Copywriters Unite. One size doesn’t fit all.

I took my remote working slippers off back in March and headed to the bright lights of a swanky bar in London town. It was the second Copywriters Unite evening, as powered by twitter and the hashtag collective #copywritersunite.

The owner of this hashtag is Vikki Ross, social media and copywriter extraordinaire, whom I once tweeted to request a night out. I wasn’t the first to request a meet up, and subsequently, Vikki hosted the first Copywriters Unite event. This wordsmiths’ spring occasion went on to attract far more writers than the previous Christmas night out.

I didn’t know Vikki from Adam of course, but that’s the beauty of twitter. Not only has it put me in touch with someone who has given me lots of lovely copy work, it also brings people together who wouldn’t normally be hanging out in an immaculate Aldwych bar on a Thursday night.

As a freelancer, our only contact with other writers whom we aren’t sat next to in agencies, is usually through the world of recruitment consultants as they bait us against each other for the next available copy project. These other copywriters are, effectively, the enemy. The competition, with whom we must improve upon or somehow excel against. If you’ve ever worked in an agency through a recession, you know what I’m talking about.

Meanwhile, in comfy working from homeland, I have discovered there is more to the label of copywriter than just the traditional team model of Art Director and Copywriter partnership. Or even the lone wolf copywriter, also known as a ‘floater!’ Someone who can sit down with any adland professional to bring the goods to fruition. I probably used to fall more into this latter category.

But now, my days as copywriter (or shoe horn), have evolved somewhat. I proofread for big London agencies. And I write long copy more than I sit staring out of windows to come up with punchy giant campaign ideas. And meeting all of these other writers made me realise, there’s even more to the copywriter label than you’d think.

Some of the lovely young folk I met, told me they write for regional agencies with a clientele I hadn’t, I confess, always heard of. But the bulk of the work sounded similar: websites, emails, direct mail. But there’s also a breed of writer out there who largely writes blogs for companies, among other content led projects. SEO features as a big part of this world. The work includes devising word clouds, meta code copy and tag descriptions.

I even met a copywriting collective, a company who employs writers purely for clients looking for content led projects without the rest of the agency faff (or, I’d imagine, price tag?). A gaggle of copywriters if you will. (Apologies, I know the collective noun for copywriters is long discussed and likely merits another blog post).

Then there are the copywriters who train marketing professionals about copywriting. These senior figures have written their fair share of books on the subject, convened student copy conventions and hosted umpteen tone of voice workshops. They are in the business of raising the profile of copywriting as a career choice – after all, although everyone thinks it from time to time, not everyone is born to be a writer.

I know what you’re thinking. I worked the room well, I know. Oh, and don’t forget about the seasoned integrated agency writers; you’ll know who they are, as they emanate a whiff of cynicism on approach. These guys will make you laugh, lots.

So were these newfound writers, the enemy after all? For junior writers it seemed the perfect space to quiz the established folk on best practice while the old timers compared rates or client anomalies. It was certainly an interesting evening, as the varied copywriting tribes soon became apparent. We had a lot to learn from each other. And it’s clear that no two writers are alike. Someone better remind the recruiters that.

So what else do you need to know about Copywriters Unite? Did we work out who had which twitter handle? I’d like to think so, but the room was pretty packed. I was the girl who threw her pint over the floor at the beginning of the evening. Pretty classy by my standards even. But one thing freelancing teaches you early on: you need to front it out. Keep the skin thick and the deadlines respected. And always be reading.

I look forward to learning more at the next Copywriters Unite on Tuesday 16th June. If you fancy doing the same, check out #copywritersunite or follow @VikkiRossWrites

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