Guest post by Chris Hoole
Sadly the actual act of copywriting can be a lifeless, thankless and maddeningly repetitive task that many writers might feel is beneath them creatively. However even if you think you just don’t have it in you and you’d sooner re-write the phone book than write a 700 word article on loans or engagement rings, I genuinely believe that with the right mind-set, it can be a career rife with potential for interesting prose and the research you’ll end up undertaking will expand your knowledge on a variety of topics.
In the following blog I’ll examine a few of the handy tips that have helped me enjoy my time in copywriting thus far and whilst this information might not apply to all services, it will almost certainly apply to most.
Add some personality
Of course some briefs might ask for their articles to be more formal in tone bit that doesn’t mean you still can’t inject a little bit of your own personal style in there. There’s no need to go overboard and you really don’t want to get too personal as it will ostracise your audience, but the odd quip or casual observation will help keep the text fluid, readable and (most importantly) convincing.
Be more inventive with your key words
Although it can often take a real effort to find a natural place to put your keywords, remember that they don’t always have to fit semantically as they appear in the brief. So if you’ve been given a seemingly impossible sentence
such as ‘Boutique Hotels Manchester’ you could (for example) use the following sentence – “there are numerous bespoke, boutique hotels located in the centre of Manchester, perhaps one of the UK’s most vibrant and exciting cities”. You should never sacrifice good English in order to get the exact keyword in your article, it just makes the job that much harder and more frustrating and also results in lazy, awkward sounding prose.
Work when it suits you
Perhaps the most forgiving aspect of the job is that you can do it from home at your own pace, whenever you want. Of course you’ll have deadlines to work to, but if you’re a night owl (for example) there’s no rule that says you can’t do you work through the night and submit it in the morning. Also, if something important or exciting comes up in your social life you won’t necessarily need to avoid it because ‘you have work’, simply reschedule your work time at your own convenience. For this reason of course copywriting is not a career path suited to those who struggle with motivation, no doubt your services would be better provided elsewhere, but if you have the will to work to your own clock it can be an incredibly freeing job.
Do your research
The best copywriting articles are those that have been researched thoroughly, not just copied and pasted from a Wikipedia article with a few words swapped around here and there. If you turn in work like this you won’t get booked for repeat jobs and as copywriting is largely a freelance business, word of mouth is VITAL.
By which I mean try not to use any regional terms and make sure everything you write will be easily readable by UK and US audiences.
Don’t waffle on
Self-explanatory this one, don’t go on for any longer than you need to, if the word count required is 700 words, don’t try to make it an even 1000, you’ll just be wasting your time. On the other hand, don’t seek to land dead-on the word count as this will result in some incredibly contrived prose.
Hopefully with these tips under your belt you’ll be on your way to a successful career, providing your services in the world of copywriting. Just remember to try to let yourself enjoy yourself from time to time and go with your best instincts, if you’re a good writer, you’ll be a good copywriter, it’s that simple!
Chris Hoole is an aspiring novelist who provides copywriting services for a variety of firms; you can follow his dry witticisms and curmudgeonly musings on twitter.