By Jessica Oliphant, Senior Copywriter at OgilvyOne Business, Shere

In the spirit of a new school year, we asked our in-house copywriters what advice they’d pass on to their younger selves to better prepare them for a life of creative wordplay, client feedback and tracked changes.

Budding writers: take note.

Just get started

Louis says… If I could go back and offer myself just one piece of advice, it would be to get started! Before I became a professional writer, I wrote very little. I knew it was what I wanted to do, I just wasn’t really doing it – it was almost as though I was waiting for an opportunity to fall into my lap. As a young writer, I felt as if I knew everything already, and it was just a matter of time before everyone else realised that. But without working, proving yourself, learning and improving, you’ll never get anywhere. And that’s a process that should continue throughout your career.

Grow a thick skin

Al says… Before becoming a copywriter, I wrote for and edited magazines. I had a lot more freedom in what I wrote about and the approval process was a lot simpler – I was used to no more than two other people (sub editor and editor) tinkering with my beautifully crafted work. But life as a copywriter is different. Now, there can be anyone from account managers to stakeholders, clients, product managers, brand guardians… you name it, all queuing up to correct your work. It can be painful at times, and often disheartening. But you have to remember that you’re all working towards making your copy as good as it can be. So, squeeze a stress ball and get back to those amends.

Be open to opportunities

Glenn says… Before I was a copywriter, I wish I’d known how woeful I was as a writer. Sure, writer wasn’t in my job title, but I’m pretty sure I was responsible for churning out quite a lot of literary landfill.

Maybe if I’d been more honest with myself (or colleagues had the skills to assess and constructively criticise my written work), I might have appreciated how much I still had to learn. Then I could have formed a coherent plan to address that.

So, I’d ask my younger self this: given you’re a terrible writer without a plan to improve, are you open to every opportunity to learn the craft of copywriting?

Don’t be shy

Jess says…  If I could only say one thing, it’d be this: great copy isn’t good enough. If you want to be a copywriter, it’s just as important to be able to sell your ideas and bring them to life in front of clients and colleagues. In other words: a bit of showmanship goes a very long way. So, don’t just hide away behind your keyboard.

Because, as we say in The Toon, “shy bairns get nowt”.


You can hear more from the OgilvyOne Business copywriting team at Copy Cabana on September 27th where Glenn Sturgess and Peter Stephen will be discussing The Robots Are Here.

You can also follow the whole team's ponderings on Twitter at @OOBCopy