Interview with Leif Kendall, ProCopywriters
You have a plethora of experience in content creation – and you seem to wear many hats. What does a typical work day look like for you?
A typical day is spent in my shed – unless I retreat to a local café for a change of scene. In terms of work, it’s probably 80% client work and 20% developing ProCopywriters. We now have an amazing team in place at ProCopywriters, so I’m free to focus on my copywriting work and think about the next stages in our development as an association.
My client work is very regular, as 90% of my time is booked by retained clients. This work involves a mixture of corporate communications, content marketing, social media management and straight copywriting for websites.
I love this setup because I know what I’m doing every month, and I also get to know my clients. And because we work together month after month, I can make sure the words I write do the job I intended.
In the past I did loads of one-off website projects, and would have to sit back and watch as clients neglected their websites or massacred my copy. Now I’m on hand to keep things on course. The client gets more effective marketing, and I get more job satisfaction.
What is it about ‘content’ that keeps you interested in it as a career?
Variety. And the satisfaction that comes from bridging the gap between my clients and their prospects.
As a copywriter, you get to look at business problems from the outside, where you have more clarity. You can then help businesses overcome their challenges and reach more people.
Clients often say things like “I feel as though you’ve crawled into my head” or “you’ve written the things I’ve been trying to say for months”. And that’s immensely satisfying.
That, and I get to work in a shed in my garden, and I never have to ask the boss for permission to do the school run.
What prompted you to get involved with ProCopywriters in 2016? And what are your aspirations for the ORGANISATION?
Tom Albrighton and Ben Locker set up ProCopywriters in 2012, I think. Though it was called The Professional Copywriters’ Network. Eventually, Tom decided he wanted to step back, and was set to close it. I’d gradually got more involved after joining, and really didn’t want to see it close.
When I started copywriting in 2008 I was surprised by how few resources there were for copywriters like me: a freelance digital copywriter. I found stuff about advertising, but I’ve probably written two ads in a decade of freelancing, so that’s not me. And I found lots of American resources that were spammy and seemed to rely on trying to sell you information you can find in books and blogs for £199.
I was working with web designers and developers, and they have trillions of amazing resources. I was jealous of their high-quality, authentic resources that were genuinely focused on learning and development.
So I loved ProCopywriters because it was a hub for writers like me; a place to find other writers, hear from my peers and look for guidance.
Copywriters need more resources – not fewer. So I offered to take it over.
In terms of our aspirations for ProCopywriters, we want it to become a complete professional association. We want to bring together freelancers, agencies and corporate copywriters, and offer training, and more support, and some kind of accreditation scheme.
What annoys you about content marketing?
SEO companies that create nonsensical websites / pages / content “because it’s good for SEO” without considering what human beings will think of the bullshit.
People who don’t understand SEO, and miss the value that a lot of content marketing brings.
Gurus and their followers. There’s a lot of hot air and hyperbole in marketing. And people will eagerly follow new trends without stopping to consider if it’s working.
What’s your best advice for someone who might be looking to begin a career in copywriting?
Work as hard as you can, and don’t stop trying until your career takes off.
It can be tricky to start a new venture, especially when there are lots of other copywriters out there, but you have to ignore what everyone else is doing, keep your head down, and work your arse off – during work hours. Outside of work, live your life and spend time with people, doing stuff. Don’t be a work bore.
Stop checking Twitter and Facebook. If you have a shortage of clients, write another blog post, or email another prospect. Connect with people on LinkedIn. Don’t check Twitter. Don’t check Facebook. Nobody ever succeeded because they checked Twitter. People succeed because they put effort into marketing.
Don’t obsessively check other copywriters’ websites. Look at your own website. And then make it better. Every time you feel pained because someone else is doing better than you, or you think you’re not doing well enough, fast enough, stop looking at them and do something productive.
That’s not to dismiss social media as a way to network and find opportunities. Use these platforms – just make sure they aren’t using you.
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