I’m delighted to bring you a new interview and today I have the pleasure of introducing Enda Sheppard. Enda is a copywriter and editor and I’ll let him explain more about this in the questions that follow. I am always looking for new people to interview on my blog; authors, editors, freelance writers, etc., so if you’d like to feature, drop me and email and I’ll see what I can do.
Introducing Copywriter and Editor Enda Sheppard
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am 59 years old. I took redundancy two years ago from the Irish Times, where I had worked for 15 years as a sub-editor, which Americans better describe as a copy editor. I also worked in the Irish Press and freelanced as a feature writer for various publications.
I have always loved writing but had neglected it in recent years. Now I could write to supplement my wife Anne’s full-time income in my home office. What could be better! I also wanted to be more available for my family — Anne, our daughter Keelin (13) and son Oran (11) — and the wonderful Bella, our terrier mix. Working evening shifts for years in newspapers was tough.
I have put in a lot of time and effort trying to get feature ideas published and this has been a real slog. Newspaper budgets have been slashed and unless you have a regular gig, are a known name, or you know the right people, it’s tough out there!
I started my own website/blog early last year. The idea originally was to have a proper store for the best of the stuff I have had published over the years. The blogging part became hugely important to me as a way of expressing what I liked, when I liked and putting it out there straight away. The antithesis of my experience dealing with feature editors and publications!
I don’t usually put my fiction on the site.
I am my own editor now, and the writing part is great. The only trouble is I can’t pay myself! So I am now working as a copywriter as a great way of combining my sensibilities as a writer with my editing skills to work in a way I enjoy — and which pays!
In terms of Editing, are their specific genres you prefer to work with and why?
My editing skills can be applied to most genres, as my focus is on the writing.
As a fiction writer and feature writer myself, I am on the side of the writer. Always. But any writer worth their salt has to be able to accept constructive criticism. You are free to agree or disagree, but readers have an annoying habit of tossing aside poorly constructed writing. I am all about helping to improve the writing. Letting those caged verbs zing, making that story or article flow!
As a sub-editor, I was used to editing copy to fit, re-writing where necessary, proofreading for grammatical errors, maintaining consistency of tone, cutting superfluous words — the nuts and bolts of every good story, article, poem, essay, flyer, newsletter or business proposal. And this to tight deadlines. As a writer myself, I have found these skills of enormous benefit.
As a copy editor do you offer assistance to writers seeking publication in journals and literary magazines, and how do you go about this?
Of course, I can help a client get that the writing up to the mark for publication, but the best advice I would give here is to join Facebook groups like, Irish Writers Editors, and Publishing Professionals, and make use of the incredible experience and expertise provided by posters here. Don’t be afraid to ask those questions! Look around on Google+ too for groups catering for your particular genre. They are out there.
As a copywriter I’m sure you are very aware of the importance of headlines, do you feel the digital age of publishing has made this even more important and what tips can you give my readers on creating compelling headlines?
This is an interesting question. Cute, smart, sassy headlines are well and fine, but if you are looking to generate traffic for your business blog post or that hot yoga routine, you have to be cognizant of making your headlines Search Engine Friendly. This is a vital lesson I have learned and apply in all my copywriting endeavors. Web copy has to be correctly formatted, in terms of H1 headings, H2 sub-headings, bullet points and correct body type (H3) format. This drives search engine accessibility for your site. I have recently redone all my blog headlines and body type format with this in mind.
I loved writing headlines when I was a sub-editor, but now I have to weigh up making compelling headlines with having them picked up by search engines. Generally, direct headlines, stating exactly what is in the tin work best online. But it depends on the context and what you are looking to achieve, of course.
As a copywriter is there a particular niche that you like to work in?
Personally, I have preferences, but professionally, no. Let’s talk first!
Describe your ideal client and how your services can benefit their business?
Obviously, one who pays well and promptly! And who trusts me. We set aside ample time to talk first, so I can get a clear idea of what is required, asking questions, researching my brief, and get to work on that basis. My experience as a writer, journalist and an editor have given me a fantastic range of skills that would benefit anyone with a product or service to promote — or to hone that troublesome character they are working on their latest murder novel!
How important do you think it is for businesses to embrace the digital era and have an online presence such as a blog?
Important? It’s essential. Did I say I do great blog posts for clients?
What advice would you give businesses looking to start a blog?
As the movie Field of Dreams put it, Build It And They Will Come. Don’t build your website, don’t have a blog — or at least do these badly and they won’t come. Or at the very least they will find it hard to hear about your wonderful service and the amazing story behind it. I would also recommend my own services!
Do you keep up to date on all the marketing trends such as SEO, Google Algorithms, etc?
I have a good working knowledge around these things. It has taken me some time to separate the wheat from the chaff. A word of warning, though: beware the danger of reading too much about search engine optimisation, targeting your audience, boosting your blog reach, and all the rest of it is not your forte. These are also specialist areas.
I would say to a client: you know your product or service but are customers getting the message? As an experienced copywriter, I will help you figure out what you want to say, and to whom. I will give your business a voice that will get heard. I WILL SAVE YOU TIME AND MONEY AND LET YOU DO WHAT YOU DO BEST — RUN YOUR BUSINESS.
The thing is, these are specialist areas really, and a lot would depend on the time and money you have at your disposal. If cash is no object you can have your cutting edge designer website or blog, and you can have your blog posts professionally assessed for impact, online readership stats etc. But most people do not. This is where I come in.
Where can people find out more about you?
My website is https://endastories.com/ and the best place to find out more about me as well as my contact information.
A big thank you to Enda for taking part in this interview.
Until next time,