Sandra Muller from The Smarter Writer
Who are you Sandra Muller?
I’m a content strategist and SEO copywriter. I help large organisations scope, manage, and deliver complex online content projects.
I create user-centred content that also meets the business’ goals.
The bigger, meatier, and messier the project, the more I enjoy untangling it.
What did you do before you became a copywriter?
I started as a UX designer until I moved overseas in the early 2000s to beat the dot com bust.
I taught English for a few years, mostly in South Korea.
My apprenticeship in UX design helped me learn how to research what users need and test my thinking.
That user-centric perspective is something I still bring to projects today.
How long have you been copywriting?
I’ve never really identified with the term ‘copywriter’. But I’ve been writing, editing and managing online content projects since 2004.
What has been your biggest copywriting career win?
Partnering with fellow copybeast, Matt Fenwick and his business ‘True North Content’ to work on some epic projects together has been the best thing for my career.
What was your worst copywriting career fail?
In the mid-2000s I had a mobile content startup with two others. I wrote comics and English language lessons.
We invested more than two years of our time and a LOT of cash into a business that was too early for the market and smartphones weren’t smart enough.
We wrapped it up about six months before the first iPhone was launched.
What are your number one fave copywriting tools?
GatherContent for content management. It does version control and manages the approval process. It’s a must for large-scale projects.
How do you deal with self-doubt?
Every time I start a new project, especially the big ones, I feel like a fraud and doubt my ability to get the job done.
But then I remind myself that I’ve done this before, I have the skills and experience to solve the problems that will come up, and within two weeks I’ll be feeling much more comfortable and less out of my depth.
What work/life balance or mental health tips do you have?
I exercise every day. That might be going to the gym, walking a few kilometres, or hiking up a mountain.
It clears my mind and tires out my body so I sleep better at night, which improves my concentration and puts me in a better mood. And the cycle continues each day.
I also avoid using my laptop after 6 pm and don’t use social media during work hours. It has greatly improved my productivity, leading to more free time after hours on the weekend to spend with my family.
Because the bulk of my work is on long projects (6–12 months), I also schedule breaks for the end of projects where I travel for a few weeks before the next one starts. That clean break helps me reset and avoid burnout, and gives me something to look forward to during the hard slog when things get tough (and they always do).
I highly recommend laptopless breaks away. Even a long weekend can be an effective reboot.
What tip would you pass onto any newbie copywriters?
Make connections in the group. Let people know what your skills and experience are. Do this often, not just once.
Don’t be afraid to niche. Narrowing your business to a specific audience can feel like you’re excluding all others, but being known for that one type of gig you enjoy and you’re good at can send a flood of work your way – including from your fellow copybeasts.
What’s next for you?
I’m moving back to Melbourne from South Korea at the end of 2019. So 2020 will be all about networking, connecting, and building my brand as a content strategist in the Melbourne content scene.
I’ll also continue to partner with Matt and TNC and work on projects that stretch me and make me do all the learn new things!
Why do you love TCCS?
I love TCCS for the connections I’ve made that have grown both me and my business.
I’ve worked with many fellow copybeasts over the past few years across different projects.
I don’t find the group competitive. I love that we’re all about collaboration, not competition.