From journalism to short stories to nonprofit newsletters, I’ve dabbled in quite a few different types of writing. However, when I started at Well Done Marketing, I knew copywriting was going to be a whole different beast. While I’ve still got plenty more to learn, here are five important things I’ve picked up on during my first month.
1. There are no stupid questions.
When learning something new—especially if it’s something as deceptively complicated as good copywriting—you want to ask all the questions you can. Swallow your pride, admit when you don’t know the answer, and listen to the people around you who have way more experience.
2. Write less, talk more.
When you’re writing copy, there’s probably an 85% chance you’re using too many words. There’s also a high possibility you’re writing too technically. If there’s one thing that was drilled into me in my first weeks at Well Done, it’s to write copy like you speak. It’ll make your copy sound better, and it’s just more fun that way.
3. Kick it old school.
I learned pretty quickly that handwriting my copy before I typed it out forced me to pay attention to what I was putting on the page. That meant less mistakes, less revisions, and kicking wordiness to the curb. Plus, writing out a billion different headline ideas helps you find the ones that are worth putting in the final copy.
4. Imitation is the sincerest…you know the rest.
Two things here: Clichés are your enemy, but imitation is your best friend. And no, I’m not condoning plagiarizing, but also let’s not reinvent the wheel here (ha). Learn to look at the good copywriters, the great copywriters, and ask yourself how you can do what they’re doing. Ninety percent of my first assignments for Well Done consisted of me combing through past examples for an hour and a half before I ever got cracking on my own work.
As for clichés: They’re overused enough as is, so if you’re going to use them, be intentional about it, and make it worthwhile.
5. Push everything too far.
You’re going to have a lot of ideas. Some of them will be great. Most of them will be bad. Share them anyway. Even if it’s crazy and there’s no way your client will have the budget for it, pitch the idea. Even if you think your headlines will be shot down, go ahead and write them. You might be surprised at what your clients—and your teammates—will like.
That applies to being new, too. Ask to sit in on meetings, shadow other writers and producers, and above all, listen closely. Here’s one cliché that I’ll let myself get away with, and I hope you’ll take to heart: You learn something new every day—especially when you sit right across from our resident history buff.