Blue bird with yellow pencil


Every copywriter is different

There’s no set way to become a copywriter.

Every copywriter I know has come into copywriting via a different path and most have come from non-copywriting jobs, having worked in other industries.

This is why virtually every copywriter you meet will be unique, with a different background and a different set of skills.

If you’re curious about how I became a freelance copywriter and what my background is, I’ve laid it all out here.

I wanted to be a writer from a young age

Image by Dmitriy Gutarev from Pixabay

As a child, I always had a natural way with words, a large vocabulary for my age and a vivid imagination. I loved reading and writing more than anything.

While the other kids were playing outside, climbing trees and riding bikes, I was sitting at the dining room table, writing stories about house mice and talking monkeys.

I had dreams of being an author, but all that changed when I was studying for my A’ Levels.

A’ Level English almost ruined it all

When I was choosing my A’ Level subjects, English was a no-brainer. And I’d expected to enjoy it — but I didn’t.

The reading list was dry, tedious and uninspiring. In class, we would laboriously pick each text apart — analysing every line and every word in agonising detail.

And I started to feel my love of reading slowly slipping away.

I finished the course with a B, but it was six years before I could face reading another book.

I took a job as an optician’s assistant

Image by Daniel Albany from Pixabay

After A’ Levels, I was thrown. I’d always thought I’d work with words and suddenly I wasn’t so sure.

I’d got an A in Design and Technology, which I wasn’t expecting, and I thought I might pursue that, but what I really wanted was a break from education and the chance to earn some money.

So I got myself a job as an optical assistant at a city centre opticians’ practice.

This turned out to be a good decision. Dealing with the public on a daily basis was good for my confidence and, for the first time, I learned to work as part of a team.

I enrolled at university

Eighteen months later, I enrolled at university to study for a BA in Design Management, with an emphasis on graphics and visual communications.

The course was an excellent foundation in project management, marketing, advertising and business. All of which are incredibly worthwhile skills if you want to be a copywriter.

But, stupidly, I decided to pursue a career in graphic design.

I was a terrible graphic designer

Image by cocoandwifi from Pixabay

Back then, I was a hopeless graphic designer and a constant disappointment to myself.

No matter how much time I spent reading, learning and honing my skills, I didn’t have the talent. And even if I had an amazing idea in my head, I could never execute it in the same way I imagined it.

But I understood the theory well — and I could easily tell a good design from a bad one — so maybe all wasn’t lost.

Writing always found me

In the late 90s and early 00s, I had a succession of design and marketing jobs. And, in each case, when my bosses discovered I could write, they started to give me more writing tasks. I found myself working on ad concepts, press releases, newsletters, marketing packs, brochures, websites and blogs.

Writing suited me better than graphic design ever did, so, in the mid-00s, I hung up my Photoshop software and took a job as a conceptual copywriter.

My first copywriting job

My new job was with a company that produced innovative workplace posters — and it was perfect for me.

It involved developing creative concepts and copy for the posters, which covered a wide range of workplace subjects including health and safety, quality and professional conduct.

Let's be blunt
Poster created for Kodiak Industrial Ltd
Poster created for Kodiak Industrial Ltd
Not working
Poster created for Kodiak Industrial Ltd

I took a copywriting course

I decided, if I was serious about being a copywriter I should widen my skill set, so in 2006 I signed up for a correspondence course from the Institute of Copywriting.

When I completed the course, the following year, I was awarded a Diploma in Copywriting, with Distinction.

I was promoted to managing editor

In 2007, the poster company hit some turbulence and we lost five members of staff, including the other two copywriters in my department. I was promoted to managing editor and suddenly found myself with sole responsibility for coming up with concepts and copy for more than 50 posters every month.

At first I was completely overwhelmed, but I quickly put some systems in place to make the job easier and more manageable.

I learned how to write effective SEO copy

When my boss decided he wanted us to redesign the company website, he signed me and my graphic designer colleague up for a local course on SEO and digital marketing.

For two years we attended weekly lectures and seminars hosted by some of our region’s best-in-the-business. 

We used our new-found skills to redesign and rewrite the website. And with my newly acquired SEO skills, I got it ranking in Google’s top spot for the term ‘workplace posters’. As a result, traffic to the website increased by more than 300% and we started to get some enquiries.

But we soon discovered we weren’t out of the woods.

A seventh redundancy

In 2010, my graphic designer colleague, with whom I’d created the new website, was made redundant.

He was the seventh full-time member of staff to be made redundant since I started. It was a huge blow for all of us and those of us who remained were concerned for our own jobs.

Using the skills I’d learned on the digital marketing course, I took the initiative to build up a social media presence on Twitter and committed to writing one SEO blog post every week for the website.

This was incredibly successful and my boss found himself answering new enquiries almost daily.

A freelance SEO copywriting opportunity

My newly redundant ex-colleague decided to start his own web design business and asked me if I’d like to write SEO copy for his clients.

As I had to register as self-employed, I thought I might as well set up a business of my own. I thought I could take on a few projects alongside my regular job and see what happened. If it turned out to be profitable, it could become a back-up plan if the poster company was forced to close.

Starting a business on a budget

I launched Jenny Lucas Copywriting in June 2011.

I designed my own logo, stationery and website using off-the-shelf software. And I set up social media accounts and started a business blog on Blogger.

I got my website to number one on Google for ‘copywriter Leicester’ and the enquiries started coming in.

I took on as many projects as I could handle. Some weeks were quiet. Others I was working every evening and weekend. 

My full-time job ended and a new one began

After six years, in 2017, the poster company finally folded and I found myself out of a job.

I decided that, instead of looking for another job, I would take my freelancing enterprise to the next level and invest myself in it full time.

It’s daunting to know that everything depends solely on you, but the freedom and sense of accomplishment you get from being your own boss is incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced before.

About the author

I’m Jenny Lucas, a creative copywriter, website copywriter and content writer based in Leicester.

Today I use my copywriting skills to help forward-thinking SMEs succeed online, with premium SEO copy and content.

If you need a copywriter who understands design and is skilled in SEO, I could be just what you’re looking for.

You can find out more about me and my work on my website.

Photo by Matt Glover Photography

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