A Copywriter Grapples With the Age-Old Question: How Can You Make Money Without Compromising Your Values?

by Gill Jones

There are things going on in my field of work that lie heavy on my conscience.

I see people selling hard on behalf of their clients and themselves, that oh-so-hard-driven funnel, the formulas, those keywords, the acronyms. Because I specialise in content marketing rather than direct marketing, I’m able to avoid most of that.

However, this doesn’t mean that the overbearing you-must-get-this-before-it-runs-out scarcity mindset isn’t entirely absent from content marketing — it’s just not as prevalent.

How can I make sure my contribution as a copywriter is a valuable and productive one?

The first and most obvious answer to me is to only work with those who share the same values.

Corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship have hit the mainstream.

Consumers are becoming more conscious about looking for the ethos and the story behind the brand, and it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to appear driven by more than the need to make money.

Photo by  Gemma Evans  on  Unsplash

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

Even companies who aren’t explicitly socially-conscious, who don’t contribute some of their profits towards either the environment or community-based projects, must realise that profit as a sole motivator is no longer a good way to sell.

Providing value to customers should be a key goal of marketing. That and creating an enjoyable experience that leads towards a sale, without the gamification and the obsession with numbers.

Thankfully, connecting with people is starting to prevail as a foundation for business over chasing money.

You can sell with empathy and make money if you put more thought into considering the well-being of everyone and anyone that may be connected to your business.

Yes, but it’s not just about the businesses I work with, what about me, what can I do to be better?

It’s easy to talk about the kind of businesses I want to work with, but what about what I do?

I can try and make an effort to work with mainly environmentally aware businesses, with those that have a conscience, with those that want to improve living conditions, but what I ask myself is this — what can I do as a copywriter?

How can I go about promoting my work and myself with more kindness, more empathy?

How can I make a difference?

The state of the world now — climate change, environmental damage, the increasing gap between rich and poor, the rise of individualism over community — these are all things I worry about.

Because I’m concerned about some of the issues raised above, I don’t really feel selling, as it is, as I see it a lot of the time, is enough for me.

I cannot sell or help people to sell without a conscience — there’s too much at stake.

And I don’t want my work to be about hard selling for either myself or on behalf of my clients.

I want to make money, enough to make a decent living, with the intention of contributing some of what I earn to charity.

But a scarcity mindset can often work, especially when it comes to drawing attention to world events, environmental issues and global poverty.

Yes, there will be times where an aggressive method is needed if money is required quickly for a worthwhile cause, there’s always room for a sense of urgency where humans or the environment are concerned, but can we leave behind the scarcity mindset just for that, and not every day selling?

When a cause really matters, then YES, get right in people’s faces about the fact that we don’t have unlimited time available, because it’s entirely valid in that context.

These tactics can — and should — be used in the right set of circumstances.

Are there copywriters out there who embrace a kinder, more empathic way? Hell, yes.

I see copywriters emulating the way I want to work all the time, so I know it’s possible.

Yes, you can still make money and live comfortably, but without the aggressive selling methods.

You can care about issues bigger than yourself and still make a living.

I don’t always think I’m going to get to work with the kind of clients I want to work with. In an ideal world, yes, but life happens sometimes, and occasionally I’ll work with people who make money through services and products that don’t embrace a greater good or social cause — and that’s okay.

However, the way in which they do this will determine whether or not I choose to work with them.

They may be hairdressers, carpenters, damp proofers or florists, but the way they run their business, how they treat people, how they treat their customers will be an important deciding factor.

What I need to remember however is that it’s not just about having high expectations of my clients, it’s also about having higher expectations of myself, to hold myself up to scrutiny, not just in the way I sell for my clients, but in how I sell my own services — to do it ethically and with honesty.

I know I’m not alone in this and that it won’t be easy, but we must choose this better way for all of us.

I believe that marketing and selling will evolve. It has to.

We can’t go on as we are.

By all means make money, life is pretty awful without it, but be aware, promote something good, help people out, offer value, be kind, be compassionate, be authentic.

From here on, I will continue my journey of self-discovery, to find a better way to work, one where I can make a difference.



My name is Gill Jones. I’m a UK-based copywriter specialising in web copy, articles and emails.

I’m interested in ethical marketing, business that do good, mental health issues and sustainability. I speak Welsh, which is a funny old language, and I love the outdoors, wildlife and chocolate.

I believe in kindness and simply being nice. Although we’ve been trained by social media and reality TV to think that ‘nice’ is boring and vanilla, there is room for courtesy, community, compassion, and operating with empathy.

Connect with me: Website | Instagram | LinkedIn