Star Sign: Aquarius
Currently reading: The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
Hopes her last meal will be: Chocolate
Alexandra van Eck-Samarina is a copywriter and translator based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Her clients are mostly companies from the creative industry: fashion and beauty brands, jewelry designers, museums and food companies. Furthermore, she gives 1:1 copywriting training teaching tools and techniques that enable you to write better, more precisely and elegantly.
When did you first know that this was your calling?
The realization came pretty late in my journey. By that time, I was already working as a copywriter/translator, though, I hadn’t recognized it yet.
In my career, I had different jobs, from marketing to owning an online jewelry boutique. But no matter the job title, it always included writing and translations. And those parts were undeniably my favorites. Around five-six years ago, a friend of mine asked me to write her web copy. At that point, I had my online boutique. But I agreed for the gig. And I enjoyed it tremendously. A while later, another copywriting job came along. Before I knew it, I had a copywriting business in full swing. It finally hit me when I started earning more with my copywriting ‘hustle’ than with my actual job.
I heard, that if you want to recognize your vocation or talent – call it as you wish – you need to revisit your interests at the age of 11-12. What did you do back then? I was writing.
How did you get your business off the ground?
As I mentioned, my first projects came by chance. I believe that in this job (actually, in any job) networking is of extreme importance. Many of my clients come via this.
We live in the online world, where we judge a business by the words it uses. A web copy is a direct reflection of the company’s heart, soul and DNA. There are hours of research, brainstorming, copy crafting, editing, proofreading to one text.
What makes you/your company unique?
I specialize in English copy. From time to time, I have projects in Dutch and Russian. But most are in English. Further, I work with a niche – the creative industry, which requires a vastly different kind of copy than any other industry. The texts I produce for my clients are rarely focused on commerce. Instead, such texts are dressed up; there is more storytelling to them, more dreaminess.
What is the biggest challenge for you as in this field?
It may sound strange, but most people do not understand what a copywriter does. Usually, people assume that writing is easy. I can write. You can write. Anyone can write. So, it’s a no brainer. But writing a message to a friend or a colleague has nothing to do with writing a company’s mission and vision, for example. Every word on a company’s website has a reason behind it. We live in the online world, where we judge a business by the words it uses. A web copy is a direct reflection of the company’s heart, soul and DNA. There are hours of research, brainstorming, copy crafting, editing, proofreading to one text. As an example, a good copywriter will write from 20 up to 50 headlines to one post. Think about it. Of course, only one headline will be picked. But to come up with THE ULTIMATE headline, a copywriter has to dig through tons of words and phrases. And there is the research part. Today, I write an article about price developments in the oil and gas industry. And tomorrow, I’ll write the About page for a fashion brand. Those two copies have a completely different topic, style, tone of voice and – most importantly – audience. Thus, my approach to each one should be different, too.
Coming back to your question, I think getting people to understand what copywriting is about and what a copywriter does is the biggest challenge.
What inspires you to continue?
The craft itself. I love an empty white page. It’s scary, too. I think it offers excitement and anxiety similar to bungee jumping. You are standing on the edge of emptiness. But you know that out of that nothingness something special will be born. You fear it, and you yearn for it.
I like how the words are getting interlaced, like a delicately woven fabric. And there is the musicality of sentences, the ebb and flow of its tones.
I like how some texts are simple and straightforward, and others are intricated and almost fairytale-like.
What is your life motto / what mantra do you live?
“This too, shall pass.” My grandpa used to repeat these words every time I was in distress. If only I could let him know now how right he was.
How do you ensure a good work-life balance?
That’s a tricky one 😊 . Well, I tell you the truth: I don’t believe there is such a thing as a work/life balance. I think it’s a kind of urban myth. One part of life will be prioritized at a given moment. And that’s ok. There are days when the family is the focus. And there are other days when the work is. At least, that’s the way I see it.
How has the Coronavirus affected your work?
I had a few projects canceled or postponed. But luckily, the Covid-19 outbreak hasn’t affected my business much. I write for the web mostly. And everyone is living online now. I do realize, though, how lucky and privileged I am, and how many people and businesses suffer from the Corona crisis. I wanted to do something, to help. So, at the beginning of our lockdown, I made a series of interviews with entrepreneurs and company owners to bring awareness to their situation and support them. You can read the interviews here: https://www.avescopywriting.nl/blog
What can people do to support you and others in your field?
Invest in a good web copy. By doing so, you support freelance copywriters, but mostly you’ll ensure the success of your business. Your website is not merely a business card but the most powerful (and probably the only one) channel to connect and engage with your customer. Through your web copy, a potential customer gets to know and like you and understand your business. Through your web copy, a bond occurs between your company and your audience. Through your web copy, your client decides whether to work with you or not, to buy from you or not, to hire you or not.
Many people often make a mistake by focusing on design. Don’t get me wrong; the design is very important. But no matter how great the design is, if your message is weak no one will buy from you or hire you.
What are your plans for the future?
I think positive. Everyone is getting online. And to quote Shirley Polykoff, copywriter, pioneering woman in American advertising: “Your copy is a direct conversation with the consumer.” Through your words, you show your business’ vibe; you show what you do and why you do it, you engage and inspire your customer. So, I believe there is much to be done for copywriters yet.
As for me, I hope to expand my services and work with new players from the industry. Also, I hope to help people understand what copywriting is about. On my blog and social media channels (LI & IG), I post weekly various copywriting tips & techniques, trends and suggestions. Everyone can opt-in and shoot me a question.
Do you have tips for people who want to start a business (in this field)?
Don’t be afraid to start. There is a notorious Catch-22 in the copywriting world: to get clients you need a portfolio. But to build a portfolio, you need clients. However, there is a loophole – you can start building your portfolio working for free. It is not always pleasant or fulfilling, but it brings results and creates connections. As John Galsworthy said, “The beginnings are always messy.” Don’t be afraid to begin somewhere. Later, you’ll find your way.