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Jessann Hathaway Interview

Super excited to share our first feature for the Creator’s Circle relaunch; Jessann is a Content Strategist and Copywriter. She is the owner of The Blog Connoisseur. Check out our interview below.

What led you to a career in writing?

For as long as I can remember, I loved writing, but I remember the moment I realized writing for a living was a possibility for me. I was nine years old, spending the weekend at my dad’s house, and the Chiefs were in the playoffs. Just like every year before, the Chiefs got knocked out, and my dad was in shambles. I sat down and wrote a picture book in my journal, showing my dad’s hometown team winning the Superbowl and all the players thanking my dad for believing in him when no one else thought they had a chance. 

I had never seen my dad so happy, and he told me one day I would be a great writer. While my story may have started as a work of fiction, this year, we got to show off our hometown pride as the chiefs finally made it to the SuperBowl for the first time in my life.  

My stepmom, Carol, introduced me to worlds of fantasy and mystery with her love of reading, where I fell in love with authors like Stephen King and Sherrilyn Kenyon. I became determined to work in a publishing house to read all day. It seemed like the perfect job. 

Right out of high school, I got a job offer to work as a format editor for Hearst magazines through the Barnes and Noble Nook, and I jumped for joy! It was not fantasy, mystery, or science fiction, but it was a way to get my foot in the door. 

I became obsessed with the advertorials, the storytelling used in product descriptions, and the lengthy interview and gossip sections. These stories solved problems, made people feel connected, and they sold the American Dream. I enjoyed working on publications for Elle, Seventeen, Redbook, and even Rolling Stone. When that job disappeared, thanks to outsourcing to another company, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in copywriting, so I started taking on freelance clients while working in a sales position. 

Now, it is ten years later, and I have a thriving copywriting service. Now, I write for a living, so I can afford to write fiction and fantasy for myself. 

Where do you find inspiration?

I love connecting problems to solutions, and seeing a big issue inspires me. When I take on a job and need inspiration, I will look for stories of people using the product or service I am helping to sell and connect their fears with resolutions. I aim to set people’s mind at ease with my copy, and to gain their trust through stories that incite empathy and make us feel connected to products on a level that goes deeper than the surface. 

How do you hone your own writing style while also writing in the voice and tone of client brands?

It is so much fun to take on new personas. I like to take a deep dive into research when it comes to my client’s avatar or ideal client and come up with a voice that speaks to them on a personal level. It is not so much about matching the client’s writing style and tone, as it is about matching how their ideal clients want to be addressed. 

How do you manage to create content for yourself and clients?

I prioritize my client’s content over my own content creation, so I end up batching my blog posts, social media content, and any ads I run. I use Trello to help organize my client’s work, where I can plug in due dates and make notes on the client’s style preferences, color schemes, and any other pertinent information. 

I also use Trello to help organize ideas for my content. When I have an idea, I add it to the board. Then, on the days I am batch creating content, I pull from the Trello board, whip up an outline, and outcomes new content. I use SocialBee to schedule my social media content and load my blog posts into my website weeks in advance. Then, I hit publish when it is time for a new blog on my site. 

How do you overcome writer's block?

Usually, if I feel like I have a block to writing, it is based on my mood. I may be burnt out on a project, or just not taking care of my body the way I need to. Writer’s block is usually a reminder that I need to step back, take care of myself, and come back when my head is in a better space. This can mean stopping to make a yummy cup of coffee, taking a bath with a bath bomb, reading some fantasy, or just taking an entire day off from writing. 

If self-care does not clear out the block, I break out a pack of note cards and dig into the research on a writing project. I will write out some questions that people might ask about my writing topic, and begin to flesh out an outline on paper. I found trying to create outlines on the computer when I have a block only leads to more overwhelm. A note card is small, so it feels less overwhelming, and I can come up with some great points for my writing and get back to work. 

Any tips for fledgling writers?

Write every day, and do not get stuck in the learning loop. The best way to move forward in your career is experience. Whether you get that experience through creating samples or working for clients, write something every single day, no matter what. 

What would you say to anyone looking to start a career in copywriting?

I am cheering for you! But seriously, copywriting is a fantastic career that can be hugely rewarding But, do not expect to write killer copy and have a full schedule of clients right out of the gate. Take the time to perfect your craft, and look at early criticism as an opportunity for growth. 

Collect your swipe files, grab books on writing copy, and start studying. Remember to write every day, but keep learning and going back to your old writing to improve your writing. The most important thing you can do is start writing. 

Check out The Blog Connoisseur here

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