If a client needs a website with wow, a Twitter-crazy ad campaign, a can’t-put-down brochure, a TV ad or video you’ll want to watch again and again and again, or a tone of voice with tingle, I can help.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
When I was 14, I read an article about a copywriter whose job mainly involved coming up with names for make up and I thought ‘I really love words. That’s what I want to do!’. So I went on to take a degree in English and Psychology followed by a post-graduate diploma in advertising followed by a job as a junior copywriter. And now here I am with my own business at Caroline Gibson. Ta dah!
I’ve worked in London ad, branding and digital agencies. I’ve worked on just about everything (ummm, except nappies). And I’ve been really lucky to pick up some awards along the way.
I’ve now been freelance for just over 15 years and have never, ever looked back. Endless coffee of a morning and breakfast tea of an afternoon, my feet against the radiator on a chilly or grim day, and my thesaurus to hand (Roget’s, but of course - nothing else will do) and I’m a v. happy girl.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
Hmmm, how long have you got? Several things, really:
1. Focus. Call me old-fashioned as I know people tend to wear lots of different hats these days, but I think you need to be master or mistress of one skill and showcase it brilliantly.
2. Responsiveness. Clients usually want work done like there’s no tomorrow so I always reply to emails right away and tell them when I’ll send a proposal.
3. Manners. My heart sinks when a wannabee copywriter emails for advice and then can’t be bothered to send back a simple ‘thank you’.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
A VR video for O2. A website and brochure for a financial client. A poster and ad campaign for an outdoor spa. A tone of voice for an insurance company. A website for a wedding company in Ibiza. I’m a little busy…...
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
I like projects that are unusual and with a blank sheet so that you can help make a difference from the start. This one, for a private male escort: Mychael Patrick, was one of my all-time favourites and has been a good dinner party conversation piece. (Interest piqued? Read all about it here in my blog.)
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
Well, I’m probably just about the only copywriter who’s never wanted to write a book so no internal Dorothy Parker-style wrangles there, luckily.
It has to be doing my own marketing - that always drops right down to page two of my to-do list below ‘tidying my desk’. Simply because I’m always busy doing it for clients.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
The thing that makes me go aaaaargh and grrrrrr is waiting and waiting and waiting to hear back from clients about a project. And sometimes, never even hearing at all.
Oh, and clients who say they want a beautifully-written, fresh-as-a-daisy, optimised blog yet will only pay peanuts.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Cooking. I hate it. Too time-consuming. Luckily my husband loves it. And he’s free. Though unavailable for hire. Sorry.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
Don’t let invoices pile up. Ask clients to pay in stages to keep your cash flow nicely flowing.
I was as green as apples about this when I first started freelancing. I ended up taking a very naughty client to court. It was painful and frustrating but I learned a lot and I won (and even wished I’d become a lawyer instead.)
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
Any futurist or TED talker about anything. Though I’d let them do all the talking.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
As I said at the start, anything requiring words or ideas - except PR. I’m happy to work on big names and small start ups, so long as the client values my worth.
Emails that don’t start with ‘Hi Caroline’ (because they’ve been sent generically to a million other copywriters) or that only say ‘What’s your day rate?’ head in one direction: my trash folder.
DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.
‘The stronger the client brief, the stronger the creative work, the stronger the results.’ That’s my mantra.
I love clients with a strong USP, who stick to deadlines, who don’t need to make too many changes and who appreciate that you get what you pay for. And who appreciate you :)
WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE?
I charge by the project and provide a breakdown of costs. I tell clients that I don’t take on projects under £1,250 - partly to eliminate time-wasters and partly because the smaller the budget, the greater the amount of hand-holding required. (I feel that latter point needs a name, as in a scientific theory or law...hang on, I’ll get thinking.)
Having said that, I’ll always consider smaller projects if they’re fun or quirky or make me smile all day.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Is your budget over £1,250? Do you have a USP? Do you need a Brit? Do you really, reeeeeeally need this done tomorrow?
If the answer to the first three is ‘yes’, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
Recharge batteries: films, theatre, travel, naps.
This member profile was originally published in December 2016.