What is it like to work as a freelance copywriter?

Tell us about the job you’re doing now?

I’m a freelance copywriter, so I write marketing and PR materials. I mainly work with B2B technology companies (businesses that sell products and services to other businesses, instead of consumers). It’s really varied – one day I could be writing an advert or a brochure, and the next day I could be helping a company define their messaging.

What is the most exciting aspect of your work/training?

I think the thing I love most about my job is that you really have to understand how business works and what’s going on in different industry sectors. A lot of people think copywriting is just being clever with words, but you need to know how the people you’re writing for think and what they’re worrying about.

Would your classmates from school be surprised at what you’re doing now?

Probably not – I was a real bookworm at school, so I guess it’s not really surprising I’m doing something with words!

Was there a teacher who had a particularly strong influence on you and if so in what way?

My history teacher at school was really supportive during my A-levels. I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the time and before it was brought under control with medication I was quite ill and school was a bit of a struggle.

How did you decide what you wanted to do after school?

I knew I wanted to do archaeology at university because I was really interested in history and used to spend the weekends digging up bits of bone and pottery in my Mum and Dad’s garden.

After university, I didn’t have a clue what to do and was pretty directionless for a few years. I temped for a while which was a bit soulless but was also really good experience, both in terms of picking up general office skills and working out the kinds of things I enjoyed doing – and the stuff I hated!

Once I’d figured out I liked researching and writing, I joined a small PR agency and stayed there for five years. Gradually I realised that if I wanted to write more, I needed to be in marketing rather than PR and got an in-house job as a marketing writer. Later on I went freelance.

Did you take a gap year? Did it influence any decisions later in life?

Yes, I took a gap year and worked in a solicitors’ office to earn enough money to go on some archaeological digs. I’m glad I did because the digs were really good fun and I wasn’t really ready to go to university straight out of school.

A few years ago my husband and I took some time off work to do all the travelling some of our friends did during their gap years. It was brilliant, but I’m pleased I did it after spending a few years earning, because travelling with a bit of extra cash made it a lot more fun!

What was your university experience like?

University was great. I’d never really been challenged before to think in the way I was asked to when I got there. Plus I made life-long friends who I shared some outrageous adventures with!

What was the proudest moment of your life so far?

Probably landing the job as an in-house marketing writer. I didn’t have any experience of marketing and I desperately wanted the job, because I knew it would lead me to where I wanted to go.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I’m really enjoying freelancing because I love being my own boss and having a variety of clients, so I’m going to carry that on for the foreseeable future. With an energetic young son around these days it’s hard to think about what’s happening next week, let alone in ten years!

What advice would you give someone still at school who wants to do what you’re doing now?

I’d say don’t worry too much about getting straight into the industry if you can’t get the right job. Try to find a job that lets you do a bit of writing, even if it’s only an admin role where you’re writing letters or flyers.

Once you’ve got some experience of being in the working world on your CV, it’ll be easier to get an entry-level position in an agency or with an in-house marketing team and you can work your way from there.

Any suggestions for where we can find out more information?

I really enjoy ABC Copywriting’s blog (http://www.abccopywriting.com/blog/) which is an intelligent and often quite funny look at copywriting and marketing. If you’d like to see some of the work that I do, take a look at my website www.annamilan.co.uk/work.