How my vagina helps me write better copy

How my vagina helps me write better copy

Hi, I’m Kate. I’m a copywriter and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) consultant.

Oh, and I’m also a woman.

My womanness is not something I shout from the roof tops. Okay, so in my old brand image I’m wearing a dab of lipstick and biting a pen. And in my new carTOON version I have earrings and boobs.

But that’s the beginning and end of my efforts to be womanly. After that I’m just me – a writer and a human being who happens to have a womb.

You see, I decided not to add the word ‘chick’, ‘gal’, ‘bitch’, ‘goddess’ or ‘lady’ to my occupation to form my business name.

I don’t often refer to myself in the third person, but when I do I rarely describe myself as ‘sassy’.

And if you call me a mumpreneur I’ll poke you in the eye with a freshly made organic muffin.

Yes, I’m a mum, but I don’t harp on about it. Unlike so many blogs where women tell us tedious tales of mashing sweet potatoes for ‘Mr Four’ and struggling to manage their workload.

Now, in no way am I saying that being a working mum isn’t incredibly difficult. Nor am I disagreeing with the fact that, in most families, the burden of caring for children often rests with the woman.

But why whine about it?muffin

Why tell us at all?

I don’t care that your washing basket is full.

I don’t care that you’ve got to do the school run.

All I care about is that you’re fully focused on my business and the work I’m paying you for.

You see, I believe that the fact that I have a vagina (and that I squeezed a small human being out of it) has absolutely bugger all to do with what I do for a living.

And I just don’t get why so many of my female business peers play the female card ad nauseum.

In the advertising world, the male-to-female split is pretty even.

But in the geek-eat-geek world of SEO, it’s mostly men.

And while my femaleness is a point of difference in the murky depths of the forums and tech communities, it’s not something I play on.

I’ve written wonderful copy for traditionally male brands (think cars, beer and gadgets), and empathetic prose for so-called female brands (the baby and fashion stuff).

I think I’m equally awesome at both.

You see, if you’re a good writer you don’t need to have breasts to understand what having breasts must be like. If you’re writing copy for a great new bra, you follow the same process whether you’re a man or a woman.learn-copywriting-courses

You break down how your audience feels and thinks, consider their reservations and concerns, and then address them – one human to another.

And don’t get me started on the communities and networking groups for woman. (Why do we need women-only business networks anyway?)

By coming up with names for our businesses that include words like ‘heels’, ‘mums’ and ‘lipstick’, aren’t we just deliberately ostracising ourselves?

I don’t give a crap about heels and lippy.

What I do care about are clever, engaging people who are willing to share their ideas and advice.

This relentless focus on clothes and appearance not only alienates some women, but also objectifies others. As we’ve all heard before, isn’t it what’s inside (the brain) that counts?

I know that in many areas women are under-represented and underpaid compared to men. And that maybe we need to stand strong as women to be evenly matched with the blokes.

But, if you ask me, dumbing ourselves down with mummy talk and cutie pie business names isn’t the way to win the battle.

Over to you

Do you think of yourself as a mumpreneur? Or does all this female entrepreneur stuff bring you out in a rash? Please comment below. Oh and if you like the post, please share it.

This article first appeared in Roar Magazine.

P.S If you like posts about Vaginas check out this one.

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48 Comments

  1. Jam Tin Copy

    Great blog Kate Toon! As an interesting aside to the discussion 99% of my clients are male and of those maybe half a tradies – not a demographic I have actively marketed too but for some reason I get them. Interesting how it plays out.

    • Kate Toon

      But I bet you look good in fluro?

  2. Nicole Leedham

    Love this post. I got my hate on about the term mumprenuer a couple of years back and fired off a quick post. http://blackcoffeecommunications.com.au/a-hate-on-for-mumpreneur/. I only wish I had thought of poking people in the eye with an organic muffin. (also, I am now in the running for a mumprenuer award – hypocrite ‘r’ us)

    • Kate Toon

      ha – yes pot calling kettles black and all that. If you win you’ll have the mumpreneur label on your site and can no longer be my friend. Thanks for commenting

      • Nicole Leedham

        Oh dear, I just realised I do have a button on my site. And you can see it as you read my post about how much I hate the term….I’m full of awesomeness this week.

  3. Perry Bernard

    Great post, Kate, as always.

    • Kate Toon

      Thanks Perry

  4. Suzan St Maur

    Being a smidgen older than you folks I would find it very hard to consider myself as a muffin-making mumpreneur, given that my little baby bumwipe is 6 feet tall with tattoos, weighs 200 lbs of pure body-builder’s muscle and eats half a cow per day to fuel his gym visits. He’s hardly in need of nappies or nursery school any more, but he makes a wonderful debt collector…

    Not wishing to blow my own trumpet but I carried on running my business and bringing the wee lad up on my own, with a few added diversions along the way including nursing my dying mother for a year and going through various episodes of surgery and chemotherapy for cancer. Being freelance and self-employed helped, but I kept the show on the road.

    I wonder how many men would cope with that? Hmmmm….

    • Kate Toon

      Wow that’s a journey Suzan! Glad your cow eating bub is a healthy happy grown up beast. And yes, what you achieved is amazing – that’s why mumpreneur annoys me. It makes our achievements seem small, some how less that those of our male counterparts.

      I know lots of awesome dads who also run businesses balancing kids and work. They deserve huge credit. AS DO WE!! Thanks for reading and commenting. Love ya work.

      • Suzan St Maur

        Good call. Here’s to those Dads, too.

  5. Geraldine Jones

    Bet this post gets lots of traffic with a title like that!!

  6. Bridie Jenner

    I am definitely NOT a “mumpreneur”. Oh, how I loathe that word!

    Firstly, I had a business before I had children. Secondly, I hate the connotations that come with it. It sucks of “this is a hobby that I call a business, but really I just do it to fill in the time between baking/cleaning/wiping bums”.

    No, no, no!

    And agree with the women-only networking too. We always hear complaints about boys’ clubs, yet for some reason think it’s okay to have a female version? And from my limited experience of them, they quickly turn into cliques that like nothing more than to bitch about other members, which is why I quickly distanced myself…

    • Kate Toon

      Sorry I’d have answered sooner but I was busy baking/cleaning/wiping bums.

      Thanks for your comment.

  7. James Bellefeuille

    This headline speaks volumes for your copy writing skills and ability to develop content and campaigns that can “grow legs” of their own… 😉

    • Kate Toon

      Ah thanks James. I really appreciate that comment. It’s all about writing headlines that contain the word vagina! Simple but effective.

  8. Milk and Love

    Although we unconsciously all look to build our own ‘tribes’ of similar or like-minded people around us. Mum’s in business face challenges that are unique to their own group, and it’s great to be able to discuss the ups and downs of your situation with others in a similar situation.
    On the other hand, it shouldn’t be part of your marketing, EXCEPT if that is the group of consumers you are also marketing to. Ok, going back to working on my Ausmumtrepreneur award submission now… I can’t even spell the word (let alone say it!) 😛

    • Kate Toon

      Yep I agree with you there Corynn. Of course there’s a bond between mums and/or working parents in general. Labels work well if people identify with them but they’re quite off putting as well. It’s all about striking the right balance for you and your business. Mumpreneur feels iky to me, but would work for other mums I’m sure.

  9. Rhonda - Le Copywriter

    Ah yes. My favourite networking conversation:

    “So where’s your office?”
    “At home.”
    “Argh, a stay-at-home-mum, work-from-home mum.”
    “No, I’m a freelancer, I work from home, library, cafe or the beach.”
    “Oh, so you have a little one then?”
    “Yes, he’s at school, all day.”
    “So why do you work from home?”
    “Why can’t I?”
    NEXT!

    • Kate Toon

      Instead of “Why can’t I?’ I’d go with ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ I waited years for the guts to work for myself and work at home. Those who snipe are probs a tad bitter!

  10. Cat Matson

    Bam!!! And bam again!!

    You’re politer than I with anyone who dares call you a mumpreneur. I’ll use a fork. And eat the muffin 😉

    • Kate Toon

      BAM!! I’m not really that polite, just trying to sound a tad professional on my blog. Thanks for the read and the comment.

  11. Shae Baxter

    I hate the word and sick of people making a deal of it. I’m single and childless – doesn’t mean I don’t have my own struggles but I don’t call myself a singlepreneur or anything. In fact I have to do EVERYTHING on my own. Anyway I digress. And Richard Branson doesn’t call himself a dadpreneur.

    • Kate Toon

      Yep I hear you sister! Thanks for reading and sharing.

  12. Lucy Smith

    Oh (wo)man, I like you. The day we start seeing people as just that, people, and not pigeonholing them based on their sex, their gender (two somewhat different things) and their family situation will be one I pop the bubbly.

    I can’t consider myself a mumpreneur as I have not yet squeezed a small human from my body, but it’s a term I despise. There is no corresponding ‘dadpreneur’, so why are women who also happen to run businesses given a cutesy name that conjures up images of Etsy stores selling home-made nappies? Why are women defined by that particular role, rather than adding it to the many other roles we play in life?

    I could rant on about this, except to say that this is a truly awesome post and you have mastered the art of the attention-grabbing headline 😉

    • Kate Toon

      Ah thanks Lucy – I agree with everything you’ve said hugely, and you said it so very eloquently. Thanks for reading!

  13. Uli

    The problem I have with the term ‘mummypreneur’ is that it sounds as if it’s something we’re doing to fill the time between birth and school, or indeed as a hobby. Starting your own (micro) business is a long-term decision for most people, and the thought process might have started long before having babies. And yes, we are all time-poor, have lots of washing and sticky floors – not facts that I’m proud of but also not something I feel I have to share with my audience…

    • Kate Toon

      Yep – that’s a great point. Babies grow up and leave home. Businesses hopefully are a lifetime thing! Thanks for reading.

  14. Graham Todd

    O.M.G! I just love this to pieces!

    • Kate Toon

      Ah thanks Graham!

  15. Jackie Austin

    Kate, don’t get me started!! So true! I am sooo over women banging the mumpreneurs drum. But what about the “Single Mumdrum?! Bane of my life trying to ostrisise THAT social tag, and stand up and say “whatever??!” Yes I raised a child on my own, ok, but women have been doing that for centuries. I am a person, with unique skills and talents no matter whom has come out of my vagina, or whom has been around to help or what disease or poverty affliction has made life challenging! Power to the CopyToon 🙂

    • Kate Toon

      Thanks for your comment Jackie – it feels like people are super keen to label themselves and join a club. I guess for solidarity and support, but sometimes it smacks of something else? Not sure what.

  16. Words That Work Copy

    Fantastic post, Kate. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the ‘mumpreneur’ label but have never really stopped to think about what exactly turns me off… you’ve articulated it perfectly!

    • Kate Toon

      Thanks for reading WTWC! Glad we are of the same mind 🙂

  17. fiona

    Kate I love this. It is so bloody funny and very very true. If I had Twitter I would tweet about poking someone in the eye with a freshly made organic muffin. You have echoed my sentiments to a tee.

    • Kate Toon

      I think I should get t-shirts made!! Thanks for reading

  18. Scott Linklater

    Freaking awesome headline and was sure the article would be a let down after such a killer headline like that……I was wrong, brilliant article. You have so nailed it 100%!

    You have a new subscriber here! Great work, congratulations!

    • Kate Toon

      Thanks so much Scott – yes it was a risky headline!! And a bit shocking to someone, but sometimes you need that BIG headline to make a BIG statement. Thanks for reading 🙂

  19. Fiona Lucas

    Hi Kate, Brilliant article. When I first saw it I thought “oh no.. Kate’s gone clickbait” but actually it’s awesome. guess it could alienate some people but it’s not a swear word (saw an article recently that seemed to indicate saying Vagina was a swear word.. ridiculous but another story – yelling Penis on a crowded tram still makes me giggle!) Because I work in reputation its really hard to talk about Vaginas (or penises) for some reason !!
    I was reading a discussion on the mumpreneur term recently and it was certainly a topic with many strong emotions attached. Some really great comments here that’s for sure. I think people have always formed “tribes” (hence why social media is so popular too – as people can easily find “like minded” others) but I think it’s all in your attitude. There have been some interesting discussions along the lines of the separation of the feminine in today’s culture, perhaps some feel we got complacent along the way (I mean feminist has been distorted to a evil almost insult/swear word), yet it wasnt that long ago that women were fighting for simple rights such as property ownership and the vote (simple basic rights and yay for Australian women who broke that mold first) – perhaps it is left over from that era, or most likely stems from a feeling that people don’t feel valued, which is why they levitate towards certain groups. Like Suzan my “baby bumwipes” (cute term Suzan, my adult kids wont love me for it ha ha ) are now grown and I had an early divorce, did the raising, sickness, all that stuff that life throws at us, but I went back to work when my son was one because I felt stigmatised and undervalued… I perceived a change in how I was seen by other, from corporate well regarded business woman to “single mum” and “divorcee” and I couldn’t stand either label. It seemed to have all sorts of negative connotions and even later in the work place it raised its head. It was “your kids will be trouble” “your kids wont succeed” blah blah because I was on my own? Rubbish, it’s the effort we put in at whatever we do, whoever we are. Both my kids are doing very well and were never trouble, but I was there for them. The kids often (not all of course) who end up in trouble have issues in their lives whether physical, mental or emotional and it can be in the most affluent families where they have everything, or the poorest (where they have nothing) except quality time with their parents. We all have to make the effort. Whatever preneur we feel comfortable with (or none at all because entrepreneur is one of the most overused words of the decade in my mind) -it’s all about confidence in our abilities and whatever we feel comfortable with. I think the term Mumpreneur arose from women wanting to be acknowledged for the additional duties they do as a Mum. Even in today’s society with heaps of hands on Dads, stats still show women take on the majority of domestic duties on top of work and kids. If it makes you feel good use it 🙂 Sorry for the epic response… will end here but I could enjoy this discussion more.

    • Kate Toon

      Hey Fiona, thank you for your epic response. I’m glad that the post sparked some thought for you, that’s the whole point after all.
      Of course each to their own. But for me the term doesn’t feel write. I like you am not a fan of labels.
      I’m not a huge fan of preneur either!! I just work, earn a living and do stuff. I don’t think that makes me an entrepeneur!

  20. Matthew Farmer

    I have issues with the women-only networking groups. To the point where I convinced someone running one that it was not fair, and that one of her groups should be both male and female. And you know what? Nothing dire happened.
    I work with people based on talent, not gender. And to be honest, to dip a toe into the sexist pool for a moment, when I female professional brings out the family card- I couldn’t do your work because of child issues or family issues or what not, yeah I am sympathetic, but if the job goes for more than a week overdue, then perhaps you shouldn’t have taken the job on.
    I applaud your efforts to be self-employed while being a stay-at-home mom, but even I can be realistic about my ability to do stuff, my own personal limits. You really don’t have anything to prove to anyone…

    … except other women? What do you think about these women trying to be the BEST mumpreneur ever, because of the pressure applied by other women?

    • Kate Toon

      Yes I think Women can often be the harshest judges of other women. It’s a struggle not to get sucked into being the best at everything. A perfect business, a clean house and a nutritious dinner on the table. Sigh. Let’s just be the best humans we can be – be kind to others AND our selves. Thanks for the comment @disqus_pB9Zir0YJr:disqus

  21. Susan Branch Smith

    I really appreciate your post, Kate. Thank you for writing it.

    • Kate Toon

      Thanks @susanbranchsmith:disqus 🙂

  22. Hanna Hamilton

    Ironically I found you on a women’s networking group, which I’ve found to be full of positive women giving great advice. But I do hate the word mumpreneur

    • Kate Toon

      Yes. I’m softened my stance of female networking and even the phrase Mumpreneur of late. It’s not a label I like for myself, but I can see now why many women love it. So I’ve taken my judgey pants off. Thanks for reading.

  23. Tamara

    I get a little bit of sick in my mouth with the word ‘mumpreneur’. Couldn’t agree more.

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