Definitely. It means I understand where marketing and web managers are coming from. It also means I know that my words are there to do a job, not just sound nice.
What’s your favourite type of work?
I do love a good ebook or white paper – they’re great opportunities to learn about something new. I also like writing case studies because you get such good insights into the customer perspective.
What does a typical client look like?
In bigger companies, it’s the marketing manager. In smaller companies, it’s the owner or director. I also work with account directors in marketing agencies. What they all have in common is their understanding of the importance of good copy. And also that they are nice human beings who talk good sense and love what they do. My clients are ace!
What was your finest hour?
Well, there’s the stuff that actually matters and shows I know what I’m doing – copy that’s increased turnover, persuaded stakeholders, increased web traffic and so on.
But the stuff that really gets me smiling is hearing the excitement in a small business owner’s voice when I’ve helped them create the thing that unlocks their marketing roadblock and lets them get out there and promote their business with confidence.
Any low notes? You’re among friends here.
Of course – and I’d rather not revisit the pain by rehashing them here! But in every case, what was particularly frustrating was that the warning signs were there right from the start and I chose to ignore them rather than stepping graciously aside and saying ‘we’re not a good fit, let me help you find someone who is’.
How do you find your clients?
I have a monthly email newsletter, I blog reasonably regularly and I carry out direct-marketing campaigns. But despite all that, my clients mainly come from referrals, either from clients or other copywriters.
Any copywriting books you’d recommend?
In terms of the nuts and bolts, I don’t think there’s any better place to start than Write to Sell by Andy Maslen.
But if you’re going to run a freelance-copywriting business, it’s probably more important to learn about the business side of things and I’d recommend Write copy, make money by Andy Maslen again. I didn’t put enough thought into this side of things until quite a few years in and I really, really wish I’d woken up sooner.
And what was the last book you read?
What did you have for breakfast?
Porridge with raisins. It’s the same breakfast I’ve had practically every day for about 15 years – I’m a creature of habit. The only time I’ll deviate from this is on Sunday mornings when my partner cooks poached eggs on toast using eggs from our two chickens. And then only when I’m not just about to head out for a stupidly long training run, which is rare these days.
Any tips for newbie copywriters?
I’ve got three top tips.
Get to grips with the business side of things (see above).
Network, particularly with other freelance copywriters (#CopywritersUnite, ProCopywriters, Creative North) and at events for sectors you’d like to work in. Personally, I’ve never had much success at general local networking groups, but I know plenty who’d disagree.
Be the type of person you’d want to work with – proactive, reliable, professional, nice.
And any tips for clients?
Copy is a key part of any campaign, so it makes sense not to rush it at the end or treat it as an afterthought.
Think about what’s going to be required right from the earliest stages of a project. This includes getting the person/people who’ll be writing the copy on board. If you’re writing it in-house, no one will thank you for landing a copy project on them at the last minute (you won’t get the best results either). And if you’re outsourcing it, it’s rare to find a half-decent copywriter with much last-minute availability.
This is all easier said than done, as I know from my own experience of having my own website designed, getting extremely excited about watching the design come together and completely forgetting about the task of pulling the content together…