By Jo Clarke.
ABOUT JO CLARKE
Jo is a candidate on Creativepool. With the help she found on the site, and one of our bloggers Magnus Shaw, she has achieved her dream of becoming a copywriter. Here she recounts her journey...
"I am a copywriter."
It's taken me seven years to write that.
Not because it took me over a year and a half to come up with each word (that would be silly), but because I've spent the majority of this time stuck in the ‘creative closet'.
Despite always thinking I'd end up a writer, arriving in London as a money hungry graduate meant I was quickly seduced by the wonderful world of Marketing and, like so many of us, took my official position as Little Rat in Big Race, without really thinking twice. Before I knew it any creative bones were focused on scrabbling up the corporate ladder, followed by a move into agency account management. I got some promotions and that was that.
But the creative cracks showed. When I was client-side I'd always work late instead of hiring a copywriter (good for the budget) and jump for joy when a copywriter called in sick when I worked for agencies (not so good for the copywriter). I felt so creatively starved being confined to the budgets and the briefs on such exciting campaigns, but the creative closet is a comfortable place to be for a little rat tired of racing; especially when the bills get paid.
Then I read a Creative Pool blog post by Magnus Shaw on how to become a copywriter (I'd heard of him before, he's won copywriting awards and all sorts, so it felt worth a read). That was last July and something about it gave me the nudge into Narnia I needed. His article made me realise I had a lot of what it takes to be a copywriter and that actually I'd been one all along, because I'd been writing all along; and when I looked at the snippets of copy work I'd done over the years I realised I actually had a bit of a portfolio up my sleeve.
So I took my first step out of the closet. By quitting my job and working as a freelance marketing consultant I had the exclusive opportunity to write copy for my clients' projects, while working for free for others to help build my portfolio. But by Christmas I was doing more and more free or low cost copywriting for clients who'd come to expect it from me and was finding less time available to fund it with my consulting.
I re-read Magnus's article and noticed he'd said that if a reader ever wanted to contact him for advice they could. So I emailed him a barrage of questions, not really expecting a response, but amazingly I got one. Magnus explained that once a client has had free copywriting they'll never want to pay for it and think it's easy, and that really I already had everything I needed to be fully fledged, I just needed to put myself out there.
I'd got so wrapped up in impressing recruitment agents that I'd forgotten I had the most powerful tool at my fingertips: my pen. Magnus recommended I write a letter directly to all the agencies I'd love to work for, a method he himself has used for years.
So I sent a letter to about sixty creative agencies and I've been copywriting ever since. On Magnus's advice I kept my letter quite informal, using it as an opportunity to show off my copywriting skills. In the past two months I've worked for a leading digital agency, a film production company, reviewed restaurants (I'm getting fat) and am set to start writing for my favourite skincare brand. Plus I'm finding my seven years' background in business is an asset - not a hindrance, as the odd recruitment agent had me believe.
I have to say I am so happy. I'm writing every day and every area of my life feels better for it. The ‘Sunday feeling' is gone and I'm going with the grain. Having committed myself for so long to one direction I really felt there was no way off the treadmill without major sacrifice. But I haven't stepped back at all, I just opened the door to a creative world that was always waiting. Thank you Magnus."