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Copywriting – An Alternative Guide

Posted on 28/07/2016 by Team Hallam

My background as a copywriter is more relevant than I ever thought it would be in the world of Digital PR. So I thought I'd pass on a few bits of advice that have helped along the way.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working in house or for multiple clients in an agency, all copywriters face the same daily challenges.

Yes, you can know your products and your audience, and you can be the biggest word nerd on the planet. But some of the major challenges in copywriting begin long before you start typing, and long after you’ve finished your copy.

With that in mind, this post won’t touch upon grammar, punctuation or tone of voice. Any copywriter worth their salt will know these already, so let’s look at some more interesting stuff…

Don’t Be Too Proud, There Are Experts Everywhere

As a copywriter you could be writing about anything and everything throughout your career. Turning your hand to any sort of copy is a skill, but if you want to sound like an expert, you’ll need to do your research.

So far, in my career,  I’ve covered a huge variety of topics including skin care, software, parenting advice, garden furniture and industrial painting. Forget researching online for one moment. No matter what field I’m working in, I’ve always found myself surrounded by experts. So always ask!

For example, while working for a software company, I understood very quickly that it was my job to translate technical information into something customer friendly. I was surrounded by experts in every type of software and, after having my mind blown by jargon, I found talking to someone really did help me understand the product and what we were trying to achieve with it.

It’s the same with an agency, especially when you first begin and 12 random clients land on your lap. But embrace it! Ask other consultants and sit down with your clients. In time you’ll develop your understanding quicker. Remember there is no such thing as a stupid question, but a lack of knowledge and research will be screamingly obvious in your copy.

The Juggling Act

Picture the dream scenario: You write some copy, check it over, and decide it’s genius. You send it over to the copy commissioner who agree with you and instantly use it – job done!

But the reality of the situation is thatsXQAAAABJRU5ErkJggg== you’ll always have numerous different people to please before your copy goes near a publication.

I’ve been in the situation as a copywriter where anything I wrote was seen by the editor, amended, sent to the pharmaceutical team, amended, sent to the legal team, and further amended. So by the time I got the copy back it would either make no sense or not contain anything I wrote.

Being a copywriter is a juggling act, but you don’t have to be a clown. Write your copy and stick to your brand guidelines. Take amends into account, but don’t lose the flow in your copy. It’s a simple case of taking on amends, keeping clients happy, and justifying your choices.

Getting Stuck in a Copy Rut

Writers block is real. It’s an illness.

OK, maybe not an illness. But when you can’t string two words together and you have a deadline to meet, it’s frustrating to say the least.

The beauty of working in an agency environment is that you can always move on to something else. You’re not helping anyone just staring at your own version of the never ending story. So if you find yourself stuck, come back to it later when you’re refreshed and brimming with ideas and inspiration.

Style? Yes. Catchphrases? No!

Following on the from the above point, when you get stuck in rut, it’s tempting and sometimes unavoidable to return to the same safe phrases you’ve always used.

In a previous copywriter job, when trying to make products sound customer friendly, I must have used the phrase “so easy to use” a thousand times. I only became aware of it when it became an ongoing office joke. I was terrified it would end up being written on my tombstone.

Developing your own unique style as a copywriter is important, but you don’t have to resort to your “go-to” phrases. If you can turn your hand to any sort of copy, as it says proudly on your CV, prove it! Always try and look for new and interesting ways of wording your copy. That’s the beauty of the English language. Try it, it’s so easy!

No More Copy-Fighting

Hopefully this has given a bit of insight into the daily challenges that kings of copy can face. Writing content in any capacity obviously requires that creative spark, but being diplomatic and always striving to freshen up your copy will keep everyone happy, including yourself!copywriter

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Copywriting – An Alternative Guide

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