I write for a living. Almost everything I write is for other people and, more often than not, is either for their internal use or written in their name.
This presents me with a bit of dilemma when it comes to showing off my work to potential clients.
In the past I’ve dealt with this by sharing public work I did years ago – much of which will have very little to do with the sort of work I’m pitching for today.
I’ve also shared work I did in other people’s names, privately and with laboured caveats about not sharing it further. But prospective clients just have to take my word that I really did write this material. Not ideal.
There’s the trust issue too… If I’m confidentially sharing other people’s work, who’s to say I won’t share yours?
Also, the writing might well have been changed by clients to suit their tastes, then possibly edited again by whichever outlet it appeared on. What does that really tell anyone about my writing ability?
But you want to see if I can write so you can decide whether to hire me. What to do?
I think the best way is to share whatever I can via these pages but also to write my own articles in my own style about whatever I want and then post them on Medium so you can decide for yourself if I’m the writer for you.
All the professional information you need about me is on LinkedIn, so there’s no point reinventing that wheel either. There’s my Twitter feed too – although I’m not sure what that’ll tell you, apart from what makes me laugh or winds me up.
I’ll reserve these pages for whatever information seems relevant to prospective clients and the occasional update but that’s all you’ll find here, so this won’t be like most copywriters’ sites.
It’s not really a website at all, when you think about it.
I’ve written a guest blog for Martin Evans at the splendid Tandem Comms. It’s about the way the coronavirus crisis simplified life – in good ways and bad – and sharpened focus on things that really matter.
I expected work to decline during lockdown. I expected to be writing less for others and more for myself. I’m not sure if I ever thought I’d learn a new skill or transform my house and garden (that’s not really my sort of thing) but I was fairly confident that it would be difficult period, professionally and personally.
I was wrong though. Of course the pandemic has been scary and of course many of my clients decided to pause their activities while they figured out what the world had in store for them next.
But one of them didn’t do that. One of them – the Good Governance Institute – decided to move in the opposite direction. It began a series of daily bulletin updates offering advice to boards, primarily in the health and social care sectors, as they navigated through these difficult, uncharted waters.
Beginning this daily bulletin series was a brave move; deciding to keep it going for 100 working days was remarkable. GGI is not a big company so producing a 750-1000-word article containing meaningful insights and guidance every single day was no small undertaking. But we did it – and judging by the feedback it generated, we did it pretty well too.
The series ended yesterday (13 August) with a typically thoughtful final post about the power we all have to bring about change – even in the context of an event as cataclysmic as a global pandemic.
Only time will tell how big an impact the series will have on GGI’s business but it’s already clear that it has broadened the company’s sphere of influence.
As well as being a great advertisement for the potential of thought leadership to shape perceptions, it’s also a brilliant case study in corporate chutzpah during difficult times. More power to GGI’s elbow.
In my latest Medium story, I bravely emerge from the closet as a grammar Nazi and explain why, even though I celebrate the fact that the English language is a living, breathing thing that cannot and should not be constrained, when push comes to shove I’m on the side of Stannis Baratheon, the ill-fated pretender to the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones.
My latest Medium story is a bit of a rant about the way cyclists are treated by many British motorists. Over the years I’ve been spat at, sworn at, driven at and threatened by all sorts of motorists. In this story I ask why they’re all so angry – and come up with a theory.
For years I wrote a blog on road.cc, a website dedicated to road cycling. It started when I was training for a Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2010 – the idea was to group together words and photos for sponsors, friends and fellow cyclists. But it carried on for six years after that amazing end-to-end ride.
The post that generated the most interest was probably Roon’s Raid. This was an account of a ride I did called the Raid Pyrenean, which follows a rather hilly 730km route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean over the Pyrenees. One of my fellow riders was an 18-stone policeman called Dave Rooney (the eponymous Roon), who’d had a bit of a health scare that he was trying to address by joining his son for this cycling challenge. Suffice to say it didn’t quite go according to plan…
Also on the cycling front, I helped a friend to launch a small independent cycling magazine called Simpson, which I edited for a few years.
One of the central ideas behind Simpson was to remain focused on print. My fellow Simpsonite and I both grew up in an analogue age, both worked for print newspapers and magazines in the 80s and 90s, and both shared a preference for the physical printed object over its digital counterpart.
Sadly, this means there are no online articles to point you towards. But I’ll add a PDF or two to these pages as soon as I’ve figured out how to.
Here are a few of the photos I took of the seventh Transcontinental Race (#TCRNo7), an extraordinary sporting endeavour that involves cycling 4,000km across Europe with no support.
That means carrying everything you need for two weeks or more on a bike that’s still light enough to ride up mountain tracks and fast enough to cover up to 400km per day.
Sounds completely crazy doesn’t it? Well, there’s no getting away from it, it is. I followed the race in a campervan with my son, from Burgas in Bulgaria to Brest in France, taking photos and writing a series of articles for fizik, the Italian manufacturer of cycling shoes, saddles and accessories. It was a wonderful trip – one I’d love to repeat one of these years.