Haris Halkic: Hi Jessamine, 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 and the company you own.
Jessamine Marie: I am a former leader of Business Strategy and Relations within the Finance sector. For more than 15 years much of my work was writing focused, from contract builds to project rollouts. My company, Connect-Norfolk was born out of my love of writing and the successes it brought me along with my desire to propel other organizations into the spotlight through well-written prose that would speak truth to their brand.
Haris Halkic: How did you transition to freelance copywriting from your previous job? What’s your best advice for someone who is employed and wants to become a freelance copywriter or has already started but is still struggling?
Jessamine Marie: I built my business while I was still in employment. Unless you are fortunate to have a surplus pot of cash that allows you to leave your day-job before forming your business then slowly transitioning from employed to self-employed is the most realistic option for many. Leaping is scary but empowering.
My advice if you are still employed is to do just that-use your spare time to write, build a portfolio, establish yourself as a writer, market yourself as a writer, carve out a specific niche, and be confident in who you are!
If you have started and are struggling, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want this badly enough?
- Am I working hard enough?
- Do people know who I am and what I do?
- Where can they find me? (Website/ Social Media/ Blog/ Advertising)
- Do I have a portfolio of work that defines my niche writing areas?
Haris Halkic: Getting clients is one of the greatest challenges for freelance copywriters. Could you tell us more about how you get clients?
Jessamine Marie: This question leads on nicely from the above, Haris. I work hard, the public (or enough of them) know who I am and what I do through effective marketing – across platforms that include LinkedIn, social media, advertising, networking and interviews like this one! Successful freelancers of 2018 don’t hide behind their office door and aren’t afraid to pick up the phone to strangers to shout about who they are and what they do *caveat-make sure your efforts stay in line with the requirements under 2018s General Data Protection Ruling (GDPR), you heard it here first! Once you have built a client-base, you will find that your clients start to refer your services to others, that’s a lovely place to be!
Haris Halkic: How do you ensure you understand your clients brand, their tone, and how they operate? What difference does this make to your writing?
Jessamine Marie: By asking the right questions.
I spend time with every new client either over the phone, via Skype or face to face while drinking iced-caramel-lattes, understanding their business, what makes them unique, what’s important to them and who their target audience is.
This makes every difference to the style of writing that I produce, its pitch, Its tone and the end objectives. Treat every client brand like it is your own and understand enough to emotionally engage with it, only then can you write copy that truly connects.
Haris Halkic: What tips do you have on working successfully with agencies?
Jessamine Marie: Remember that the client belongs to the agency and that your client IS the agency. Very occasionally the agency will allow you direct contact with their client, but for the most part, the agency will liaise with you on the client’s behalf. Most agencies require you to work as an unofficial ghostwriter for their client, with the client believing that their writing was done in-house at the agency and not outsourced to freelancers.
- Respect the decision of the agency to outsource the work; they are paying you to write.
- Accept that they may make not operate in the same way that you do. Honor their approach to getting things done.
- Maintain regular contact even when you are not presently working on an assignment. You will maximize chances of repeat work if you remain on their radar.
- Ensure you fully understand the brief before writing and ask questions when something is not clear-cut.
- Draw up a TOA (Terms of Agreement) between you and the agency ensuring transparency and agreement on rates of pay, hours assigned to the project, and delivery deadlines.
Haris Halkic: How did you learn to write copy? Are there teachers, books or resources you can recommend?
Jessamine Marie: I have read more books than the number of emails you would have recently received about the GDPR and the updating of privacy policies. If you want to be a great singer you need to listen to lots of music and sing.
Keep your mind open, be influenced by the best, and be inspired to grow.
The same can be said for writing, read lots and write. Be educated by the leaders in the field of authoring and remain open to criticism. Fifteen years working for a front-runner in business finance taught me a great deal, as did the self-criticism of my work, always aspiring to be better. Extensive reading taught me about emotive language and how it can make you feel. When a written paragraph makes me feel a certain way I dissect its use of words, It’s tone and structure to help me better understand why it provoked a particular reaction in me. Where possible, I bottle this knowledge and apply it to my own written content. A little shout-out for Paul Lima-his books bring to life the realities of freelance writing while supporting you at every stage of planning. www.paullima.com
Haris Halkic: In your opinion, what are the greatest advantages of being a freelance copywriter? What makes this lifestyle so special?
- Freedom to plan my working day, this includes the hours that I work and the tasks that I prioritize.
- Control over work/life balance
- Choice in whom I work with
- Flexibility to support and encourage others
- Opportunity to meet new people
- Knowing that you are making a difference to brand success and the lives of those that are the faces of the brand along with brand consumers.
- Opportunity to understand varying business goals and objectives
Haris Halkic: What one daily habit has contributed to your success more than any other?
Jessamine Marie: Perseverance. Successful businesses don’t grow overnight. Shout about who you are and what you do, be organized and methodical in your approach.
Haris Halkic: Are there areas you focus on as a copywriter and if someone wants to hire you, what is the best way to get in touch?
Jessamine Marie: Over the years I have written for just about every sector out there. I am often sought for my expertise in Report Writing, White Papers, and Solution Briefs and my knowledge of Finance; FinTech; Education; EdTech; Banking, Technology, Business Development; and Cybersecurity. I have however just written an awareness piece covering Mental Health in Children, and a brochure promoting a new Suffolk-based Dementia Care Unit.
I feel lucky to be given such varied opportunity producing copy for B2B/B2C while supporting Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and needs of the user, often referred to as User Experience (UX.)
Parting words from me: Keep going, remain focused, and believe in your abilities, good things come to those that work hard, encourage others, and adhere to the GDPR!
If you would like to discuss your copywriting needs on a no-obligation basis, please get in touch.
Similarly, if you’re starting out or have been in copywriting for a while but are struggling for momentum or regular work I am always happy to offer support and guidance.
You can find me at www.connect-norfolk.co.uk
Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 07542 757028 from the UK. 011 + 44 07542 757028 from the US.