Alex Thompson owns the Newcastle-based business, Act Copywriting. Specialising in writing copy for websites, blogs and email marketing, he uses his expertise to help businesses across the North East (and beyond!). From choosing a brand name to hiring a copywriter, his website includes loads of useful blog posts for business owners. There are also tips for copywriters and he offers coaching on the business side of the profession.
We asked Alex about what inspired him to become a copywriter, his recent achievements and which amazing local businesses he’s worked with over the years. Of course, we made sure that we asked for his top copywriting tips and if there’s any local networking events.
What inspired you to become a copywriter?
AT – It just comes back to the fact that I genuinely love writing! All through school I loved writing stories. When I went to university, I studied English Literature and preferred the creative writing aspect of that. Then, after realising I didn’t want to be a teacher, I stumbled across it, which is quite common for a lot of copywriters. My girlfriend, who introduced me to it, is a project manager at a digital marketing agency. I was watching adverts one day and complaining about the ones on TV, in magazines and on the radio and thought I could do a better job. Then she said, ‘well, why don’t you?’ I started looking into what copywriting was and realised that I could write creatively and help people, which fused what I liked about teaching with my love of writing.
How did you think of the name, ‘Act?’
AT – It’s my initials! It’s quite lucky because copywriting is essentially getting people to read something and then act on it, so ‘Act Copywriting’ fits in well with that. My writing is direct response copywriting, so it’s not just creative ideas. What I write is intended and designed specifically to get someone to take action and to act.
You’re a finalist at the Proper Awards (congratulations!) how do you feel?
AT – I was really happy because the Proper Awards are a client as I did their website for them. A couple of months after I finished it, Nick, one of the founders, sent us a message and said that I should enter the awards. Because of the way it’s laid out, they don’t pick a winner. At first, I thought, oh, well, you’re a client. But, when I thought about it, the winner is picked on the amount of customer reviews you get. I went to my clients and sent them the link to leave a review and they all left good reviews. It was good because I’ve got a mixed view on industry awards. I think that a lot are decided on the amount of tables you’ve bought at the event, if you’re mates with the judges and on the entries. But sometimes companies will get copywriters to write entries for them!
Update: Alex won the Proper Awards under the Marketing, Branding & PR Section!
Can you give a few examples of recent projects that you’ve been working on with local businesses?
AT – I’m currently working with Enterprise Made Simple based in Teesside, doing work on their website. I did their website for them about a year ago and they experienced a huge growth. Their business and offers slightly changed as a result, so they’ve done well to recognise that their website doesn’t speak to their target customer anymore. I just finished a website for Reynolds HR, based in Newcastle. I also finished one for Jonarc, a creative agency in Sunderland. I’m working with Zazu Hair Design in Forest Hall as well.
AT – I’ve got quite a lot of local clients that I really like working with. THF Publications as well, George, I’ve just finished the sales letter for him. I do have national and international clients as well and like that side, but I love getting someone in my office, making them a coffee, sitting down with them, getting to know their business and then doing a really good job for them. White Digital in Darlington are another big local client as well.
What advice would you have for people who want to break into copywriting?
AT – Definitely do a course. The problem a lot of new copywriters have is they are trying to pitch for a lot of work online. Doing a course sets you apart and puts you in good stead for the future. I did the Blackford Centre for Copywriting course, which I recommend to people on a weekly basis if they’re looking for something online. Jacob McMillen also has a really good course that doesn’t just teach you copywriting but focuses on the business of it and how to promote your services because that’s one of the main issues I see. People come to me and say they aren’t finding any customers and I say it’s because they might be the best copywriter in the world, but if they don’t know how to tell people that they are, how to find clients, speak to them on a sales call or price services, then there’s not much point.
Are there any networking events that you’d recommend in and around the Newcastle area?
AT – In Newcastle, I go to a network B2B (Business to Business) meeting weekly. I like that because it’s the same group of business owners every week and there’s lots of different skills around the table, so you can lean on them for advice. Anything with TusPark or Paul Lancaster’s Founders’ Friday is good, too. I got a couple of breaks early in my career with clients from a talk I did there. Then, getting down towards Darlington, White Digital do loads of events. Jeni Smith owns the business, NetKno, which sends you all the networking events going on near you; really useful for new business owners.