The spike in stabbings across west London prompted the Copywriter Collective’s Fraser Bailey to recall his time as an advertising student in the area.

On 22 March 2019, 17-year old Abdirashid Mohamoud was stabbed to death in Isleworth, a west London suburb. He is just one of the numerous young people to die in this way across west London in 2019, as London’s murder rates continue to surpass that of New York. A couple of days after Abdirashid’s death, BBC Radio 5Live conducted an interview with a local youth leader who claimed there was nothing for local youngsters to do and highlighted the need for more youth facilities etc. 


This is, of course, a regular complaint. But it resonated with me because I was once a teenager of limited means living in the area, whereas I have never been a such a teenager living in Edmonton, Tottenham, Croydon or any of the other places where such stabbings routinely occur. 


As such, I know what it is like to live there as a young man from a bog-standard comprehensive attending a bog-standard College of Further Education. And I have some idea of whether or not there is ‘nothing to do’, or whether it is indeed necessary to go around stabbing people in order to pass the time.


Of course, one should first acknowledge that the area has never been, and probably never will be, an area overflowing with sophisticated cultural or entertainment opportunities. When I arrived there in 1984 its greyness was alleviated only, as I wrote to my parents, ‘by the colourful saris of the Indian women’. Thatcher’s reforms were already working their magic elsewhere in London, but Hounslow and its environs continued to embody the dull, suburban ennui of ‘That’s Entertainment’ by The Jam. The brick that came through the window one evening when we were watching TV only served to confirm this.


Despite this, in the nine months between September 1984 and June 1985, while living in the depths of Hounslow profonde – otherwise known as Hounslow West – I found it perfectly possible to fill my time with a plethora of activities and entertainment. So much so that, looking back from middle age, one marvels at the energy required to fit it all round a full-time college course (four and a half days each week) and its related evening workshops in central London, along with working in the bar of a bingo club three nights a week. 


For a start, I saw a half of the world’s best bands of the time (The Fall, REM, Jesus And Mary Chain etc) including The Pogues on about seven occasions, all at venues easily reachable from Hounslow, and before taxi apps and all-night tubes made it easier to get home. I was also to be found at the theatre quite often, not least the Royal Court where I saw a young Gary Oldman in a revival of Edward Bond’s social-realist plays of the 1960s. (All I can say is that one has a high tolerance for such progressive nonsense at that age). The Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford, close to where the unfortunate Abdirashid Mohamoud lived, offered a lively programme of plays, performances and films, and we sometimes went to the cinema in Richmond.

Popping along to QPR on a regular basis was easy enough, and I saw Derby County (and sometimes Stoke City) whenever they played in London or the south-east. Those were the days of real fans in real grounds. I was punched in the face at Reading, terrified when I went to Millwall for the first time, and present at Stamford Bridge for the League Cup semi-final in March 1985 when the Chelsea fan ran on to the pitch and attacked Clive Walker after he’d scored for Sunderland against his old team. Halcyon hooligan days!


Then, of course, there were the usual student parties and the like, at which I can be fairly sure that the (mild) drugs were not supplied by murderous gangs. Rooting around Hounslow’s charity shops unearthed gems such as John Coltrane’s ‘Ascension’ and Captain Beefheart’s ‘Safe As Milk’. The second-hand bookshop near the entrance to Osterley Park was always a delight. We went to the muddy dystopia of Glastonbury, and later that summer to Berlin (West and East) in search of Einsturzende Neubauten.


Twickenham abuts Hounslow and I attended both Five Nations matches there that year, as well as the first Freight Rover Cup final at Wembley. I played football once a week, tennis once or twice, and attended gatherings of the Derby County Supporters Club London Branch.


But, you might say, everything was cheaper in those days and you had the benefit of a full student grant. Well, I can assure you that there was bugger all left over after paying for the necessities of rent, food, travel, art supplies and clothing. Hence the need to work three evenings a week and even that wasn’t possible during internships (or ‘placements’ as we called them).


And not everything is more expensive today. Looking at the website of the Waterman’s Arts Centre in Brentford I note that the prices for tickets, food and drink are very reasonable by London standards. Moreover, it continues to offer an interesting selection of contemporary and historical films, along with a variety of live events and exhibits. There are certainly enough options to keep young men like Abdirashid busy for a couple of nights each week. Equally reasonable, and no more expensive than the 1980s taking inflation into account, are the ticket prices for Brentford FC. 


And don’t forget that young people from the area are living at home and spared the cost of rent and food. Streaming services make it easier and cheaper to consume music and film. Clothes and consumer goods are relatively (and sometimes actually) cheaper than they were 35 years ago. Taxi apps and all-night tube trains at the weekends make travel to other parts of London more viable.


Earning the money to pay for it all seems just as easy, if not easier. (Officially there were about three million unemployed when I was at college, although of course there was work for anyone that wanted it). The bingo club in which I worked seems to have disappeared, but there are plenty of shops and fast food outlets in the area, as well as an Ibis hotel. Even the Waterman’s Arts Centre has a vacancy. My guess is that working three shifts a week at somewhere like KFC would yield around £120 with no tax to pay in this era of a rapidly rising minimum wage, and a high personal allowance. 


Indeed, it seems to me that the only sense in which it might be more difficult for young people these days is the cost of major sporting and entertainment events. Just one evening working at the bingo club would have paid for both my Twickenham tickets. You would have to spend a few evenings working at KFC to buy those tickets now. Equally, one is staggered by the sums that people cough up to see the likes of Drake and Ed Sheeran. (And that’s before all those appalling online scalpers get involved). 


All things considered, I sense that teenagers in the Hounslow area in 2019 are no worse off than I was: either financially or in terms of the employment or entertainment options available. As such, there is no need, and no excuse, to further indulge in the national sports of stabbing people or complaining to the BBC. Moreover, I would give anything to be back in Hounslow, 19 years old and heading off to another historic Pogues gig.

Read more about Fraser Baily


English copywriter in AmsterdamAbout the Author:

Fraser Baily is a native English copywriter in Amsterdam and creative (director). Baily has vast experience across all sectors and media, including social media. Recent clients include AkzoNobel, ING, Nike, IBM and Atos.

Interested in hiring Fraser? Contact Copywriter Collective today.


Cecilia Profile

Mind the gap

Time is a funny concept. Ten years can seem like an eternity one day, to have you scratching your head in sheer bewilderment asking yourself “what just happened?” the next. More often than not, I look back at London in the latter way. Like it all happened in the blink of an eye.

I left my small Swedish town in the woods for the allure of the big city when I was 21. At the time there seemed to be an unofficial consensus that London was, in fact, “Sweden’s fifth largest city” population wise. Now, this was of course not true, but there was a great influx of Swedes, which manifested itself in the Swedish church, the Swedish pub and selection of Swedish shops all concentrated around the Marylebone area.

With dreams of becoming a writer from an early age, I ended up studying journalism at LCC – part of UAL and recognised as one of the world’s top creative universities – where I was awarded a First Class Honours degree in 2010.

Armed to the teeth with the ideals and gusto of a newly graduated journalist, I envisioned becoming an investigative reporter going off to uncover crimes of war. I serendipitously ended up in the music industry instead.

No business like showbiz

In London I worked as an online editor and staff writer at Mixmag, the biggest music magazine of its kind in the world, working with features and reviews for print and shorter, tongue-in-cheek news articles for online. My editor at the time told me “CC, you won’t get rich doing this, so blag as much as you can.” It was no doubt one of the most fun workplaces I’ve ever had.

Eventually I decided to venture over to the dark side (as my university professors would have called it) – or, I moved into PR. As an in-house PR at a record label and booking agency I was working a lot with press releases, newsletters, flyers and artist biographies along with social media, before landing job at reputable Anglo MGMT. Here I got to work with a string of renown artists, such as the band Madness (behind hits like “Our House” and “House of Fun”), and BBC Radio 1 profile Pete Tong to name a few.

And so, what originally was meant to be six months had turned into a decade (!), as I decided to leave London. I ended up in Berlin, where I am currently residing since five years.

Poor, but sexy

If you linger long enough in one place, chances are that you will spot a Doppelgänger of someone you know walk past. Sure enough, a little scruffier looking perhaps, with a sterner facial expression and maybe even clad in ‘90s streetwear – the ‘Berlin version’ of that person. The city is funny like that.

Teufelsberg, an abandoned American listening station turned into a great display of street art, and Vabali.

Teufelsberg, an abandoned American listening station turned into a great display of street art, and Vabali.

Berlin is famously a creative nucleus and start-up hub and its freelance lifestyle make up a big part of the city’s social fabric. It is fairly easy to register as a freelancer and there is a support net of other freelancers and various platforms and groups you can turn to for advice. There’s also plenty of coworking spaces and work-friendly coffee shops to quench that Java-thirst. As long as you stay on top of the German bureaucracy – albeit somewhat daunting at first glance – you’ll be fine.

I like that the pace is much slower here than London, and what was formerly a career-driven mindset somehow turns into the pursuit of quality of life before anything. The city’s thriving foodie scene, plus the closeness to the forests and the lakes are a few things that contribute to the quality of life here. And going to the spa – a zen-like Balinese wellness oasis can be found just behind the central station!

From farm to cup

Coffee Sample 3

Branching out from music I picked up at job as a copywriter and online editor for tech-startup and coffee company Bonaverde here in Berlin, who have invented a coffee machine that roasts, grinds and brews coffee all in one swipe. It was the first of its kind in the world, and with it you enable coffee farmers to sell their raw, green coffee beans straight to the consumers (Direct Trade) and – in doing so – disrupt the status quo of the value chain.

It was an exciting project to be a part of, and very rewarding seeing it all come together: helping to formulate the brand’s tone of voice, writing all the copy for the (then) website, compiling technical one-pagers, responding to the community of Kickstarter-backers, but also writing articles for their (now sadly defunct) online coffee magazine.

Sample 4

In order to do so, I delved into the wonderfully complex world of coffee trying to learn everything there is to know about its origins, processing methods and roasting profiles. Did you know that roasted coffee is more complex than wine with over 800 aroma compounds, compared to wine’s 250?

One personal highlight was being put in touch with the indigenous Kogi people, the last surviving pre-Colombian civilization, for a feature on how they grow and process their coffee.


… to the travel industry

Fast-forward to the present and I find myself working in the travel industry since a few years. I’ve been simultaneously maintaining my Swedish by writing for luxury travel provider SecretEscapes, and GetYourGuide, plus various transcreation gigs spawning a newfound love for my native language. (I take great pride in explaining the concepts of “fika” and “lagom” to my German and English-speaking friends.)

With a background in journalism researching really is my forte, with a proven track record of diving headfirst into new industries and areas of expertise, and making myself somewhat of an expert on the topic. And this is what I offer clients, packaged in the form of engaging and colourful copy.

Next up: TBA

Having lived abroad for the past 15 years people frequently ask me if I think in English or Swedish. I tell them I mostly veer towards English, apart from when I need to headcount – then the Swedish rears its head. Expat life, hey?

Will I go back to Sweden? Maybe eventually, and if so it would be Gothenburg. But, if I could choose to move to another city right now it would be Sydney. I always had a strange pull to Straya – Skippy the Kangaroo was a household name as I was growing up – and I recently came back from travelling to Australia for the first time. I totally fell in love, literally. The weather, the beaches, the brunches.

What the future holds is all TBA. I am however  toying with the idea of writing a fly-on-the-wall autobiography-cum-exposé, charting all the characters I’ve encountered over the years living in both London and Berlin. Watch this space.

Mim With Flag In Pit Lane

In one sense I arrived late to the party, in another I was there long before everyone else. Either way, I was copywriting for over 25 years before I actually realised it was a profession.

Today, I’m a senior copywriter living close to Amsterdam (Haarlem, to be precise), working for a broad spectrum of clients with global interests. But when I think back, this all started with a teenage obsession about football.

Born into the territory of a lower division team, Southend United, I was determined to fight my way to the top. At school, I was marked down for an essay I wrote about my passion. Not because of poor grammar or other shortcomings. But because my teacher considered that football was “an unusual topic for a girl”. Being ahead of your time can be painful. Undeterred, I went on to write a competition-wining slogan on the same subject. My reward, an encounter with members of the England team. My school wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about me taking a day off to claim my prize!

Teenage Kicks
Fast forward four years. My enthusiasm for football had been kicked into touch, in favour of music. Southend’s vibrant punk scene saw me DJing and promoting club nights and writing social fanzines. Others were enjoying and responding to my work. I still had no idea you could do this for a living.

London Calling
Skip past a period running my own clothing design business to a chapter of advertising and sponsorship sales. Wait! … What? … I hear you say. That’s two enormous leaps. Well … the clothing sold really well, but at that time I didn’t have a clue about business finances. The bank wanted its money back and someone at the local newspaper convinced me that advertising sales was my best option. I actually really enjoyed it. Seven months later I’d moved to London to continue this new career at the sharp end of the magazine publishing scene.

It was here that I accumulated a wealth of cross-discipline knowledge to do with sales, promotion, planning, events, budgeting and meeting deadlines. All of which feeds neatly in to the copywriting I do today.

And then came the “It’s Tuesday, this must be the Phoenix Festival” phase, as I transitioned to being a record label press officer. Music and copywriting again. I never even saw it coming.

It’s a Dirty Job But Someone’s Gotta Do It
Life can sometimes throw strange things you. Things so strange you don’t want to talk about them. So let’s just say “stuff happened”, which eventually brought me to the Netherlands, where I found myself earning a living from pulling up weeds in a field. It was 1997. The pay was better than I’d got from bar work in the USA, tarot card reading in Greece and making clothes for a fashion designer in Prague. All of which had happened along my journey to get here. I’m nothing if not adaptable! Fittingly, as you’re about to find out, those fields were where the seeds of my eventual career as a freelance copywriter were sown.

As it happened, my employer was one of the world’s leading whole sale exporters of garden plants. A conversation with the company owner resulted in me being asked to re-write all their B2B and B2C marketing materials. By the time I left, nine years later, I was responsible for orchestrating their global PR and marketing and had made them one of the industry’s most high-profile trade brands. Which led to them being swallowed by a gigantic American fish. Such is the way of business.

It was time to spread my wings. I touted myself as a freelance horticulture industry publicist and picked up a few clients. But I wanted something different. And then I encountered Copywriter Collective in Amsterdam, where I discovered there was an in-demand profession called Copywriting which focussed on a subset of what I’d already been doing for years, while giving scope to work across all kinds of different industries. My re-invention was decided.

Rebel Rebel

Twelve years after re-labelling myself and over 20 since beginning to write professionally, I’ve had the pleasure of working for hundreds of different clients on an incredibly varied range of projects. For globally recognised consumer brands, leading industry specialists, ambitious niche start-ups and everything inbetween. Slotting into creative agencies as a senior copywriter and working directly with clients in a broader capacity – I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been hired for a copywriting task but found myself getting stuck in to examining what really makes a client’s business tick, working together with internal personnel to establish content strategies, concepts and more.

The variety keeps my mind open and ensures I never get bored. And as a freelancer not tied to someone else’s desk, I can often grab my laptop and sneak off to other parts of the world without disrupting a delivery schedule. I live close to Amsterdam, I take energy and inspiration from London, but my heart is in Mallorca.

Really Saying Something
The bizarre diversity of experience that’s got me to where I am today means I’m actually much more than a senior copywriter. But I’m not aware of a recognised term that covers all I do and all I’m capable of. If I have a speciality, it’s being “the outside voice of reason”. I know my clients highly value the ruthless scrutiny I give their proposals. “Content Dragon” maybe? I wonder what my teachers back in Southend would make of that!?

190402 Wim Boca Jury Xxl

Languages have played a crucial role in my professional life, from the very start. After my secondary school, back in the eighties, I started as a teacher. Dutch and English. I loved teaching, but was more interested in sales and marketing. Selling advertising space for a local magazine and then becoming chief editor opened doors.

My first contacts with advertising agencies excited me. I started as account executive for Sony at DDB Brussels half way the nineties. In 1998, I had the honour to work for the hottest agency in Belgium: Duval Guillaume.

As an account manager for DouweEgberts and Telenet, I had the most amazing experiences with great people making great work. Selling campaigns was thrilling, but creating them attracted me even more. And even though I was surrounded by the best copywriters in the country, I noticed that every agency needed freelancers to get all the work done. I realized the importance of freelance copywriters and decided to become one. So I became independent on the first of January, 2000.

I dove into the water and started to swim. First thing I noticed: there’s a lot of work out there. It was the time when there was still “above and below the line”. Lots of possibilities down there. Moreover, in Belgium every campaign is made in two languages: French and Dutch. Adapting campaigns that were originally made in French, has been a significant part of my work since the beginning, and still is.

The first five to ten years of my freelance existence, I regularly worked at agencies, in team with an art director. Two or three days in Brussels or Antwerp, the rest of the week at home in Gent. In 2004, my wife and I bought a house in the Flemish Ardennes, away from the city. Anja is also independent. As a graphic designer, she has her own direct clients in the neighbourhood. We often work together.

Vtm De Farm 1

Year after year, my work at home has increased. I did a lot of adaptation and transcreation work for agencies in London and … Amsterdam. The Copywriter Collective has been a dear client for more than ten years now. It’s always a pleasure to see Sandra pop up in my mailbox with a new mission. Today, with almost 20 years of freelancing experience, I feel comfortable with a mixture of diverse clients: agencies, local clients and other freelancers.

There’s still a lot of work out there and I still love doing it. It’s great to be able to work from home. When I need to see a client in Brussels, Antwerp or Gent, the train becomes my office. Any place can be my office nowadays: a coffee bar, a park, a train station, a hotel room or lobby anywhere in the world. Staying in touch is vital when you’re independent. Networking is key. That’s why I never miss CannesLions. In 2007, the Belgian trade magazine asked me to do freelance reporting for them at the Festival. A wonderful opportunity for me to see the best creative work of the world, meet the most interesting advertising people and do some interviews with inspiring award winners. (Copy-)writing is a wonderful job. It keeps you alert. You get to learn so much. About any product or service you can think of.

Freelancing is about being free. It takes some organisation and discipline, and lots of hard work. But it gives you so much in return. I’m thankful for these twenty years of writing. Twenty years of freedom. May many more come!

leena 1

I live in Helsinki, in a district called Katajanokka, which is a peaceful island near the center of town. I enjoy nature, especially the seaside, but also the conveniences of a small, culturally active city. Over the years, I have lived in many countries: in the States when I was a kid, in Germany as a nanny, in Sweden while a student, and in Holland for work as a freelance copywriter in 2008–2011. At least for now, I love living in Helsinki and working here as a freelancer: it’s easy to get around for meetings since everything is so close, and there are many beautiful places where you can write and work on your own. If there’s anything I sometimes miss, it’s longer summers. Winter isn’t my favorite time of the year. Then again, because of the winter, it feels so much better when a beautiful summer arrives. And one can always travel for more warm days, if needed.

I have an BBA degree, in international affairs and marketing. For the first six years after completing my education, I worked in marketing, as a member of a Nordic or Baltic team.  When I was 30, I switched to advertising. An agency where I’d been a client asked me to do some work as a copywriter, and I’ve now been a copywriter for 12 years. The first six of those years were with well-known agencies in Finland.

For the last six years, I’ve been working as a freelancer with agencies such as Ivalo (among Finland’s top agencies) and Taivas or Norway’s Centerteam Reklamebyrä. Also, I’ve worked directly with clients of my own. My strongest skill as a copywriter is in conceptual creative planning for companies, products, and campaigns. But I love all other kinds of marketing-related writing just as much, transcreating included. For balance, I think it’s good to handle many kinds of assignments. In all this work, I count understanding the clients’ needs and taking a highly creative but still strategic approach as definite assets.

In my free time, I sing, write (poems, songs, and short stories), and exercise: I’m a published poet, with two books under my belt. At the moment, I’m more into songwriting, which sparked my enthusiasm after I started taking singing lessons two years ago. Let’s see where that passion takes me – if anywhere, since I have so much to learn. Exercising too has always been close to my heart. Nowadays, I focus mostly on yoga and, step by step, am getting more into meditation.

Wwf Ad 1

Also, I love animals. I have a cat (who thinks she’s a dog) and have done some volunteer writing work for a Helsinki-based animal shelter. I would say that the animal shelter is my favorite client at the moment, since the results are so wonderful to see: a rescue cat getting a new home after you tell people its story – even though that good feeling doesn’t pay the bills. I see myself having more animals in the future. And a bigger house, so there will be room for all of them.


Profile Photo

I’ve lived in the US, specifically Iowa, my entire life. I grew up in a fairly rural area but always knew I wouldn’t stay there. When I was getting ready to graduate high school, I found out about the profession of copywriter and knew that with my love of writing and how excited I can get when it comes to sharing something passionate, useful, or just plain fun, this was what I wanted to be when I grew up. After attending a private university studying creative advertising, I started out small. My first job out of college was working as an Administrative Assistant for a local childcare company. Not wanting my copywriting skills to go dry, I offered to revamp their parent newsletter through editing and adding content including a director’s letter each month. My first big break was at the same company I’d interned for in college, the Des Moines Radio Group. As a Promotion’s Assistant, I would be in charge of writing promotional commercial copy as well as any talk points the talent needed. From there, I went on to help start the social media presence of a warehousing company, grow the awareness of a financial equipment company through email, print, and direct mail, and increase the presence of a nation-wide auto shipping company with all types of marketing. While doing these 9 to 5 jobs, I was also growing my freelance business helping local realtors, business owners, and non-profits with their marketing. After 5 years of juggling both, I had grown my freelance enough to find security in leaving a full-time job.

Benchmark Construction Fb Post Feb19

I’ve chosen to stay in Iowa because I’ve seen the great potential for businesses and non-profits to grow and thrive here. Des Moines continues to make national top such-and-such lists all the time, which continues to bring more entrepreneurs here. What I offer that most writers here don’t is that I work directly with the company. There’s no chain of command or multi-person email. I take the time to get to know my clients, in person. Most writers in the area work with a marketing or advertising company as a contractor. I wanted to choose a more direct route and work with clients that I could give my best work because I could get behind their cause or share in their excitement for their service or product. Granted, being a freelance copywriter in Iowa isn’t always easy, but through great networks like the American Marketing Association and the Social Media Club, I’m able to make some great connections and meet some great colleagues who are willing to help one another.


The best thing about being a freelancer in Iowa is that we have a lot of great places to work remotely. Des Moines specifically has over 25 locally owned coffeeshops, and, of course, numerous national chains such as Starbucks and Caribou Coffee. There are also great co-working spaces throughout the city to help entrepreneurs at all levels grow and thrive with less overhead. If I could move to another city, I would choose San Antonio. I’ve never found a place more soothing than the Riverwalk. I would probably spend most of my “working” time just sitting somewhere around La Villita.

Vehicle Transport

Although it sounds cliche, I truly enjoy every client I’m working with currently because I have so much variety. I have clients in real estate, construction, sanitation, and an educational non-profit. The majority of my work for these people is in social media – building their audience and awareness through engaging posts and conversation with customers. Outside of that, I help show off their expertise in their fields through blogging, updating content on their websites to be current, email communication with current customers, and, for the non-profit, helping to grow their effectiveness with grant writing. My favorite piece of work is a large scale project. I helped create, promote, and implement a fundraising event for a company to donate it all to the American Alzheimer’s Association. It was done 2 years in a row, double in its size in both attendance and funds raised.

I truly love being a copywriter, seeing my talents and passion used to help entrepreneurs grow and consumers find exactly what they need. I’ll never be more than a one-person shop, but my ultimate goal is to help the next generation of eager copywriters by giving them real client experience with an internship as my list of clients becomes large enough.


I guess you could call me a nomad.

Okay, I’ll be honest. It’s a classic case of itchy feet. I’m not hip enough to be called a ‘digital nomad’ though. I’ll leave that to the cool kids.

I’ve lived all over – Ibiza, Majorca, Malaga, Madrid, London and Edinburgh. So do you know where I’ve settled? Malton. Yeah, you heard that right. Malton – a market town in North Yorkshire.

I recently swapped working in a city for working in the countryside – and do you know what? I love it.

I’ve been a freelance copywriter for just over three years, and prior to that I was in-house for a huge travel company, Hotelbeds Group.

I started out on the freelance path while I was in Edinburgh. (Believe me, though, the day after you’ve left a stable desk job and you’re twiddling your thumbs at home is S-C-A-R-Y).

Celestyal 2

It’s something I always aspired to be, but I was never quite sure how to get there. I’m not one of those people who just knewwhat they wanted to do from an early age. I really envy those people, though.

I’ve had some deviations from my career path along the way – working for a tour company, as a carer for the elderly, a translation project manager and managing a property portfolio for Scarborough Group International.

But, I got there eventually.

Since becoming a freelance copywriter, I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredible companies like TUI Destination Services, Celestyal Cruises, Citalia and Much Better Adventures. You may notice a pattern here – travel and tourism. I research destinations across the world to write landing pages, blogs and tour descriptions for holidays that other people get to enjoy (I’m hoping one day it will be me, too).

Celestyal Cruises

Ever since I moved to Malton, I’ve turned my attention to helping local businesses by writing their websites, brochures and blogs. It’s amazing to meet so many smart business owners in such a small area. And the best part is I get to work with them face-to-face rather than through email or skype interaction only.

Most recently, one of my all-time favourite projects landed on my desk – to write a dream photoshoot planner and what to wear guide for a local boudoir photographer.

(If you’re not sure what that is, then it’s best to Google it – preferably in a private space).

I’ve also had the opportunity to write editorials for the local monthly magazine.And one of my most exciting projects from last year was as a writer for the Armistice 100 in collaboration with 26 and the Imperial War Museums. One hundred writers each wrote a centena, which were all published in a book and exhibited all around.

Armistice 100 Project

Edinburgh’s a fantastic place for entrepreneurs and creatives, with so many opportunities, networks, hubs and support. But I’ve been surprised by how many equally enriching opportunities there are in North Yorkshire.

Local networking events that are friendly (that’sreally important), coffee mornings, supportive groups and so much more. I never expected it, and it’s helped me find my way again and keep evolving as a copywriter.

Speaking of evolving as a copywriter

sometimes it’s hard to realise what your own selling points are. Weird, I know, but bear with me.

I’m fluent in Spanish. I lived in Spain, I worked there and now I work with Spanish clients all the time. That’s a niche. And I failed to see this for so long.

However, I’ve come to realise that I really enjoy using my Spanish in my copywriting business as I’m able to help clients, who are Spanish, write stuff aimed for the UK market. I’ve done this for the likes of Ananda Holidays, and it’s a direction I’m keen to keep pursuing.


The future?

Please don’t ask me that. I can barely decide what I’m having for dinner tonight.

I’d like to think that this time next year I’ll still be working with some amazing small businesses. And maybe one day I’ll be living in Copenhagen – my all-time favourite city.


Hi, I’m Novi.

I found communication industry as my creative roots since 2004, while currently I’m in love with my playground in transcreations , startups content creation and localisation. Currently I’m working with some Transcreation Agencies for Indonesian market, also with some specialization in content writing, strategic planning, cultural consultancy.

Since the first year I worked as copywriter, I have been involving in brand building from the scratch, hands on together with Strategic Planners, so I had the chance to explore many kind of mediums and crafting their storytelling based on their own unique characteristic, especially in the content co-creation with some startups that localize their contents to Indonesian market.

Actually, hardly said that I’m working because most of the time I don’t feel that I’m working, I just feel that I’m creating, playing along with ideas, giving some advices, writing, even to deliver the work efficiently and effectively always been the key that contributes the happiness into me). That commitment to pour every little joy in every way of my work, after a decade of being a copywriter giving me even more love into my work and myself, day by day. It changes the relationship on how I contribute to the every project that needs my expertise.

I decided to become an Independent Copywriter after resigned from the last advertising agency in Jakarta as Creative Group Head in 2012, to re-invent myself and my career path, including being able to work as location independent copywriter. That was a really good decision, because year by year I found to be an Independent Copywriter fits me the most, instead of working in an agency or company.

The type copywriting work that I like also has changed year by year, tagged along with social networks, interests and my yearly purpose. There are some years when I was into travel and hospitality, social innovations, startups and small medium enterprises, culture and beauty, but there are two fields that almost never changed and become my specializations until now: technology, foods, transcreations and cultural consultation.

Writing about technology invites me to be part of how human beings make their life becomes easier and more connected to each other, while foods is essence of a happy soul. It’s been the heart of every culture to feed themselves, more than just to feeding up the body, but it gives them nutrition to their soul.

Transcreation and Cultural consultation also have been my favorite field since became an Independent Copywriter in 2012, because I have a deep interest in how human being staying alive by understanding culture and their relationships, so this field even giving me more chance to dive deep into it while giving my clients some cultural insights and consultancies. I’ve been working with various client’s field for this specializations, from technology, consumer goods, startups, health, beauty, and especially to help them localize their content to Indonesian market.

Generally, we know that it’s challenging to be a freelance copywriter not only in Jakarta, but I think almost everywhere in the world. The common reason to be a freelancer needs a certain years of experience to build our portfolio or reputation. But to be a copywriter in Jakarta or in Indonesia these days is challenging and also exciting at the same time.

The reason is Indonesian market has been growing significantly in the last 5 years, also supported by the growing number of startups and SMEs so it means there is a big chance to be an independent copywriter right now. The demands are high, there are lots of growing business that needs a help from a copywriter.

Government in Indonesia still (maybe) has no idea to help freelancers, but there are so many entrepreneurs communities in Indonesia that can be a good support for being an Independent copywriter.

One of my favorite client that I recently worked with in Jakarta was in October 2018, when he invited me to teach him a copywriting skill instead of just deliver the output, it brought me back to the stage when I just started my career – to re-learn, to unlearn and to work together with my client in more meaningful way to nurture the brand together.

So since then, I also give some online and offline copywriting courses for SMEs in Indonesia to help my clients not only to craft their promotional materials, but also to help them with some knowledge about copywriting itself.

Let’s collaborate if you find any sparkling creativity to invite me into your next creative journey !

Justin Profile

“He has a certain gnarled charm”, said a passer-by. “Oh, no wait”, she said as she put her glasses back on, “No… nevermind”.

Did you know that freelancers are often in their dressing gowns, sometimes even when they’re doing conference calls? It’s not advisable to dress that way when the camera is on, though. Anyway…

Justin is a grizzled, seasoned advertising veteran and dog lover who’s been in the media, advertising and marketing business for going on two decades.

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Sometimes, he writes in the third person so that he doesn’t feel like he’s talking about himself too much.

His rugged appearance belies his helpful and friendly nature with his clients and colleagues.

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Let’s get the serious stuff out of the way…

Justin has spent his entire career based in Johannesburg and works for some great clients based in South Africa. He also does a variety of work for international clients in countries including Burma, Thailand, Australia, the Netherlands, England and the USA.

While he’s a full-time freelance copywriter, creative director and illustrator for hire now, Justin gained a lot of experience working for top international agencies, including Ogilvy & Mather and Geometry Global – among others – on several local and international brands.

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Some of the brands he’s worked on include: Leroy Merlin, Vodacom, Nestlé, SAB, SuperSport, Merck Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Cashbuild, Nedbank, DSTV, Shell, Showmax, iFlix, and many, many more.

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Being a freelancer in Johannesburg – a diverse and interesting place, in a country with 11 official languages and so many different cultures – Justin learned very early in his career that, the more diverse his skillset was, the more he’d be working.

So, he wears many hats. Sometimes the hats look funny. He also does a whole lot of different things, like:


TV, radio, online video and corporate video scripts

Press releases, Articles, Blogs ,SEO, 360o above-the-line campaigns, Social media posts, Directing, Illustration, Radio production, Wearing a cape, more too!

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The best thing about being a copywriter in Johannesburg is that you get to work in a beautiful climate and beautiful surroundings. But Justin is often asked if he’s considered moving elsewhere.

Well, for now, Johannesburg remains home base for him and his lovely partner. Amsterdam would be nice, though; so would London or even a little cottage in rural Wales (with amazing Wifi). For now, though, que será, será.

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If Justin were asked to pinpoint his favourite piece of work, that would be a tough call. It would probably be somewhere between writing scripts for a children’s television channel and a SuperSport cricket promo featuring a spaceman, which he wrote and directed.

Justin’s current favourite client is international retail giant, Leroy Merlin, who have trusted him and some of his colleagues with a few 360retail campaigns that included everything from radio to digital. Those were great fun!

See some work on Justin’s blog .

Derek Profile 2

For someone who grew up introverted, it has been surprisingly easy to find icebreakers lately. People inevitably ask me, “How did a Canadian end up in Finland?”or, “How did an ex-banker end up as a copywriter?” or, “Why would they pick you as Copywriter of the Week?”

I never dreamed of becoming a writer. My speciality in school was mathematics. I knew that I would follow in my father’s footsteps into the business world. After getting an Economics degree, I escaped frigid Canada to explore the European banking world… in frigid Finland. My mother is Finnish, so this was an opportunity to know more about my roots and relatives.

However, while I was analysing and managing investments, I was also thrust into a side role as the unofficial proofreader, editor and translator at my Finnish bank. For many years, I was the only native English speaker among the 200-300 employees at the bank.

Alsana Blog Weakusd

Colleagues often came to me for help with language issues. Needless to say, I made lots of friends in the Communications and Marketing departments over the years.

I noticed that my banking colleagues were often dissatisfied with the English texts that we would get from the translation agencies. Why? The translators were often wrong with the business and investment terms.

Does a translator or copywriter know the huge difference, for example, between simple terms like “earnings” and “revenue”? How about more advanced terms like “EBITDA” or “maintenance covenants”? I thought that the local Finnish copywriters, and even the native English copywriters abroad must have these difficulties.

I also noticed that, while my colleagues had wonderful senses of humour around the office, their blog texts were often dull and repetitive. When I was asked to write a blog post, they all raved about it because it brought a touch of humour and was not as bland.

There is one clear disadvantage to switching careers to becoming a freelance writer when you’re over 40: those who are hiring will want to see an established portfolio or a few years of work experience with a copywriting agency. But the agencies are also looking for experienced writers or fresh graduates.


Even though I had spent almost 20 years of fixing the poor English writing of others, I did not have much of a portfolio to show of my own. Fortunately, I have since managed to get a number of ghost-writing projects. I have also supplemented my income in my first six months as a freelancer with over 100 proofreading and translating projects from a local Finnish company.

My career came full circle recently when a large Finnish company with almost EUR 5 billion in revenue asked me to write an article for them. Wärtsilä (no, not a Japanese movie monster), was a company that I analysed when my banking career started and now, many years later, I was writing an article for them.

I prefer to work as a freelancer because I grew tired of the office life. My greatest love in life is to travel and this gives me a chance to work from anywhere around the world: just me and my laptop. I know that it takes longer to build up a portfolio without working at an agency, but I am prepared to push through that.

I have looked at some Finnish agency websites and I see lots of beautiful & handsome 20-somethings who are producing content. I know that Finns are highly educated, creative, adept at many languages, and I am certain that they can put out great content.

But I also know that my 20+ years in finance gives me something that they don’t have. I have had lunch with CEOs from some of the biggest companies in the world, I’ve read through thousands of annual reports and investor presentations, and I have raised hundreds of millions of euros from investors through my own fund sales presentations.

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Fortunately, I have still a good relationship with my former employer, and they continue to ask me to write for the bank. Just last week, I felt honoured when my ex-boss asked me to write an article for him, ashe is one of the most respected professionals in the European bond market and has won many awards.

I hope to also make use of my extensive network of ex-colleagues in finance and communications, and perhaps even those ex-clients in London, Hong Kong and Singapore who did many bond trades with me. After all, I have almost 500 connections on LinkedIn from the world of finance. That must be worth something, right?

I also found a fantastic mentor online, Paul Connolly, who is an established financial copywriter with a great deal of experience in journalism. He let me ghost write some articles for him (for a UK financial firm) and gave me valuable tips on how to improve.

It was extremely beneficial for me to take a couple of online courses in Copywriting from the College of Media & Publishing (UK). The courses were very practical. I also found it helpful to get direct responses from a tutor for each assignment.

It’s funny, nobody asks me, “Will you stay in Finland?” I guess they assume I will, but the answer is no. Thus far, my whole life has been spent in two wonderful, but cold countries (Canada, Finland). I am eager to finally enjoy some years in a warm climate, in a place where I can sit outdoors, all evening, in shorts and a t-shirt. And a laptop.