Finding your Way
If you are wanting to see what it’s like to start a career, this might just be the place to go. There are so many out there that have a variety of skills, and yet have no clear direction. Perhaps you are one of them. I have been floundering for a while, and yet I always felt that there was some particular place that I needed to land, a place to call my home, one that was unique to me. So I am starting to record progress on a career.
First of all, how do you solve the problem of “what shall I do when I grow up?” This was a huge concern, and caused endless ruminating, fear finding, self incrimination, agonizing realizations, hard work, wasted time and resources, and exploring dead ends. During this time a lot of energy was wasted in doing things that had no real meaning, and served only to pay bills. Yet knowing this didn’t solve my problem.
Now what? There were a few key phrases that eventually resonated with me. “Don’t make any decisions based on fear or guilt”, and the other was “if you don’t know what you want to do, it doesn’t matter what you do (so just choose something)”. Armed with this information I started on this journey into the world of copywriting.
I first did some reading. It’s cheap. It’s more likely to be useful because the internet can be full of misinformation, books require some substantial effort to make it to press.
I began with a book by Robert W. Bly. The copywriter’s handbook, vintage 1985. Here is a straightforward book that gives basic information, and gets your feet wet. I’ve read it cover to cover and learned a great deal. As I look at other blogs, articles from copy writing sites, commentary on swipe files, (a collection of ads used for personal reference and idea generation) I have noticed that the jargon is more updated, the technology has had a major effect, and that much the same information is discussed, albeit in more detail, or in current context. The book was written when word processing was new for heaven’s sake!
The other part is how copy writing fits in with my background. The more I learn, the more connections I see to my experience. Psychology, graphic design, music, writing, mixed interests, persuasion, mediation, management, degree etc. all seem to have their use in copy writing. So onward and upward….
Useful things I remember:
What is the purpose of advertising? to sell.
What is the purpose of your headline? to get you to read your next line.
Personalize with your target audience, write simply and directly. Research your product or service so you have a level of expertise sufficient to write effective ads. You are appealing to someone to ask them to part with their hard earned money. Make it about their needs and the benefits they get. Make every word count. Keep them curious, Have integrity. Know your audience.
All these still apply regardless of the technology used to deliver it. Basics, whose inherant value is still overlooked, and misguided in current ads. I’m learning that copywriters are paid to think. Putting all the elements togather to work for a common goal. To sell.
So feel free to add to the list of common, basic rules for good copy. I could use them, and so could others out there.