A peek at lingering thoughts people have of copywriters (…when they finally know what a copywriter is or does)
I’m not an advocate of lying nor ignoring the ‘elephant in the room.’ So, I thought to write something about the truths of copywriters – well, from my humble point of view. I’m sure not all agree, but here goes…
1) Copywriters are paid too much
Yes, good copywriters make good money, but there’s a lot more that’s going on which you may not realize. Copywriters are somewhat-complex analytically creative thinkers (if there’s no such thing, there is now). They take obvious concepts/products and present it from various angles; in the form of a solution. The better the copywriter, the more targeted the angle would be, which entails presenting concepts in a not-so-obvious way (hence the beauty of it). Point is though, to accomplish such a feat a whole lot of thinking needs to go into it. Sleep doesn’t happen peacefully and at some odd, random moment a copywriter is likely to rush to go jot something down – anywhere they can! It’s a constant mental cycle of churning ideas, words, perceptions, and psychology with the eventual task of putting it all in writing. Once it’s written the process of reconstructing and organizing happens again with the hopes of drawing in a crowd. It’s hard work! And when they nail it, it makes people A LOT of money!
According to a well-known, highly respected copywriter Joe Sugarman, this process is known as the “incubation process”. He explains it in his book The Ad Week Copywriting Handbook : “The incubation process is the power of your subconscious mind to use all your knowledge and experiences to solve a specific problem, and its efficiency is dictated by time, creative orientation, environment and ego.”
2) You have to have a Degree in English or Journalism.
I have to respectfully disagree to this notion that the foundation of an ideal copywriter lies in their English or Journalism background. Yes, I know I’m biased because I don’t have that, but truthfully speaking I think a degree in Psychology or at least Marketing would go further. Copywriting is a segment of marketing, it is not simply about the written word – it is the spoken word, written well. A key element in effective copywriting is to write with a clear understanding of human nature (based on your target audience, since everyone is different); Shakespeare wasn’t exactly the most realistic guy out there, nor does he speak the language of the people in the 21st century. Still, great grammar and editing is definitely a huge part of copywriting, but the other half of it (the selling part) has to do with understanding human behaviour (not in a deceptive type of way, more like straight to the point and surprisingly honest type of way).
3) “Anyone can do it!”
I couldn’t agree more, anyone can do anything they want. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be good at it. Sitting down and just writing what you think or feel (as I’m doing now) is not copywriting, it’s just writing. Copywriting has a very clear objective, with an eye on the prize. The more you learn, write, and tinker with speech on paper the better you get. Just as any artist would. It takes time, with constant gradual improvements, refined and crafted into the likes of a written Mona Lisa!
So with that said, I end this with a truth copywriters often find themselves thinking:
“I’ve learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one.”