Haris Halkic: Hi Grant, thanks a lot for agreeing to share your best tips on copywriting and your background. Let’s start with how you got started in copywriting. Please, tell us more about your story.
Grant Wood: Hi Haris, it’s a pleasure and a privilege for me to share my story with you.
Copywriting actually found me! I obtained a B.A. degree, in 2008, from the University of Cape Town with majors in English literature and social anthropology. I then went on to get a diploma in journalism at Varsity College in 2010 (also in Cape Town.)
I was lucky enough to land an internship at Sports Illustrated magazine during my studies. The watershed moment came when I saw my first piece of work published in the issue of April 2009.
From there, my work naturally progressed into the digital space and has continued to evolve.
Haris Halkic: How did you transition to freelance copywriting from your previous job? What’s your best piece of advice for someone who is employed and wants to become a freelance copywriter?
Grant Wood: I’ve been freelancing in my spare time for nearly five years and so I think it was an eventuality that I would transition to freelancing on a full-time basis. The freedom to be able to control my own schedule is what really appealed to me.
My advice for someone who wants to transition into freelance copywriting is simply, ‘trust your gut and go for it!’ If it means having to sacrifice a few weekends to meet a deadline, it’s worth it.
You’ll build up a reputation and forge trust with your clients…and your transition begins.
Haris Halkic: Getting clients is one of the greatest challenges for freelance copywriters. What ways do you use to get clients?
Grant Wood: Network! There’re an array of freelance communities out there.
LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for meeting prospective clients.
Ensure that you have a comprehensive, easy-to-read LinkedIn profile. Join freelance copywriting groups on Facebook and chat to the members. You’ll be surprised by the power of word-of-mouth.
Haris Halkic: How did you learn to write copy? Are there teachers, books or resources you can recommend?
Grant Wood: I would say that I learned the basic techniques through my studies, but writing copy professionally is a continuous process. Every piece of copy that you write adds to your skillset. The ability to adapt style, tone and voice on a constant basis to suit clients’ briefs is learned through practice.
One of my freelance lecturers at Varsity College, Elsibe McGuffog, was – and continues to be – a huge inspiration to me. She imparted knowledge that I continue to use to this day. Thank you, Elsibe!
I highly recommend every copywriter read ‘The Content Code’ by Mark W. Schaefer. He provides phenomenal insight into the continuing development of content with emphasis on structure and strategies to (as he says) ‘ignite’ your content.
Haris Halkic: How do you prepare for a writing session?
Freelance copywriting needs to be part of your lifestyle, not just a job.
I blend it into my daily routine and so my preparation begins when I wake up.
However, when I’m physically at my desk about to kickstart the day, I spend time reading the briefs and at the same time, visualise a structure in my mind. Then, I turn up my beloved classic rock music and start writing.
Haris Halkic: Who’s your favorite copywriter or piece of copywriting?
Grant Wood: Without a doubt, David Ogilvy.
Haris Halkic: In your opinion, what are the greatest advantages of being a freelance copywriter? What makes this lifestyle so special?
Grant Wood: The greatest advantage is not having to deal with a long commute to work! Traffic in Cape Town can drain all of your creative energy.
I really enjoy having the freedom to control my schedule. It’s great to know that I can go to the gym at any point in the day or grab a coffee with one of my friends in the afternoon.
Also, my friends will tell you unequivocally that I’m not a morning person! So, having the liberty to work late at night if I want is a privilege.
Haris Halkic: What one daily habit has contributed to your success more than any other?
Grant Wood: Perseverance. It takes a lot of discipline to work from home. Once I’ve had my morning cup of strong coffee, I sit at my desk, select an album from my music library on iTunes and get to work.
Haris Halkic: Are there areas you specialize on as a copywriter and if someone wants to hire you, what is the best way to get in touch?
Grant Wood: I wouldn’t say that I specialise in one area. I’ve been lucky to have written for clients in a plethora of industries – and still do. I like to challenge myself and will tackle any topic.
The best way to get in touch with me is via email: email@example.com
My new website will be up and running soon. I’ll keep you updated.