Monique Butterworth is a journalist, writer, editor, and content creator. With a passion for story-telling and over 30 years’ experience in print and digital media – Monique has certainly seen it all in her quest for a good story.
I found Monique about six months ago during my candle rebrand journey. I wanted professional help in writing the descriptions that would eventually go on the candle labels. Monique sat in my backyard with me and my baby and we talked about writing, candles and scents for what felt like ages but probably wasn't that long. She eventually wrote many of the descriptions that you see on the website and candle labels today.
I'm eternally thankful for her help, direction and tone of voice which played a key role in shaping my business. I sat down with her recently to discuss her experience as a writer.
Like many people, I dreamed of being a writer as a child. How & why did you get into writing and journalism?
I too, loved writing as a child. English was definitely my forte & I loved reading books. I also found ‘news’ exciting too but wondered how I could get into it. While I was in Year 12, I travelled to Sydney (from Tamworth) to sit an exam at News Limited (now News Corp) to become a ‘copyperson’. I was called back to News Limited on my 18th birthday (Dec 19) for an interview and I was offered a job – starting Christmas Day! It was the most incredible introduction and apprenticeship in journalism.
You wrote many of the wonderful descriptions that appear on the all-new Clare Makes candle labels and also on the website. How do you write a fragrance description? What kind of approach did you take?
As you know, I was immediately drawn to ‘Matilda’ because it is my daughter’s name. Once I smelt the divine blend of eucalyptus, berries, rose & amber I was hooked. It is tough to pick a favourite though and even harder the longer you spend sniffing them!
Inspiration for the label descriptions came from a lot of time spent sniffing those fragrance samples I went home with and researching the individual scents. Sometimes writing ‘less’ is significantly harder than writing ‘more’.
You have a really diverse CV and you seem to have interviewed a lot of interesting people. Who has been your favourite interview subject and why?
Oh gosh, I get asked this a lot…especially at dinner parties when someone discovers I am a journalist. It’s a really tough one to answer. I have had some seriously amazing adventures and been in surreal situations that money simply can’t buy. Lots of pinch-yourself moments. It’s way too tough to choose one!
However, I know whenever I share a pic of Chris Hemsworth & I on my socials, most people lose their shit! So, I guess he’s definitely up there as one of my favourites. He really is a lovely guy too.
What’s been your approach to copywriting in particular? How do you approach a brief?
For me, it’s important to make a connection with the client and really listen to what it is they want. My journalist background (and intuition) is invaluable in this scenario. Extracting the right story and telling it well is paramount.
As a freelancer, how do you find work and build your business? Do you rely primarily on word of mouth?
I had worked in traditional print media (newspapers & magazines) as a journalist for around 17 years before I made the freelance leap over ten years ago. I have a lot of contacts in the media industry and also a lot of contacts who have branched out into other fields – so initially it was not hard to find work. As the media landscape changed, it was important to change with it and not be left behind. So now copywriting and content creation are also part of my jam. I enjoy the variety.
I know you’ve been home schooling during lockdown which is tough. How has the pandemic affected you, personally and professionally?
As a freelancer, I have always worked from home, so that is situation normal for me. What’s not normal, is stepping into the role of teacher, whilst juggling multiple deadlines, projects & clients too. It’s super-stressful and I am doing my best not to pass on that anxiety to my daughter.
Work-wise, I’m finding not a lot has changed for me – there’s still lots of people out there who need words well written – so I am grateful for that.
What do the next 12 months hold for you?
Well, I can’t say too much right now…but there could be an exciting change coming up. Don’t want to jinx it!
Let's get personal…
1. What else are you passionate about besides your work?
Obviously, my family…but right behind them comes my horse Marty (aka the Big Handsome Ranga). The bond between horse and rider is hard to explain; you are forever learning & the exhilaration you get when it all somehow comes together is incredible. I just love him to bits & wish I had more time to spend in the saddle.
2. What is your most treasured belonging?
My family. Although I am not sure I would call them a ‘belonging’. In terms of an object, it would be my Tiffany & Co horseshoe necklace. It has incredible sentimental value.
3. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I’m a mad animal lover, so I would like to think I would be a vet or zookeeper!
4. What’s one thing in your home you can’t live without?
My beautiful kitchen which my partner James designed & built. He is a carpenter/joiner/cabinetmaker & has his own business (James Lee Warner Furniture) – so it has serious ‘Wow’ factor – but it’s more because it is very much the heart of our home & we spend so much time here together with friends & family.
5. In 10 years, I'd like to be...
Definitely not home -schooling! Ha!
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Every Monday, Clare Makes sits down with an Aussie creator or business owner to discuss their life and work. These articles are curated with you in mind, to enjoy alongside a cup of coffee and your favourite scented candle. If you'd like to be interviewed for the blog or know someone else who would be perfect, please email firstname.lastname@example.org