Lessons from a copywriter Part 1
I write for a living, something I'm grateful for, I’ve also learned a few useful lessons along the way.
Lesson 1 - Be a good listener.
You have to be able to clearly understand what your client wants. You have to get inside their head and then get inside their target audience’s head. The best way to do this is by listening to them. Whether this is through casual conversations, interviews or videos, make sure you listen to them, carefully.
It doesn't matter how good a writer you are, if you don't know what you're writing about or who you're writing for it's pointless.
Lesson 2 - Too much perfection is bad.
I love the quote from Leonardo da Vinci: “Great art is never finished, only abandoned” No matter how many drafts I do, I always think I could change/improve something, tweak a sentence here, remove an adverb there.
I’m constantly analysing and critiquing my work even after clients have praised me!
But eventually, I have to hand in my final draft otherwise I’d never actually get any work finished.
Lesson 3 - What you do in the amount of time is more important than the amount of time.
Working long hours doesn’t mean you've been productive. I work in short spurts of 2-3 hours before I need a break. I get more done in this amount of time than other people do in an entire day.
Everyone works in their own particular way, I’m a morning person, so I work on all of my clients’ briefs from 9am-2pm and I do "passive" things i.e. read:
· The Drum
· Ad Week
as well as various books in the afternoon.
It seems that virtually everyone in the creative industries are night owls, I must be one of the few exceptions, my productivity is in line with the sun. Once it starts to go down so does my productivity. That's why I prefer to do active tasks earlier in the day e.g. writing and passive tasks e.g. reading or listening/watching podcasts later in the afternoon and evening.
Lesson 4 - Embrace failure.
Failure is necessary to succeed when pursuing anything, being a copywriter is no different. Every draft before the final one is technically a failure, but it gets me closer to the finished product which the client is happy with. Sometimes, I look back on first drafts of previous projects and cringe, but then I smile because I realise that without that I would never have finished it.
Lesson 5 - You need to be patient.
Whether it's waiting for approval of a draft or an invoice, clients are often busy with other things. You have to understand that a lot of the time you have to wait your turn. It took me a little while to get used to this. The more clients I had the more I realised that their to-do list is often endless and if you're kept waiting longer than expected it's often by accident.
Thanks for reading, until next time.