Yorkshire’s a county like no other. And working here in Leeds means more than just inheriting a world-famous regional identity; it’s a way of life.
Now I’m no flag-waving, tribalistic loon. If pushed, I’d say borders are arbitrary and meaningless. For me, ‘Yorkshire’ represents a collection of distinct cultural values that transcend the white rose on blue.
First though: a confession
I wasn’t born in Yorkshire. Nor did I grow up here, regular visits to mad Granny’s aside (my Dad’s from Grimethorpe of pit and brass band fame). So my personal Yorkshire credentials wouldn’t stand up to much scrutiny in a conclave hosted by Geoffrey Boycott and Nora Batty.
Worse still – my mum was from Blackburn in Lancashire. But, like I said, this is about cultural values not archaic disputes over sovereignty. As my friends over at JOMC will tell you: culture’s all about the attitudes, values and beliefs shared by communities of people.
I’m proud to be a copywriter in Leeds with the Yorkshire ethic
Leeds has been my home since 1999 and soon ascended to become my spiritual motherland. Like I wrote in my guide to happy and honest freelancing, The Human Freelancer, I consider myself a Yorkshireman by adoption.
Not only is it bloody beautiful here (when it’s not languishing beneath grey quilted skies) it exudes quiet self-assurance and a weathered authenticity that flaunts two fingers to an age of narcissism and artifice.
Living here in Yorkshire doesn’t change your values, it accentuates what you always held to be honest, sensible truths. That’s why, to many people living in Leeds, moving to Yorkshire feels like coming home and I’m no exception.
Here’s how three Yorkshire values permeate my life as a freelance copywriter in Leeds and influence the words I write.
It’s a misconception that Yorkshire folk are tight. It’s more accurate to say we won’t stand for anything other than good value for money, and a fair price for something that lives up to what it promised.
In the first instance that means we share a deep appreciation for what value really means. So when I’m copywriting about a product or service in Leeds, it obliges me to comprehensively explain how something earns its price tag.
That’s why my copywriting often goes beyond simple claims, into practical justifications about how life genuinely gets better with this thing in your life.
Yorkshire’s penchant for frugality also gives you a deep respect for people’s hard-earned time and money. Especially pertinent when you want them to part with it.
That same ethic also applies to how you steer a project too. Of course Yorkshire folk are as creative as every other human being on the planet, but we’re especially good at keeping one eye fixed on the purse strings so there’s never runaway costs or wasteful expense for a client.
We vehemently defend our values and live them everyday. It’s a trait that makes us dependable, trustworthy and consistent. Some even go as far as saying we’re stubborn if our principles are brought into question.
Practically speaking, when you run a business in Leeds like I do, having strongly held principles means that if you say you’re going to do something, you do it.
It comes down to keeping promises.
That’s why I try to write copy which always lives up to expectations. Not just for clients but for readers too. For instance, if I outline a problem in my copy and say I’m going to describe how we fix it – I won’t stop writing until I do.
As far as I’m concerned, your word, indeed your honour, is everything if you’re from Yorkshire.
In my favourite spit and sawdust pub yards off Briggate in Leeds you’ll often hear amiably blunt exchanges between like-minded drinkers. In the slightly more refined realm of copywriting you’ll find the same uncompromising mode of direct speech in my copywriting.
It’s all about not tarting up your copy with complex words when simple ones will do. That’s the quickest, most effective way to communicate your message to readers without putting needless obstacles in the way.
Honesty’s a more subtle art.
If your heart isn’t in what you’re writing about then it’s extremely difficult to write convincing, honest-sounding copy. That’s why I research and plan my copy before it’s written and dissect the truths at the heart of what I’m writing about.
Coming from Yorkshire gives you fortified intolerance for nonsense – that’s probably why I edit copy so ruthlessly and rage at meaningless corporate bilge.
Ah’ll si thee
Nothing gets past someone from Yorkshire. We’ve a knack for sharp observation if things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be and we admire an honest toil to put it right.
Now when you combine that with our passion for telling it like it is, you know that when we point something out, it’s probably worth listening to.
The same goes for copywriting in Leeds.