We’re doing something a bit different this month and catching up with one of our collaborators, Katie Rickson.
Katie’s a freelance copywriter, editor, public speaker and performer. We had a chat about what she does, what she’s about and her hopes and dreams for her business.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing in various shapes and forms all my life. I started as a copywriter in late 2015, and before that I completed an undergrad degree in drama and writing studies, where I developed my writing across an amazing mix of styles and genres, including short stories, essays, plays, blogs and poems. Before that, I was an Investment Paraplanner (a fancy title for someone who writes investment plans for individuals or trusts).
I joke that the only thing I can make is a sandwich. I’ve never been that good at crafts and I’m only getting marginally better at cooking and baking. But words are my craft, my outlet and my vocation.
When I struggle to make sense of what’s going on with me personally, I automatically reach for my journal and pen. I find writing very therapeutic – I often think things through as I write.
Professionally, I write to help people, brands or businesses find their voice. I enjoy shaping words, exploring and explaining concepts, and articulating a message clearly and powerfully.
Do you have a writing process? What inspires you?
It depends on what I’m writing about; if it’s a subject where I feel confident, I’ll write at a café and enjoy the hubbub and a flat white. If I need to do some in-depth research to get my head around things, it’s usually better if I’m working at home with silence.
I find that, when I get stuck, I need to move away from my laptop and actually hand write. The words tend to flow more easily when I go back to pen and paper. That’s why free form writing is a very useful technique, and I recommend it to anyone wanting to give writing a go. With free form writing, you simply write by hand on any subject(s) for about five minutes, or as long as it takes to fill five A4 size pages. It’s a great way to silence that annoying inner critic!
A blank page can be full of promise but also very daunting. Jodi Picoult said: “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” So, the key is to just start and not wait for that elusive inspiration to write. Having said that, I often come up with my best material when I’m not actually sitting down and writing. Going for a walk can help me get out of a rut.
I know a lot of writers have their own rituals, a time of day or night that works for them, and a special writing place. My brain seems to be in writing mode between 10am and 4pm. So, I go with what works for me because otherwise writing can become a painful process!
As a copywriter and editor, which clients do you have a special affinity with?
I love writing for charities, not-for-profits and social enterprises. I also write for start-ups, SMEs and as a contractor to agencies like Two Sparrows!
I’m a values based business, so I want to write for organisations that align with my values.
People before things, kindness, sustainability, innovation, loyalty, compassion, creativity and wellbeing.
Wellbeing. That ties into your “Speaks” side of your business, right?
Yes. (My tag line is: Writes. Edits. Speaks.)
I give talks at churches, community groups and academic settings about my experience with mental distress. Language is so integral and intertwined with our health and wellbeing. What we say to ourselves and what others say about us has the potential to be either uplifting or devastating.
The talks I give relate to: The labels that we attach to ourselves or are attached by others, that is, the words we are given as part of a diagnosis, or the words that we give ourselves; creating our own words to make sense of our experience – for example, I write poetry; and alternative ways to approach recovery – such as how can art, music, poetry, dance and other outlets be used alongside, or instead of, more conventional therapies like drugs or counselling.
Let’s go back to copywriting. What qualities should people look for in a copywriter?
I think the most important trait is curiosity. A copywriter needs to ask big questions and quickly get to the heart of the matter. It’s obvious to a reader when a writer doesn’t care about or doesn’t know enough about the subject.
Empathy is also really important, I think. A copywriter needs to understand the concerns and hopes of prospective clients and be able to convey why a particular service or product will address their concerns and realise their hopes.
Also, a copywriter needs to write persuasively by balancing reason and emotion, as it takes both to convince a reader to take action.
And, of course, being able to write accurately and clearly is essential.
What are your hopes and dreams for your business?
I want to continue building a solid base of regular clients. I like forming long-term relationships and supporting businesses to grow and reach more people with their message.
Ultimately, I want to be the go-to copywriter for New Zealand charities, not-for-profits, social enterprises and businesses that are doing good things in their community.
AND I want to speak at more conferences and events. Mental wellbeing is such a hot topic at the moment, as it should be, and I would love to reach a wider audience by sharing my experience.
Awesome! How can people get in touch with you?
I’d love to hear from you! You can get in touch with me via Facebook: Katie Rickson Copywriting and Editing, call me on 021 1563 669, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit katierickson.co.nz
Two Sparrows uses Katie’s copywriting services and we recently developed a new website for her freelance business.