Having answered your questions about motherhood at the end of last year, today I’m turning my attention to the things you asked about writing and my career.
It’s another long one, so get comfy and settle in…
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Have you always had a love of words?
Aside from a brief love affair with the idea of becoming a teacher, I don’t think I ever had a clear image of the career I wanted to pursue as an adult. However, I was always passionate about writing and would often fantasize about becoming a journalist or published author. A dedicated diarist, I scribbled my first ‘novel’ in a small notebook when I was 11 years old.
I fell out of love with education for a while when I was 16 and life took an interesting detour as a result. I fell head first into a career in retail and spent just under five years working for Woolworths in various management positions across London. I didn’t write much at all during this time, but I read constantly and continued to quietly daydream about one day penning a novel.
How did you get into your career?
At the start of 2003, I was living and working in South London when I began to feel restless and somewhat disillusioned by my job. My Dad had been battling cancer for the last couple of years and his commitment to recovery left me wanting to drastically overhaul my life.
I ended my long-term relationship, moved back home to Ealing and decided to apply for college. While I waited for term to begin, I took a waitressing job in a local cocktail bar and restaurant. On my first day, I met a handsome chef who would one day become my husband, proudly quoting The Human League during his wedding speech.
Studying A Level English immediately reignited my passion for writing, but the route to my current career was far from straightforward. Our happy accident, Isabel, arrived in the January of my second year. I took 9 weeks out before returning to college to finish my exams and successfully secure a place to study Sociology at Exeter University.
Fast-forward to the last year of my degree and I was pregnant again. Between submitting my dissertation and giving birth, I started this blog, writing creatively almost every day for the first time in years. I eventually sat my finals when Jesse was 11 weeks old. After taking a year out, I returned to University, switching disciplines to gain an MA in English Literature.
A week before I graduated, I married that handsome chef at Pinewood Studios. Thanks to my blog and many of the suppliers we had chosen to work with, our nuptials caused quite a stir on social media. After a series of serendipitous events, I soon found myself fully immersed in the wedding industry.
I accepted a role at the award-winning wedding blog, Love My Dress, and over the next two years I wrote everything from sponsored content to articles about marriage and bereavement. At the same time, I partnered with Emma Woodhouse to become an associate writer for The Wedding Reporter.
Having gained plenty of experience, I decided to move on from Love My Dress in 2014. Recognising an opportunity to provide copywriting and social media management specifically for small creative businesses in the wedding industry, I began to market my services online and at industry events.
Over time, I managed to build a small, but loyal client base. Word of mouth has always been my best marketing tool and every project I’ve completed has led to exciting new connections or further work.
I haven’t always had a clear vision for my business, but right now, I feel more focussed than ever before. I love using my copywriting skills to help others find the right voice for their brand and I get a serious kick out of seeing them flourish and succeed partly because of something I’ve written.
What advice would you give someone starting out as a freelance writer?
The internet makes it easy to become a ‘published writer’, so you can start building a portfolio right away. I secured one of my earliest copywriting jobs because the client liked my About page on Love Audrey and wanted something similar for their own site.
‘Find your niche’ is an overused term, but it worked for me. I do have clients outside the wedding industry, but I like having a focus for my expertise.
Be aware that you’re always networking, even when you least expect it. You never know which interactions could lead to paid work, so it’s important to behave professionally at all times. I keep things pretty playful on social media, but I’m always conscious that Twitter, Instagram and my blog are essentially a store front for the services I provide.
Figure out your finances and hire an accountant as soon as you can afford to.
Keep working on your craft. Write as often as possible, every day if you can. Reading makes you a better writer, so time spent with your nose in a book counts as ‘professional development’.
What’s your proudest professional achievement?
It sounds cheesy, but I always feel proud when I see copy I’ve written out there in the wild. Every time a new website goes live or a client launches a product with my help, I feel like I’ve made it! Writing gives me a great deal of pleasure, so I feel incredibly lucky to have found a way to profit from it.
What has been the most challenging moment for you professionally?
Last year was filled with more than its fair share of challenging moments. I plan to write about this in more detail soon, but struggling with ill-health alongside running a business is definitely up there. A large client failing to settle invoices before finally going into administration right before Christmas would also make the list.
What do you listen to when you’re writing – or do you prefer silence?
BBC Radio 6 Music provides a constant soundtrack to my life. I’d love to listen to more podcasts, but I can’t cope with lots of talking while I write. If I’m lacking motivation or doubting my abilities, Fleetwood Mac feels like an audible comfort blanket for my ears.
Do you have a writing passion project as well as your work? If so, what?
Yes and no. I have snippets of creative writing spread across countless notebooks, but nothing I feel the urge to run with. I’m constantly researching a non-fiction book I’d like to write, but I’m yet to commit a single word to paper. This year, I’d like to create a mini-recipe book that can be downloaded directly from this blog, but it’s still very much in the planning stages.
- I’m far from being an expert on these things, but I’m always happy to help if you’re a fellow writer looking for guidance or support. Feel free to ask follow-up questions in the comments below or send me an email via [email protected].
If you’re interested in the copywriting services I provide, you’ll find more information here.
Love Audrey xxx