An interview with Laura Sheath

Laura Sheath

We had some time with Laura Sheath, Co-found of Campaign Fox, specialising in optimised copy to help elevate businesses content.

“Campaign Fox started a few years ago after I left my job as Digital Strategist for an SEO agency. I had been working within various avenues of digital marketing including social media, email marketing and PR but it was always my imagination and love of writing that drew me back to copywriting.”

Copywriting is a specialism that to some, is an elusive area of SEO. To make sure your website ranks well, provides relevant and good quality content and is engaging, your SEO copy should be on point. On top of this, the task of an SEO copywriter is to include certain keywords and phrases that the website, or piece of content needs to rank highly for. 

The process of copywriting is similar to the process of writing in general, with the added task of having it hit the needs of search engine algorithms as well as the reader. It’s hard work and inevitably, some people find it comes naturally and others seemingly do not.

“First and foremost I am a copywriter. I have a keen interest in customer behaviour and this, combined with my awareness of user experience, allows me to break down a topic and explain it to the reader in digestible chunks that can be easily read on a screen. 

It’s really about putting myself in the reader’s shoes and thinking about what their intent is when they search for a particular phrase or brand online. My marketing method involves using language and structural techniques within the article to naturally guide them into making an enquiry.”

Laura has worked for a broad spectrum of sectors including but not limited to: insurance, recruitment and beauty. 

“This year, I have really honed in on providing copy for the mortgage sector. I learned quite quickly that focusing on a niche and knowing it inside out is the best way to create content that converts.

I take great pride in being able to adapt my style of writing and tone of voice to echo a brand’s.

Everything I do is executed with both the business and customer in mind which is why I value listening to my clients and asking them about both their business goals and their typical customer.” 

As with the majority of the people we interview, Laura didn’t always know that she wanted to work in digital. However, her love of writing creative stories and poems are  a natural progression into the digital marketing world.

“It wasn’t until I studied Advertising at Solent University that I had considered working in marketing at all.”

As with any industry, the marketing industry has its highs and lows. 

“I like the transparency of digital marketing because it makes it easier to make decisions about where to place marketing budget. 

That being said, the downside of having instant access to data is that it can be easy to get caught up in numbers and this can hinder the creative process. 

It’s important to remember that no matter what the content and no matter how many keywords you want to rank for, there is a reader and they should always be at the forefront of your mind.”

Rather than working for a business or organisation, Laura took the plunge and went freelance. Something we at SOCIALight are very much inspired by and find to be a brave move. 

The digital world is extremely competitive, so when taking on your own business you not only have to carry out the work you are paid to do for your clients, you become YOUR marketing agency, and have to self-promote, bring in new business and manage the accounts. We asked Laura how it felt to go it alone:

“It was terrifying. The fear of not knowing what will happen can be overwhelming if you let it consume you but over time, I’ve learned that you can’t control change. The only thing that I am in control of is how hard I work and the quality of content I produce.

There were times when I thought about quitting and even now when those doubts creep in, I remind myself that bad days pass and that If I’m going to work hard to build a business, it might as well be my own.”

Laura’s advice for others looking to go it alone is simple. She says:

  • Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t instantly get a response. It takes time.
  • Learn to accept setbacks and rejection. It’s hard at first because it feels so personal but it just isn’t. 
  • Pick a niche, position yourself as an industry expert and never stop learning. 
  • Ask questions. I used to avoid asking what I thought were stupid questions in fear that the client would think I was jevinille but in reality, asking questions gives you better insight which enables to deliver better results.
  • When pitching, drop the act and just be yourself. Be professional but remember that the person sat across from you is just a person and the worst thing that can happen is that they say no. 
  • Get comfortable with putting yourself out there. Work won’t just fall into your lap and you have to be really proactive and sometimes imaginative to get work.

Laura has worked with a range of women mentors and role models in the industry.

“I have worked with some pretty cool women who have certainly not been afraid to tell people what they think. They don’t smile politely when interrupted or remain quiet in a room of loud voices and I admire that so much.

One of the first jobs in marketing I had was with an all women’s team and I think those early days of working closely with them really instilled a level of confidence in my abilities.”

Maintaining a work/life balance is something many freelancers and business owners struggle to do. It is one of the top listed issues when it comes to digital burnout and Imposter Syndrome, with those that work for themselves simply not leaving their work at the office door before going home. Because their work is at home. However, Laura says:

“Working for myself has given me time and because of that, I’ve had the opportunity to really think about how I want to work and the lifestyle that I’m working towards. I’ve done the whole climbing the career ladder thing, staying late, getting in early and responding to work emails in the late hours of the night and guess what, it wasn’t worth it. 

Now I recognise what it is in life that I want and above anything else, it’s happiness and time. My days start so differently now that I am self-employed. I wake up naturally, walk my dog and allow myself time to wake up and breathe. 

When I first started working for myself, I felt like such an imposter. I even felt guilty for not working a 9 to 5 but once you start to realise that you don’t need to work structured hours to deliver your best work and that you are in fact, allowed to enjoy the weekdays too, the guilt eases off.”

Something we’ve heard from other brilliant freelancers and business owners that we’ve interviewed is that being a one-woman-band can get lonely.

Working as a freelancer means that you work independently a lot of the time and despite enjoying my company and peace, it can get a little lonely. I think a lot of people go into freelancing because of the freedom but if you’re used to working in an office environment with a team, it can be good to work with other freelancers or small business owners from time to time.

I also place great importance in surrounding myself with uplifting sources of knowledge and wisdom whether that be via a feel good Instagram account, my favourite book (A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly) or friends who also work in the industry.”

Because of this loneliness that creeps in, it is ever more important for those working for themselves to keep their mental health in check. Taking regular breaks as you would in an office environment, getting fresh air, getting out of the house, mixing up your working environment and other small changes per day can help.

“When I start to notice my behaviour or thoughts changing in times of stress, I give myself a break, listen to music and get outside. 

In a lot of working environments I’ve experienced, having a break or stepping back is frowned upon and I had gotten into the nasty habit of just pushing through. That is a fast way to burn out and I learned that the hard way. 

I also stay away from too much social media accounts or news. I had a huge haul of unfollowing any brands or ‘influencers’ that made me feel doubtful or insignificant and replaced them with things I’d rather see on my timeline.

My favourite accounts to follow are:

@freelancingfemales

@desklifeproject

@wearefeelgoodclub

The digital marketing industry is one that is fast-paced and ever changing. We asked Laura what trends in 2019 made the most impact in her line of work.

“Clients that approach me often come from the mortgage, retirement or insurance sectors and in past years, they have placed great emphasis on traditional forms of marketing for lead generation. 

However, in the last year or so I have noticed a surge of interest in digital marketing from this group. A lot of businesses I work for understand that content is crucial if they want to keep up with their competitors who are often already utilizing online marketing methods. 

The problem is that often they are unsure of where to begin and don’t have time, which is where I come in.”

When it comes to emerging trends for 2020, Laura feels as though the power of LinkedIn for lead generation will remain a popular tactic. 

“Using LinkedIn for lead generation is certainly nothing new yet so many businesses and freelance professionals neglect to pursue it. 

The targeting options on LinkedIn Premium make it so easy to pinpoint your ideal audience and through carefully crafted copy and tactful targeting, you can start a conversation directly with the Managing Director of a business. 

As someone who uses LinkedIn for lead generation, I’m interested to see how their targeting options evolve over the next year. I think it could be a game-changer for both freelancers and businesses alike.”

You can find Laura on LinkedIn

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