Freelance Alliance Spotlight: Hannah Martin

Q: Tell us a bit about what you do, when you started out and what drives you.

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I managed to secure my first copywriting job 14 years ago in Hong Kong. With no experience in advertising, I talked the executive creative director of Ogilvy & Mather into hiring and training me, and I haven’t looked back since!

I love copywriting – solving my clients’ communication problems, getting into the mindset of their customers, and finally creating beautiful, powerful copy.

I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to work for some of the world’s most famous advertising agencies over the years. I’ve worked on some fantastic accounts, with brilliant art directors and won a few awards.

I now use my extensive experience to help businesses in a freelance capacity. And I love it! I enjoy the variety of clients and work, and love seeing the results of my ideas and copy. I work for a wide range of clients on everything from websites, brochures and press ads, to emails, direct marketing materials, social media and brand guidelines.

Q: How do you find clients? Do you market yourself to any particular types of client, if so why and how?

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My clients are a mix of advertising and digital marketing agencies, and every size of business – from global giants to small, local start-ups. My work comes through long-standing contacts, word of mouth and Freelance Alliance.

Freelance Alliance helps put me in touch with businesses that otherwise wouldn’t be able to find me. I love the mix of work that this brings me. I get to learn out about lots of interesting different types companies and industries, and help them to improve their marketing copy.

I don’t work for any particular type of client. Big, small, creative, technical… I’ve written copy for them all. As a writer, you need to become an instant expert in your client’s business – whatever that is. Often I need to take very complex content and rework to ensure that it’s interesting and understandable to the right audience.

My job is never dull. One day I could be writing a 30 page financial brochure, and the next I might be creating light-hearted Twitter feeds and Facebook content. And, luckily for me, I enjoy it all!

Q: What lessons can you pass on to those starting out, regarding finding the ‘right’ clients to work with?

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The most important piece of advice I would pass on to someone starting out in copywriting (or indeed any business) is to always be completely professional. As a freelancer, you are your brand, and everything you do should reflect the values you wish your brand to convey.

If you provide your clients with a professional service, they’ll use you again – and recommend you to other businesses. Some of my clients have been using me since I first decided to go freelance, more than four years ago. And I often get calls or emails from people who have been recommended my services from previous contacts.

It’s amazing how far word can spread, and how a small, one-off job for a client can lead to a huge contract. So always treat every job as if it’s the most important project you’ve ever worked on.

Q: Businesses have been through a tough time recently, how has yours fared? Plus, any tips for others?

I’ve managed to maintain a steady stream of work thanks to a combination of regular clients and one-off projects.

If I have a quiet couple of weeks, I’ll do something pro-active to bring work in. I might call contacts or look on job sites to see if there are any freelance projects listed.

In a tough market you’ve got to offer great value for money. As well as writing copy for my clients, I can tell them where their current website and marketing materials can be improved. Great copy and ideas are an investment which can help to bring your customers essential returns in a difficult market.

Whatever the financial climate, it’s important that you always offer your clients an excellent, professional service. Remember – if people like what you do, they’ll use you again and recommend you to others.

Q: What's in store for your freelance business next and any plans for the rest of 2011?

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More work! I’ve been working on some really interesting projects lately, including writing the website and social media for the new Brighton Wheel. I’ve completed the web copy for a new, luxury eco-resort in Indonesia (unfortunately the project didn’t require a visit) and am about to start work on some brand guidelines for Google.

I love the adventure of freelance work – you never know what exciting brief could come from the next phone call or email. So hopefully the phone calls and emails will keep coming!

Q: Lastly then, in 15 words or less, what makes for a happy freelancing lifestyle?

Love what you do and do it well.

To see more of Hannah's work, or to hire her, visit her Freelance Alliance profile here.  

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Nov 24, 2011
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