January 7, 2011It’s good to be back in London

Shoes - Stolen!

Happy new year, folks. Hope you’ve had a good one. I’ve had one of those months. You know the sort, the kind where a vengeful girl locks you out, steals your shoes, and leaves you to drive two hundred miles in your wellington boots to crash on a mate’s couch because you have nowhere else to go for Christmas and New Year.

Never happen to you? Well, you’re lucky. But my month on the road (working, as ever, with my Laptop, my wireless dongle and my trusty Blackberry) made me think about one thing. As a copywriter whose business is primarily online, who communicates for the most part with clients via email, phone and skype, do I really need to be in central London?

I’ve had something of a bumper month, with work coming in more or less every day. In fact, I’ve had to turn some people away because I simply couldn’t give their projects the attention they deserved. It’s just as well, because I’ve had a sizeable hotel bill to pay. Funnily enough, I’m still more annoyed about the shoes. (Are you getting the hint yet? I really loved those shoes.) But it occurred to me — if I could work from an anonymous out-of-town Hilton and, later, from my friend’s desk in Leeds, 200 miles away from London — do I really need to live in London for work?

The answer is yes and no. No, because the rent in London is extortionate, the weather is awful, and the bars are always full of tourists. Yes, because I’m back in the city this week because I have two new client meetings, both for sizeable accounts. I’m not sure “Could you drive up to Leeds for a meeting?” would sound quite as impressive as “sure, I live at London Bridge, let’s have a coffee on the South Bank and talk.”

I’ve been tempted to move. I could get a much bigger flat for much less than I’m paying here. I could work a three day week — and take up a hobby in my spare time. But the real reason I don’t move? People don’t take you seriously unless you’re in London. And I’m sure if I moved, my business would suffer.

I’ve seen “copywriters” as far away as Middlesbrough (that’s an hour further north than Leeds) advertise themselves as “London Copywriters”. Presumably “Copywriter from the Middle of Nowhere” didn’t have the same ring to it. And yes, I suppose they could drive down for five hours for a midday meeting, but it’s not quite the same as nipping over the river for a quick chat.

Wellies - not so good for driving

I used to live just 49 miles outside of London and would frequently drive in for business. But since moving to the centre, I’ve found my local business has more than doubled. Why? Because I’m better able to market myself, using keywords, maps and, of course, Google Places. I can meet people same-day and seal the deal that afternoon.

In other words, while I can conduct my actual business — copywriting — from anywhere, there’s a major benefit in terms of account handling, meeting new clients and self-marketing — from my current, central location.

When I first got into the copywriting game, I was advised to start out local. And “Copywriter Guildford” might have been a better way to market myself before I moved back to the Big Smoke. But the truth is that the majority of the market is in central London, and it’s here you’ll find the lion’s share. To most of the world, England is London. And to do business with them, they expect you to be here.

I’ve been away for a month, but it feels good to be back. And with the extra money I make from working in London, I can easily afford a new pair of shoes. Now, if only someone could halve my rent…

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 7th, 2011 at 5:15 pm and is filed under Blog, Me and my business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment

  1. Happy new year, boss! I’m sorry we never got to catch up in December, but soon!

    This is interesting given what I’ve just written about why I prefer being up North right now. It’s just psychology rather than geography, of course, but I think it is good to recognize that London does not always have to be England. Of course, though, I agree with you. The company I worked for last year: the turnaround between application, interview and decision was very swift. Editorial work is all London-based as well.

    Glad that work has been strong, and that you’re not losing hope. I’m not sure at all how 2011 will pan out with housing either, so I’ll definitely keep the channels open. Due back in Feltham in a week. I’m sure the snooker can keep me entertained until then.

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