Copywriting is a very specific skill. It takes years of practice, and even then it’s not that easy. With so many things to think about – your audience, your client, your brief, your copy deliverables…
Especially for those just starting out in the industry, the whole process can seem difficult to get one’s head around. If you’re just starting out in the industry, the whole process can seem overwhelming.
But here’s the good news.
To celebrate The Copy Collective’s 7th birthday (wow – time really has gone fast!), we want to share some great copy tips with you. We’ve asked our very own Dominique Antarakis – CEO of The Copy Collective – the hard-to-answer questions about what it takes to become a great copywriter.
The Copy Collective’s 7th birthday 7 top copy tips from an industry guru
- What’s the first thing you do (after coffee) when you get a brief?
Read your brief from beginning to end. And then reread it again.
Briefs are similar to school exams – you know, when you’re supposed to read through the whole paper first to look for questions that are liable to trip you up.
Check that any attached forms and docs that are mentioned in the brief are there. Look for any mistakes or omissions – is everything mentioned as background information there?
The sooner you iron out any problems or missing elements, the better.
- When you’re working on a fundraising campaign or something that needs to pull on heartstrings, how do you find that perfect angle that speaks to the reader?
Get the reader to nod along. I think to myself: what brings the story to life?
It really depends on the campaign but generally using a person’s own words and real-life experiences are where the real gold is. That means interviewing to get the quote that sums up what the person’s been through.
Often it’s the tiniest detail that makes it very authentic and humanises the situation. We can talk about an issue in medical terms but when you read about how this impacts a real person, the effect is so much more tangible.
- What’s your writing process?
It depends what it is that I’m writing. Most of the time I get the brief, read it thoroughly then walk away from my computer.
I go to the park or a café – away from all the other work distractions. I take a notepad and pencil – not a pen for some reason – and I start scribbling notes.
It helps clear my mind and get the ball rolling. I find it much easier to edit myself as I go when I write like this instead of being sat in front of a computer.
Then I take this rough outline and type it out and edit as I’m going. Sometimes what I originally wrote on my pad has nothing to do with the finished product. But often that outline brings the gold out that I can then work with.
I find this process is more organic, and the creativity that comes through is generally better.
- What’s the best way to deal with a client who keeps pushing back on drafts?
You need to pick your battles.
If I have a difficult client who is insisting on changes I don’t think are valid, I often ask them this:
“Is making this change going to bring you more income? Is it going to help your cause?”
But you need to know when to push back and when it’s not worth it. People will respect you more for pushing back when it counts.
If you’re not sure when to concede and when to so no to changes, ask yourself: can I rationalise my push back? Is there data, research or reasoning to back up your argument and make it objective?
Often the client asks for changes because they don’t like something you’ve written. It’s a subjective thing. If you can base your argument on something concrete, that’s fine.
- What do you think is the hardest thing about copywriting and how do you deal with it?
Getting into the head of the audience.
How do you want the reader to feel? Where will the reader be when they see this? What do you want them to do next?
Sadly it’s not always about beautiful prose, it’s more about being effective. Don’t be precious how you’ve worded something. Ask yourself if you’ve got your point across.
- From your perspective as CEO of The Copy Collective, what’s the most important thing you want from your copywriters? Meeting deadlines, word count, staying on-brand, accuracy…?
Most importantly, writers need to meet the brief.
Ask good questions for clarity of the brief and communicate. If you can’t meet a deadline, tell us as soon as you know.
And, of course, be versatile.
- Do you have any tips for anyone starting out in the copywriting industry?
First of all, read everything.
Reading as much as you can will expand your vocab and style. It might mean you’ll be a bit derivative to begin with but as your experience grows, your unique style will develop.
Remember, writing’s all about clarity and effectiveness.
Bone up on psychology – the way we react differently to different stimuli. It’s amazing what we’ll do depending on how we’re asked to do it.
Check out our online training courses. tcc.international/whats-happening/training/
Look carefully through our curated set of resources tcc.international/resources/downloadable-resources/ or our Blog tcc.international/blog-copywriting-tips/ that will help you focus your mind on the art of copywriting.
Happy 7th birthday to The Copy Collective. Here’s to the next 7 years.