My career as a copywriter didn’t start the way you think it did
Updated: Oct 29
Over on Instagram (check me out @emmacopywriter), I’m often asked by budding copywriters how I got started. And the truth is there was no ah-huh moment.
It was a slow slog over many years.
As a child, I was a big daydreamer (still am), but I wasn’t dreaming of becoming a writer. It was never an option presented to me.
Looking back, there were signs of a writer in waiting. It was six-year-old me who wrote her very first book with illustrations and all.
Inspired by my aunty and her chicken coop, Catherine and the Black Hen is a profound — for a six-year-old — little tale about the circle of life. Honestly, how that story came to fruition is beyond me 🤯 kids are just full of surprises.
Imagine if those humble beginnings were nurtured. Perhaps I would’ve discovered my passion for writing long before my (somewhat) wild and free twenties.
What I studied (kind of)
Like many early twenty-something millennials who wanted to tick the full-time traveller box (before #vanlife or digital nomads were really a thing), I had zero idea what to do with my life.
So I studied Business Marketing majoring in Event Management.
Events seemed like a glamorous industry where work wouldn’t feel like work. The reality is it’s lots of long hours and too many coffees.
But I didn’t know this yet.
Halfway through my course and excelling in all things marketing, I took a full-time role at The Australian Marketing Institute. Leaving with an Advanced Diploma in Business Marketing in my back pocket instead of a Bachelors Degree.
Spoiler alert; a University Degree isn’t the only path to becoming a leader at what you do.
Lessons learnt along the way
The first six years of my career were a mish-mash of events and marketing roles, predominantly in the hospitality sector.
Whether running around at an event or planning a marketing campaign, my heart just wasn’t in it. Everything in me was gravitating to the tasks where I had to write — marketing brochures, eDMs, website updates, social media content.
During these years, many superiors took to my writing with a red pen, and it wasn’t always pretty. I can tell you mistakes were made and many lessons learnt.
As Marketing Manager for a U.K. nightclub, I once penned a (very unoriginal) social media post for the first day of spring which read something along the lines of:
‘It’s a balmy spring day here in Brighton’.
It turns out ‘balmy’ doesn’t mean it’s pleasantly warm in British slang 😬 A nice little lesson in... know your audience.
We all know a self-proclaimed grammarian, the person who points out mistakes in that text message you typed while attempting to juggle your lunch in one hand and phone in the other.
That’s not me, far from it.
So as a novice writer, I worked hard at the basics to get to where I am today. Every mark of that red pen only made me want to work harder.
And with time, it made me a better writer.
Finding my passion for copywriting
My career as a copywriter flourished at CommBank, Australia’s biggest bank, which today boasts a digital team of more than 1,000 people. Moving from the hospitality sector to finance was a huge leap of faith but I felt confident the learnings and opportunities would outweigh any of the negatives.
And I was so right.
Writing for award-winning projects, launching the bank’s first-ever chatbot, and leading teams of talented UX Writers, Content Managers, and Content Producers all gave me the confidence to lean into what I love.
I was lucky enough to learn from some of the most talented Copywriters, UX Designers, Behavioural Economists, Software Engineers, Data Scientists and leaders in tech.
Mentoring my team and helping others shine in their career was an absolute honour but I missed being on the tools — I missed writing.
“Emma is a talented and well-rounded editor, writer, strategist and manager in the digital experience field. She has been a great mentor to me throughout my career in content - always offering practical solutions and helping me manage stakeholders. Not only is she a supportive manager, but Emma is also a reliable person that empowers her team to advocate for the best customer experience.”
Belle Craig is now UX Writer at Atlassian
After five years at CommBank and two years of side-hustling working with clients in my spare time, my freelance copywriting business was born in May 2021. And now I’m putting all my energy into building a successful copywriting business that works for me and my multi-faceted lifestyle.
A few highlights from my career:
2009: Working behind the scenes and meeting marketing masterminds at Australian Marketing Institute conferences and workshops across the country
2012: Supporting a website rebrand for one of Brighton’s (UK) hottest nightclubs
2013: Running events at historic event spaces on the HMAS Belfast and in Churchill War Rooms in London
2014: Creating social media content on the red carpet at the ARIAs
2016-20: Writing for award-winning app features like Ceba the chatbot and Benefits Finder at CommBank
2019: Leading a team of 6 super talented UX Writers delivering across 40+ digital projects at CommBank
2020: Owning the group-wide strategy for in-app and web messaging capabilities used by more than 7 million active customers at CommBank
2021: Starting my very own freelance copywriting business and working with incredible brands (Canon Australia, True Savings and Macquarie Bank) straight off the bat.
Need a freelance copywriter who can help your business kick goals?
You’re in the right place. My career in copywriting wasn’t traditional in any sense because I didn’t wake up one day and decide to be a writer. I was drawn to writing because I enjoy using words to help brands connect with their audience and have more compelling conversations online.
And the best way to do that is through simple, clear and on-brand copy.
Using my 10 plus years of expertise, I help big-name tech brands, finance startups and small business owners create better online experiences that enable them to get more sales or support more of their customers.
Sound like someone you need in your life? Let’s chat!