Here’s interview number two.
Yesterday we had Glenn Murray of Divine Write Copywriting, today we have James Tennant of JT Copywriting. We asked the same questions and he gave us the following insight.
1. When did you decide to start your freelance copywriting business?
I decided to do it straight out of University in 2009. I had always had a passion for the written word (penning stories from a very young age will give you that passion I guess) and, while at University, I got interested in business, marketing and advertising. Like many students I wanted to travel after completing my degree and I did just that, heading to Canada. It was in Canada that I decided to put my skills as a writer and my love of marketing together and become a freelance copywriter. To be honest, it was the attraction of being able to work from anywhere in the world that finally won me over and I started JT Copywriting.
2. How long did it take before you established yourself as a leading freelance copywriter?
I have worked with some big name clients and I’ve been pretty successful to date but I’m not sure if I would classify myself as a leading copywriter. My clients certainly seem to think my services are worth paying for so does that make someone a leader in their field? Regardless, it took me about two years to get to the stage I’m at now but there are much bigger names and much bigger earners than me out there.
3. Are there any other copywriters you admire? If so, who and why?
I admire any copywriter that has made a success of themselves as a freelancer. It’s a very hard thing to start your own business and make good money from it. If you need names I would probably say Laurence Blume and of course David Ogilvy
4. What is the best way to get new clients?
I’ve found that networking is one of the best ways. You should jump at any chance you get to meet potential clients face-to-face. If you’re confident and you show you have the skills to back up that confidence then you’ll make yourself very attractive to any potential clients that may want to hire you.
5. If you could pick five traits or characteristics to create the perfect freelance copywriter, what would they be?
1. Determination – If you’re not determined to succeed then you won’t. It’s as simple as that.
2. Passion – You need to love being a copywriter. Don’t just do it because you think it’s a good way to earn money. If you do that you’ll never push yourself to overcome any hardships you might face. You’ll just give up and do something else.
3. Writing Skills – This one is fairly obvious. If you can’t write properly then I would stay away from a career in copywriting.
4. Confidence – Whether you’ve been a freelance copywriter for 10 minutes or 10 years, you need confidence to sell your services. Confidence is contagious so make sure you’re oozing with it (stop short at arrogance though…that certainly won’t help).
5. A Good Business Head – You don’t need a Master’s Degree in Business Management but you need to have a basic idea of how a business is run. Many start-up copywriters forget about this – don’t make the same mistake.
6. What’s your favourite power word (or word)?
‘Proven’ is a good one. Always gets a good reaction from the audience.
7. List five must-have items that you believe each freelance copywriter should have.
- A well designed website – Your website will help form your client’s first impression of you.
- A laptop – Mobile computing…completely necessary.
- Business cards – Always carry them on you. Always.
- Bus pass/rail pass/driver’s license – You will end up travelling a lot.
- Social media accounts – Twitter, facebook and LinkedIn are the big three. Using social media is a great way to promote your business.
8. What are the annoying aspects of freelance copywriting?
Those clients that think they know how to do your job better than you (there are a few of them out there). I wouldn’t hire a plumber then spend hours telling him how to do his job so I don’t appreciate it when it happens to me. I’ll echo Glenn in his interview below when he said that working with clients that want you to write in a formal style can be very hard (who wants formal these days? Personally I think formal copy is awful – Clients take note!).
9. What are the most enjoyable aspects of freelance copywriting?
Being able to work from anywhere in the world. Since I became a freelance copywriter I have found myself completing work in the UK, Canada and across the European continent and I love it. If I want a change of scenery I can have it (budget permitting of course) and you can’t beat that.
10. Finally. What advice would you give to all the brand new freelance copywriters out there?
Give it a go. Really. I didn’t have a professionally constructed business plan or any funding to get started, I just wanted to do it because it seemed like a career I would love to do and I had nothing to lose by taking a chance. If you’re that passionate about something and you’re a determined person, then you have every chance of being successful. You just need to take those first steps (they’re the hardest ones).
Thanks to James for this one! Hopefully these interviews are giving you all some great insight into the life of a freelance copywriter and some great advice too!
Let me know what you think and, copywriters, if you want to do the interview yourself, just get in touch!