Explaining what a copywriter does is pretty tricky, especially now that we live in a post Mad Men world. Everybody wants to peg you as a well, Peggy. And to be honest, the role of a Copywriter is constantly evolving: maybe the term had been explained to you years ago, but I’d bet you that if you were to ask the same person now, their answer has changed.
Coming from an editorial background, I can confidently say I’ve changed my outlook on copywriting many times, and while I’m always discovering new and exciting ways to better my writing, I’ve learned a lot about what draws me to this profession and why it’s a crucial component of e-commerce.
I CHOOSE MY WORDS WISELY
I practice the art of choosing the right words to express myself. The language you use within your copy can make or break interest, inquiries and even sales. You have a small window of time to hook your readers with whatever product you’re writing about, so every character counts.
In that regard, I find writing copy for banner ads very challenging. Since the copy is so short, it really puts your copywriting to the test. Furthermore, since these kinds of advertisements have become a cesspool of clickbait, annoyance, redirects and straight-up awful copy, people have begun using ad blockers. This dramatically alters how many people will see your ads. “Spending on digital video advertising increased almost 60 percent in 2014 from the previous year” writes Ad Week’s Garett Sloane. “During the same period, the number of Internet users using ad blockers rose from 54 million to 121 million. Today, almost 150 million people have downloaded ad-blocking software, according to a frequently cited report from PageFair and Adobe.”
Creating attention-grabbing text that caters to your audience, and seeing an ad performing well gets me excited: I know that my words were clear, concise and clever enough for a healthy CTR.
I THRIVE ON IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION
The thrill of my copy being approved by a client, having my words plastered on a national campaign or landing on a banner ad while I online shop on the weekend, is way more exciting than when I wrote editorial.
I’m sure Kerouac is rolling over in his grave.
When you work as a copywriter, you must have a thick skin, as constant criticism and rewrites are a definite part of your job description. The difference between my life in editorial and copywriting, is that I HAVE to listen to the clients criticism with my copy. It also helps with consistency of quality. Because I am consistently having my writing picked apart, I can better identify my flaws as a writer and work hard on delivering the polished copy clients deserve. There are no off days allowed when you’re juggling 3-5 different clients. Your copy always has to be sharp and efficient. But that chase of pleasing clients encourages me and keeps me on my toes even on the days where I’d rather be eating a bag of popcorn and scrolling through Twitter.
I’M A MILLENNIAL…
I’VE COME TO TERMS WITH THAT
I have bad news: all stats on average attention span declining are 100% true. Recently, the National Center for Biotechnology Information discovered that our attention span has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds, a significant drop, given that Internet users share an average of 27 million pieces of content each day (Nielsen/AOL). Making copy that will set you apart from everything else, in an 8-seconds time frame, is like finding a needle in a haystack.
When I read, “A Millennial Applies for a Ghostwriting Position at a Wealthy White Lady’s Lifestyle Blog” on McSweeney’s, I had to reflect on what it means to be a Millennial. Sure, we get a bad rap for demanding instant recognition, constant connection to social media, and are notorious for wanting that fifteen minutes of fame… but I think these a great traits to have as a copywriter.
Think about that for a second.
As a copywriter, you SHOULD want instant recognition with your readers: you want to entice them to click and spend. Being constantly connected to the internet keeps me ahead of the trend, always looking for new ways to elevate copy for clients. And wanting those fifteen minutes of fame will be great for when I star in my copywriting reality show… or, better yet, having clients’ copy go viral, win awards, sell more products and BE that needle in a haystack.
I (STILL) LOVE TO LEARN
Hunter S. Thompson used to type out favorite pieces of literature such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Not because he was “within the fear,” but to feel the rhythm and flow of his most admired authors. I feel that copywriters can learn a lot from gonzo journalist Thompson, as he was a true student of the writing craft until the bitter end. Thompson has taught me to be persistent, use verbs, and adapt my writing style from the pieces I love.
As a copywriter, I am always writing down notes and words I find appealing from other campaigns and blogs. I make it a point to educate myself in all facets of my evolving trade.
Without my curiosity, I would’ve never realized that my love for writing could become a full-time job. Without my devotion to learning, I would’ve never identified that copywriting was the career that played to my strengths and allowed me to work on my weaknesses.
As an added bonus, copywriting also lets me nerd out ALL DAY on articles, SEO, online shopping and persuasive copy. And that’s just fantastic.