High Quality Content from an Agency-side Copywriter
You're taking the time to read my about page. That means I already owe you a favour.
Let me do something for you …
Before we get into my story, I want to send you 10 of my best copywriting tips.
For years, I only shared these with my team of writers and certain clients (mainly because I'm an introvert and an idiot).
But all along I should've been sharing these with you, someone from the 'real world' who values written language.
So, if you'd like to see these 10 tips (numbers #2 and #3 helped me to become a much faster writer), then drop your email in the box below.
I'll deliver them to your inbox, one by one, over the next few weeks.
And you can reply to me any time you like.
Content Strategist | Latitude Digital Marketing
First Class BA (Hons) in Imaginative Writing Liverpool JMU | 2009
John Carlton, Demian Farnworth, Claude Hopkins, Drayton Bird, Brian Clark, Ramsay Taplin and loads more
Being a dad, reading books, listening to podcasts, playing video games, trying at football, lying in poker, struggling at guitar, and watching as much HBO as possible
My Reasons for Building this Website
(and 3 reasons why I always have bloodshot eyes)
Philbin Media might just be rivaling Branson one day. But for now, it's a tiny piece of the internet that I use to sharpen my skills as a copywriter.
While I'm at it, you get to pick up the lessons I'm learning along the way. That's a bonus for us both.
Though I'm not a freelancer, you can contact me about copywriting - just register with the site to make a connection and we'll talk soon (drop your email into the box below and click 'Get Free Lessons').
I work on this site between my day job as Content Strategist for Latitude Digital Marketing, and my main job as a family man.
When I'm not writing or tidying up, I'm usually reading.
Sometimes it's a book and sometimes it's a blog - either way, I end up with a network of blood lines across the whites of my eyes. Occupational hazard, I guess.
Or maybe it's more because I cram in an hour on the Playstation every chance I get.
My Approach to Copywriting
(and another reason why you should probably register with this website)
I would love to be like John Carlton when it comes to writing copy ...
John doesn't touch his desk in the hours leading up to writing the piece.
If he needs to research, he does it on the couch (or elsewhere). If he needs to call somebody for an interview, he walks around the living room in his jogging pants on the phone. If he needs to let the information settle in his mind, he takes a hot shower, a long run, or whatever.
When he sits at the desk, he's a 'fighter stepping into the ring'.
I can't work like that. Mainly because I run a 4-person content team at Latitude. And I have more than just a responsibility to write great copy.
From conception to creation, every piece I write is usually done at the desk.
I don't wear headphones. I don't shut people off (well, not all the time). And I don't fall in love with anything I write.
If I'm face to face with a stubborn blank page, then I might hide in a meeting room somewhere so I can beat it. But most of the time, I'm there for the team, even when I'm crafting the perfect landing page for a client.
It's a tough skill to master, especially for an introvert like me.
Still, writing copy in a noisy office is like keeping an enemy in your crosshairs during an earthquake. And I'm growing to like the challenge.
So, what is the 'perfect landing page'?
That's not a lesson for this about section, and so I've dropped that one into email tip #5.
If you register with the site (just type your email into the box below and hit the button), I'll send you the template I use for every new landing page. No charge.
My Not So Rocky Road to Becoming a Copywriter
(and why I probably caused the credit crunch)
I started messing about with blogs during uni, alongside some short stories and poetry I was working on.
For cash, I was the lad who wheeled your oversized TV to your car, once a Comet salesperson had took your money for it. I was the lad who ignored your call for advice on what fridge-freezer to buy. I was the lad who ended up becoming the rip-off salesperson. I was the rip-off salesperson who hated my accidental seven-year career in retail.
I never thought about being a copywriter. Liverpool is full of opportunity and I just figured the city would have some kind of perfect role for me after graduation … I was deffo wrong.
I figured that my degree was just a bill of £20,000 without any added experience, so I started looking at companies in need of a writer in Liverpool.
Meanwhile, I should've started to use my sales job to study consumer behaviour.
But I didn't.
Instead, I played football in the warehouse between my half-hearted pitches. I hid in the display chest freezers on the shop floor. And I moaned about my lack of fulfillment in life.
If only I knew what I now know about salesmanship, I could've mastered the art by trialing different techniques in the flesh.
Instant customer feedback - it's an advertiser's nectar ... and I treated it like piss.
And so I finally decided to do something about the situation.
By 'do something', I literally mean I searched online for this:
"What jobs can I get as a creative writer in Liverpool?"
As soon as I found out about what a copywriter actually does, I wanted in. And so the job applications were launched en masse ...
I flopped on the phone interviews. I submitted average CVs to average recruiters. And didn't really get anywhere at all.
Still, the more I was applying, the more I was reading about copy. And the more I was reading, the more I wanted a role at an agency. At least I finally knew what I needed to be.
Turns out I had to take a detour into sports journalism - a lengthy, unpaid and educational path leading right back around to Copywriter's Avenue.
My Time in Sports Journalism
(and why every graduate should volunteer)
Graduating with a First Class degree in Creative Writing does not automatically make you an ad man.
And nobody with half a brain will even invite you to an interview without any exp. on your CV.
It is the best advice I can give to any graduate - especially n00b writers.
When Sportbox Media (formerly JDG Media) was running the PR and content side of things for the Mersey Tigers, they took me on-board.
Here's how I got the cap ...
I pinged a piece of match day programme content to the boss, James Gordon. And told him I would write for free, in exchange for experience.
As John Carlton would say, James is one of those guys already on his way to The Feast - an entrepreneur with enough of an appetite to 'make it'.
And here he was, with enough of a heart to pull out a chair so I could join him.
I was soon writing regular content for the Mersey Tigers programmes and club website.
I was writing match reports from the Echo Arena, to be published in nationally recognised newspapers. I even worked with Sky Sports, BBC Northwest Tonight and Granada Reports as part of the role - interviewing players and coaches from the club.
I travelled the country as the Tigers won the treble. And reporting from a press box in the O2 Arena remains a massive highlight from my greener years.
That journalism internship was - without doubt - the biggest bunk-up into copywriting I could have got at the time.
I owe a lot to James for that.
I now had the portfolio, experience and confidence, to get my role as a Junior Copywriter at Latitude.
That's when the hard work started.
-- You can get your hands on the 10 best lessons I've learned since that day, just by writing your email into the box below. If you want even more lessons, just reply to email #10 and we'll talk about it. --
My Life as an Agency-Side Copywriter So Far
(and why I should never have been promoted)
A Junior Copywriter from Liverpool, with a First Class degree in creative writing, a background in sports journalism and a horrible history in sales.
I had all the ingredients of a good copywriter ... but a lot of them were stale.
I hadn't really sold anything in my life. And outside of my role at Sportbox Media, I hadn't written a single creative word since graduation.
Fortunately, I had (and still have) a great mentor in Alex Gallagher at Latitude.
With her guidance, I revved up from Junior Copywriter to Content Strategist within 18 months.
But I still don't deserve that title.
The day I was given an entire department to run at the agency, was the day I realised how far I was behind in copywriting.
I guess it was the new pressure that induced the realisation.
So, I reverted back to my old 'trick' and literally typed the following into Google:
"What are the best copywriting blogs for learning?"
I found Demian Farnworth's website (I've got the link in the section below).
From there I found Matthew Loomis, Chris Brogan and Ramsay Taplin. From Ramsay Taplin I found Copyblogger.
Turns out, Farnworth was the Chief Copywriter for Copyblogger too.
Within the lessons from Copyblogger, I uncovered references to Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy and Seth Godin.
All the while my friend at Latitude, John Lloyd (a fellow online marketing expert from Liverpool), was constantly nagging me to follow Drayton Bird and John Carlton.
I had found my new mentors.
And this collection of people would all teach me everything I know about copywriting today.
-- It's a combination of their work that forms the basis for mine - and that includes the 10 free tips you can get by email. --
After studying all the free material I could get my hands on, I asked Latitude to pay for a membership to Authority - Copyblogger's training platform. And being the lean agency it is, my boss obliged.
At the same time, I jumped into Google+ with both feet and I'm still learning more about copywriting in the communities in there (two of which I now run myself).
It's not easy, but I believe that remaining a student is the only way anybody can truly become a great copywriter.
I still regard myself as a Junior Copywriter. And I will do until I reach the status of Mr. Farnworth.
That's why a part of me thinks I should never have been promoted ... but I'm not complaining.