What It Really Takes To Be A Decently Good Copywriter

Or, what I wish someone told me about copywriting

It was January 2015. I was going to be a copywriter. To be honest now, I should have learned the fundamentals of Marketing before I decided to even write that first bit of copy. I had zero idea about what I was doing. Assuming that you’ll be a successful copywriter just because your grammar and language are good does not translate to you actually being a good copywriter. In fact, that’s just 18% of what makes up being a good copywriter. To be a good copywriter, you have to have a sales and marketing background, or at least educate yourself. I’m doing it a year late. Oh well, better late than never I guess.

Skills for being a Copywriter

· Having good grammar is a given

· So is being good at spelling and catching typos before your draft goes out

· Defining 2 writing styles at the very least! For starters, formal and casual are 2 basic writing styles. Develop your own… I’ve come up with a casually funny corporate style and a serious humorous one.

· Reading more than you write.

To learn as you go along

Just keep writing. But you won’t be writing as much as you’ll be reading. When you start off as a newbie like me, you don’t want to waste time. You think that just by jumping into writing you’ll save everyone’s time. Wrong. You’re just going to screw up your work, which will translate to spending twice the time editing and having to learn stuff which you’ll facepalm yourself over.

Research everything before you foolhardily jump into a project. Read the brief slowly, make sure you understand. Sometimes, at the risk of not wanting myself to look stupid, I wouldn’t ask questions. I’d assume something to save myself the embarrassment of having to ask a “stupid question”. Looking back in hindsight, there were at least 17 times where I wish I had asked the question instead of setting out to do the job.

Pacing yourself will be hard, as each piece of copy you write will vary wildly between types. Shorter copy will take a lot longer to write, edit, revise, and finalize, than a long-form piece of copy like this will.

Track it all

As far as possible, keep a note of how many words you can write per day. And only count “usable” words. The rest is trash, so don’t even consider them.

1. Keep a record of every single piece of writing or design you create. You’ll want to refer to it later, I kid you not.

2. Learn everything there is to know about the software you decide to work with. For the most part, you’ll be creating 89% of your stuff on Microsoft Word. There are tools that you never knew existed- so make yourself aware of them. My moment of stupidity arose when I realized there was a “Wrap Text” feature on Microsoft Excel that I never knew was a thing. Imagine, years of working with Microsoft Office, and I didn’t know that there was a super-simple and one-click method to fit all the text into one cell.

3. Surprise yourself now and then. When you have a long-form copy to write, just get started. Forget about the details, and work on just writing. Once you have a skeleton piece, you can work on it with your team to create the best final ever.

You will edit, revise, and make changes to every final draft you create. I’m talking about 6–7 of these, at the very minimum. Don’t give up, I almost did. I’m glad I didn’t, though. Also, I wish I READ more than I WROTE… never too late to learn, though.

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