When I picked up my first Famous Five book, I didn’t realise that this was the beginning of my career as a blog copywriter.
That first night reading about the adventures of Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy the dog got me hooked. I was an official bookworm. English was my favourite subject. As a teen, I graduated from Enid Blyton to racy 80s blockbusters like Lace, Lucky and Sins. (Mum why did you let a thirteen-year-old read these?)
I started out in public relations
When I heard about PR as a possible job, I was delighted. Exaggerating, talking and meeting people for a living? Count me in. A born extrovert (and quite a show-off) with a love of story-telling, I was destined for this course.
Trouble was, the RMIT PR degree was way prestigious back in the 1990s. Everyone wanted to get in. Smart kids. Not me, who did great in English and so-so in all the other subjects (and woeful in economics).
Lucky for me it was the 1990s and the Victorian Government was tinkering with the HSC, turning it into the VCE. The good minds at RMIT decided it didn’t trust VCE scores and decided for everyone to sit an exam instead.
I got so lucky.
The day-long exam was clearly designed to seek out students with an eye for the news and storytelling. It started with an essay on someone you admire. I figured everyone would go with either family members or celebrities. So I decided to stand out by choosing someone more relevant to the course. I wrote a passionate essay about Stuart Littlemore, the then-host of ABCs Media Watch.
The testing finished with a general knowledge quiz. It was all about the news. Of course, being a self-absorbed sixteen year old, I thought the news was boring.
But there was a TV show I loved, called The Late Show. It was a comedy sketch show that often poked fun at global news and world leaders. Thanks to The Late Show, I was able to correctly name the president of Japan, the head of the PLO and the scandalous Argentine football star.
So with that stroke of luck I made it into RMIT’s public relations course and graduated in 1997 with a fetching Rachel haircut.
London calling, then hello book publicist
On graduation, I worked for a few PR agencies in Melbourne then I travelled to London, spending a few years in a top PR agency.
On my return to Melbourne, I was thrilled to join Lothian Books as a marketing manager. This boutique publisher specialised in children’s books and adult non-fiction titles.
The marketing budget was miniscule, so my time was spent getting free editorial for various authors. I worked on many bestselling cookbooks, footy memoirs and award-winning children’s titles.
My fondest memories as a book publicist
- picking up Greg Chapell from the airport in my tiny Ford Festiva and him struggling to fit his long legs inside as we embarked on a publicity tour for Cricket: The Making of Champions
- conducting an epic cross country book tour for the legendary US health guru Miriam E Nelson’s Strong Women series of books
- staging a huge book launch for Bali bombing survivor Jason McCartney, and getting mistaken for his wife at a book signing for his memoir, After Bali
- meeting Gough and Margaret Whitlam at the launch of Nick Whitlam’s book Still Standing
- clowning around with AFL star Shane Crawford at many shopping centre book signings for his book Shane Crawford, Exposed
- booking a troupe of 80 year-old tap dancers to appear on Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton for the launch of a book about the grand vaudeville days of Melbourne
I had a great time and I secured plenty of TV, radio and press coverage for my authors. (Nowadays, the skills I learned to pitch to radio hosts come in handy pitching myself as a podcast guest.)
But I wanted to get back to PR
I missed the strategic side of PR, and was ready for a new challenge. So I joined Australia’s biggest PR agency, Professional Public Relations. Starting as an account manager, I thrived and was mentored by my fabulous boss Carolyn Brasher and PPR owner Rick Lazar. Over the five years, I was steadily promoted to become Group Account Director for the Melbourne Office.
I was thrilled to conduct strategic corporate communications campaigns for clients like Bunnings, Emirates, Telstra, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and many others. (In the Emirates marquee I met Rob Schneider and Melissa George, and once knocked over Michala Banas.)
But rubbing shoulders with celebrities was not as much fun as pitching for big campaigns – and winning! I spent hours creating PR pitches for big-name clients and won many of them.
In that five years we went from about seven staff to about sixteen. PPR Melbourne was growing fast. As was I. Being pregnant didn’t stop me. I was onsite at Melbourne airport at eight weeks pregnant handling media enquiries about crisis (flight EK407 failed to take off properly). I hosted the door to the glamorous launch of the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week while eight months up the duff.
But then I fell in love
As I cradled my little daughter in my arms, I knew I could not go back to PR. There were no other mothers working in the PR agency, just young, glam former models and journalists. When I was on maternity leave, management didn’t contact me at all; I wasn’t even invited to the Christmas party. Of course my lovely friends kept in touch and sent baby gifts, but the bosses made it clear: once women became mothers there was no place for them at PPR. Besides, the cut-throat world of PR doesn’t work in a part-time role. When the media crisis hits, you have to be there.
So I said a goodbye to PPR, and I took a few freelance part time publicist roles. I wanted to be the kind of mum who is around for their kids. But I also wanted to use my brain and continue my career. I wasn’t sure what to do.
Then, I met my husband’s distant cousin, a blog copywriter
My hubby’s aunt introduced us, saying we ‘worked in the same area’. As Emily Hill explained what she did, I laughed at how different our two jobs were. Emily wrote websites and blogs. But I was a publicist. But to our aunt, it was all the same.
As I chatted to Emily, I realised there was something in this websites thing. After all, the digital age wasn’t going away anytime soon. I wanted a job where I could use my writing skills but still be there at the school gate. Tah-dah! Light bulb moment.
I would become a copywriter!
Even though I had never written a website, I didn’t let that pesky fact stop me. I couldn’t see the difference between writing a press release or a website or a blog. Turns out, there’s quite a few.
I started as a website copywriter
I wrote websites for accountants, lawyers, cannabis growers, jewellers, livestock consultants, manufacturers, housing estates, hotels, hair care brands and many others.
The kicker to my growing blog copywriter business? Learning SEO with Kate Toon’s Recipe for SEO Success and joining her copywriting community, I kicked my old corporate writing style and found my natural, conversational voice. I learned how to find a keyword and where to put it for better Google rankings.
But it was slow going
I had three daughters by this stage, and most of my time was spent potty training, tantrum wrangling and breastfeeding. Plus my third daughter was developmentally delayed, needing months of physio and speech therapy. She also had a birthmark on her nose that threatened to block her airways. We were often at Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, seeing specialists. The medication to fade her birthmark worked, but it caused an upset tummy and many sleepless nights for the whole family. She also had chronic ear infections which cleared up after she had grommet surgery.
All this baby stuff didn’t leave much time for growing my copywriting business. When I did get the chance to work, I focused on my clients and neglected my own marketing.
Then the turning point came
My little babies grew up! As my youngest turned five, I decided to send her to kinder four days a week. I was done playing at Crocs and pushing swings. I didn’t like getting sandy bits from the sand pit. It was time to grow my career.
I thought about what I liked best: so I became a blog copywriter
I confess I had a short lived stint specialising as a baby/kids/parenting copywriter. But I realised I actually preferred the simplicity of writing blogs. No matter the niche.
It became important to me to have a ‘grown-up’ business. I invested in tools like Xero, SEM Rush and Canva, so I had the professional tools I needed. Then, I started prioritising writing my own blog as well as those for my clients. I worked on my social channels, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. (Please don’t make me learn TikTok).
The wonderful Jenny De Lacy helped me get confident making videos, and my network started growing. Recently I created my blog copywriter package. Now I help small business owners with done-for-you, Google-lovin blog posts.
So if you want to become the go-to expert in your industry?
I’d love to help with your blogging. As a specialist blog copywriter, I got all the secrets to blogging success: killer headline, clever keyword placement, compelling, gimme-more content. It’s all designed to build a body of work that has customers lining up to work with you.
If that sounds good to you, get in touch. Warning: I’m rather chatty.