Freelance copywriter for advertising and marketing
I’ve been earning my living as a freelance copywriter since 1999. I have only ever been hired by agencies and companies because my ideas and words work. If they didn’t work, neither would I.
I’ve been in sales since I was a kid and have been writing for fun or money ever since I learned how to. My first job was in a local toyshop, aged 16. When I got through with school, I launched my career in the warehouse of a third-rate supermarket. After a time working construction, I stumbled into bicycle retailing as a mechanic, frame builder and retail shop manager in London, Los Angeles, and Stavanger, Norway.
Age 26, I took a study sabbatical, working as a night club bartender, language school social programme dude and childcare assistant in a special needs school while studying full time. I ended up with a Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Oxford and spent a year in Germany, learning German in the workshop of a Hamburg bike store. I moved here permanently in 2008 and took dual nationality in 2017.
Along with my love of words and communication, insatiable curiosity, inquiring mind, intellectual training and what my first employer called my “ability to sell sand to an Arab”, this speckled life experience and writing talent is what I bring to your project.
Creative? There’s nothing more creative than finding a way to achieve what you aim to achieve, or better. Like any master craftsman, I can only be as good as you let me be. But like a fine carpenter, whatever you end up with will always be quality work.
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What is a copywriter?
I get asked this from time to time, so here’s my job description.
A copywriter is a salesperson behind a typewriter.
The only job of a copywriter is to come up with ideas and words that sell whatever the client is selling.
Anything else is a distraction. I can make your customer smile or feel good about you along the way, but the job is to increase your sales and that’s what you should measure me on.
Selling is everything. You don’t need to be Shakespeare. You need to understand how to structure a convincing sales argument and be able to turn that into words on a page, digital or otherwise.
Assuming you have the technical skills for the job, the most important qualification for being a copywriter is having sold things for a living – I mean really selling, not just spending a student summer standing behind the cash desk in a clothing store.
You need to have done the job when that was your only way of paying the rent. You need to have done it selling things people sweat over buying. You can’t fake that experience or empathise your way into it, and there is no better way to learn how to structure a sales pitch than selling high ticket or non-sexy items face to face.
I reckon the best salespeople – and the best copywriters – are also the best buyers. People who love buying things. Someone who can talk himself into buying just about anything is best equipped to talk other people into buying just about anything. That’s the job.
I don’t believe in tricky advertising, I don’t believe in cute advertising, I don’t believe in comic advertising. The people who perpetrate that kind of advertising never had to sell anything in their lives.