This could be painful…
But if it is, it’s also a way past the pain. Out of the pain. And to writing much better — higher-converting sales copy.
I want to tell you why most copywriters suck as writers.
And it has everything to do with how we are taught in school — starting at a very young age.
You see, in school we are taught to follow rules. To conform. And most importantly, to do a really good job of absorbing everything we’re taught and then spitting it back out as accurately as possible.
You don’t get points for having an opinion.
You don’t get high grades for having an independent voice.
You get ahead in school by CONFORMING.
By coloring inside the lines.
This is great for a career in middle management — it sucks for writing persuasive copy…
There are a lot of people who make their living as conformists.
If you’re working the front desk at the DMV, your job is to enforce the rules.
When I worked customer service for the local gas company, I had to follow and enforce the rules.
When I answered “hot calls” to figure out if a credit card transaction was fraudulent, I had to be an extreme conformist.
Somewhere along the way I saw this. Recognized it. And before I even reached adulthood, I realized I was not cut out for a life of conformity.
I KNEW my career path wasn’t from cubicle to cubicle to corner office.
I didn’t want a job in a bloated, bureaucratic organization.
I didn’t care about a good salary for a gig in middle management.
I didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do. But I knew I wasn’t going to conform to the safe and acceptable and don’t-rock-the-boat career path.
Still, my writing did…
You see, while my mind was never imprisoned by that, my behavior was.
I was smart enough to figure out that life could be easier if you conformed — at least until you found a better opportunity in nonconformity.
So for the most part, I conformed in school — and got good grades.
I conformed in my early jobs — and did well enough to manage to never get fired.
And, importantly to our story, I conformed in my writing style.
That is, I learned to write in the way that would get me good grades.
I learned to write thick, academic sentences.
I learned to write without opinion — instead accurately conveying the facts and research.
And I learned to write dry-as-heck prose that was “good communication” but totally uninspired.
This made my early copywriting suck…
In the back of my head, I was writing for quite a few audiences.
There was the customer, who should really be the only audience.
But then there was the client or my employer, who was often hamstrung with their own preoccupation of how others would judge their marketing.
Then there was anybody else who might read my writing.
So I took the safe route. The conformist route. I took the route where you could read what I wrote, pat me on the head, and say, “Nice writing, Roy.”
But there’s a problem with that.
When you serve that many masters, you serve none.
So by appeasing everyone else to the point where my copy was worthy of, “Nice writing, Roy,” I’d forget that my desired response was something different…
What I really wanted was copy that would make prospects throw money at me, to get what I was selling.
But conformist copy doesn’t do that.
Don’t-rock-the-boat copy doesn’t sell.
This is a huge dilemma for novice freelance copywriters…
And I think it’s a huge part of why a rookie can often write really hot copy for their own business, but newer freelancers will struggle for years…
Early on, when you’re trying to make a name for yourself, you don’t want to upset the client.
So on an almost subconscious level, you water down your copy.
You avoid rocking the boat.
And most importantly: you don’t take risks.
Now I’ll note, not all risks are good risks. Some risks are dumb risks — and you should avoid those. But calculated risks create breakthroughs. And those are the kind of risks newer freelancers often self-censor out of their writing.
What you learn as you go is that your copy has to have VOICE…
Some of this comes from you, the copywriter.
But if you get good, you can actually get the voice out of your client, through interviews.
You get their stories.
You absorb their perspective.
You try to embody their beliefs, worldview, and identity.
And then, you sit down and write.
WITHOUT conformity. Without caring what anyone will think — including the client.
You kill your inner censor.
And you let it rip.
Even if you rock the boat.
Even if you offend.
Even if you face the dreaded REJECTION.
Anti-conformity creates polarization — and polarization gets response…
I hate politics for a million and one reasons, but I pay attention (even if I don’t write about it much).
Arguably the two most powerful politicians today — from a pure popularity standpoint — are Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Both are extremely polarizing. Both are hated by the opposite end of the political spectrum. Both fail to conform.
Both continue to command the consciousness of an entire nation.
You don’t have to get political. In fact, let’s not even go there.
But you can learn from it.
There are thousands of people in politics who are almost completely forgettable — because they conform like heck.
They are empty suits. And totally uninspiring.
They have all the credentials. They have all the credibility. They have all the background.
And yet… Nobody cares about them!
But two people with almost zero credibility or relevant experience are completely commanding the political discourse in the United States.
That’s the power of having a VOICE and a PERSPECTIVE…
I don’t care what it is. I mean, I do. But I don’t, for the purpose of you getting something out of this article.
If your perspective resonates with your target audience, that’s what matters.
And if you’re a copywriters, capturing your client’s perspective in a way that resonates with the target market is what matters.
That’s what gets your market connected with you on a much deeper level.
That’s what people get into.
That’s what makes them feel.
That’s what primes the pump so that if you have even a halfway relevant offer, they will respond.
The most powerful copy doesn’t just put a compelling offer in front of a market.
The most powerful copy shares the perspective of the audience at a deep, identity and worldview level, connects with them there, and parlays that into making an offer.
If you can’t get out of your own head enough to do that for your own product or for your client’s, you’ll suck as a copywriter.
If you can, the world’s your oyster.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,