A few years ago, I did two things that changed my life completely.
The first was having a daughter. And the second was deciding to start calling myself a copywriter.
OK, I can’t take all the credit for the first one. Less than half, in fact. But the second was all down to me.
One thing leads to another. Since my house (a terrace) had suddenly become much more noisy, smelly and generally distracting, I couldn’t work in it any longer. So I rented a bare-bones office down the road.
So there I was, newly a parent and newly a ‘copywriter’, sitting alone in my office, writing things for money.
After a while of being a ‘copywriter’, it dawned on me that I should really check out the competition. So I Googled ‘copywriter’ and clicked around a bit. With a start, I realised that there was more than one ‘copywriter’ in existence.
Many were in the same region, including some bloke called Ben Locker down in Colchester. Some were in the same county. Some, disconcertingly, were just down the road.
There were three ways to look at that, I reasoned. One was that this ‘copywriting’ game was more competitive than I’d thought (bad). Another was that there was clearly plenty of ‘copywriting’ that needed doing (good). And the third was that there were lots of other people in the same boat as me – even if they weren’t in the same room.
However, I never got in touch with any of them. After all, they were my competitors. I just sat in my office, typing away.
That changed a bit when I started out on Twitter. Inevitably, you follow those whose Tweets mirror your own interests. If you Tweet about work, you’ll end up talking to people who do the same thing. With Twitter, everything got a lot more sociable, and I realised you can be friendly with your competitors without harming your ability to compete.
After a while, I met up with Ben and we had the idea for the Professional Copywriters’ Network. A couple of years later, we launched it. And a year on from that, we had hundreds of members.
Being part of sites like Twitter and PCN is great. You feel less alone. But, all too often, you’re still stuck in a room, typing.
Compared to the real people in your life, your online copywriter friends are shadowy, incomplete and indistinct. You know you’ve got a lot in common with them, but it’s not always clear over such a distance, or through the medium of a website.
We hope the PCN Conference will do something about that. It’s going to be a superb opportunity to learn about copywriting, creativity and freelancing from some of the biggest names in our industry. But above all, it’s a chance for everyone who writes for a living to get together.
Whether we’re writing ads for Apple or PPC for plumbers, we’re all writers, and we all have more things in common than points of difference. So let’s get together. It’s about time.