Background: The Highlights
David Hughes is a seasoned copywriter with a decade of experience in content and marketing. His impressive portfolio includes working with renowned clients such as Cheerios, as well as smaller businesses in his local community.
David specializes in creating persuasive copy that drives user action and boosts conversions. He is well-versed in advertising, marketing, and content strategy and has also written for academic and news media outlets. With a passion for data-driven messaging, David excels in analyzing performance and implementing strategies to achieve optimal results.
David’s journey as a senior copywriter began with a role at an academic journal, where he discovered his preference for creating promotional newsletters over editing scholarly articles. After retraining and working with smaller firms, he secured a position at a world-renowned advertising company. Eventually, he ventured into freelancing, providing Fortune 500-level strategy to smaller businesses.
nDash’s Discussion with David Hughes
Jenn: Can you tell us about your background and the path that lead to working as a senior copywriter?
David: My first writing job was with an academic journal, where I was responsible for editing articles and combing through submissions. In only a few months, I realized that I was enjoying creating promotional newsletters significantly more than writing or editing the academic work itself. Something had to change.
After undergoing some retraining and working with a few smaller firms, I was able to secure a position at one of the most renowned advertising companies in the world. After a few years of writing web copy for big consumer-facing brands, I decided to strike out on my own, establishing my own book of clients. I love that I can provide smaller firms with the same level of strategy, usually only reserved for companies on the Fortune 500.
Jenn: Can you tell us more about your specialties in advertising, analytics, and content strategy?
David: I had to become a specialist in all three pretty quickly. Advertising today is inseparable from analytics. Firms no longer want armchair psychologists musing about what people desire, they want copywriters that know how to analyze performance, test multiple options, and zero in on razor-sharp, data-backed messaging.
In my agency days, I was writing copy for search and social ads, so campaigns were constant cycles of study and iteration. Content strategy is similar, but when I’m working on longer-form content, organic placement and audience behavior often take precedence.
Jenn: How did nDash become part of your journey as a freelance writer?
David: I live most of the year in Costa Rica. Lunch hour is at the beach, and the water cooler has been replaced by freshly-squeezed tropical fruit juice. I no longer commute for hours every day and can spend more time on hobbies like cooking and music production—Bread and Butter on Spotify for the curious. In order to keep this arrangement, I need to find new business. I see nDash as a great way to build relationships with brands looking for high-quality talent.
The rest of nDash’s Discussion with David Hughes
David’s expertise lies in advertising, analytics, and content strategy, where he combines his deep understanding of consumer behavior with his ability to analyze data and develop compelling messaging. He embraces nDash as a platform to connect with brands seeking high-quality talent and appreciates the freedom it offers him to work remotely from his home in Costa Rica.
Jenn: As a freelance writer, how do you approach creating copy that drives user action and increases conversions?
David: Well, I can’t give away all of my secrets, but the most fundamental principle is to provide value. Creating content that drives conversions is not the same as creating a sales page that drives conversions. With content, you are much closer to the beginning of the funnel.
You want to rank well for what your target is already looking for, and then you have to give them something of real value once the reader is on-page. Of course, this is also highly dependent on what consumer behavior the client wants to target.
Jenn: Can you describe your experience in managing Google, Bing, and Amazon campaigns for consumer-facing brands such as Cheerios and KitchenAid? What tools did you use to manage those campaigns?
David: Search campaigns are tricky things. Especially when working with larger clients that might have highly segmented messaging. At times, this can feel like you’re spinning plates, but there are a few things that can help.
The first is a strong working knowledge of the major search analytics platforms, and the second is budget pacing. You need to know what budget will go where, at what time of the day, and to whom. For this, there is no replacement for an old-fashioned spreadsheet and some basic project management software—I prefer Trello.
Jenn: Tell us about your success in increasing average monthly Pinterest viewers from 2000 to six million within a 12-month period with zero ad spend. What methods did you use?
David: Algorithms change all the time, so this strategy might no longer be as valid as it once was—but it was largely a volume push. I worked with a graphic designer, and we created up to 15 pins a day with sticky copy and clean design. Many were aspirational, some were informative, but all were designed to earn a pin. We kept up this relentless pace for almost a year, and it took off like wildfire.
Jenn: How have you applied your copywriting skills to the projects you completed while working as a Digital Media Specialist at OutMatch?
David: Before I could write effective copy at Outmatch, I had to first do a lot of active listening and research.
My clients were mainly from the health industry, and I quickly realized that understanding their vertical was crucial to producing quality copy.
This lesson is particularly valuable for freelancers who often work with clients from various industries. Demonstrating respect and understanding for different industries is a prerequisite for achieving success in this business.
Jenn: What were your responsibilities as a Digital Content Editor at The Political Bouillon, and how did you contribute to the editorial team’s success?
David: As part of my role, I was responsible for reviewing and refining academic articles, as well as crafting editorial and promotional content for the publication. I remained up-to-date with the latest developments in political science and international relations to ensure that our publication addressed any content gaps that other outfits may have missed.
Jenn: How did you recruit and develop new writers during your time at The Political Bouillon, and what outcomes did you achieve in terms of talent development?
David: While we found it relatively easy to attract new writers, assessing their proficiency proved to be quite a challenge. Holding events and poaching existing talent worked the best for us, but in retrospect, I think devoting more time to cold-sell larger prospects could have helped us see even better results.
Talent development for writing means good feedback. Sitting down with someone and asking them, “What are you really trying to get the reader to understand?” almost always ends with a stronger second draft. When this is repeated, the improvements writers can make are stunning.
Jenn: What is the best advice you’ve received as a freelance writer? What is the best advice you’ve given?
David: The best advice I’ve ever received is also the best advice I can give any freelance writer. Cultivate curiosity in everything. The desire to know more is the greatest competitive advantage you can have. Fall in love with curiosity, it will take you places that skill alone cannot.
Thank you for chatting with me about your background and career as a freelance writer!
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