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. Most have come from non-copywriting jobs and 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
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.
The curse of A’ Level English
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 picked up another book.
I became an optician’s assistant
After A’ Levels, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I’d got an A in Design and Technology, which I wasn’t expecting, and I wanted to pursue that, but I wanted 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 did wonders for my confidence and, for the first time, I learned to work as part of a team.
Then, 18 months later…
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 I decided to pursue a career in graphic design.
I was a terrible graphic designer
As a graphic designer I was 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 subjects with an emphasis on health and safety. You can see examples of these on my work page.
I took a copywriting course
I decided that if I was serious about being a copywriter I would need to widen my skill set, so in 2006 I signed up for a correspondence course from the Institute of Copywriting.
When I completed the course, I was awarded a Diploma in Copywriting, with Distinction.
I got promoted… by default
In 2007, the 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 at the poster company decided he wanted us to redesign the 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.
And as we went along, we used our new-found skills to redesign and rewrite the website. With my newly acquired SEO skills, I got it ranking in Google’s top spot for the term ‘workplace posters’. Result!
A seventh redundancy
In 2010, my graphic designer colleague was made redundant from the poster company.
He was the seventh full-time member of staff to be made redundant since I started and it was a huge blow for all of us. The future of the company now seemed incredibly uncertain and those of us who remained were wondering how much longer it would last.
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
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.