Copify: Martin Harrison & Rob McVey

The copywriting entrepreneurs on part-time ventures and ruffling the competition's feathers

Company name: Copify Website: Founders: Martin Harrison, Rob McVey Age: 24 and 28 Based: Lancaster Staff Numbers: 2 in house, plus a network of 100 remote copywriters across the UK. Date started: February 2010

Tell us what your business doesWe provide a platform for publishers to source budget written content from a pool of copywriters.

Where did the idea for your business come from? We both worked for an online marketing agency which went under in early 2009. The business employed three full-time copywriters and when clients began to leave, the company quickly lost a lot of money.

We realised that due to the volatility of the market, for many agencies it makes sense to outsource services such as copywriting, making them less exposed should they lose clients.

What were you doing before starting up? Martin was a copywriter, Rob was a web developer. Together, we had the knowledge and the skills to build the site.

Have you always wanted to run your own business? Absolutely, having the freedom to do as we please, without getting caught up in red tape and office politics is something you can't put a price on.

What planning did you do before you started up?Martin approached several of his clients as a freelance copywriter with the concept, they all responded positively.

We don't have a business plan as such, we simply tackle issues as and when they come along, responding to the market as demand dictates.

How did you raise the money? We are proud to be completely self-funded. Being run alongside a successful web development business, and having the resources to deal with things in-house, means are overheads are relatively small.

How did you find suppliers? We have seen a steady flow of writer applications, generated mainly by word of mouth, social networking and Google Adwords.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? We've had a backlash from many within the copywriting fraternity; however, this negative publicity has in many ways been a good thing as it has raised awareness. For us, the old adage that any publicity is good publicity really does ring true.

Where is your business based? The business is run alongside Rob's web development agency in a purpose-built IT suite in the grounds of Lancaster University.

How have you promoted your business? We do all our PR in-house and we have also used networking sites such as Linkedin and Twitter, which drive a considerable amount of traffic to the site. We have also used Google Adwords, although this has proved costly and is something we are looking to phase out, as the site generates more and more organic traffic.

What about staff – how many do you have?We don't employ any staff per se, with the exception of the writers we use. We only pay for work once we have received payment from the client, which eliminates many of the cashflow issues that many businesses face.

What's the impact on your home life been like?Because we work on other projects alongside Copify, we don't get a lot of free time. Thankfully, we both enjoy what we do and get a genuine buzz from watching it succeed. In that sense, it is something of a hobby.

What was your first big breakthrough?Being featured on Econsultancy was a very proud moment for us, but we can't afford to rest on our laurels. We don't consider that our breakthrough has really materialised yet.

What would you do differently?We have perhaps spent too long responding to criticism of our business model from our competitors. We have learned to not take things to heart and not let people rile us.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?Go into an industry that you know like the back of your hand. Don't be discouraged by naysayers. If you have a genuinely good idea, have the conviction to act upon it.

You don't have to follow convention to be successful. Buy a copy of the brilliant ‘Rework' by 37 Signals, it will change the way you think about business.

Where do you want to be in five years' time? Do you have an exit plan?As long as we are growing at a consistent pace and making significant inroads into the market, we will be happy. There's no exit plan for us at the moment, we are enjoying the ride far too much for that.




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