We sat ourselves down for a bit of a chat with our preferred copywriter, Leticia Supple, recently. She tells us what copywriting is, what exactly she does, and how what she does is different from the vast numbers of other copywriters out there.

What exactly is copywriting?

Copywriting is simply the writing of copy (text) to a client’s specifications. Most people tend to think of copywriters as people who work in advertising or sales, but copywriters like me write content for any business that needs it. That could be web content, marketing materials, media or PR materials, or anything else.

Are you just a copywriter?

No. Most of what I do is copywriting, but I am also an editor, an advisor and mentor for writers, and occasionally I do some typesetting work. Because my background is in writing, editing and publishing, I find that I can work with people who have something as basic as a list of ideas or bullet-points, or as advanced as full drafts.

Do web sites need it?

Given that the basis of the majority of web sites is text, I’d argue ‘yes’ very strongly. Of course, nearly anybody with a reasonable grasp of English can write content. But it takes a refined knowledge of audiences, structure, format (such as online versus print), and language to do it well. Writing content for web sites is possibly more difficult than writing for print projects, because the way people read on screen is quite different to how they read something that’s printed.

How is web content different?

Essentially, people don’t read text on screen, they scan for key words. The essence of good web copy is making that scanning and navigation by your reader easy: making sure that key concepts and phrases are easy to find. The most important information needs to come first, with supporting information following it up. Good web content has a good summary at the beginning (rather than at the end, as you would do in print), and each part is defined by some sort of marker, be that headings or bold text. It also makes greater use of bullet-lists.

The other key difference is that web content needs to be quite short. Unnecessary words are eliminated, and sentences and paragraphs are kept quite short. Many people find that any paragraph on a screen that is more than four lines long can be difficult to read.

Tell us a little about Brutal Pixie.

I started working as a sole trader after my former business, Brascoe Publishing, folded due to the partnership dissolving. I had also found that the nature of the key work I was doing had changed. Publishing is a difficult trade and an expensive business, but copywriters and editors are quite often in demand. While the business is under my personal name, I was nicknamed ‘brutal pixie’, and I found that it stuck.

I’m based in Adelaide, but due to the nature of my work and the nature of online communication, I have found that the majority of my clients are interstate: from Perth to Brisbane.

What kind of services do you offer?

First and foremost, I offer copywriting, because that’s my specialty. In terms of web content, I write content for web sites – sometimes just one page, sometimes a blog or article, sometimes I write text for an entire site. Blogging is an area I do a lot of work in. Many businesses find that they have ideas, or a notion of where they want to go, but they don’t always have the time to dedicate to getting it right. Similarly, I write or fix content for people’s email newsletter campaigns, because those types of communications can be tricky for people to get right.

For other types of copywriting, the majority of what I write or rework for businesses involves marketing and/or publicity materials, like brochures, media releases, and so on.

I offer editing, too. I edit everything from students’ theses, to businesses’ documents (like annual reports), to works of creative writing.

Occasionally I get other work as well, such as mentoring writers. Pretty much anything that involves words, I do!

What makes you different from other copywriters?

Most copywriters began in advertising or sales, so that tends to be their focus. My background is in making content (of whatever kind) work for its readers and its stated purpose, regardless of the type of copy I’m working with. Also, given my history as an editor, I have a strongly collaborative focus.

Whatever project I work on is my client‘s project, not mine. I feel that it’s vital for people to be involved somehow in the creation of their copy, so I always make sure that I’m available to discuss progress and I never take anything for granted. Unlike many copywriters, I will never take a brief and run: I always ensure that what I’m doing fits my client’s needs, and I’m always prepared to explain reasons for what I do. That type of communication and flexibility is essential. One thing I never want people to feel is that they get an inferior product, or have been somehow alienated from the process.

If someone wants to use your services, what’s the process?

I always like to ‘discuss’ the project with them, be that in person, by phone, by email, or whatever is easiest for them. I need to know what the project is, what goals they have for it, who their intended audience is, and whether they have anything already written. If a draft already exists, I like to see it so I can estimate how long a project is going to take, and what sort of cost a person is facing.

If the person is happy with my estimation, then work can get started. If I get a draft from the client, I go through it without touching it and just note any queries I might have. For instance, in some fields there is quite a lot of jargon, and I always need to know what those terms are in plain english, so I can make it as reader-friendly as possible. Once any queries are resolved, then editing or rewriting can start.

Once work commences, I get every stage of the work – each draft or redraft, or set of edits – approved by the client until the final version is one that everybody is happy with.

Thanks Leticia!

If you’re interested in getting your text written or edited, get in contact with Leticia directly.