Below, an article from my friend Steve Roller about…
In case you haven’t noticed, I talk a lot about copywriting.
I think a lot about copywriting.
Even if you’re not a copywriter, you should be paying attention.
Because the most successful business owners and I know understand copywriting and persuasion. They understand “sales multiplied” marketing and advertising.
They may not write every sales letter…
Or put together every promotion…
But they understand the value of good copy…
What it looks like…
What it feels like…
And if they had to — when pressed — they could sit down and write a solid ad or sales letter for their own product.
And in a way, they’d even have an advantage over most working copywriters…
Because most working copywriters don’t even understand what they’re supposed to be or do!
Here’s a little dirty truth about our industry…
A lot of us got into it (including ME!) because we were writers first, and we wanted to make a good living with our writing.
Heck, I first heard about copywriting from a book called The Well-Fed Writer.
AWAI sells their copywriting programs on the chance to “Live the Writer’s Life!”
But the single-best thing we can do is to STOP thinking of ourselves as writers…
Because — at least when it comes to GOOD, WELL-PAID copywriters — we’re much more than that. (My thoughts on this after the article.)
Take it away, Steve…
Copywriters aren’t wordsmiths
I once said, “I string words together that impact others’ lives. What could be better?”
Is it really about stringing words together in the right way and being a “wordsmith”?
That’s one level, and you can make a decent living if you consider yourself a wordsmith first and foremost.
But I think it goes deeper. Much deeper.
As copywriters, we’re more than simply wordsmiths, weaving words into appealing messages that get people to act.
You and I are a combination of private detective, psychologist, researcher, salesperson, presenter, marketing strategist, and yes, writer.
People often ask me what it takes to succeed in this business. Within a 15-minute conversation, I can usually tell if they’re a good fit, and whether they’ll do really well or just average.
In a future post, I’ll share the exact questions I’ve started asking aspiring copywriting rock stars.
For now, I’d say if you possess some of these characteristics, you’re in the right business.
A good copywriter …
- Is fascinated by human nature
- Has a strong desire to understand people and why they do the things they do
- Asks the right questions
- Listens well
- Is good at anticipating questions and objections
- Loves people
- Isn’t afraid to be vulnerable
- Would make a good private detective (and secretly wants to be)
- Knows how to lead a conversation
- Makes an interesting guest at a cocktail party
- Knows how to sell, or is willing to learn (as much as some people don’t like that word, it’s the essence of what we do)
- Could give a good eulogy for a friend (I’ll explain this in a future post)
- Understands the dark side of human nature, but looks for the brighter side
- Gets emotional occasionally
- Generates ideas without waiting for a specific “assignment”
- Can crawl inside someone’s head and see things from their perspective
- Appeals to the emotions of others
- Is pleasant to hang out with
- Reads more than most people
Legendary ad man David Ogilvy said that the hallmarks of a potentially successful copywriter include:
- Obsessive curiosity about products, people, and advertising
- A sense of humor
- A habit of hard work
Do you need all of these things? No, but the best copywriters I know seem to have most of them.
And, of course, you still have to take your ideas, craft the right message to the right audience, and get them to act. You need to get good at the art of copywriting.
Did I leave anything out? Which ones do you think are most important? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a quick note here, please, and I’ll address this again in part II, “Copywriters Aren’t Just Wordsmiths.”
Steve Roller is a direct response copywriter, world traveler (30 countries and five continents so far), marketing strategist, and professional speaker. He is also a personal trainer to aspiring copywriting rock stars. Steve offers one-on-one and group training, professional copy critiques, and the Ultimate Writing Retreat™. Read More…
You can leave your comment on Steve Roller’s Copywriter Café blog here. (And if you’re a copywriter looking to jump-start your career, it’s worth following everything Steve is doing!)
But I want to highlight the ONE point Steve made that’s most important, in my humble opinion…
Whether you’re competing in the “Big Leagues” of direct response…
Or even just trying to craft a compelling blog post that gets action…
And this is the big advantage a business owner has over 95%+ of copywriters they might hire…
They know how to sell their products or services!
If you can’t sell — if you can’t persuade — if you can’t get your reader to take action as a result of reading your words…
Then you may have a career as a WRITER… And I wish you the best!
But if you want to be a COPY-WRITER… You have to sell.
And the better you are at all of that (most of the points from Steve’s article help you be a better salesperson), the more successful you’ll be as a copywriter.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets