Helen Beckingham

Keyword Copywriting

“I worked most of my life at the BBC before becoming a copywriter, I was there for fifteen years but left after doing a music degree at university. I started off as a clerk for a ridiculously small amount of money learning how to type, I then became a researcher for BBC radio, and in the course of that job people kept coming up to me asking me to write scripts for them. They’d be doing a documentary on Chuck Berry, telling me that Terry Wogan would be presenting it, asking me to write a script for him that would sound like him, so I would go off and do that, not thinking very much about it. It never occurred to me that this was copywriting, writing the way that people speak. I’ve always been able to do it, without really thinking about it too much.

I ended up becoming producer at BBC radio 3 for a programme called In Tune and was freelancing at that stage, it was quite possibly the best job I ever had in the world! I was putting the whole programme together, getting in live singers, pianists, very famous conductors, putting together the live music, it was such good fun! It was a live two-and-a-half-hour programme. It really tested my metal because if something went wrong, everybody turned to me and I learned not to panic, it was very good for dealing with situations under pressure. You had to keep your cool and make a decision.

Unfortunately, Radio 3 axed their freelancers overnight, so I was set free into the world and had to decide to do something different, I was also a bit upset with the commuting from Brighton. I had trained as a proof-reader; I knew a lot about grammar and spelling and I did that for about a year, but it was terribly boring. Most of the time it wasn’t proof reading for publishing companies it was for people that had written bits and pieces for their marketing, and I just had to rewrite it all. I would think, why don’t you use the word you more often in this as you’re supposed to be speaking directly to the people, so I would switch it around from them banging on about themselves to making it more readable.

I started Keyword Copywriting at the end of 2011 when a graphic designer friend asked me to write some copy for a brochure, they asked if I did any copywriting, not really knowing what it was, I wrote the copy which they liked, and I really enjoyed it. So, I did a bit more of that and kind of started a business!”

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