Matt Ambrose, Freelance Copywriter (Living Abroad)Matt came to my attention in the early days of the Underground (he’s one of the earlier UK copywriting bloggers), and since then he’s moved to the small Mediterranean island of Malta, where he takes every sun-drenched opportunity to taunt those living in less temperate locations. For that, I will eventually hunt him down and kill him.
For now, Matt’s making a living and enjoying his life in the process, which makes him an ideal candidate for this episode of Working Writers.
Tell Us Who You Are and What You Do?
I’m Matt Ambrose — a six year veteran trading as The Copywriter’s Crucible. Previously I worked at the head office of Argos (UK consumer goods chain). But after stints in various cubicles, I decided the corporate ladder wasn’t for me. So I took the plunge into living by my wits and word processor; I’ve never looked back.
I mainly write B2B copy about software and techie stuff. What I find interesting about B2B is that it’s not always about the technology but what’s going on in the world around it. I recently wrote a bunch of articles about employee productivity software, except the focus wasn’t on the software but on the skills shortage due to our aging workforce. The old adage of selling the hole rather than the drill is alive and well in the B2B world.
A couple of years ago I thought I’d up the ante and relocate 1400 miles south to the Mediterranean island of Malta. Since the move I’ve missed out on a few projects but I love the variety. At the moment I’m writing a book about Malta’s history for one of its tourist attractions, last week I wrote a brochure about a luxury yacht (no time for firsthand research, unfortunately) and I’m about to start working on promotional material for a national boxing event. I can’t imagine how I’d have got these opportunities in my hometown of Milton Keynes.
What Hardware & Software Do You Use?
Nothing fancy: Just a battered Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop, MS Word and a notepad. Now that I’m living in Malta I have yet to decide whether to plant roots and upgrade.
I’ve been working on laptops for the last six years now, and I’m starting to forget what it’s like to work on a full sized keyboard that doesn’t hammer out typos and a screen that isn’t going to give me an RSI.
But while I’m shuttling forwards and backwards from the UK a few times a year, portability is a must. The 10kg limit on cabin luggage can mean a nervous wait in customs, so maybe upgrading to a sleek Ultrabook deserves serious consideration.
For staying connected to the motherland, Skype is fantastic. It enables me to retain a UK phone number so prospects don’t get frightened by an international dialing code and IM is great for quick fire questions. I’ve also started using Google Drive and Dropbox for document sharing and avoiding the email merry-go-round where you end up having to amalgamate a colourful mess of track changes.
Any special copywriting or workflow tricks to share?
The Internet is the biggest drain on productivity known to man. I can easily wile away the hours unless I set some strict boundaries. Firstly, I set half day targets, like a 500 word article or collecting together my notes for a brochure, rather than a vague schedule of what I need to get done each week.
I also use a Google Chrome timer so I work in 40 minute chunks. After which I’ll allow myself five minutes to swan around the web and waste as much time as I like.
Despite all these controls, my blogging schedule still goes down the drain.
What Pieces of the Puzzle Are You Missing?
I’ve spent years battling to get on the front page of Google and sometimes wonder why I bothered. The majority of the emails I get just want to know my rates and then don’t reply when I tell them I don’t live in a box and I charge more than $10 for 500 words. I’ve had much better results approaching clients and marketing agencies offline.
My advice to other freelancers is to attend local networking events and approach businesses directly. High paying clients on the Internet are a rare breed.