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The Professional Copywriters' Network is a free-to-join membership site for UK commercial writers, aimed at improving the profile of copywriting as a profession and providing a place for writers to network, chat and support each other. 

It was launched by professional copywriters Tom Albrighton and Ben Locker. 

I've been asking Tom, also an Econsultancy guest blogger, about the site... 

In one sentence, what is the Professional Copywriters' Network?

A free-to-join members’ organisation for professional writers serving the UK market, with a busy community website. 

What problems does it solve?

Firstly, there is no other professional body devoted to UK commercial writers. 

Secondly, we feel copywriting has lost status in comparison to other disciplines such as graphic design, and we wanted to improve that. 

Thirdly, the PCN site provides a platform for members to develop their professional profile with a directory entry, blog posts, forum contributions and more. 

When and why did you launch it?

We launched in June 2012, following around two years of development. 

One major reason for creating the PCN was the emergence of low-grade ‘content’, bought on a low-cost ‘by the word’ basis, which some companies use for SEO or (what they imagine is) content marketing. 

Apart from being ineffective in commercial terms, that sort of content denigrates writing as a profession and undermines writers as a group. Copywriting is a service, not a commodity. 

Who is your target audience?

Professional and aspiring commercial writers serving the UK market. Freelancers, writers in marketing or ad agencies and writers working in-house on the client side are equally welcome. 

Membership isn’t automatic. Prospective members must show a portfolio of commercial or student work in order to join. 

What are your immediate goals?

Our first priority was to get people talking about the site and build up membership. As time goes by, we hope our members will influence how the PCN should develop.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building the site?

We favoured WordPress because we were familiar with it, but it’s not ideal for building a fully fledged membership site. We got there in the end!

We also tried to set some recommended rates, which was like nailing jelly to the wall. But now we’ve launched, members are sharing their ideas about improving the rates, so we hope to arrive at an authoritative, collectively agreed version. 

How will the company make money?

We considered and rejected paid membership, but we’re looking at options such as PCN-branded training, seminars and conferences. Right now, generating revenue is secondary to gaining members and developing a site that’s truly useful for them.  

Who is in the team and what does it look like?

PCN is owned, run and managed by Tom Albrighton and Ben Locker, both professional copywriters.  We use some freelance support, but much of the site content is created by members, for members. 

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

One month after launch, we’d reached 330 members. To reach 1000 in our first year would be fantastic. 

Over the first three years, we’d like to establish a regular PCN conference and training programme. 

In five years, we’d like to be recognised as the single, authoritative professional association for UK copywriters. That means making sure our members are in – and stay in – the driving seat.

Graham Charlton

Published 20 July, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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