Content coordinator Ruth Hartnoll joined Tecmark in March 2015. We caught up with her to discuss writer’s block, theatre recommendations… and getting 30,000 hits for an SME. Follow Ruth on Twitter.
1. What does your typical day look like?
I work in Tecmark’s Liverpool office, so I tend to get in first with a fresh slice of toast from the cafe downstairs. I’ll check all my emails, go down the rabbit hole of Basecamp, and then check out my to do lists for the day. I create a to do list per client so I can see what content I’ve delivered/need to deliver.
As a content coordinator a lot of my day is spent researching, writing and then chasing clients for feedback. I also make the sites on our platform. My day is so much more varied than my last role. I get to write and make, which is very satisfying as it means a lot of creativity.
2. What’s the most satisfying aspect of your work?
Seeing people react to what I’ve written, particularly if it’s about a subject I care about. A piece I wrote for one of our SMEs – 10 Truly Inspirational Quotes by Great Women – received 30,000 hits on Facebook and about 32 shares. It’s great to see the hours of writing paying off and becoming part of a wider conversation.
Also, the control I have over my work is fantastic. Every idea comes from, or in collaboration with, the client – and I get to take full ownership of it all. It’s a refreshing approach.
3. And the best thing about working at Tecmark?
Our Liverpool team is so small, and we’re pretty lucky that we get on as well as we do. Colleagues make a work environment, and mine is infinitely better thanks to James and Mike.
The company also has incredible benefits; it’s the only workplace I’ve been where they actually look after you. It’s a very holistic approach.
Also, the trust that’s put in me. From day one my boss James has trusted me to deliver, and we’ve yet to go wrong! Just treating your employees as adults is something that’s surprisingly rare. Tecmark does this in spades.
4. Writer’s block – myth or reality?
If you’re a writer and you’ve got writer’s block, just try harder. It sounds like an inflammatory thing to say, but it’s true. Writer’s block is a luxury writer’s can’t afford.
It’s so tough being paid to write, so I’d have little time for you if you then say: “Sorry, the distraction gremlins have landed and I have writer’s block.”
Try what you’re writing from a different angle, try writing something else, write in a different form. Writing is the physical act of writing as well as the craft that goes alongside that, so if you’re not doing that, then you’re not a writer.
5. What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned over the last 12 months?
That saying no is ok. We’re told to say yes to so much because we’re scared an opportunity might pass us by. But being able to spot what’s an opportunity and what might be a hindrance is an underrated skill.
It’s an important lesson for women to learn. When men say no it’s the end of the conversation; when women say no it’s the start of negotiations. I’m not on board with that. If I say no then I mean it.
6. And what do you expect to be learning over the next 12 months?
More code! Every so often I’ll pester James (which is most days actually) to teach me how to do the thing he just did. I hate watching someone do something I know I could do for myself and not being able to do it.
7. Any advice to wannabe copywriters?
This is tough because so much of finding work at the moment is down to luck; me landing my first job certainly was.
I’d say find people who have small businesses that you know and offer your services for free for the first few times. You need a portfolio of relevant work, so generosity is a good investment at the beginning.
Also, read a lot. This is good advice for anyone, ever, but more so for writers. You’re not a writer if you don’t read. Reading fiction will teach you about copy. Everyone wants to hear a story.
8. How do you relax away from work?
I read, although always less than I would like. I make theatre with my writers group. I write plays. I found after working in digital for a while that I needed to make something real as so much of my work is in the ether.
9. We’ve won tickets to see three different plays. What should we go see – and why?
I’ve just seen Constellations at the Everyman, which is now going on to Richmond Theatre. It’s all about decision making. It presents the same scene multiple times as if different decisions were made, it’s working on the multi-verse theory. Unbelievably well done, you have to watch it.
Maxine Peake is going to be in Caryl Churchill’s Skriker in July at the Royal Exchange in Manchester; it’s two of my favourite women coming together. I’m more than bit excited.
And finally a musical, because everyone needs song in their life. My favourite is The King and I.
10. And finally… Kindle or Waterstones?
Both, and also independent publishers like Comma Press out of Manchester. They do some of the best contemporary new writing around.