Kate Toon is an experienced copywriter, owner of The Clever Copywriting School and was a keynote speaker at CopyCon 2017.
How long have you been a copywriter?
I’ve been writing since I was a small human, but I don’t think I officially allowed myself to call myself a copywriter until I hit 28, when I started working as a copywriter at Ogilvy.
Tell us how you became a copywriter:
I wanted to write for Smash Hits, but left Uni with a big debt and instead of taking up my prestigious place at Journalism School, I got a job at the NHS typing memos.
I spent years in the job wilderness of events, publishing, digital media, advertising and even massage and gibbon keeping before I was brave enough to take a big pay cut and work as a copywriter at the then Singleton Ogilvy and Mather in Sydney. I worked in various agencies in the UK on big brand clients. Came back to Australia and then fannied about for several years before going freelance in 2006, four months before producing a human.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
My own insecurities. I spent a long time thinking I wasn’t a good enough writer and I knew full well I was terrible at grammar and spelling.
This held me back from fully embracing my copywriter title for a while. And even now I still get pangs.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I struggled with this one.
Personally my family – I know that’s not an achievement but still.
Business wise, I guess writing a business ebook, or my ecourse, or the CopyCon event. But in reality, it’s probably my Tooncave writing hut, that felt like a huge thing, and I still love it each and every day.
What advice do you have for newbie copywriters?
First accept there is room for you and there is work for you. It feels like a crowded market but there is a lot of work going around, and a lot of businesses who don’t even know they need a copywriter yet – you can persuade them.
But the other piece of advice is: work bloody hard. The copywriters who succeed, don’t waste half the day on Instagram, or having coffee with friends. They get their bum in the seat and they work hard. And when they don’t have clients, they work on their own marketing.
You’ve got to push yourself a little if you want to get anywhere.
What advice do you have for worn out old copywriters!
Change it up. Make a new thing, try a new niche, sack a client. I think it’s always good to have a back burner personal business project on the go, something to work towards.
What’s your writing quirk?
I physically cannot write with my hands any more. I can only type. And thankfully I can type as fast as I think. Almost.
What are you fave writing apps?
Erm… Just MsWord and the Hemmingway.app – maybe thesaurus.com.
What do you do when you hit a writing block?
I just start formatting stuff.
If I have a job to start I’ll begin by adding in all the client details and adding really rough notes to each page.
Then I’ll take a walk. Then I come back to a page that isn’t blank.
What is your favourite thing to write about?
Myself. Wow how self-indulgent does that sound. But I love using anecdotes and personal stories in my writing.
Over to you
Have you had any similar experiences to Kate? Please share in the comments below.