Creativity for Sale Podcast - Episode 1 / 4

A successful career without a plan - Vikki Ross

Mon, 12 Feb 2024

"Creativity needs time. Restraints can bring great ideas, but time is essential."Vikki Ross didn't go to university or ad school, never had a plan to build her enviable career, but  has crafted irresistible copy for major entertainment brands by following her curiosity and passion.
 
 
  
  
Show Notes Transcript

"Creativity needs time. Restraints can bring great ideas, but time is essential."

Vikki Ross didn't go to university or ad school, never had a plan to build her enviable career, but  has crafted irresistible copy for major entertainment brands by following her curiosity and passion. ~

In this fascinating discussion with copywriting sensation Vikki Ross, host Radim Malinic traces her journey from curious office assistant to award-winning copywriting consultant for major entertainment brands. 

Without formal training, Vikki followed her interest in writing early in her career to become a sought-after copywriter known for crafting irresistible copy. She shares how vital connections were in getting work initially and why she generously shares opportunities with others now. 

Vikki explains her transition from writing copy for beauty brands like The Body Shop to specializing in entertainment. She discusses why she turned down working on the high-profile Harry Potter franchise launch due to lack of knowledge. 

Radim and Vikki also explore how she moved from labeling herself a freelancer to a copywriting consultant. Throughout their insightful discussion, Vikki emphasises the importance of curiosity, integrity and allowing creativity the time it needs to blossom.

Key Takeaways:

  • Vikki shares how she went from an office assistant to an in-demand copywriting consultant without formal training, just by following her curiosity.
  • She explains why connections have been integral to getting work, and why she generously shares opportunities with others in her field. 
  • Vikki discusses how she transitioned from writing copy for beauty brands to specializing in entertainment - and why she turned down working on the Harry Potter franchise.
  • She reveals why she doesn't worry about AI taking over creative jobs, arguing it can't provide the nuanced execution and guidance needed.
  • Vikki explains how she evolved from calling herself a freelancer to a copywriting consultant, and why she has resisted starting her own agency. 


Creativity For Sale: How to start and grow a life-changing creative career and business by Radim Malinic - Out now.

Paperback and Kindle
https://amzn.to/4biTwFc

Free audiobook (with Audible trial)
https://geni.us/8r2eSAQ

Signed Books
https://novemberuniverse.co.uk

Vikki:

A creative, you can get more and more senior and your job gets less and less creative and I struggled with that. I wanted to be writing, I didn't want to be in meetings all the time, connections have played probably the key part career because without them, I don't know how much work I'd have all of my work so far has come through someone I know or word of mouth

Radim Malinic:

Hello and welcome to Creativity for Sale podcast, a show to help you start and grow your life changing creative career and business. My name is Radim Malinich and creativity changed my life. You see, I believe creativity can change your life too. I even wrote a book about it and it inspired this podcast. I've set out to interview the world's most brilliant creatives, designers, writers, musicians, makers and marketeers about their life changing experiences with creativity. If you ever wanted to know how people go from their humble beginnings to the pinnacle of their success, our conversation should provide you with an intimate look into triumphs, challenges and untold stories behind their creative endeavours. We also discuss the highs and lows of creative careers and creative life. So Thank you for joining me on this exploration of passion, creativity, innovation, and the boundless potential within us all. Let creativity change your life. Are you ready? Today's guest is one of the most sought after tone of voice talent working with the ever expanding roster of clients of the biggest names in the film, streaming, and entertainment industry. Her recent launches, brand relaunches, and campaigns include work for Spotify, Netflix, IMAX, and Sony Music. She's a true devotee to the copywriter's craft and copywriting community. It's my pleasure to introduce Vicky Ross.

Radim:

Hi, Vicky, Welcome to Creativity for Sale podcast. it's my great pleasure to have you on. I'm excited to speak to you about you and your career and I actually haven't got no chance to speak to you properly because it's been a while since we've known about each other. We followed each other's work and, yeah. Now finally, we get to speak. So I want to start with a bit of a question that will potentially take you back a few years. Do you remember the first piece of paid work that you produced

Vikki:

well, I don't remember the specific, piece of work. But I remember the project and it was the, I was working on the launch of now TV at Sky, which is now called I had been working at Sky for two years and I reluctantly handed in my notice because I, as a creative, you can get more and more senior and your job gets less and less creative and I struggled with that. I wanted to be writing, I didn't want to be in meetings all the time, so that's why I reluctantly handed in my notice. But I got really lucky, because, as the story goes with most freelancers, Sky became my first client. And They asked if I could basically carry on working with them, but on my terms, and it was at the time that they were working on bringing out, now tv. so I probably did that for about a month. in the now TV brand team

Radim:

Wow. Now tv. Yeah, I mean, there should be some conversations about their ui. It's just their app is never interesting. Like, I mean, this is a questionable thing but they've got good programming, so that's why people stick to it.

Vikki:

It's true. I mean, it's like Netflix. All of the apps Actually, I've worked on loads of, the TV apps and none of them are easy to use or enjoyable so they get away with

Radim:

it's a bit of like a Stockholm, syndrome. so you mentioned tone of voice and entertainment. How did you actually get into both of these things? Because, did you have a plan? was it targeted that you wanted to work in entertainment and tone of voice So How did that come about?

Vikki:

I should probably tell you now that I have never had a plan for anything. It's all just happened. but how I got into it, well, coincidentally, my first ever job as a copywriter was in a tiny, direct marketing agency that, wrote reader offers in the national press for the entertainment industry.'So, one of the first things I wrote was a reader offer for Titanic, the movie on video. So. That's going back a long time. but then after that I ended up in beauty for eight years and I thought I'd never leave Beauty. because, you know, as to be stereotypical as a woman working on lotions and potions, it was, you know, something that I really loved, TV more and after eight years, this was at the Body Shop. So after eight years at the Body Shop, I thought I need to do something completely different just for my sanity. And I went to Virgin Media and while I was at Virgin Media, I got approached for the head of copy job at Sky. So that's how I ended up in entertainment. And that was about 14 years ago. And I've been working mostly with entertainment brands ever since. because I just love it. it just doesn't feel like work to be sent TV series scripts so that I can write a promo or to go, well, you know, a while ago now and pre covid, but to go to premieres and screenings and things like that. Like what a job. So I have managed to stay within entertainment because I guess firstly because I've worked with so many people across Sky, it's so huge that I've kept those connections and they've typically gone on to more entertainment brands and taken me with them. But also because in more recent years, I've probably held out for more, entertainment industry jobs rather than taking any job, which is what I did when I first went freelance because like a lot of freelancers without a plan, I panicked

Radim:

There's three things that I've picked up on that there's a, there's no plan, which we all we can all relate to. There's, I mean, doing polls when I was writing my books, like, has anyone had a plan? No. and it's literally, it's even pointless to me to actually ask people to have a, business plan because a, how do you write one what does it entail? And it all falls apart as soon as you open your front doors. You're like, you know, I want to write a copy. let's say I want to write a copy for beauty industry. And you see someone At that situation says, actually, can you write something for cars? But I can write, or, you know, I can design and you just get swayed. And I think it was Max from Ragged Edge who once said that the decision that you make today will take you 10 years to undo. It's like it was digitally. Like you, you make a plan and just like yourself. I can no I can absolutely, own up to the fact that I had zero plan. I went with whatever, was gonna pay my cheap rent at the time. And somehow ended up here and you saw, and even with the knowledge that we now have, you keep the things that are good, but you don't necessarily plan for the next ones, if that makes sense. You don't necessarily think, oh, I've got a plan to have a superstar career, let's say in entertainment like that doesn't always happen And so you mentioned, connections and I'm a big believer in meaningful connections because we can be throwing the spaghetti in the social media and how would you say that the connections actually played an integral part in your work? Do you, do they multiply, do you get recommendations? how, do you get to work on new work?

Vikki:

connections have played probably the key part career because without them, I don't know how much work I'd have all of my work so far has come through someone I know or word of mouth and. I've just, I guess I've just, yeah, I've got really lucky that if someone I've worked with is moving on to a new job, they've taken me with them for their, brand project. So, I didn't answer part of your question before about how I got into tone A voice, but we can come back to that. and, or they've told somebody else about me and, it's always been a recommendation. so, sorry, I'm kind of, being a bit vague here, but I mean, I can't, all I can say is connections are really important. I think. I think people who start out freelancing before they, you know, as their job, as their career move from the beginning, perhaps could struggle without having that address book that they've built up over time. I mean, I'd been working for various companies for 16 years. I think it was before I went freelance and without. That experience, but also the connections I've made over that time. I don't know got anywhere. I don't know how I would have started. I think, yeah, I think it's difficult to just start

Radim:

that's an interesting point of connections and starting from nothing. Because when you think about it, even if you start in unemployment, you still start at the bottom of the ladder. If you choose to, climb the ladder. And I mean, I've started as a fresh naive freelancer with no connections you know, no idea, no philosophy, no clients initially. And I had to go back into employment for a few years just to absorb the right information because to build something out of nothing, you really have to have kind of like a magic formula that is so unique that People go, right, we want you. But that's like one out of thousands, not even. No, not A

Vikki:

Totally, You're going out, doing it from the off on your

Radim:

a stupid man, but I was definitely fascinated with what I could do. Like, because I, at that time, I used to live in a place called Southampton. I was, I came into, I came to England as a music producer, as a journalist, music journalist. I was all about music and music covers, I mean, and, flyers, posters and all of that stuff was something that appealed to me what I wanted to do. And I found myself amongst the people who were freelance designers, I was like, what's this freelance stuff? How can you do this? and because it all of a sudden. Felt the, freedom was the, four, four letter word in, freelance was for me, like the massive part because I came from a background where I was always doing something. I was always busy. I was not, I've literally finished my higher education and decided to, go to England just to have a, you know, for a laugh, have a fun, you know, just to buy some records. And I've been here for 24 years now. but it's, I mean, it, feels daunting with starting now because we live in such a Disneyland of creative worlds that where do you start? Who do you speak to? What do you do? And I think we've got lots of sort of preconceptions about what people might be thinking, what they need to do. But what I wanted to talk to you about what you do excellently, like I haven't seen nobody else is actually look after your community. you help people. you repost jobs, you nominate people for work. This is something that is. Almost unheard of in a design world, a creative world, you get like the, exceptions, but everyone, as you said, everyone feels anxious when they start. Like everyone tries to be protective of their patch. And what do you do? There's work. Go and get it. You know, just go for it. And how did that come about? That must've come from a place where you feel comfortable because everyone would be hung hanging on every job thinking we're going to do this, we're going to get someone else to do this for us. So did it come naturally to you? Like how'd you do it? And where'd you find the time?

Vikki:

guess there's a number of reasons why I do it. I started off supporting other copywriters by creating a hashtag called Copywriters Unite on Social Media, and that was because after years of experience, I just got fed up with feeling like copywriters are not looked after In the studios or in creative departments or, you know, wherever they're working. there either isn't a copywriter at all, and that's a whole issue of its own, where everyone else thinks that they can write copy and they don't need to hire a specialist to do it. Or the copywriter is working on their own and has no support. or they work in a creative environment where the boss of the ECD, let's say, is from an art background, not a copy background or there's no head of copy or whatever. The reason, I just found that copywriters are often left out in the cold, and so the social media hashtag has connected copywriters around the world. And I guess from then on, I just evolved it. Not consciously, just genuinely, I love my job and I want anyone else that wants a job like this to be able to get one. So if I see something, I'll share it. I think it's really exciting to see what's out there. there is a narrative that some freelancers will protect their clients from. Others would be scared to pass work on in case they don't get it back. I guess I've always been really lucky that I've had so much work that. why wouldn't I share it? Also, if I can't do a job with a client, I don't want them to be stuck or to go with someone, and it won't work out. I want to recommend someone to them. So like, it's just, I just don't think about it. It's Second nature. why wouldn't we help others? Where do I find the time is another question. look, I spend a lot of time on social media because I do love my job and I love everyone in the industry. I'm so excited by everything that we all do that I can't get enough of it. But yeah.

Radim:

I mean it's exceptional what you do. Especially, I've seen your hashtag a full of your, Christmas bingo and Easter Bingo and all of that stuff. It's, yeah, I think what you've created, unknowingly you've created your own personal brand of thinking because I can see you live and breathe. I mean, there's, there's only a few other examples of people I know who Live and breathe like, so presently what would they do. And so I love that there's a new campaign. I, saw the Uber campaign yesterday on the platform and you were posting about it today. And, and I kind of hear through you and I've spent literally a few minutes a day on social media because I don't have much more time, but through you I can see, oh, this is what's happening in the world of copywriting. It kind of gives me an idea of what to do. So exceptional work that you do, and, please don't stop because it's a, it's amazing to see that you're so generous with your time and wanting to help other people and Yeah, you're like a catalyst of knowing.'cause sometimes I see something and I'm like, is this any good? And then I see you posting about it three hours later, it's like, it's rubbish.

Vikki:

Well, I like to share ads because, like I said, like I'm so excited by what we all do. I know what goes into writing a line and getting it on a billboard and having it out there and like, I want to celebrate that. I want everyone else to see what copy can do in the work. And I guess that feeds

Radim:

how does it, how does one go from, I know you as a, in a young age, you were inspired by magazines and you, really started doing writing, how do you get to tone of voice? I mean, and that's one question. And how do you get people to understand that they need a tone of voice,

Vikki:

how did I get to tone of voice? I think it was probably the most, Like the biggest education of it for me was probably when I went to Virgin Media because they have such a strong brand personality, and distinctive assets, that's where I really understood the value of it and also how important it is for it to be consistent in everything. Even right down to, I remember there, instead of saying terms and conditions on their website, they said, the legal stuff. And then when I went to Sky, I copied it and terms and conditions there, the legal bit. So that's where I first sort of really learned about it. And then I went to Sky as head of Copy and the brand team, at a time where they were rebranding and they wanted a new tone of voice. So I worked with, design, and branding, agency Venture 3 on all of that. And I think it was just something that came really naturally to me to find a way for a brand to speak and also to be able to guidance on what that looks like for other people to execute. And I guess like they say, the because I now specialize in branding and tone of voice in the entertainment industry mostly. So this year I've been working with IMAX and ITV, and ITV studios and. Every time I do something different, I think some people think there's a template, but each brand is unique. So every voice should be unique and every process of creating it should be unique. and like at school, I was always really good at the stuff that I liked, and I really like having the

Radim:

That's amazing. Do you find it, is it, how much of a battle is it to establish a tone of voice? Because I'm come, obviously, I come from a branding background and sometimes it's what people don't know when you show them, okay, you know what, you can actually be this, you know, where your ceiling is. We can raise it twice as high, or we can do this, or we can just, I mean, being curious and being sort of ambitious, you can always find something different. But how, yeah. How much of a battle is it to give the right tone of voice? That's question number one. And how much of a battle is it actually to get people to follow your Tone of voice guidelines. Because again, knowing from branding and creative work, people like to invent lots of stuff because they go creative job. So yeah. Both sides. How does it work?

Vikki:

Yeah, I guess a lot of people do think that branding is a nice to have, and we'll do it if we've got a and money, but that's obviously not the right approach. in answer to your first question, again, I'm lucky. I work with people who come to me because they value branding and tone of voice, so they want me to do it. So it's not a battle if they've come to me asking me to do something. but making sure that they then execute it consistently over time can be difficult. because there are people, you know, you'll often be in a meeting where someone will say, oh, we don't need our tone of voice for this bit. you, need your tone of voice in everything. I always say, your tone of voice is as important as your logo and you put your logo on everything, so why wouldn't you use your tone of voice in everything? you know, we recognize brands because of what they look and sound and feel like. And if you take one of those elements away, then you lose that recognition and familiarity, with, the customers and even fans. I. really like when people find their job easy. So I try to make everything easy. I don't have any formal training in any of this. I didn't go to university, I didn't go to ad school. study anything. So everything that comes from me I think is just like on the level of a normal human being. I'm not saying, you know, I'm not whatever we can get into, identity crisis later, But, I talk to people like we're talking now, I explain things in, I guess, normal everyday terms rather than marketing jargon. And I think that helps. And I think that my guidance is just always easy to follow because of that. in terms of consistency of, the execution. I typically have really good relationships with my clients, so I don't feel like I can't sort of six months down the line, get back in touch and say, I saw a social post that went out and it's not quite on brand. here's what I would have done. And they're always really appreciative of that. because sometimes they've just lost their way, forgotten, got caught up in a moment and just needed a little reminder. But equally I do that when it's good as well. Like I will get in touch and say, I've saw this and I love how you've implemented the tone of voice. And they're always again, really appreciative. Like, glad you noticed. And they then pass that on to the rest of the team involved.

Radim:

Extra brownie points when you look out for your clients. And yes, I mean, yeah, that's exciting to see. that, you do that because Yeah, it's easy to give clients guidelines, in our case, visual guidelines. And six months down the line, it's like, what

Vikki:

Yeah. Well, I've got that at the moment actually. I've seen, I worked on the launch of ITVX last year. it was an intense job writing the tone of voice guidelines, not just the ITVX, but updating the tone of voice guidelines for every other brand within the ITV family at the same time. And then a couple of times this week I've been out and I've seen ads for ITVX and they are, I really like them. They're great, they're really fun and they're eye catching. They're massively off brand. But this is exactly a year ago that I worked on the guidelines. So anything could have happened between now and then. They could have new guidelines and I'd just be really interested to see them. That's the other thing, I'm really nosy, think

Radim:

So if you could, for example, talk about, let's say the example of ITVX, how, because you mentioned it was an intense job and it must have been lots of people involved in it. How long does it take from you being approached to actually seeing the work done? How long, how much time is that involved? Because sometimes it's pretty steady go mental. and usually you get as much time as you've been given. But to do a great work and to actually, you know, to get the right research interviews and that kind of stuff. How long does it take

Vikki:

like any answer to a question creativity? It depends. typically a brand project like if it's a rebrand, it doesn't always need to be done to a time. It's just something that the company are working on in the background. so we could be working together for six months to a year. Other times, like with ITVX, they could be going to launch. In three weeks and they don't have the resource internally to write the guidelines. So they come to me and say, quick, let's go. And I mean, I worked for three weeks, seven days a week. Late nights was really ill afterwards, if I'm honest, and

Radim:

I mean, if I was to tell you that you've got three weeks to rewrite guidelines, tone of voice guideline, in a normal mind you would say no. Like, I need more time. We need to do this. But however, we just do it to ourselves. You just go, okay, well, of course, I, will say yes, even though all the red flags, all the red lines are flashing, and you're like, I will still do it.

Vikki:

I should probably, it's slightly unfair if I don't say this. They already had the principles, so I didn't have to do the, setup and the research and the back and forth on, you know, getting us somewhere. So they did come to me with, a starting point. so I was able to pick up from there. But no, you're absolutely right. that is no way to work. it's no way to respect a brand and do a, you know, a job that would do the brand justice. But circumstances, you know, often are different. And in that moment,

Radim:

yeah, no, I think there's more of the, I mean, we've all worked on projects that were massively rushed and needed to be rushed, and I just sometimes wonder why they have to be so rushed, because I have been luckily in my career. I have, I've been an illustrator and advertising for about 10 years, and I work with the clients through agents and through agencies and representation and stuff, as soon as I originally cut off everyone and just decided I'm going to do this on my own properly, regardless of clients and projects, I got to work again in a similar story like yours. I got to work for the clients. I used to work through agents, which sometimes was a bit naughty to do that, but all of a sudden there's no rush. You get paid on time. Thinking of course, the, paper chain is longer. There's, more people involved. Something gets lost, something, you know, and I always see, like with people that you speak to on a daily basis, you can still misunderstand one another. You know, it's just, there's so much in, communication that they can do that.

Vikki:

right what you said just before at what you just said about there's no need to rush typically. Or why are we rushed? Like typically, yeah, why are we rushed? Like when a client will come to me and say, we've got an ad going out this afternoon and we haven't cracked the line, what can you do? I'm like, you probably got briefed on this like three months ago. You booked the space. You've known for however long about this ad. Why are you coming to just, insane.

Radim:

It's, I mean, yeah, you're right. I mean, it's, not as a surprise, It's not a surprise. I remember, I mean, this is, I, think I went on some of the most, what do you call it, like a bucket list projects in my life. And they were usually done in like five minutes. Oh, we've got a space for Earth Hour on a Hammersmith flyover, but literally we need the artwork in 10 minutes. We've just been given a space. I'm like, okay, you know, it's just you want to get lost. I think this is the whole idea of my second book of mindful Creative. It's just like how to actually made that space and time of your work, like how to do things and enjoy them because most of them are just done in such a rush. because when you think about it, the marketing got so fragmented that we no longer producing a print ad or TV ad. It's just like, it's all of these little spaces that all need sort of attention. And I, guess it's all fragmented as, as, possible as it is really.

Vikki:

Yeah, but also we can all do it. I think that's why it happens. Like we can do it, but then send your work off having sweated over it. because you've got no time to do it, but you've got to do it. Go to bed, wake up the come up with something so much better, but it's too late. Creativity needs time. I guess restraints can bring great ideas, but time is

Radim:

I think there's something in our brain and our pathway is that we just need that time to actually sing that in. Just, to have it in, because I don't know if you ever tried to learn, play the guitar or learn a new language or count in different language. You can yourself so much just to try to learn it in one day. No, go to bed, sleep on it. Your brain's going to do the admin, you know, this is the place where people come from, neurological Chat,

Vikki:

well, sorry to talk about another book when we've barely mentioned your brilliant books I've read all of them as you know, but I read Rick Rubin's, the Creative Act, A Way of Being, earlier this year, and he said something like. We're a different person from one day to the next. So what we create on one day, we could have done completely different the next day. And I think that's just so true. Whatever you thought was a good idea when you first did it, next time

Radim:

I mean that book is amazing. I love the book. it just, I was expecting something different from the book, and then I realized when I read it, I realized that's the book he was definitely going to write because to to, to a naked eye of not a creative person. it would be like, what are you on about? Like, is this, obvious or is this. not obvious? I like his quote about that sometimes when you create, your mind is not there. Like you, you haven't reached that self. And I have made so many creative decisions, especially in my own sort of publishing work that I'm making those decisions because I might like him in the future, if that makes sense. I've published an orange cover book. I don't particularly like orange, but it's going to stand out, and it's going to, it's going to have that impact factor. And one day I'll look at it and go, that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to make an orange book. But there's all these things that I used to, I mean, my books used to be done in past, like within three months I would write, I don't write every day. I just, I would write that crazy sort of brain dump, go into design. I used to work with Emily Gosling who'd edit, and by the time we were producing the books and publish, because I go my own publishing company and always. The deadline in my case would be children, like children are getting born so you have to make a book because the child is being born. so that was two cases of two books. And with this one, with these books, it was about, kind of get to the right place. And I wanted to do a hard pivot from branding into writing and kind of, you know, do publishing full time, which hasn't happened. You need time. You know, I've been doing this for eight years and finally this year through all of the escapades, it wasn't battles, but escapades with, you know, myself, like trying to write two books at the same time with proper word count and, you know, writing in a way that actually brings some value to people. it's, it was overwhelming, but I needed extra days and weeks and months to actually get to the position where, okay, now the deadline is okay. And of course you can set yourself as much time as you want and it's still done, you know. Last minute because something fucks up, something just doesn't go right. And it always reminds me of taking kids to school. And we used to live next door to the school, and if the school started at 11, we still would be late. You know, it's just that kind of thing. that sometimes you try everything and only then you get into it. So, I was always surprised in your case that I haven't seen you write a book yet.

Vikki:

I, don't want to I like the idea of having written one the process of writing one, I just can't being so disciplined. I have been offered two book deals, which is obviously and I know some people wish that they could say that, but firstly, I don't have time. To your point about making time to write your books, I guess I don't have time because I don't want to find the time. I'm so busy doing my day job and loving writing copy. I don't want to give up any of that to write something I'm going to struggle with. Like long copy is not my strength at all. And that's how I look at writing a book. I do have a number of ideas for a book, and one of them is to write basically in a paragraph at a time. you know, breaking the idea down. I never say never, but at the moment I don't have a book in me. I've never had a book in me. I've never wanted to write a book. a couple of years ago when I was offered the first book deal, I did, I went away and thought about it and I thought, well I could, you know, I could be like Ernest Hemingway and I could book myself, three weeks in the Caribbean and go and just write something. And I told my husband and he said, if you want to go to the Caribbean, just book a holiday to the Caribbean. like, you don't want to write a book. You're trying to find ways to make

Radim:

think that's the most fascinating answer so far. I mean, a person who's so cherished and celebrated for writing an amazing copy doesn't want to write a book. whereas in my case, I just wrote things, and they just blossom from there.

Vikki:

that's it. You just wrote things because they were in you, that you had something that you wanted to get out. I don't have anything that I want to get out. Probably everything that I want to get out, I'm, I put on Twitter in like can cope

Radim:

that's, I think that's plenty for a page. no, I think, I will. not that it's my life's mission to make you happen, but I think that there is book in you and, we'll make it happen because But when you speak to people, a lot of people say, I would like to write a book, and in your case, I would like to have written a book, but I don't want to put myself through the process. And the idea of like, okay, I'm going to book a three weeks in Caribbean. You're not going to write a book in the Caribbean. You're going to have a good time in Caribbean. You're going to write a book at home, literally at five o'clock in the morning or 10 o'clock at night. Because I remember trying to write a book of ideas, volume one, and start on a holiday with my girlfriend and my wife we went to Cornwall or Devon or something like that. And I was like, we arrived. I, opened my laptop, like, I'm going to write here. And she was like, I'm going to put the laptop through the back of your head. I was honestly, like, what are you doing? Because I had been so overworked that there was no space. And I think with the writing, it's, I mean, the medium of book is so exciting. Like literally it's, so prehistoric in a way, and we still sort of, we will always go and sort of, gravitate towards it. when people say, I want to write a book, but I don't know what about, or is that I think sometimes we see the gratitude or gratification actually be on before, before the work. And, I always say like, it, it's in there. It, just comes up, it comes through like all of these things that I'm sort of putting together. They're just experiences. Like there's everything that I've come across and I make daily notes and I try to be a bit curious and I think it's about not giving a shit what you're writing in the first place, because I think we'll talk about it in a second. it's that sort of pre judging yourself or when you're writing like, am I writing this? Will people like it? you know, What would happen there? So with your work, with the tone of voice, especially when you create a more or less a persona, how they speak and how they sort of verbalize and, communicate. Do you ever think about feedback? What's going to come back from customers, passive buyers, public, all of that stuff? how does it work?

Vikki:

it's difficult because, sorry, it's difficult to answer because the public doesn't see the tone of voice guidelines. but obviously they see what comes as a result of, implementing those guidelines. and I think it's really important to pay attention to the public, what they're they're talking about, what they want. often some creatives, there's maybe a bit of vanity in their work and they aren't considerate of the public, whereas I'm very mindful of them because they're the only ones that matter In the world that I work in particular, in the entertainment industry. You know, we think that people don't pay attention to brands, but people particularly love. TV programs or football teams or films, and I take that responsibility on to do what they love justice so much so that I think as freelancers, we have a reputation for taking any job going, but I will turn down work that I don't think I could do well at because it wouldn't be fair on the end audience. So I was asked to work on the launch of the Warner Brothers, Harry Potter Studios when they were opening, but I'd never read a Harry Potter book or watched a Harry Potter film. And I know that people love Harry Potter and I thought, that is not for me to try and wing it. That's not fair to them. So yeah, I guess in answer

Radim:

It takes a lot of experience and confidence to say no to Harry Potter and I'm generally all, the other projects that you do sometimes feel, but do you ever feel like the universe, rewards you for actually making that decision? Because sometimes with projects that don't feel quite right, they seem to bring good stuff as a result because you get this amazing golden carrot like, take this. like, no, I don't want this. and all of a sudden things come up. So did you actually, did you ever feel that you might have jeopardized your future or your career because you didn't take on something? Or do you feel actually always worked out for the better?

Vikki:

I think what you say no to makes way for something that you're going to say yes to. In my first few years of freelancing, I think I mentioned before, I pretty much did everything that was offered to me. because I didn't know when the next job was going to come. And in more recent years, I've got more confident at knowing that work does come. And if a job isn't right, it's okay down, and just be patient. My husband did this recently and I didn't really get it, at the time. So he is a sound engineer, freelance sound engineer, for TV companies, or he was, and then Covid happened and he couldn't go into any studios, so all his work went and he spent a lot of lockdown not working while I was busier than ever because working for TV companies, everyone was at home watching tv. I had loads to do. So we were really fortunate. But I was looking at him like, are you gonna like, you know, try and get any work or ask anyone, there's any work out there for you. And he said, this is my chance to. Do something different, which is what he wanted to do. And he was patient and he waited for about 18 months. I mean, he did have bits, but nothing really to talk to. Um, and eventually the work that he wanted came his way. And I really admire that strength and patience that, I mean, I don't have that. so yeah, I think there's 18 months is a long time, but obviously he was reliant on me covering what was missing.

Radim:

I, admire his patience, absolutely admire his patience. I actually waited for 18 months. The only person I've, read about patients like that was Matthew McConaughey

Vikki:

Oh, wow.

Radim:

who didn't want to be a rom com guy anymore. So he stopped working for 20 months and just said no to millions of dollars because yeah, he wanted to pivot and he did it, and obviously he did it for better and that sort of pivot. I think it's, it's sometimes gut wrenching because you know, the life doesn't stop, you know, the mortgage doesn't stop. And sometimes we feel like we've done the right choice by getting a house and doing things, but. You know, we always have this cognitive dissonance between should I have been a tenant freelancer living on a shoestring, or should I actually do I need some sort of security and and balance in my life. And it's just like, you know, always look at someone else's sort of thing and so like, oh, is this better? Is that better? Is this not, Should I have done this? so I admire that

Vikki:

But I should say that our lifestyle also allowed him to be able to do that in a way too. So we, neither of us ever wanted children, and I've always said that had I wanted children, I don't think I could have handled the pressure of going freelance. And wondering when I would next get paid because you have a responsibility that is more than and bigger than yourself. And so I don't know that I could have handled that. So when it's just

Radim:

I can imagine it is, seeing it from this side just two young children and all sorts of other, external, activities, where we do as a family. but I always, I think this is a difference because you definitely re re, relate now, you definitely did refer to yourself as a freelancer. Whereas I, as you know, from my book, I, see things more as a small business. I feel like if you want to do as something as a power of one, it's more about how do you sort of orientate, like how do you sort of position yourself that you can actually give additional income streams, if that makes sense. Because I found with sort of freelance work, it wasn't for me, I couldn't work for other agencies for too long because a, I felt I was a bit too old. I was, when I was like illustrator, when I was 35, I spoke to 20 year old art directors and I just couldn't handle it. I was like, I've done this million times before and you're telling me to do it that way. I can't do this, I can't. So that was my drive for actually going on my own and just building a business rather like sort of more, sort of something that can handle other things. did you ever think of setting up tone of voice agencies, sort of getting more people on board and doing it that way

Vikki:

so firstly I have said freelancer throughout our conversation and I've probably stopped officially using that term, I don't know, maybe six or seven years ago, and, called myself a consultant because of the way that I work. You're right. being a freelancer and going into agencies is very different to being brought on as like a brand ally, and consulting your, with your services. and yeah, I can tell you stories, like we could compare notes on being a freelancer in an agency and just being massively disrespected because of that word. there was one agency I worked in where I had to ask if I could go to the toilet because I didn't have a desk or a pass to get between doors and I was sitting in reception on my laptop and it was just ridiculous. And I was thinking yeah, this is not for me. Whereas consultant. Much better represents my level of experience and the relationships that I have directly with leadership companies around the world. I never came up with a way of promoting or positioning myself, I guess. which comes back to, you mentioned personal brand before. I don't have a personal brand. I'm just me and I know personal brand means lots of different things to lots of different people and some people like it. But when I see on social media people trying to work out what their personal brand is and then curate it and live up to it, it seems like so much work. when yeah, just be yourself. That's your personal brand. That's, it's just you You're your personal brand. In terms of setting up a business. So I am a business, I am a, one woman business on paper. And, in tax terms, I suppose, setting up a company and recruiting other people has been suggested to me. I can't tell you how many times, especially with what you, identified before that I do like to help other people get work. Why wouldn't I set up an agency, a writing agency, and recruit others? Well, probably for a similar reason to the pressure. I might, I think I would find myself under if I had children. I have a terrible guilty conscience. I could handle the pressure of being responsible for other people's careers, and earnings in a way that would be healthy for any of us So, as much as I would like to help people. I do it in the way that I do it rather than employing them. Also, I am so not business minded. like I can write really good copy. I cannot run a business or manage my time or look after other people or like I can't even sit in meetings about the business, and went to work for myself

Radim:

Oh, that's fascinating, fascinating. going to the point of a personal brand, like I think there's a lot of wrestling with the reality that people do now because you um, we get to see outcomes of people's personal brands, but like David Beckham never decided to be David Beckham brand because he was born David Beckham and everything else was kind of built for him around him, with him wanting to be it, whereas, as you said, it's naturally kind of growing into who you are and celebrating the sort of uniqueness, which feels. often so hard to do. and someone says, just be unique. You don't have to, you don't have to blend in. you can be who you are. And if you don't, if you tell it to someone who's 20 years old, they're like, yeah, can I be that person. Can I be that person? Can we borrow? Of course, at that time, we are sort of character chameleons, We obviously. We, try to sort of find our own unique voice and it's much easier. But in your case, I mean you're, what do you do that's what, people talk about when you're not in the room. And when I mentioned to someone that you're coming on my podcast, they're like, of course we know Vicky Ross, like, because you were there. You're obviously, what do you do? you live and breathe. I think the name, the term consultant I think it gives you more authority. And I think that's quite important because. Again, what the chicken and egg situation like, do you want to present yourself as a consultant to a brand or to agency rather than actually having been in a position of actually knowing what consultant really needs to do? Because Yeah, I think that the terms of respect and how people sort of deal with freelancers and how things happen, it's, yeah, I think you, you create yourself as a disposable, almost like a disposable, personnel that can come in and do stuff and go and yeah, I think that's not always healthy and that's not always quite right. do you remember the day when you sort of wore the title copywriter for the first time? Do you remember when that day was and how did you feel?

Vikki:

yeah, there were two moments. So the first was, fleeting, I suppose. I was working in this tiny direct marketing agency that I mentioned. That was my first, well, and office assistant. Oh. and. when I was an office assistant at this, this marketing agency and I realized they wrote reader offers, I asked if I could write one, and, when I did, they, because it was direct marketing, they could measure the response. and it did well. So they let me write more. So then I understood that I was a copywriter, but because that was my sort of first proper job out of college, Because like I said, I didn't go to uni after a couple of years, I then left and I went traveling, around the world. And I came back a year and a half later and I couldn't get a job as a copywriter because I didn't know that you needed to know people. I didn't know that you should have gone to ad school or get a placement or an internship or a mentor. So no ad agency would take me. I didn't have a portfolio. No one knew any work I'd done. because it was direct marketing, not advertising. So I got another job as a pa and this was at the Body Shop where eventually, I'm trying to keep the story really short, but eventually, um, I was moved into the creative studio working with art directors, and that was when I could then call myself a copywriter. And it, I felt like I'd sort of waited five years maybe to be able to call myself a copywriter and to write copy and to see copy go live. And thrilling. if it's something you've always wanted

Radim:

think I always find it with, the distance of time when you reflect back on the time when you said, I'm a copywriter to what you are now, which is obviously not only a voice consultant, sometimes you think I wasn't really a copywriter, but I really wanted to write copy. And I remember I was a graphic designer before I was definitely a graphic designer. I was like, but I remember how proud I was. Like this was the most exciting thing ever and I kind of made me to live and breathe what I was doing. And it was, yeah, I remember how thrilling that was

Vikki:

Yeah. Well also I think it's just for both of us, like

Radim:

yeah, I think it gives you, sort of, gives you sort of purpose and focus like, oh, that's what I'm doing now. Even though, you know, the journey kind of takes you on whatever turn, twists and turns you decide to sort of take on. I think it wouldn't be a conversation about creativity if it didn't touch on the, dreaded AI at the moment. how do you find it? How do you find it and where do you think? you know, is it unformed sort of chaos, panic that do people panic for no reason? Because in my opinion, I look at it. And you can see the people who are bringing it with ai. And you can see what AI can do right now. And it's a calculator on steroids. It's not necessarily the tool that will replace people because yeah. I don't use it much. I used, I had a look what it can do, and you ask it five different questions, it gives you the same templated answer. and You're like, well, okay, we'll stop there, shall we? so I know that, you know, everything new causes chaos. Like when Kindles came out, we thought it was the end of books when the internet came out, we thought it was the end of books. There was always meant to be end of something. It never was. It was only an addition. So I don't think you're worried about AI personally, yourself, and yeah, I mean, is it something that people should look out for and sort of how, should they think about it?'cause you don't worry about it. So for what reason? Why people shouldn't worry about it.

Vikki:

I don't worry about it because I'm not interested in it for a start, like, you, I've given it a go. I got bored very quickly. in loving my job, I want to do every part of it. And in outsourcing any of it, that just takes away the bit of my job that I like. So why would I do that? I don't think it, could do, I don't think it could necessarily write toner voice guidelines in a way that a non copywriter could pick up and understand and know how to then write a piece of copy that is bang on brand. I just don't think it could provide that level of execution, guidance. I know people will listen and they'll go, well, maybe not yet. Well, yeah, maybe not yet, but I think I'm not alone in enjoying the process and enjoying the people within the process. And so I think there will always be people that want to hire real people, real creatives over using ai. And I think the people that want to use ai, instead of a copywriter, understandably, maybe looking to reduce budget, you know, costs because budgets are tight. We're in a funny, difficult time at the moment, but they're not going to get the best results. Maybe they don't know what the best results are, though, and in which case person because they don't value true creativity in the first place. we could do a whole other episode on what I think of ai. I don't know where to stop. But, I think, yes, it is worrying for a lot of people and it's made more worrying by the fact that the, media industry press are insistent on sharing articles about how AI is going to take a creative job, which I think is insane and irresponsible because in the time that we're in with people struggling like they are, why are we not celebrating and supporting each other rather

Radim:

Unfortunately, it's about making people anxious. it's not creating a comfortable future. And I think that's the problem, you know, cause we, it's the news. It's the new stuff. It's, and we still try to find our feet with it. And yeah, I mean, if it was written from a point of compassion, it would be like, Hey, maybe we can learn how to use all of this. You know, because we think about flying cars, like everyone says, we all have flying cars. People can't drive the cars on the road properly, let alone the one that we could fly. So, I mean, it's just, it's a crazy one. Where do you see the future of your work? Like is it tone of voice till retirement, or what would you, like, what is your side? Where's your curiosity likely to take you in the

Vikki:

Do you know, I, like I said, right at the start, I'd never have a plan. I have thoughts. I don't have dreams necessarily. I guess my thoughts are yes, probably tone of voice till I die. if I'm honest, I'm usually open to anything. I, can't see myself not being a copywriter and doing something completely different. That's out of the question, I would say. But that I always thought I wanted, I never got. So maybe there's still the opportunity for that. And when I say that, I must like the career I have that I have by accident, I absolutely love the career I thought I wanted was to be a copywriter in a advertising agency and work my way up and up, to Chief Creative Officer in a sexy agency, running a creative department. And really, bringing out work that and, you know, valuing the copywriters in the team. If that opportunity was presented to me one day, it would be a conversation I would be interested in. I say one day I have had many conversations like that. often, agencies or brands that I really probably would be up for changing my life for because it is a life chain. once you've been working like this for, I think it's, I don't know, well it's definitely 10 years if not more. It's difficult to then say, you know, yes, I will give all of this up. All of the pros that come with working for yourself to go back into a studio in, day out, working for that way. yeah, I guess it depends on the conversation and the time that the conversation happens. There was a conversation I had with a huge brand last year that was Really interesting, but interesting enough

Radim:

Amazing. Yeah, I just, I, believe what you said two words, life changing. I very much believe that creativity can change your life and it can change your life even more if you are the one holding the steering wheel, if that makes sense. I think not having a plan, is the exciting part Of what, what can happen or what cannot happen. I mean, neither of us knew, well, what was going to be in the future of work? Never thought. when I was most excited to graphic design, I never thought that I would stop, you know, spending all day, every day in, in Photoshop or InDesign and it changes literally just the flow of curiosity and inspiration changes where we go. And I think that's the most exciting part. And I remember how much I wanted to put the words life changing on the cover of the book. It's like, it's a, you know, it's a, what does it say, It says, how to start and grow, a life changing career and business. And it's, I think that sort of kick up the arse. I was just doing a pep talk like, Hey, look, if you'd actually do something, you never know what might happen. Because I've done talks for these two books universities and festivals so far, no one wants to be self employed. No one wants, everyone wants to go straight. into employment because. and I don't, and, that's the right decision. Like, because you need to learn things from the bottom up. But it's the question of like how good you want to be, what do you want to do with your life? Because it can take time. But in this hyper processed world that we've got, in our pockets with colorful pixels, you can kind of see how good you could be pretty quickly. It's just like, how much do you want to go after it? So, yeah. I mean, it was pleasure listening to you about your career and it's, I think we can have a few more conversations out of this quite easily, especially if we draw down on some of those topics a bit further. But Yeah. what's for you in the future? what's the next thing that you're going to work on? What's the plan? Well, sorry. There's never a plan. Is it

Vikki:

Well, I know So that just a bit to the, one of the points you made just now by not having a plan. You never know what's going to come and everything that's always come for me has been more exciting than the last thing. So why have a plan when. There's, something's happening out there that's working out in the end anyway, for me at least. so yeah, no plan, for the long term future, the immediate future. I'm about to start a new brand project in the next week or so. I usually take January off, but I've been asked to work on, another brand project in January that I absolutely can't say no to and I'm so excited about. So, yeah, a little break over Christmas. We're recording this in November. I don't know when this is going to go out. that.

Radim:

I think the three weeks in the Caribbean I think should be coming up in February. that's for sure. Yeah. So thank you so much. I'm glad we, got to speak and you know send me in person through the medium of Digital Connection. thanks so much for coming on the show. It has been a pleasure to have you and yeah, I look forward to speaking to you soon.

Vikki:

Oh, thank writing those books

Radim Malinic:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Creativity for Sale podcast. The show was produced and presented by me, Radek Malanich. Editing and audio production was masterfully done by Niall Neil mackay, from 7 million Bikes Podcasts, Theme music was written and produced by Robert Summerfield. If you enjoyed this episode and would like to support the podcast, please subscribe and leave a rating or review. To get your own action plan on how to start and grow your life changing business. To get your own action plan on how to start and grow a life changing creative business. You can get a copy of the Creativity for Sale book via the links in show notes. As always, keep those creators fires burning, and until next time, I'm Bradley Malinich, your guide through this exploration of passion, creativity, innovation, and the boundless potential within us all.

  

Radim Malinic

If you have a question or just want to say hello, drop me a line here.

If you have read a book of mine and have a question, or if you just need advice about work or an industry-related query, get in touch and let me see if I can help you. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter. Contact +44 (0)207 193 7572 or inbox@radimmalinic.co.uk

Enter your full name
Enter your email

 
Pop your email in the form above and get an instant access to book sample downloads that will brighten up your day and creative book collection. Check your inbox right after. 


 

©2023 Radim Malinic. All rights reserved. Made with ❤️ in London by Brand Nu Studio.

Grow your creative library. Download books today - for free. 

Pop your email in the form and get an instant access to book sample downloads for your creative book collection. 

In addition to free sample books, you will get a weekly Wednesday email newsletter on topics of Creativity For Sale and Mindful Creative, full of resources for inspiring creative and business life.  All directly in your inbox. Always free. 
Enter your full name

Enter your email


  CLICK TO CLOSE
 

X

  Download free book samples

 
 

Welcome offer bundle discount

Hey, thanks for stopping by. If any of my books are of interest, you can get 15% off off my back catalogue at November Universe store. Have a look
15% OFF BOOK BUNDLES
OK