I'm busy. Very busy. And that's a good thing in the world of any freelancer. If there's one part of the “job” I find arduous, it's the touting for work. I don't mind the networking, as long as there's a nice finger buffet and a reasonable glass of wine. Or two.
Maybe there's been a sudden shift in the creative climate, but more or less every copywriter I know is busy at the moment. And once again, that's a very good thing.
So as it happens, I was at a party recently and I got chatting to some entrepreneurial guy in a nice shirt who was very excited about setting up his own business. It was something to do with finance, so I did my best to nod in all the right places rather than nod off. But he was excited about it and that was nice to see. Good for you, I thought.
But here's the place where it all went a bit funny. You see, he asked me what I did and I told him. At the moment, I'm rewriting the entire website for a multinational company based in Switzerland, and he was asking me about the process and managing the relationship with the client, meeting their expectations and the brief etc. So I told him all about it.
But then he foxed me. He said something along the lines of this:
“What, so they tell you what they want to say and then all you have to do is write it for them? Why can't they just do that themselves? I mean, that's what I'd do.”
If you're a copywriter, chances are you've had to suffer that question often enough too. There is this preconception that being able to speak English and bang your fingers on a keyboard are the only two qualifications you need to be a copywriter. Well, clearly, that isn't the case.
A lot of people say they've always felt that they have a novel in them. They may well do – but that doesn't mean it'll be any good or they'll sell any copies to anyone beyond their family.
I mean, look at X Factor. We all have a mouth and some vocal cords, but not everybody can sing. Unless they're trained or there is a natural ability, the sound that comes out is going to be like a fox on heat that's just sat on an open jar of Coleman's English mustard.
If you're starting your own website or you want to start writing newsletters, feel free to have a bash at writing your own copy. Heck, why not design your own logo too? After all, you got a B for GCSE art and your gran always loves your home-made birthday cards. But that's what your logo will look like: home-made. And so will your copy.
Let me guess what you're going to do: you're going to try and sound like Innocent Smoothie or Apple, aren't you?
Thought so. Well, that tone of voice (TOV) may not work for your brand positioning. And even if it does, the chances are that you won't do it very convincingly. Sorry, but it's true. Writing well and finding the right TOV takes years to master.
My advice? Once you've got a bit of wonga in the bank, ask a professional copywriter to help you out. They might just be able to help get you and your business where you want to be.
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