Manchester B2B copywriter Lorrie Hartshorn speaks five languages, one of which is Bad. She’s lairy, sweary and bloody good at the down-and-dirty tradey, industrial stuff most of us like to swerve.
I finished uni at the age of 22 and realised very quickly that no one wanted to hire me for anything beyond a £12k-a-year call-centre job, despite the fact that I had a first-class degree and spoke four languages.
I started doing a bit of translation for my aunt, who worked at a micropolymer processing plant, then used that experience to springboard into copywriting.
What did you do before? Has it helped?
I trained as a translator and interpreter, and it’s definitely helped. I can often come up with several ways to say something, and I’m very precise in the words I choose to use — I’ve always got a good reason for phrasing things in a certain way.
There’s also a real parallel between copywriting and translation: you have to use your own words to transmit information and a particular impression or feeling, but you can’t just write what you want. It’s always a balance, and meeting all those requirements is like a puzzle.
What’s your favourite type of work?
I love an end-to-end website copywriting project, where I can get involved right at the start — designing sitemaps, setting up content hierarchies, working on page templates. It’s the best way to end up with a really brilliant website at the end, and it’s so satisfying.
Plus, I always learn loads from working with other creatives, whether it’s designers, devs, photographers.
And your favourite sort of client?
You know I love my B2B babies, right? Trade and industrial is my fave, really — proper down-and-dirty manufacturers, things like that.
Most of the guys I work with in that industry are straight-talking, straightforward and funny as f*ck. I love it.
You’ve just been through a branding process. How did that go?
It was amazing, and I hope you’ll humour me as I give a fan-girly shout-out to Studio Dotto, who did the work with me. Dani got me thinking about my business in a new way, and knew what I needed before I did.
I can’t believe the difference it’s made already, putting my name out there under a professionally developed brand. It’s been worth every penny.
You’re big on branding. But it’s not a standalone process, is it? How do you think it intersects with areas like SEO?
It’s definitely not a standalone process — I don’t think anything we do is. You get folks arguing that SEO comes first, or branding comes first, or whatever — I see it more like weaving a net.
You don’t want big holes anywhere, cos you don’t know where your fish are going to land. Tie your on-site SEO up tight with your branding, and your user experience, and your technical SEO, and your content marketing — you’ll definitely catch more clients.
Do you work alone or with other creatives?
I don’t work with other writers, but I love working with designers, devs, UX specialists, photographers, creative directors, and seeing what they get up to. The better I understand how they do their jobs, the more useful I can make myself and my content.
Plus, I’m just really nosey.
How has lockdown been for you?
Tough! First I got the ‘Rona, then I was knackered for ages, and now I’m juggling work, home-schooling my 5yo, and keeping things running at home. Women deserve medals when this is all over, and I’ll be barging my ass to the front of the queue. No false modesty here — I want recognition and a sit-down.
How do you think copywriting will change on the other side of COVID?
I’m hopeful that more businesses will see how effective people who work from home can be. Maybe in-house resource won’t be viewed as better than freelance anymore — that’d be nice.
What was your finest hour?
My entire life, mate. Or possibly when a client loved a one-word ad I wrote for them so much, they trademarked it.
Any low notes?
God, plenty. None that I’m going to tell you about, though. 😂
Favourite copywriting books?
Would you believe I’ve never actually read one?
How do you drum up work?
I don’t — work drums me up. Benefit of being long in the business and good at what you do, I guess.
Any advice for copywriting newbies?
Put your back into it and market the shit out of yourself. Get your online real estate sorted, then call people, email people, visit businesses in person. Do it every single day, and never whinge publicly about having no business. Act the part until you are the part.
And any advice for clients?