An interview with Carolyn Kirkpatrick

Carolyn Kirkpatrick

We spoke with Carolyn Kirkpatrick, Senior Copywriter at Crafted.

“I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I grew up! A dream that was shattered quite quickly when I realised I didn’t like early mornings, hours of training or wearing tutus… Then I fell in love with reading and always knew I would work with words eventually.

My career journey is a little all over the place. I was a guide dog handler in London for five years before I decided I wanted to get a degree after all (I took a gap year and taught in South Africa instead of going to uni at the traditional age). I studied English and American Literature, falling in love with journalism when I went to Mount Holyoke College in America for a year as part of my degree. As soon as I graduated, I started working for a magazine publisher, then I made the leap to digital marketing from there, mainly because I knew that print media wasn’t going to take me as far as digital could.

My role at Crafted is Senior Copywriter. I work across numerous clients, writing everything from tweets to white papers. It requires a lot of creativity and focus, but I love it. Copywriting is similar to my work in magazines in that I write all day, the big difference is my work goes to a lot of different places in a variety of tones. I love seeing my work online, even if often it doesn’t always carry my name.

I love how varied my day is. I could be writing about healthcare in the morning and European travel destinations in the afternoon. No two days are the same. I also really enjoy how far my words can go – and by that, I mean that they appear as blogs, tweets, ads, CTA buttons, and everything you can imagine online really.

My biggest strength is my passion for spelling and grammar, which makes me a pretty formidable editor and Scrabble player. You’ll no doubt find a spelling error in this now, disproving my point!

Making the transition from journalism to an agency was the biggest challenge in my career. I felt out of my depth for the first six months, I had never heard so many acronyms in my life. When I first started, I wrote myself letters each month about what I had learned and told myself to read them back in six months. It helped me realise how much progress I was making.

The best thing about Crafted is the people. Every Craftie is passionate and genuinely fun to work with. We support each other and work as hard as we play. It’s not one of those companies that abuses the ‘we’re one big family’ vibe, which let’s face it is often the road to blurred boundaries and zero work/life balance. Crafted really believes in working to live, not living to work and supporting each other.”

Improving the lack of female role models and mentors in the industry

“I think it’s tricky for me to answer this because although I work for a digital marketing agency, I very much think of my copywriter stance and that industry first. In terms of digital marketing, there could certainly be more women both as role models and at the top levels of leadership. 

But at Crafted we have a good balance and my line manager Rachel is an inspiration, heading up one of the largest teams in the agency. In copywriting I have tonnes of fabulous women to look up to – I count myself very lucky in that sense.

I have definitely had a few meetings in the past where my voice has been drowned out and I know I have been treated differently for showing ‘too much emotion’, but I am also extremely outspoken and I try to make sure I keep putting myself forward for the same opportunities a man would.

I think conversations around it are helpful, but there could still be more action. Trialling ideas instead of just discussing them.

The same can be said of mental health in the workplace. We have some distance to go, but such progress has been made. I speak openly in the office about having depression and anxiety. I discuss my medication, therapy and anything I have found helpful to navigate it. 

Crafted has an excellent attitude towards mental health. It won’t ever be perfect, because I think there’s still so much to learn about how to manage it all, but the imperfection of some of the progress kind of suits the topic in a way. As long as people are approaching it with compassion and as much empathy as possible, I feel positive about how workplaces will tackle mental health.”

The future of copywriting

“I’m not sure what my job will look like in five years, but I hope copywriters are still around! I think sometimes we get forgotten a little, and it is true that most people assume our job is easy – ‘you just come up with some words.’

In the next 5 years, I hope there are more UX copywriters, making things more accessible for everyone online. UX writing is important because it plays a vital role as a communication layer between a product or service and its users. Often the words get left until after a design or process has been decided on and that needs to change.

AI and chatbots are looking pretty exciting to me right now. I think we’ll get smarter integrated AI in our homes and more companies will look to push forward with chatbots because they are such a quick way to respond to simple queries.

My advice for other women looking to break into the industry or move up the ladder in in terms of progression is that learning from each other is a huge benefit. I read autobiographies and follow Instagram accounts of successful women to help inspire me to keep pushing the boundaries. 

I look to women who are in the roles I want and try to emulate what they are doing, or better yet, reach out and ask them questions. Just don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to them, you are on your own path and what works for you is not necessarily what works for others!

I attend the ProCopywriters conference each year and it is awesome. I come away feeling utterly inspired. The talks are always well researched and come at the craft from so many different angles. I have made some great friends too, so can bounce ideas off them when I am stuck.

I think you should attend as many networking events as you can. They can seem nerve-wracking, but even if you make one contact, or learn one new thing about your job or industry, it could help.”

You can find Carolyn on LinkedIn:

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