Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Copywriting is an art by itself
Copywriting like any other art-form takes its own time to reach perfection. It needs thorough practice and a burning ambition. Even if we arm ourselves with the required ammunition - the know-how, it still needs to be honed over a period of time to attain reasonable amount of perfection.
It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try writing. Or we should wait till we reach the perfection. We need to try and write at every opportunity. With each published ad you’ll get the confidence. It is like riding a bicycle. We make mistakes; we need to fall once or twice, several times over and bruise your legs and arms, to get hold of the balance.
I met a young copywriter in a good agency having few months of experience, who says he is fine working for big clients. It was a kind of a surprise to me as I really struggled to write initially when I started off (It rattles me even now to write convincing copy). Of course, I was writing in my own immature way; but copy is a different ball game and it is not that easy to connect to the reader I realized, albeit lately.
Stop pleasing everyone around
It is natural when you start to write initially. We always want that the agency folks, everyone, who reads should like our copy immediately. It was a kind of an acid test for you each time you embark on writing an ad or a brochure. The approvals of people - the client-servicing, creative director, and finally the client, do matter most to get your work published, though.
As a Jr. Copywriter (me especially) we tend to think of high sounding words the moment any ad is given. I always wanted to write words no one else had tried at least in the agency. It also depends on what you’re reading too. I was more enamoured by the Hindu, news paper, style of writing, which was more elite, targeting the academia. Hence, I subconsciously imitate such style. It was not so with copy though. We need to talk to prospects in the way they understand better, so that they make a decision to buy the product, or emotionally relate to it.
For instance, I wrote for a real estate client as:
without realizing the big science of ad writing and the great art to connect to the consumer through simple language.
Emulate the famous ads diligently
I used to look at several ads that are published in the publications and try to write like them. But then, I was in awe to write high-sounding words. The simple, but very effective, interactive style always used to elude me - However hard I try though. It was a mystery to crack an ad. I felt if I write like those reputed ads, which are very simple and direct, my copy may be trashed. I used to feel we need to zap the client with a lot academic language. (Believe me, It is difficult to get out of the mindset!)
We can’t pen the words in that way, as a matter of fact, for sheer fear of rejection. Now if you think what holds you back from writing the style of those simple and good ads, it’s because we feel we’re still not pros. We desperately lack the confidence. The reputation and acceptance is what propels them to set standards and formulate newer styles in copywriting. You need to practice writing till you feel you can stand up and justify your stand.
Knowing the process alone isn’t enough
It’s like cooking a delicious dish. We know the process but that may not guarantee us the original taste. (Tried cooking? it’s a great fun!) How much ever care you take in measuring the exact quantity of ingredients we may not get the taste which is if not exact, at least closer to the original.
The processes and the methods are all readily available to us through books and other sources. The effective style – the zing, is still eluding us like a mirage. Slowly, but steadily, we’ll come to know how to write it. Here, we need to bide the time and wait to get the refinement (test of patience, indeed!). Rigorous amounts of reading of many books, blogs and consistent writing of ads, brochures, articles etc will sure get us closer to our desired style: your personal style of a writer will take shape. Ogilvy in one of his books advises copywriters to copy others’ writing – borrowing some phrases; and in doing so he says one develops one’s style (I started following the same process to copy from all great writers).
Your conviction… Your style
Continuous writing, writing (and making as many mistakes that that there are none left) we feel the confidence to say what we really wanted to say. We need to undertake tremendous research about the product, the market and the target audiences’ whims and fancies. Coupled with the experience you gained, you will come out with some interesting ideas to put it across to your target audience. To put it in a succinct and clever way that catches the imagination. Try as different as you can!!!
This feeling of knowing your product and your prospect thoroughly will give you the confidence to put it in your own words. The way you write the copy, too, should have the same tone of your prospects so that you can get the desired results.
Here, let’s remember what William Bernbch has to say about the approach to writing copy: “Our job is to sell our clients’ merchandise, not ourselves. Our job is to kill the cleverness that makes us shine instead of the product. Out job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message”.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
My heartfelt apologies to all of you who’ve visited my blog! I’m kinda stuck in a sticky situation of PC breakdown and desperately trying to reconnect the net-connection that gone bonkers …including me! Ha….ha…ha
I knew if I do what interests me most, money will follow
I guess you’re under the impression that I made my riches! Not yet, but a great satisfaction that my work earns the respect of clients and a good money comes in, albeit rarely. You know we need the contacts to branch out on our own. Which I woefully lack in the industry circuits as I had worked with agencies with relatively no luxury of huge cleient portfolio.
They say, patience pays, may be
I often wonder that how long I should wait for my day in getting across good clients after started freelancing. Coupled with these depressing thoughts I feel the hurdles that seem to never stop –by way of some unimaginable and quirky setbacks like: not finding a good soul who can repair my PC in my vicinity ( all attempts to get it done are in vain), lack of internet connectivity and things like that.
Before you realize what’s wrong, you loose your muse and struggle to write and find your voice. Huh… its one helluva depressing trip. Wait….this helped me to come out with gush of emotion finding how practically we can overcome them and cherish the experiences.
And again, I begin to see things inside out: if I never face these problems and undergo these turbulent situations, I’ll never grow as a human being. And without growing as a human being (I have grown strong with each problem), I’ll never be a good writer, who can contribute in whatever way I can.
You need constant source of support
I feel in matters of adversity, it’s natural to wish someone help you outright. But even if you can’t be anything, you’re called to be his friend and lend a helping hand. Here, I wanted to place my deepest gratitude to my dear friend and mentor Ms. Vivienne Queck to be my support and guidance through these turbulent times. I can understand how I should’ve upset my good friend Bokjae who designed this wonderful blog for me! Hope it makes a lot of difference to let your friend know that he or she can overcome it. Thanks a lot!
Confidence is the key
Confidence is one elusive thing. It comes to you when you feel strong with everything goes hunky dory; suddenly disappears when anything is amiss. I felt I got to catch it with all my strength that it never ditches me when I’m down.
Once again, I thank my wife and friends – Vivienne, Bokjae for their constant support.
I believe I’ve chosen what interests me most. I’m hopeful I’ll make it one day to the top!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Why, and How I Started my Copywriting Career.
When I first strayed into advertising from teaching, I honestly did not know what copywriting is, I only had one intention then: to get acquainted with learning, reading and write the beautiful English language. Had it not for my deep passion for learning and reading English from childhood, I would not dare to take the plunge. Making a career switch at this point of time with a family plus an extended family to feed and support is very nerve wrecking
Call it divine intervention or sheer luck, I decided to go with my heart. I knew that a career in writing will give me immense pleasure. I can satiate my reading thirst and still be able to earn a living by it. And I do make a living by writing!. I never felt happier reseaching and reading a book, an article or a blog post every day. My job is now a hobby and a job fused together.
Learning the art by reading ads.
In my early days of learning, I started by reading the copy of other ads. Some were pedestrian while some were extremely good. I spent most of my time by referring to the dictionary, and trying to figure out the concept behind the ad. Nice words don’t sell. I got to know how to sell the advertisers’ products and services by using the correct words. I knew that only through strenuous and arduous efforts - by reading and understanding others copy and ideation, will I learn the craft of copywriting.
First tryst to write an ad.
There was an recruitment ad to be done for a noted publication and I was lucky to get the job because it’s senior writer was sick. The copy came out well, and both the client and my agency like the way I wrote it. I gained lots of confidence with the success of my first advertisement copy. I started writing boldly to further garner more confidence.
Mentorship; or lack of it.
Now, I have a few people I can look up to and learn to improve myself. This is good because mentors are wings beneath my wind. However, I did not have any mentor then. I did not know any one who was into copywriting, or work in the creative industry. Thanks to my humble upbringing, I followed my heart to learn the art of copywriting all by myself. As good advertising books and copywriting books were very costly and scarce in
I want this about myself – I am a self-learner and want to stand as a radiant example to those who wish to take up writing as a career but have doubts haunting them:
Can I make it?
Should I look for a mentor? But I don’t have enough money to finance a coaching programme?
Can I become a successful copywriter?
All I can say is: Crave for it strongly and believe in yourself; and it’ll be done to you! You’re just one great ad-campaign away from success!
If you are really serious, God and the universe will send you help when you least expected. I did not expect making friends and receiving so much support from my blogosphere friends. I like to take this opportunity to thank two friends who are instrumental in creating this blog, and for being a great source of inspiration: Vivienne Quek, from Versa Creations Pte Ltd, writes a wonderful marketing and advertising blog at http://www.versacreations.net. Without her friendship and constant encouragement, this blog will not be created so soon. Vivienne introduced me to Bokjae, who writes a personal blog at http://www.jangbokjae.blogspot.com/. He is a warm-hearted retiree who believe in lending a hand where help is greatly appreciated. In fact, He is the one who helped design this blog!
I trust myself that I can learn to write better. I trust God and the universe will support me.