I work with hundreds of people and rarely get to meet them in person.
But I met Kathleen Hanover recently at the local Panera Bread shop and was blown away by her expertise on public relations know-how.
So I twisted her arm and got her to agree to an interview on PR copywriting.
Dean: You’re a public relations copywriter. What do you do, exactly?
Kathleen: I’d describe myself as a marketing expert who frequently uses the tactic of PR to help my clients reach their business goals. I see copywriting — all forms of marketing copywriting — as a marketing tactic as well. But here’s where the PR flavor of copywriting is different. It’s most successful when you serve multiple masters.
What do I mean by that?
Well, when I’m doing direct marketing copywriting — writing a sales letter or web content, for example — I’m communicating to my client’s target audience in my client’s voice. It’s very clear who my client is. My client is the person signing the checks.
Pete Savage is an example of why I always say that freelancing is more secure than having a job.
Pete turned losing a job into a freelance business in record time, as you’ll see in a moment.
When we talked, Pete shared his thoughts on the unique world of B2B copywriting.
Dean: How long have you been a freelance copywriter? What’s your story?
Pete: I’ve been a freelancer for about 8 years now. I tell people I was pushed “backward and blindfolded” into the world of freelancing … which means I got fired.
Turfed on a Friday morning, and by Monday I had my first freelance gig. And the market for freelancers is even better now that it was then. I was a copywriter in a small ad agency — that’s the place I was let go from. Prior to that, I had worked in the corporate world in sales and marketing jobs.
Dean: Fired on Friday and freelancing on Monday? That must be a world record! So now you specialize in B2B or Business-to-Business copywriting. Just in case someone doesn’t know what that is, can you give us a brief definition?
Look up the phrase “search engine marketing” in the dictionary and you’ll see a photo of Heather Lloyd Martin.
Okay, not really. But her photo ought to be there since she’s a pioneer in SEO Copywriting.
I asked Heather if she’d share her wisdom with us and was thrilled when she said yes.
Dean: How long have you been a freelance copywriter? Everyone has a story. What’s yours?
Heather: Once upon a time, back in 1995 or so, I was working at a “real job” and hated it. My dream was to be a writer — and for whatever reason, I wanted to be an online writer (and no, I don’t know why working online seemed so fun to be back then, but it did).
So, I quit my job, bought a new computer, and set up my website. Back in the day, there were a number of us on a discussion forum called Women Talk Business (WTB), and we often worked with and for each other. One thing led to another, and suddenly I was writing SEO content, way back before anyone really paid attention to SEO copywriting.
I’ve been interviewing fellow copywriters about their writing specialty. Their responses have been so fun, I wanted to get in on the action.
So James at Men With Pens conducted an interview with me about my specialty, direct mail copywriting. Part 1 is below. Part 2 is over at James’ blog.
James: Everyone wants to hear how we all got started — what was your start in copywriting? How far do you go back?
Dean: I go waaay back to the Stone Age when writers delivered copy by beating on a hollow log. Okay, maybe not that way back. I’ve been writing copy of one kind or another since 1985 when I got my start in radio then moved into a TV producer job.
I’m infamous for a series of Dukes of Hazzard promos (in which I appeared as Luke Duke) with lots of hoots and hollers that, apparently, annoyed the crap out of people but got them to pay attention during commercial breaks.
I’ve known Ivan Levison for many years. Ivan is a prime example of how you can carve out a niche for yourself and make a nice living by staying focused on what you do best.
In Ivan’s case, this is writing email for clients large and small. In fact, if you Google “email copywriting,” Ivan is the first result you get.
Recently, I talked to Ivan about his copywriting business. Just like the email he writes for clients, his answers are crisp and to-the-point.
Dean: How long have you been a freelance copywriter? If you’re like me, you used to send copy to clients by carrier pigeon.
Ivan: I’ve been a freelancer for 31 years. Yes, I used to drive down and see clients and read them my copy then make another trip for the rewrites. The fax and then email changed all that. I’d say these technologies have doubled my income.
This is the first of a series of interviews with copywriters who specialize in a particular brand of copywriting.
First up, James Chartrand from Men With Pens. James lives in Canada and writes web copy for an international roster of clients.
In our short interview, we discussed some of the ins and outs of web copywriting and James’ quirky sense of humor.
Dean: How long have you been writing web copy? How did you get your start?
James: I began my career in early 2006 — completely by necessity, really. At the time, I had absolutely no money, and I needed it badly. Winter was coming, there were no jobs to be had, and I had kids to feed. I found out that people would pay me to write … a whole $1.50 for 500 words.
So I wrote. I took the hard knocks and learned the lessons. I hustled like mad and kept building and building until… Well, here I am today. I never expected things to turn out as fantastically as they did, and frankly, I’m still working hard at reaching even bigger goals.