“Somehow I managed to land myself an awesome job smack bang in the middle of the global Covid-19 pandemic. I feel like the luckiest copywriter in the world,” says Magnetic Creative’s Riana Wiechers. In August 2020, she joined our Knysna branch and, since then, has diligently been making sure we all dot our i’s and cross our t’s.
But she does a lot more than that, too (like give us lunchtime yoga classes). To find out what life and work is like as a traditional-turned-digital copywriter, we asked Riana a few quick questions.
What inspired you to become a copywriter?
I’ve always loved language. It was a school subject I excelled at, so it was a natural progression for me to study it after school. After gaining my National Diploma in Language Practice at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, I completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Copywriting at AAA School of Advertising in Cape Town.
In reality, has the job lived up to your expectations?
I have always enjoyed the creativity that comes with the job, working as part of a team, coming up with original concepts and ideas, being creative with language, and telling stories. Fresh out of college, I was somewhat unprepared for the reality of working in such a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. So that part of the job was a bit of a surprise!
Could you share a little about your career development and how you ended up at Mag?
I started out working at above-the-line agencies in Cape Town, as part of the traditional “copywriter-art director” team setup. There were many aspects of the work I enjoyed, but a few years in I realized I was heading for burnout.
I then opted to work at an in-house agency for a large retail group for many years. Working “regular” hours afforded me a better work/life balance and enabled me to pursue other interests and gain a few qualifications, among them qualifying as a Hatha yoga teacher.
In early 2019 I left my permanent job to become a freelance writer, but just before the pandemic struck in March 2020, a looming global recession made me consider getting a permanent copywriting position again.
The position at Magnetic Creative in Knysna caught my eye on LinkedIn. I grew up in nearby George on SA’s beautiful Garden Route and, after many years in Cape Town, I felt ready for a change. After an interview and some freelance writing jobs from Mag, things were looking promising – and then suddenly it was Level 5 lockdown!
After a month or two of complete limbo, Mag contacted me again, to see if I was still open to working here. One thing led to another and I started working as a digital copywriter at Magnetic Creative in Knysna in early August 2020.
How has the transition been from traditional to digital?
Initially, the learning curve was steep. But getting up to speed with the ins and outs of digital marketing has been an incredible experience and an invaluable opportunity. As a digital copywriter, doors just keep opening, and it is all as a result of what I have learnt (and am still learning) at Mag.
What's some of the biggest lessons you've learned in your career?
Keep listening. Keep learning. Keep growing. Choose your battles. Don’t get attached to anything you create, ever. Downtime is essential.
Any role models within the industry, and at Mag?
The Mag SA management team has shown me what true leadership looks like, and how effective it can be. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn alongside such an inspirational group of people.
Any tips for aspiring copywriters on how to get into the field?
If you are creative, a team player who enjoys working with language, full of original ideas and like to weave a good story, chances are you could make a living as a copywriter.
Be proactive and secure a holiday internship at an agency while you’re still in school, then study something language-related before specializing in copywriting to hone your craft. If you have a strong creative portfolio of work to back you up, getting your first job as a copywriter should be a breeze.
Any resources you use consistently and would recommend?
Follow the right people and brands on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Keep growing your network. Stay up to date with local and international industry trends and news. Read widely. Meditate to make space in your head for new ideas and fresh perspectives.
What's your process when faced with a challenging or unusual topic to write about?
Do as much online research on the topic as possible. Bounce ideas around with colleagues and peers, then interview some experts.
What keeps you up at night?
My new dog, Gypsy.
Looking for more copywriting tips? Check out our blog on Conversion Copywriting: Tips and Tricks to Spur Action