Inconvenient truth #1
By Matt Press
You don’t need any experience or qualifications to become a copywriter.
There’s a popular misconception that you need lots of writing experience, bucketloads of writing qualifications and an abundance of natural writing skill if you want to become a copywriter and earn decent money.
But this isn’t true.
I think this notion stems from a lack of understanding about what copywriting actually is. Copywriting is just good thinking.
Copywriting isn’t like other forms of writing where having experience, qualifications and a flair for writing is more useful.
It’s completely different from writing a novel, devising a screenplay or penning some poetry. It’s a world away from journalism and nor should it be confused with content marketing.
Yup, copywriting is truly unique. It’s a form of writing that specifically exists to persuade people to take an action of some sort [one that’s usually related with sales].
As you can imagine, being able to influence people is a coveted skill. However, you don’t require writing experience and natural writing ability to do it.
You don't have to boast a portfolio busting with copywriting examples. And nor do you need a particularly strong grasp of grammar, an expansive vocabulary or super-human spelling.
Of course, it helps to have a basic understanding of how and when to use things like commas and apostrophes, but that's about it [plus, you've also got spellcheckers these days].
It actually doesn’t matter if you’ve never written a word before.
Because to become a good copywriter, you only have to know how to influence people.
And this is dead easy to do once you know how. Most folk don't realise that copywriting is mainly about using the target audience's own words and phrases, with a bit of applied psychology mixed in.
Once you have good research skills [there are some amazing tactics for this] and knowledge of what makes people tick, you're good to go. In a nutshell, thankfully, both these things are easy to master.
Copywriting is straightforward.
Just think about the last thing you bought online. Maybe a piece of really good copy that influenced you. I bet that there was nothing flashy about the words. In fact, the copy was probably so good that you didn't even notice what was going on.
No matter what the business, market or situation, as a copywriter you’ll always be talking to mums, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends and colleagues.
Selling a sofa?
You’re talking to a real person.
Writing B2B copy?
You’re talking to real people.
Offering a free ebook?
You’re talking to real people.
You don’t need fancy words, phrases or formulas. Most of the copywriting ‘tricks’ you hear about are just tactics to help readers write with more clarity.
So, put any worries about your writing pedigree to one side, because copywriting is much more straightforward than you might think.
The best copywriters don’t try to be too clever. Instead, they put their audience first.
They’re tenacious researchers who do their homework and use language that their target audience will find familiar [so that they can establish a connection and create an emotional response].
They don't think about demographics because they're too limiting. Creating a fictional persona puts a ceiling on potential earnings.
No business should be writing for a married, middle-class and university-educated 34-year-old called Rob. That's because, in reality, a brand will have customers of different ages and backgrounds, with various levels of income and who live all over the world. So, instead, the best copywriters look at something called psychographics.
Psychographics are our internal characteristics. What do we crave? What frightens us? What frustrates us and makes us angry?
These are the things that matter.
Just think of the broad range of people who buy iPhones and iPads. Imagine how much money Apple would have missed out on if it had only advertised its products to some sort of fictional persona [like the so-called marketing gurus often recommend].
Instead, it became a $1.3 trillion company by creating aspirational marketing campaigns that were designed to call out and appeal to a particular type of person.
Someone who would love what it had to offer.
So, yeah, research is essential because it reveals an audience's psychographics and anyone can do some research on a market.
Businesses just want results. They couldn’t care less if you don’t have a single qualification to your name. Or whether you’ve been copywriting for 5 years or 5 minutes...
... and this was a lesson I learned the hard way in my first copywriting job. Wanna hear about it?