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James Daniel – earthmonkey

This much I know…

A series of interviews with copywriters

"My first children’s book, “The Pickle-Smith Trunk-Warmer”, took me 25 years from start to finish. I’m going to have to speed things up a little next time round!"

“My first children’s book, “The Pickle-Smith Trunk-Warmer”, took me 25 years from start to finish. I’m going to have to speed things up a little next time round!”

You can recognise great copy because it …
… feels like a conversation with someone who’s on your side. You don’t feel like you’re wading through endless self-promotion…it’s all about you and it’s easy to read.

I know I’ve done a good job when…
… I get hired a second time, or referred to someone else. It doesn’t happen every time – there might not be a need, or maybe personalities clash – but generally it’s a useful measure of a job well done.

The ideal client is …
… someone who hires you to access your skills…not to save themselves time. They’ll check the copy for accuracy, but give you freedom over the style and structure of the message.

This kind of client will usually offer feedback, instead of rewriting the copy and sending you round in circles! They also tend to be the quickest to implement, so they can judge you by results instead of personal opinion.

My favourite type of work is …
… anything we can split test. For every message, there’s an ideal version out there, and you can’t find it through instinct alone. I love working with clients who understand this and want to invest in the process – whether it’s a direct mail series, website or collateral.

People like my copy because …
… I can find the heart of the message. Clients often send me a long first draft and say “It’s in there somewhere”. I’ll pick out all the distractions and re-shape it around one theme, so there’s a journey with a clear beginning, middle and end.

Too many people think copywriting is …
… aggressive hype. The web is full of bullish claims like “everything you know is wrong” and “my kick-ass system will flood your bank account with mucho moola”. This style is like poking a finger in someone’s face and telling them they’re stupid! Personally, I think the reader – the customer – deserves more respect.

To me, copywriting is all about …
… problems and aspirations. Find the thing that keeps the customer awake at night, and take them to a point where the issue has been dealt with. Style plays a massive part in this, but the emotional angle is always the foundation.

The thing that drives me mad is …
… content factories and people on bidding sites who write cheap, inferior copy – especially keyword-heavy content in the name of SEO. It creates a lot of confusion in the marketplace, and I’m constantly getting emails from people who’ve had their fingers burnt.

If I wasn’t a copywriter, I’d be a …
… children’s author. My first children’s book, “The Pickle-Smith Trunk-Warmer”, took me 25 years from start to finish. I’m going to have to speed things up a little next time round!

When I was growing up my parents always told me …
… “Get a degree and the world’s your oyster”. I studied Linguistics, and quickly found that the world didn’t give a hoot. However, when I trained as a copywriter, I found a practical use for it because so much is about pragmatics and the psychology of inference.

I relax by …
… watching tennis. Unless Andy Murray is playing – then I get worked up every time he’s a break point down.

My guilty pleasure is …
… jelly sweets. If there was a Nobel Prize for Pick ‘n’ Mix, I’d be quids in.

About James

James Daniel worked as a journalist, scriptwriter and marketing bod before he discovered copywriting. Since then, his words have sold all sorts, from hearing aids and vacuum cleaners to Mercedes vans and lorries. When he’s not writing copy, he’s in a classroom showing business owners how to do it themselves.

www.earthmonkey.co.uk

Categories: Copywriter profiles and This much I know....

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