Copywriters – are they born or made?

I guess a lot of young aspiring copywriters ask themselves this question. My unequivocal answer is that they are neither born nor made, but they make themselves copywriters. I say that because like any other skill copywriting is also a skill and anyone can learn, cultivate and improve on writing copy. Unlike painters and sculptors, copywriters can write copy without using their hands, thanks to speech recognition software.

Is Copywriting any different from other forms of writing?

Essentially, copywriting is just another kind of writing. Consider the following questions:

How do I write a good letter?

How do I write a good Resume?

How do I write a good review of a book?

How do I write a good short story?

As the answers to these questions are necessarily descriptive and like How-to kind of guides, there is an important first step: How do you recognize a good letter or a good Resume? When you learn to recognize a good specimen, a fine example, then you will have made a good beginning on your journey. But then, just as with a short story or a review, there is always room for improvement when it comes to writing good copy, and so the diligent copywriter will NEVER conclude that the journey is complete and destination reached or mission accomplished, which is pure illusion or, as with many, a case of complacency or self-absorption or self-declared guruship.

See, recognize, study, absorb, apply and improve

By the same logic, a copywriter has to be able to recognize a good advertisement, a good TV Commercial or a well-written brochure. No one can do this by any secret or esoteric process, but only by seeing and studying plenty from each category. The aspirant should use his instinct, experience and judgement to make a good selection and a thorough examination. Try to draw a parallel depending on any interest or passion of yours. When you like a particular piece of music or a song, you can talk about it with involvement, analysing it and describing its various elements, and pointing out in your own way how the composer has brought together these elements so as to create a pleasing effect. If you are a food lover, you do talk about your favourite dishes with intelligence and fervor. That holding forth makes you an expert, a respected one at that. Just do the same with good copywriting.

Good writing and Domain knowledge make a great combination

Remember that keeping yourself abreast with happenings in the business world and other fields of activity about which you will be required to write advertising copy will be a huge advantage. Domain knowledge will earn you respect from your colleagues and clients. A mere wordsmith who refuses to gain domain knowledge will only be fit for slogan-writing contests. Only the market-savvy, news-gathering and people-oriented copywriters will get to work on campaigns.

To sum up, the first big step is to know good copywriting when you see any, study it in detail, store the knowledge and apply it regularly to improve yourself. Read up and build domain knowledge all the time.

I shall come back and share more. In the meantime, if you are in the mood to learn more, you may go here.


About Vaidy

Freelance writer based in Chennai, India. Writes in English and Tamil. Recent major assignments have been in Transcreation - adaptation of TV Commercials from English to Tamil.
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