SCA Spotlight On…Author of How to Make Work Not Suck, Carina Maggar
Carina Maggar is a creative copywriter and self-confessed career butterfly who’s worked for brands such as ASOS, YouTube, Pepsi, Channel 4 and more. Carina hasn’t taken your traditional route into any of these big name brands and her learnings along the way have led her to write the bestseller career advice book How To Make Work Not Suck. Here, we delve into her creative pathway and pick her brains for words of advice for those just starting out.
Carina, welcome to the SCA Blog! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a copywriter from London. I went to Leeds Art University where I did a Foundation diploma in graphic design, followed by creative advertising at Bucks. I’ve had quite a messy ‘career’. I haven’t followed a particularly logical or linear path. My first book How To Make Work Not Suck came out last month; so I guess I’m an author now too! It’s a straight-talking, honest career guide for anyone and everyone. I promise it’s not like the rest out there.
What made you want to pursue a career as a creative copywriter?
Words have always been my thing. I’ve always loved reading (and spelling tests) I remember when I was younger, I used to get excited writing birthday cards. I liked the challenge of a blank page and coming up with a personal message more imaginative than ‘happy birthday, hope you have a lovely day’. What’s the point in that?!
I used to read the copy on everything; bubble bath bottles, juice cartons, snack bars. I liked critiquing them, thinking about what I would’ve done differently, or why I did or didn’t like it.
When I was at Leeds doing graphics, my tutor commented that my work often leant towards ad campaigns. I messed around with slogans, jingles and branding. He suggested I look into copywriting. I’d never heard the word before, I didn’t know it was a thing. Before that, I thought the only option for a career involving writing was journalism.
How did you end up working for the likes of ASOS, YouTube, Pepsi, Channel 4?
Lots of different avenues led me to those brands. Some I’ve worked with as a presenter, some as a creative, some as a voice over artist. I’d pitch treatments for online content and help develop material for across social platforms. Other brands I’ve worked with as an intern when I was in my final year of uni, or they’ve been clients of agencies I’ve spent time at; some PR, some advertising.
What was the inspiration behind your book ‘How to Make Work Not Suck’?
I used to keep a notes folder on my phone. Whenever I’d observe something in a meeting, or the office, or on the bus, I’d write it down. Over time that folder had over 400 insights in it; bits of advice or general observations that I thought were funny or meaningful.
I thought they’d be helpful to share with people starting out in the world of work. I wanted to create a fun, accessible, entertaining book that I would’ve found useful when I was at uni.
What’s the book about and who’s it for?
How To Make Work Not Suck is a straight-talking career guide for 18-24 year olds. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not useful for everyone else. The book will either teach you something you don’t know yet, or it’ll remind you of the stuff you’ve forgotten over time. It’s for anyone feeling uncreative, wanting a career change or just stuck in a bit of a rut.
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
If you hate your job, leave. Of course, it’s not always as simple as that but being miserable at work isn’t worth your sanity. Life’s too short to be stuck in a job you hate. If you find yourself dreading every day, start putting the wheels in motion to get the hell out. Also, don’t listen to other people’s advice.
Top tips and advice for any aspiring copywriters.
Read. Anything. Magazines, newspapers, blogs, shampoo bottles. I actually find the only time I read books these days is on holiday when my mind is relaxed. If you’re looking to be a copywriter you need to read. And write. Get yourself a website and begin showcasing and practicing your writing. Try to set time aside each week to start developing your own style.
Recommended reading and listening for aspiring creatives.
Obviously, I’d recommend getting a copy of How To Make Work Not Suck; I wrote it with aspiring young creatives in mind so that’s a good start. Plus, it looks pretty.
The Squiggly Career podcasts are always insightful.
I have some slightly controversial advice; I found that reading too much stuff like D&AD books and old copy bibles can be a bit overwhelming when you’re starting out. I’d suggest picking them up every now and then for reference, but then I’d close them and hide them away. Do your own thing, don’t worry about what’s been done before you, I’ve found it can feel a bit intimidating. Maybe that’s just me!
What’s your biggest career regret?
Turning down opportunities out of fear. When I was a presenter, I used to get extremely nervous before jobs, screen-tests or auditions. I used to fill my mind with all these unrealistic scenarios of what could go wrong. I’d work myself up into such a frenzy that I’d turn down the opportunity altogether, or I’d forget to enjoy the experience itself.
I’ve learnt that these things never go as badly as you think and if they do, so what? It’s not the end of the world and it’s a learning curve. There’s nothing worse than living with the regret of not giving that thing a go just because you’re scared. Suck it up and do it before the opportunity passes you by.
How To Make Work Not Suck: Honest Advice for People With Jobs is OUT NOW!
Find out more about Carina at www.carinamaggar.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @carinamaggar