An Interview with 2017 Graduate Kate Williams
What will you do when you leave university?
There are lots of interesting, creative roles out there for graduates of the School of Writing and Journalism. You could become a publisher, editor, writer, author, marketeer, business start-up, social media expert… The list goes on.
Kate Williams, who won our Industry Collaborator Award in 2017, now works as a Research and Content Writer for a holiday company.
In this interview I talk to Kate about her work experience in the marketing sector of the publishing industry, her journey to content writing, her top tips for writing compelling content, and how her experience at university helped her reach her position.
So Kate, before your current role you got experience working in the marketing department for Penguin Random House. What is marketing like in publishing?
Yes, I did get great work experience a couple of years ago with Penguin Random House.
I found it involved sending materials like posters and bookmarks out to schools, keeping on top of social media (videos are essential for lots of views), guest posts and generally listening and reaching out to your industry, and reaching out to journalists from a mix of industries with ideas for content relevant to their audience while promoting PRH books.
Thank you - and this then led to your current position as a content writer. Tell us - what does an average day-in-the-life-of look like for you?
Well, I’m working for a holiday cottage company, so I write blog posts, odd lines of content (such as search and book pages) and proof-read property descriptions written by external freelancers. I’m currently working on keeping social content relevant and eye-catching, coming up with ideas for big content for pitching to journalists and creating text with relevant keywords so my company pages are easily found through searches.
If you were to explain/describe content marketing in a sentence, what would it be?
Ooh, that’s a tricky one. I’d say, ‘using exciting and inventive language to get important information to clients and customers - you have to capture their imagination’.
For budding content writers out there, what would your top tips be?
Keep it short and concise; don’t write a whole paragraph if you can make your point in a few well-placed words.
Break down large chunks of text (e.g. blog posts) into very short, digestible pieces of content. About two to four lines of text for one paragraph.
Create interesting titles and opening/closing sentences as I find these are essential for grabbing attention. It’s also easier to write interesting content if you have a great title.
Thank you - I’d like to look back a bit to your university days now. How did your experience and studies at Falmouth help you with getting this role?
I had fantastic support from lots of the tutors, particularly Danielle who heard I had done experience with Penguin and was writing for a cryptocurrency start up so introduced me to texter.io for some more great content writing experience. If you’re looking for writing work I’d definitely recommend approaching small freelance companies and offering your skills!
I also got the chance to support on the National Trust/Falmouth University partnership, publishing a short novel by Wyl Menmuir when he was our writer-in-residence. I was also lucky enough to get on a free course that Menmuir was running about novel writing, where he took us to a couple of Cornwall locations, gave writing tips and reviewed our work.
And what would you say you’ve learnt since leaving university?
Mostly that I had so much free time at university! Although I have found that simply getting up and doing something small and productive each morning is key to motivating yourself.
Writing a little every day makes a much bigger difference when developing your writing then producing large amounts of text every now and then. I’ve learnt that perseverance is a skill I have in bucket loads and is vital when looking for work you’ll enjoy.
I also learnt, after spending six months in a big corporate office, that personally I am much happier in a company with a good culture, than in a large company with great career pathways but a struggling company culture. I think everyone goes down very different paths after university! I know some people who have stepped straight from uni into the workplace (usually after doing summer work experience) and I know some people who are doing a mix of random short-term jobs alongside publishing work experience.
So there we have it. There are lots of different routes that you can take after university, it’s just about finding what’s right for you. Whether it’s getting a variety of work experience, contract or part-time roles and forging a portfolio career, or finding a role and company that fits you and enables you to progress in a career you love, there are lots of options.
With hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.
by Charlotte Rayment