Enough of this freelancing nonsense. Let’s allow copywriter, strategist and SEO queen Emily Rodgers to give us the view from the other side of the fence. How green is the grass in a content agency?
I studied fashion marketing at uni (niche, I know) and thought I’d give that industry a go. After a few horrendous internships, I landed a job as Junior Merchandise Assistant at House of Fraser. There was a copywriter on my team and I just kept thinking ‘I could do that’.
I’d always wanted to be a writer but thought the only way in was creative writing or publishing. Now I knew that copywriting existed, I went for it. Thanks to my degree, I landed a marketing role that included a bit of copywriting and after a few months I got my first fully-fledged copywriting role in beauty.
Has it helped with what you do now?
I learnt some key fashion terms that came in handy when I started writing product descriptions for brands like ASOS and French Connection and showed me how copy can add value at all levels of a business – it can drive revenue, build loyalty, trust, authority, credibility, boost brand awareness and even change the world.
You work for an organic digital-marketing agency. What does a typical day look like?
I do! We’re called Builtvisible and we specialise in content strategy, digital PR, SEO and analytics. The spectrum of things we do, the clients we have and the projects we execute are so varied and unique that no two days are the same – truly.
Every day is a smorgasbord of copy-related tasks. My work is split between executing copy for clients and internal marketing, so at any one time I could be writing a long-form article (SEO optimised, of course), editing and proofreading a blog post for the Builtvisible blog, crafting a storyline for a campaign or contributing to a strategy project.
You used to be freelance, right? How did that go?
It was okay. I think I would’ve found it easier if I had gained a bit more experience before trying it. But I’m glad I did it and it’s got me to where I am now.
Which is better? Freelance or in-house?
They both have their pros. I liked the freedom of being able to pick and choose projects as a freelancer, but I love the diversity and team effort of in-house – the reduction of admin is a bonus, too.
You learned on the job, right? Was that easy?
Learn by doing, right? It’s the best way. I don’t doubt that every copywriter looks back on their past work peeping through their hands in horror but doing so shows how far you’ve come. Luckily, I’ve had some great mentors who always challenged me to be better.
What kind of projects do you get involved in?
Alongside writing, I also get involved in content strategy, ideations, production, measurement planning and reporting – I keep my copy hat on when getting involved in any one of these tasks to ensure we’re considering how different angles and approaches will affect the messaging, customer and goals of the brand.
Any tips on SEO? (Gotta be worth a try.)
Drum SEO best practice into your head, understand how to conduct relevant keyword research and don’t overdo it.
Also, because of Google’s latest algorithm change to one of user intent, make sure you understand the context of what your audience are searching for and then exceed their expectations. If you’re producing high-quality content that is aligned with user intent for your target queries, then you’ll always be in a strong position.
How do you think SEO is changing from a copywriting perspective?
Google’s shift to Search Journeys will continue to change the way marketers approach users’ searches, mapping keywords and content to different stages of the buyer’s journey and how this impacts copy.
What’s been your finest hour?
I’d like to think I’m yet to have my finest hour, but one thing I’ve been most proud of recently is creating and rolling out a new content style guide for the agency, which has been six months in the making. Seeing it finished and in use has been hugely gratifying.
How did you spend lockdown?
Reading, playing with our house cat Ronnie, and seeing what this UX writing thing is about.
How do you see your future panning out?
Continue to expand Builtvisible’s copy offering and fighting the grammar good fight. In the long term, I’d love to build out a copy team and begin mentoring.
Who knows, maybe one day I’ll become an English teacher.
What was the last book you read?
Oryx and Crake – I’m trying to make my way through the Margaret Atwood back catalogue.
Any good copywriting or SEO literature you know about?
Not to toot our own horn, but as someone who had limited knowledge of SEO a year ago, I think the Builtvisible blog really is a great source. Our experts are constantly sharing tips, discoveries and solutions – and you’ll find all things content, digital PR and data in there, too.
In terms of copy – when I first started, I vowed to make my way through this list. I’m still working on it, but if I were to recommend one thing, it’s Everybody Writes by Ann Hadley… not the most original answer, but it’s a staple.
Finally, what did you have for breakfast?
Eggs. Always eggs.