I don’t believe the work of any freelance copywriter, anywhere in the world, is ever easy. But, if the last decade is anything to go by, an interesting career is certainly guaranteed. I began my own career close to where I’m based now, in Durham, but spent several years in Shoreditch, London, before moving back to the north of England.
Primarily, however, I’ve always worked internationally. This is certainly one of the most compelling, and rewarding sides to working freelance – you get to meet and write for people from all over the world. Not only do you learn lots of unusual facts about niche products, services, and sectors, you also get a distinct feel for different cultures and communities.
While many writers may envision creating work for a large, even global audience, I never really anticipated writing for a tech magazine in Brazil, a smart city project in Singapore, or public services in Iran. Over the years it’s been a pleasure to work with businesses throughout the UK, but incredible to know my copy has also helped businesses across mainland Europe, the U.S., and on the other side of the globe in Australia and New Zealand.
In fact, if I didn’t live in Durham with my family, I could certainly see us based happily in Wellington. The countryside is idyllic, and the people are wonderfully friendly everywhere you go. However, this is one of the benefits of Durham, too – the community spirit is exhilarating. Plus, with excellent transport links to the rest of the UK, both meeting clients, and introducing them to the county, has always been straightforward (even if I am perceived as a tour guide, on occasion).
Subsequently, I’m able to work just as effectively, both locally and nationally, while still able to devote as much time to international projects as my overseas clients need. The result is that I’ve worked with the likes of Nikon, in Europe, and Staples, in the U.S. – this project, in particular, saw the web content I’d created published across the whole of the country and was delivered to an incredibly tight deadline (a challenging, but often exciting regular aspect of copywriting life). I’ve also worked with probably the most notable brand, of sorts, in the UK, too – the NHS. Seeing the copy you’ve written helping private and public sector organisations of this stature communicate is extraordinarily humbling.
And this is another regular feature of being a freelance copywriter. For instance, right now, I’m working with a national charity, based in my old London stomping ground, a European digital innovation organisation (who are doing some incredible things for the environment!), and I recently completed a wonderfully engaging educational campaign for my local public services.
I also partner with a number of other local agencies and organisations, not only on their content but strategy too. Working closely with Jak HQ in Chester-le-Street (that’s the stop between Durham and Newcastle station, for those unfamiliar with the area), puts me in contact with an abundance of local trades and businesses, and people looking to grow their own business beyond the northeast. Experience helps here, as I’ve written copy for so many different sectors over the years, but I also offer free trials to customers, and happily sign non-disclosure agreements whenever required.
Another deeply satisfying part of the role is getting to the heart of these smaller businesses; discovering what they do, how they do it, and crucially, why. Too often, I see that this core element of a business’ purpose has been lost. The unique stories behind how the business came to be have been bogged down by the challenges and competition of starting out – but I believe this is one of the reasons why copywriting works.
It serves the purpose of explaining why something exists, and who it’s for. Concepts become tangible, dreams can be turned into easy to follow details, and what you do evolves into what it does and who it’s for. Copywriting can be a simple, but effective reminder that one day, at a certain time and place, somebody decided that this is what they wanted to do for someone else.
I can’t honestly say that this is what I expected to discover in my own work. Like all writers, I simply loved to write, and still do. I went into the role with no expectations, and experience now tells me that I got at least this small part of the job right from the very beginning – you can never really know what to expect. Every day, project, and a client is different, and I genuinely wouldn’t want it any other way.