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Louise Shanahan

I didn’t plan on becoming a health copywriter - it found me!

Louise is a health copywriter based in Edinburgh, who helps businesses boost revenue and brand awareness through their copy and messaging. She didn’t start out down that route though - in fact, she spent 10 years working in government before becoming a copywriter.

 

Through her work in the government’s health department, Louise was involved in national marketing campaigns aimed at helping people live healthier lives - an issue close to her heart, after experiencing cancer in her early twenties.  

 

“A lot of the work involved writing speeches, reports, comms strategy and research, so when I was playing around with the idea of starting my own business, and working with individuals and organisations who have a more direct impact on people’s health, I knew I wanted to focus on writing.” This led her to explore the world of copywriting,  and motivated Louise to start her own business, “The Copy Prescription”. Most of Louise’s clients are in the health, wellness and charity sectors, and she sees her background in government as a great way to stand apart from her competition.

 

Before Louise took the big leap to start her own business, she saved up for a year to have enough runway. “I am a big planner - it gave me the space to learn how to run a business and line up the projects I really wanted to work on, without feeling the pressure to take whatever work came along to pay the bills. I was also really touched by how supportive everyone was and I got quite a bit of work from people around me who sent leads my way”.

Louise Shanahan

Planning ahead and reaching out to friends and family meant that Louise could start her business with more confidence and traction. 

What does your dream project look like? 

“There are different things that can make a project feel successful, like great people to work with or a project that had a really nice outcome. I really like to work with companies that have a social purpose, especially if they are related to health” says Louise.  Long form sales pages are one of her favourites, because “there’s so much opportunity to really dig into the motivations and desires of the reader, so you can position the product or service as the perfect solution to a problem they’re having, and inspire them to feel excited about the thing they’re about to buy.”

What is something that makes you feel stressed in your job?

“Moving from a monthly salary to a freelance model is a big adjustment!” Louise talks about needing to really understand the ROI on how you spend your time. It’s essential to factor in the time you spend on non-client work such as marketing and business development, but equally, you also need to look at whether you’re focusing on high-return tasks!  

Where do you look for inspiration?

Exercise and fresh air have always been some of Louise’s best ways to clear her head and feel inspired. “A walk outside is like magic - suddenly the creativity starts to flow and the answers are obvious!” Louise tries to fit in a walk or gym session everyday to avoid the cabin fever that comes with working from home - a good routine is essential to stay focused and productive.

“A walk outside is like magic - suddenly the creativity starts to flow and the answers are obvious!”

What challenges do you think the creative field will face in the next 10 years?

“Content overload” says Louise. “There’s a very low barrier to entry when it comes to content creation, which is brilliant, but also means there’s a lot of noise, and the quality can be pretty variable. Standing out in crowded markets is getting tougher, but if you’re producing relevant, authentic and interesting content it’s definitely possible!” As creatives we have to help our clients connect with their customers and the flipside of a lot of content is that we have plenty of examples to learn from.

 

“I think a lot of copywriters are also worried about AI, about bots coming in and taking our jobs! Actually, I think it is quite exciting to see what it can help us do, for example around personalisation. You just have to adapt.”

What is your best tip for growing your business?

“I always follow up with prospective clients, even if I don’t get a yes the first few times.” It often takes people a while to get ready, she explains, and if you reach out at the right time, they usually get really excited.

 

Louise also likes to go a little beyond what most people do, especially at the end of a project to make sure you leave the client feeling excited about future opportunities, by making little thank you videos to show her appreciation to the client (and encourage referrals). It doesn’t have to be complicated, just something that shows that you appreciate them.

What is something you want to learn more about?

“Probably the financial side of things… and learning more about Wordpress. These are things that feel less exciting than the copywriting but are essential to my business, so I just have to take the time to learn them better. Or outsource!”

Do you have any tips for staying productive and motivated?

“I just started using theme days, where 2-3 days are just for client work, 2 days for marketing and one day for admin or learning. It really helps to keep your brain in one context, rather than switching from one task to another. For example, meetings really take you out of the flow of writing, so this approach works really well to stay focused.

What advice would you like to give someone who is just starting out?

“To be more confident - there are great clients out there if you just show up.” Even though the first couple years are all about learning and being open, it is important not to be too anxious and believe more in yourself.

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