Sophie and I met the day that I interviewed to work out of Projective Space. She had been sitting at the table beside me and heard keywords like “networking”, “women’s focused” and “Six Degrees Society” thrown around during the course of my 2 hour interview. As I was leaving the space I received a text from my friend and Six Degrees Society teammate , Erin Pope, telling me that her friend Sophie was sitting right beside me and had confirmed my “Frida Khalo” looks when asked by Erin. Sophie and I were quickly introduced and I came to learn that she was Australian (BEST ACCENT!) and a copywriter.
Sophie is one of the most thoughtful copywriters and an extraordinary asset to any marketing team. I’m thrilled to be partnering with her for a NYC Copywriting 101 event on September 13th. Learn more about Sophie and her journey to become the coolest copy writer out there.
1. What are the responsibilities of a copywriter and how do you know if you need one?
I recently told someone I was a copywriter and he responded, “Oh, so you’re a mad woman?” My first reaction was, damn… I thought I was doing a decent job of hiding my crazy today. Then it dawned on me that he was making a Mad Men joke. Cue my totally unforced laugh followed by an explanation that yes, Peggy Olson was badass, but no, not all copywriters devise slogans for cigarettes and cars. I’m part of the pack who work less with advertisements and one-liners and more with long-form copy like web content, brochures and editorial. I think of myself as a storyteller and, in many cases, an English-to-English translator. My number one responsibility is to understand who my client is, pinpoint their unique selling point, and then communicate that to their target audience in the most engaging way. It’s my job to know what to say, what to leave out, and how to write it in a style that both captures the essence of the brand and helps to further its cause.
So, how do you know if that’s a service you need? As a gauge I’d say, if you sit down to write your homepage copy and feel like a deer in headlights, you could use a copywriter. If you’re building a new brand and ensuring you develop a consistent, unified tone across all consumer touch points is a priority (and hint: it really should be), you could use a copywriter. If you’re a regular Virginia Woolf, but simply don’t have the time to send out a newsletter or update your blog as often as our content-driven world demands, then – you guessed it – you could use a copywriter.
2. What’s the story behind Feature Communications? What inspired you to start your own business?
Feature Communications is the manifestation of my penchant for storytelling and my single-minded desire to be my own master. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a crayon, so I always knew it was something I wanted to make a career out of. I also knew quite early on that I wanted the flexibility that (sometimes) comes with having your own business. I was raised in a pretty entrepreneurial family so I went into this my eyes wide open, completely aware of the peaks and pitfalls that come with being a business owner. For me, the ability to curate my own client base and tell stories about people and products I really believe in is the ultimate freedom.
3. As a transplant from Australia, do you see a big difference on how people do business in America vs. Australia?
Bloody oath! (That’s Australian for you bet.) I’m constantly impressed by the knack Americans have for selling themselves and the ease with which people will reach out to their connections for advice, introductions, or basically anything that will serve their agenda. They are behaviors that, culturally, we shy away from in Australia and I think it can make a major difference to the way we forge a path for ourselves. That being said, I also think the Australian sense of humor is our superpower in the workplace, but don’t let that fool you into thinking we’re not serious about the job at hand.
4. How do you find inspiration to continuously write fresh and exciting copy?
I’m so grateful to work with people who are perpetual sources of inspiration, but, of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and I certainly have my moments where the words just won’t flow. I’d love to say there’s a quick fix for those occurrences, but alas, writer’s block is real y’all. My best advice is to write about things you believe in and to be a voracious consumer of a variety of media and literature. I’ve been known to flick through a magazine and hear the proverbial crickets ringing in my ears, only to get the creative cogs turning by scanning over the back of a cereal box. I’ve also found inspiration has a wicked way of materializing whenever or wherever it’s most awkward to write things down, namely in the middle of things like the night, a yoga class, or a shower.