Ok so the secret part about these truths is that you just haven’t asked us yet.
So, I’ll tell you. Here are 4 fun facts you probably didn’t know about copywriters
We don’t have a degree in Copywriting
Yep, it’s true, we don’t and that’s because it doesn’t exist. Most copywriters have a degree in something like Marketing, English or Journalism. There are plenty of courses you can take to learn the basics of copywriting but no actual university degree.
Whereas, my journey into copywriting was slightly different. Get comfortable…
While I was at school I loved writing but, I also loved, wait for it, Accountancy. Don’t laugh please. I really did. I think I just got this immense satisfaction knowing that each problem or question had a factual answer, an indisputable solution. It appealed to my sense of logic.
So when it came to apply for Uni I sent off my form requesting I be allowed to study for a degree in Accountancy and English; double major if you like.
No, I was told very firmly, NO. Just like that. No negotiation. Nothing. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.
Utterly disappointed, I opted for the degree which virtually guaranteed a job at the end of it which was Accountancy. Nowadays, degrees that mix the specialities are on offer at places like Murdoch University in Perth. I often wonder what direction my career would have taken had I been allowed to combine my Science and Arts subjects.
And don’t get me wrong, I don’t for a second regret my choice. I met incredible people along the way. I have a skill that the world will always need – counting money. But, it wasn’t enough for me. Sometimes I wish it had been. There’s a clearly laid out set of steps to follow to become an Accountant. Writer? Copywriter? Not so much. I chose the path less travelled and I made some stops on the way, but that’s another story.
And true to form, I secured a job before I’d even graduated. I went off to work as an Internal Auditor for a huge hotel group. I continued down that road and went on to become a Chartered Accountant (CIMA).
However, my love of writing (and talking) never went away. I moved into publishing a few years later, still as an Accountant. I yearned to be on the editorial floor though, writing stories rather than balancing the budget. I soaked it all in, however, and even got a few bylines.
In 2007 I left the world of spreadsheets behind and followed the dazzlilng, dizzy, bright ON AIR lights of the broadcasting studio.
Check out the accompanying image of Broadcaster Jen in the studio reading the script she prepared earlier.
My time in publishing and broadcasting gave me the skills to write copy. I was already writing in both roles, it was just called something different.
Most copywriters develop the research and writing skills of the trade in other jobs. Many work as journalists. Some are in Marketing roles. Some are even psychologists.
We’d actually write for free.
Yes, you did read that correctly, for free. We love writing so much that we’d do it anyway, regardless of the dollars.
However, my bank manager advised this wasn’t a great strategy. I took his advice. I now invoice and run Jen McGinlay Media with an ABN and everything. 🙂
The writing doesn’t take as long as you think
It’s the research part of being a copywriter that takes up our time. Before we even put fingertip to keyboard, it’s vital to know everything there is to know about the product/service and company we’re working with. This is research. My research normally consists of
· having a chat with the client to understand the brand and target audience
· reviewing past copy
· checking what Mr Google has to say on the matter
· identifying market trends
Only then do I create my word document. Even at this point it’s to plan the structure of the copy. No actual writing takes place.
Next, I review the research, pick an angle and start playing around with Headlines. Headlines are THE most important part of any copy. Shit headlines = no one will read past it or click through so it’s definitely worth spending time on crafting the perfect Headline
Now, I start the actual writing.
I tend to leave 24 hours between writing and editing a piece. In fact, I like to sleep on it. Sometimes I end up completely rewriting or restructuring a project after I’ve let it breathe for a bit. Once the initial draft is done it’s like the words and concepts take on a life of their own. My first idea is rarely The One but it’s a crucial part of the writing process.
Copywriters are nosey by nature
Final fact, we are a curious lot. We love information and thrive on detail.
To create copy that speaks to our client’s audience we must have a thorough understanding of that audience. From where they socialise online to where they have morning coffee. We need to know if they have children. Where are they going on holiday next? What films they watch. And so on. The clearer the avatar, the more we understand what their problems are. Copy aims to show potential customers how that particular product/service is just exactly what they need to solve their problem.
There you go, 4 secret copywriter truths laid bare for you. The next time you engage a copywriter you’ll have more of an understanding of what it is we do and why. Of course, no two paths are the same and you could always ask your copywriter how they came to be doing this job. I’m sure they’ll have just as fantastical a tale.
What are some lesser known fun facts about your profession?
See, told you I was nosey 🙂