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How to Become a Better Copywriter

Let me begin by clearing up a few things about copywriters that I have to answer quite often: 

  1. No, I don’t write copyright laws for people. I have no idea what that entails and the closest thing to legal knowledge I have regarding copyrights is that you don’t wanna mess with them. Ever. 

  1. No, I don’t take notes in court, that’s a stenographer and a skill I absolutely do not have. 

  1. Yes, I write, but no I’m not just a blogger. I write everything and anything from emails to websites to billboards to commercials to brochures to digital ads to social media posts. 

  1. Yes, I am a marketer. Yes, I am aware people don’t always like marketers. No, I’m not trying to make you spend your hard earned money or give up your first born for useless products you don’t need. 

  1. No, no, NO, it’s not like Mad Men. For the love of all things holy, I am not Peggy from Mad Men. 

  1. Yes, I am a writer—in more ways than one. I’ve been writing stories and essays since I was a kid, went to school for journalism and creative writing, and still write creative nonfiction in my down time. This diversity of the craft has allowed me to improve my career as a copywriter and understand the importance of storytelling, no matter what I’m writing. 

But it wasn’t, and isn’t, always easy. Copywriting is transforming your voice into someone else’s, your identity into others’, and essentially trying to crawl into the brains of varying demographics and audiences to understand their needs, wants, and habits. To do this well, I’ve learned some powerful techniques to help me become a stronger, more insightful copywriter. 

Eat. Sleep. Read.  

Reading is essential to being a good writer. You have to consume an abundance of books, articles, essays, poems, and even haikus to become the writer you want to be. Why? Because as good as you think you are, and I’m sure you’re great, there are many writers better than you. Better than me. Better than Stephen King and Hemingway. 

Reading the work of those with a higher range of talent than ourselves helps us improve. We see different styles, voices, genres, literary devices, and can learn how to communicate better, connect with audiences more aggressively, and convey emotion more accurately. This helps whether you’re writing an essay about that time you glued your finger to your desk in fourth grade or whether you’re writing an email announcing a grand opening for a new store. Good is good,  but actively reading can make you considerably better. 

Write for More Than Your Work

After spending all day wracking your brain to write creative, customized content for clients, the last thing you may want to do is go back to the computer and write some more. Do it. Write a poem. Write a memory. Write a short fiction story. Write part of a memoir. Anything. Writing creatively allows you to explore new ways to share stories, and at the end of the day, that’s what good copywriters do—they share brands’ stories to build awareness and loyalty. 

But who wants to be loyal to a brand with no story? Or a bad story? Or one that’s confusing? No one. So the more you can learn about how to decipher,construct,and effectively tell stories, the stronger your work will get and the happier your clients will be. 

Watch Movies (Yes, I’m Serious) 

Are you going to make the next great film that will be discussed on fawned over for decades? I mean, maybe, but even if not, film still has value to influence and improve other types of creative work. Script, character development, plot, cinematography, music all work together to contribute to a film’s success. Watch how this is done. Pay attention to how the story is carried by the voices and tones of its characters. Find how music carries emotions throughout. Take note on how you feel when certain color schemes or phrases and dialogues are spoken. Get inspired. Then get to work. 

The way a film makes you feel can be inspiration to make your audience feel similarly when reading your copy. No, you’re not aiming for an Oscar, you’re trying to help a client gain more customers by writing a compelling home page—but that isn’t less noble, worthy, or important. When you can get customers to feel something when reading your copy—trust, curiosity, admiration, need—you can transform them from potentials to life-long loyalists. 

Take a Class

Before you take after me and think it’s too expensive, stop—the abundance of free online courses from poetry to creative writing to journalism to prose to marketing to content strategy (the list goes WAY on) are available to you any dang time you want. Feeling stumped? Take a class. Can’t get over writer’s block? Take a class. Not even sure you want to be a copywriter? Take a class. When you have nothing to lose, you can only gain the knowledge and boost you need to take the plunge into a new career as a writer or enhance the one you have. 

Breathe 

Contrary to popular belief, writing. Is. Hard. It’s not something that just flows through you at every moment. It’s not something you can turn on and off at a moment’s notice, which can make deadlines, timelines, and work tough sometimes. So often we see writing portrayed as a talent that is almost magic, but the truth is even amazing writers have written and will write garbage. It happens. It’s how we then go on to write a masterpiece, whether it’s a novel, an essay, or an ad. 

If I’ve learned anything in my time as a copywriter it’s that panicking when you can’t think of the perfect headline immediately doesn’t make the perfect headline come. What does? The points listed above, going on a short walk when you’re stuck, stretching, making a sandwich, and giving yourself some time to breathe and regroup. 

Being a good copywriter is a never ending process of learning, trying new things, and failing. Get used to failing, because it happens. It doesn’t make you a failure, it just makes you better. 

Want to chat about content? Give us a call. We can sit down and talk shop. Need a content writer? Hi. Let’s do it

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