How to be a copywriter

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Bad Date Syndrome

Bad Date Syndrome

By Phil Gayter on May 16, 2018 07:00 am
Bad Date Syndrome

When I do branding seminars I have one slide that leaves the room silent. It's a picture of an over-bearing man with a bored looking woman. A title over the top says: Are you a bad date? I usually invite the audience to raise their hands in concurrence, and a couple of mitts timidly reach for the tile ceiling.

Thank you for admitting this!

I go on to explain the following. A bad date shows up cocky and then proceeds to talk about themselves incessantly, in glowing terms, Me, I, Me, I, Me I.

They continue like this ad infinitum until the poor date looks at their watch and excuses themselves to go to "the powder room," where they quietly slip through a tiny window and escape. Here's the point.

Many brands are bad dates.

They show up and talk incessantly about We, I, Me, I, We I, Us. You've all seen it.

"We are the number one purveyor of coffins in Lake County! We offer the finest woods and we are proud to offer European-style handles!"

"Eat at Jimmy's. We continue to be awesome and have been awesome since 1946."

We. Us. I. Our.

The missing pronoun is "you." As in your customers.

As a brand, I can tell immediately if you are a good date or not. I look at your website and check to see how long it takes for you to talk about me (the customer), if I have to go to "In the news" or "testimonials" it tends to be a pretty bad start to our first meeting.

A little bragging is OK, so are the facts and points and customer feedback, but if you make it all about your business, you are actually talking to yourself and guaranteeing your customers are squeezing through the bathroom window, possibly without paying, hopefully with their pants on. Brands should aspire to be "good dates," and that means showing up on time, being insightfully engaging and totally "into" the person they are meeting. It doesn't half help if you happen to look like Brad Pitt, but in the DNA sweepstakes of brands, personality usually rules over good looks.

It's simple human nature. If you show some interest in someone–real interest–you miraculously become more interesting back.

Marketing engagement is totally like this. Show that you understand them; make a fuss over them; present them with kick-ass insights; make them laugh or cry; show them you care – it's all pretty simple really. Brands that get it, stop selling and start building relationships, and relationships generally lead to trust which generally … well, you get the picture.

Think of the power this gives you. Done correctly you get "engaged" and go off into the future getting married and having a lifelong relationship together. Maybe even a couple of kids.

So are you a good date?

Oh, look at the time. I must visit the men's room.
About the author: Phil Gayter

Phil Gayter

Phil worked as a creative director at global giants Leo Burnett and Euro RSCG in Chicago. He currently has a brand and creative consultancy
Brandstorm, and helps clients of all sizes find their voice and correct pant size.

This article was first published by Phil Gayter

Wednesday, May 09, 2018



By Ellie Hubble on May 09, 2018 07:00 am
Creative Play

What does it mean to be "creative"? To be an "ideas person"? Or to be "artistic"? They're just words aren't they? Devoid of any real meaning.

As a Contenty-copywriter type, I often (to my delight) get pulled into creative meetings or idea generation sessions, as it is assumed I'll be a valuable contributor. And whilst I'd love to think that's all on me, in reality, I think it's because my job role allows me to be "creative". It is expected.


Creativity belongs to us all

Creativity is not a talent, it is an active craft. It's all about being able to shift perspective and solve problems. And it isn't and shouldn't be pigeonholed to one industry or role. Dave gets it:

"Creativity isn't a particular discipline. It's the quality of originality and unexpectedness that you bring to whatever you do." – Dave Trott in Creative Mischief


The importance of playfulness

It's hard to actually define creativity, but in my opinion, it centres around playfulness. A quick check on Google offers "frivolity", "silliness" and even "monkey business" as possible synonyms. But I mean playful in terms of toying with or manipulating something, pulling it apart and patching it back together.
Being playful in the workplace isn't frivolous or silly, but a way of solving problems cleverly or building something that is original, whatever the project.
I did a module a few years back at university on Holocaust Literature which was as brutal as it sounds but fascinating. I did well on the final exam with the positive feedback that I had explored the books in question "playfully".
I learnt that playfulness doesn't have to be silly, but that it's a method of finding new angles and ideas, whatever the subject matter.

The battle for the Great Idea

Playfulness may be a good method of "achieving" creativity, but it doesn't guarantee results. When Mad Men's Creative Director, Don Draper, isn't drinking or engaging in light misogyny, he broods away in his office until the idea miraculously comes to him.

"There is no algorithm that can tell us where it will come from and when it will hit". – Tim Brown in Change by Design

Draper solves the day by having the ever-coveted lightbulb moment. But this is such bullshit. A fully-formed idea by one person is very rare. Also, the notion that there is one great idea is ridiculous.
In reality, idea generation is a lengthy process, involving a mix of different people and many, many, many iterations.

"To have a good idea, you must first have lots of ideas". Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry

Instead of ruthlessly pursuing the Great Idea, like a mighty but pointless hunt for Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, we should play our way to the Right Idea.
Who's with me?
About the author: Ellie Hubble

Ellie Hubble

Ellie is a creative strategist and writer, currently working as a copywriter for an eclectic mix of agencies and brands. When she's not writing or cooking up ideas, she can usually be found exploring the city or escaping from it to the countryside.

You can follow her latest posts at Dazed but Amused and follow her on Twitter @ellie_hubble.

This article was first published by Ellie Hubble


Read in browser »

Recent Articles:

How this "Accident" became one of the most famous logos in the world
Design and copy: dance partners not petulant divas
What Does the Word Copywriter Mean in 2018?
No time for blogging? Four easy steps forward
The Top 5 Smart Drugs for Writers

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

How this “Accident” became one of the most famous logos in the world

How this "Accident" became one of the most famous logos in the world

By Rick Siderfin on May 02, 2018 07:00 am
Nike Logo

Business owners commonly spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fine-tune their logo and brand, so it may come as a surprise to learn how the simple design that is now worth over $26 billion came into being.

Here's the story of how the first Nike running shoes were created, and how the iconic "swoosh" became the official logo of what is now one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Way back when I was growing up, if I went to buy sneakers, I had four choices; Converse low-top, high-top, in either black or white.

That was it.

There was no Adidas.

There was no Puma.

There were no running shoes.

Bill Bowerman was a running coach and the founder of what would become Nike (pronounced ny'-kee, after the Greek goddess of victory) – one of the most known brands in the world.

At the time, though, Bill wasn't concerned with becoming a multi-billion dollar global sports retailer. He just wanted shoes that would help his runners perform better.

One day, his wife was preparing waffles for breakfast, and she poured the batter into the waffle iron.

He said, "Wait a second."

He came home that afternoon after track practice, and he brought this liquid rubber stuff, and he poured it into the waffle iron and it hardened.

He said, "This is going to be the sole of my new running shoe."

The first Nike running shoe was a waffle sole. He was supported by Phil Knight, who was one of his graduate students, and together they started this running shoe manufacturer.

I once met a woman who was the author of one of the first books about the history of Nike. I asked her: "What was their secret in terms of marketing?"

She replied: "You know, these people knew nothing about marketing. They were all track coaches and runners. They knew nothing about marketing, but they thought they did."

The story about the Nike swoosh is they were up against a deadline and they had a half-hour left.

They had to come up with a logo.

They had six designs to go with. Under pressure to make a decision, Phil Knight said "Let's go with the swoosh. I don't love it, but I think it will grow on me." It was almost by chance that this design was selected from the shortlist.

It wasn't due to long, serious research, or focus groups, or market research. The graphic design student who came up with it was paid $25 for her work, and Nike sent the designs to the factory in Mexico to produce their first batch of waffle-sole sports shoes with the now-famous "swoosh" design on the side.

The moral of the story? I guess it's not to obsess over the details of how your brand looks (or, worse still, indulge in multiple "rebrands") but rather on your product and your target market.

That's why Nike become so successful – they were utterly focussed on the wants and needs of their target market. They told stories. They got people who were in the media spotlight to wear their brand. They really did "just do it!" – you could say, they were just practicing what they (still) preach!


About the author: Rick Siderfin

Rick Siderfin

Rick Siderfin is a husband, dad of 3, and copywriter who lives and works in Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds. He is the founder of Vortex Content Marketing, a company founded with one simple objective: to help you get noticed online.

This article was originally published by Rick Siderfin

The post How this "Accident" became one of the most famous logos in the world appeared first on .

Read in browser »
share on Twitter Like How this

Recent Articles:

Design and copy: dance partners not petulant divas
What Does the Word Copywriter Mean in 2018?
No time for blogging? Four easy steps forward
The Top 5 Smart Drugs for Writers
7 communication habits that will make everyone, including you, happier

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Design and copy: dance partners not petulant divas

Design and copy: dance partners not petulant divas

By Waynne Meek on Apr 25, 2018 07:00 am
Design and Copy

Imagery and words need always to go hand-in-hand to create truly compelling content. But there are times you see examples of them being created separately and then forced together. Stories are now built up from a multitude of creative assets, including images, videos and infographics. It's an exciting time for content, but it can also be a dangerous one.

How does a content piece work? Do its separate content elements hang together? Many are briefed on different resources, maybe by different people, and often the creative providers are freelancers working alone. Sometimes, there's even the temptation to find/create the perfect imagery and then 'bung some text in' later. That's when copy – the poor old relative – falls down and can be blamed for low engagement.

Design & Message Working Together

It's important to understand how the elements work together. For example, what word count are the designers working to? Do they know how much copy is needed to tell the story? Or, on the other hand, are the copywriters aware of how much they should (or shouldn't) be writing? It's clear in the modern world of multiple calls on our attention that less is more. There's nothing worse than having to cram too much copy into a design. It ends up cramped and ineffective. There's also the danger of different elements vying individually for attention, which can be confusing and could even have a counter-effective result.

Once you have figured out the right balance of copy and imagery, beware translations. The perfect fit in one language could be tricky in another. For example, Finnish tends to be considerably longer in character length than English. So, designers could be forced to either change the design at the last minute or reduce the text size dramatically. You don't want to have to issue your readers in Finland with magnifying glasses, so it's good to bear this in mind!

'Mad Men' style traditional advertising really understood this – some of the old long copy ads are works of art in their own right. Communications have moved on – for the most part, the visuals are more dynamic and the words more sparing. But there's still a lot to be said for maintaining the right balance, so each complements the other in a kind of elegant waltz.

How do you ensure your content marries design and message effectively?
About the author: Waynne Meek

Waynne Meek

Waynne is passionate about all things content, especially how copy merges with other elements to make compelling communication. A recognised career of 20 years spanning various media has given him a useful insight into the way copy works across brands. Armed with this experience, he has delivered and managed effective copy solutions, from award-winning internal magazines to compelling brand and product messaging. Find out more about him on LinkedIn –, or on
This article was first published by Waynne Meek 

*Check out one of our top copywriters in Boston*

Recent Articles:

What Does the Word Copywriter Mean in 2018?
No time for blogging? Four easy steps forward
The Top 5 Smart Drugs for Writers
7 communication habits that will make everyone, including you, happier
DIY advertisers: why titles don't work, and headlines do

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What Does the Word Copywriter Mean in 2018?

What Does the Word Copywriter Mean in 2018?

Advertising Copy

Copywriter [noun]: A person who writes copy for the purpose of advertising or marketing.

Today, the role of a copywriter has many nuances that are often left out of its basic definition.

Meanwhile, in less nuanced terms, we've seen the word dropped completely in favor of more (or less) creative terminology, like that of Word Ninja. But since we're not in an action movie, let's stick to the more nuanced meaning of copywriter.

Originally, the word copy came into popular use with the rise of the newspaper industry. There, publishers referred to the text to be printed as the copy and those who wrote it as copywriters and those who edited copy as copyeditors. Sounds easy, right?!

But what does the word itself really mean today?


What is a copywriter?

Many dictionaries tend to stick to similar phrasing when referring to a copywriter. However, a closer look around the Web illustrates how the meaning of copywriter has changed and expanded through the years.

Cambridge Dictionary defines copywriters as "someone who writes the words for advertisements".

It's rather a "meat and potatoes" kind of definition, but thanks to Cambridge's prestige and enduring influence, it's still one in common use.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Merriam-Webster says a copywriter is "a writer of advertising or publicity copy".

This wording gives a little bit more elbow room to what type of writing is included. And, of course, being referred to as a "writer" rather than a "someone" gives an added sense of achievement to any copywriter reading it.

Being all business, BusinessDictionary defines the word as "a professional who composes headings, sub-headings, and body copy of advertisements, brochures, catalogs, direct mail offers, product literature, etc. Some copywriters work independently while others are employed by the advertising agencies".

A very thorough and serious explanation. But perhaps it is lacking some creative oomph for any copywriter hoping to NOT put clients to sleep when describing what we do.

Check out how this real live copywriter describes himself at Snagajob: "Copywriters are the handsome, good-smelling men and women who create fresh written content for advertising, marketing and descriptive texts. Copywriters can write more creative text, like ad jingles, taglines, and other creative copy, or more research-based copy, like a job description on a website."

Now there's a description that could persuade anyone, especially if your job requires just that. Also, it is, naturally, 100% accurate.
As many copywriters and ALL copy editors like to point out, writing and editing are NOT synonymous with one another.

However, The Balance defines "a 'Copywriter' is one who writes or edits copy or written content for a living, usually ofsales generating or marketing nature."

While most copywriters today write AND edit content, perhaps the use of "or" is likely to rub a few the wrong way. Also, the added quotation marks around the word itself give the sense that the word is a concept rather than a person (or maybe that's just my own self-esteem issues).

Meanwhile, over at Urban Dictionary, an obviously millennial-minded writer sardonically defines copywriter as "someone whose work is to create texts for advertising. Normally in his/her twenties or did you ever meet a 50 year old copywriter?"

Has he or she even seen a copywriter out of a 'Mad Men' type setting?! This can be true of agency copywriters, particularly Junior Copywriters, starting out before moving on to bigger roles or leaving the agency. However, it is definitely not true of the freelancer variety—an entirely different breed that comes in all shapes, sizes and age ranges.

WriterAccess describes how "copywriters may or may not be freelancers, but a copywriter does have to be a master of writing succinctly in order to meet the client's needs".

They pretty much had me at the word "master"…

Are there different types of copywriters?

Leaving these meanings to digest, let's take a closer look at some of the different types (or specialties) of copywriters to get an even clearer picture.   


Prospects describes how "as an advertising copywriter, you'll work alongside an art director within the creative department of an advertising, media or full-service agency. You'll work with client briefs to conceive, develop and produce effective advertising campaigns."

What does the word copywriter meanAlso called the creative copywriter, this is one of the most creatively fulfilling roles one can have as a copywriter and oftentimes goes hand in hand with working for an ad agency.

Naturally, working as a copywriter for an ad agency can have many benefits—including gaining valuable experience with big-name clients. But it can also be very demanding. And those demands might mean a few too many late night deadlines, an unhealthy addiction to caffeine, and a tendency to reply snarkily to simple questions like, "Did you grab lunch yet?"

In addition to the understanding and writing skills needed for a copywriter, Neil Patel points out that "an SEO copywriter also understand[s] how Google feels about certain words and phrases, especially long tail phrases."

The downside of this specialty means that everyday conversations with SEO copywriters may include the odd bout of Google-y-ness (tending to Google everything) and requires patience as they go about choosing their words VERY carefully before they speak.

Radix Communications says that "digital copywriters are responsible for all the largely-unsung microcopy that gets website visitors and app users to click on the right things and enter the right information".

Think of all the times a website or app has gotten you to click a button…

Funnily enough, you've probably obeyed more Call to Action buttons than obeying your Mom and Dad's requests. So if anyone's more likely to get you to return a phone call or remind you to send grandma a birthday card, the odds are in favor of a digital copywriter—sorry Mom & Dad.

As StrayGoat Writing Services points out, a technical copywriter "focuses on sales content" like other copywriters, but "the technical copywriter is more comfortable with technology, especially industrial technology that you don't come across in day-to-day life (unless that's your job). Often they are experts in that technology or have some sort of background with the technology or technology that is similar."

These copywriters are often specifically used for B2B (Business-to-Business) copy, helping other members of the company or businesses in a similar industry understand their specific jargon. Basically, these copywriters let the engineers and other "techy" experts do all the talking, without letting everyone else feel like they are having to listen to engineers do all the talking.


What does a copywriter do?

What does a copywriter do
"So what kind of work do you actually do?"

Even once the word copywriter is more clearly defined, there is still something elusive about what a copywriter actually does.

Of course, the work will vary depending on who they are working for, what their specialties are and so on. So, what does it really mean to work as a copywriter?

According to Mediabistro, "a copywriter creates clear, compelling copy to sell products and/or educate and engage consumers, flexing persuasive writing muscle on websites, blog posts, product descriptions, email blasts, banner advertising, newsletters, white papers, PSAs, social media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram, and other marketing communication vehicles."

This is a great example of embracing the full modern scope of what a copywriter can do. And, it's good copy. Where else are you going to see the words copywriter and flexing muscle used in the same sentence?!

Chegg goes on to say that, "copywriters create text for businesses. A copywriter is also a large presence in advertising agencies, but also a standard hire in many other companies including non-profits and medical organizations. And although a writer, you are no novelist: Your work as a copywriter is short and pithy. Your goal is to catch attention and be remembered."

Short and pithy, no novelist…I get the point of what is to be done, but it's not exactly getting me excited about being or becoming a copywriter.

HubSpot explains that "copywriters are trying to get people to feel, think, or respond — or, ideally, to Google the slogan or brand to learn more about the campaign."

This gives the overall work a much welcomed artistic nod, moving away from the concept of copywriters as simply selling or persuading. Yet, in the end, it also implies the ideal objective is to Google the end work. That definitely doesn't feel as creatively fulfilling (or ego boosting) as making people "feel, think, or respond".

Check out what FirstSiteGuide has to say: "Besides being skillful at researching, writing, and editing, copywriters need to master some aspects of project management as well, at least when it comes to planning and implementing marketing campaigns."

Remember the days when we were only "someone who writes the words of advertisements"?! What a giant leap we've made! This description also points out an important part of being a modern creative in general—that is, doing a bit of everything (often for the same pay) because someone has to.

WorkflowMax goes further in this direction by saying "the modern copywriter has come a long way since the newspaper days. Now, a copywriter needs to not only create stand-out copy, but he/she needs to understand how that copy should be presented and distributed."

And please don't confuse "understand" with "having the tools and training" to actually implement the presentation and distribution of said copy. Raise your hand if you have ever been asked to do "a little" graphic design, photography, etc. with copywriting or vice versa.

Meanwhile Creativepool describes how "copywriters are responsible for generating the words, slogans and audio scripts that accompany advertising visuals."

This sounds like they are only creating print ads and video commercials. Hey, that would be great, since print and video copy can often be the best paying and most creative gigs around. But it doesn't cover the full range of content work that the average copywriter usually does.

The Guardian sums up the work rather succinctly but eloquently by stating that "to become a copywriter you need to be able to work at speed as well as having a talent for sparkling prose".

Note to self: Start using the word "sparkling" a lot more when talking about what I do. 

When asked to describe what he does, copywriter David Lanfair said that "…I generate keen creative solutions that help people, brands, networks, and companies solve their business and marketing challenges, and do it through the medium of writing — crafting the copy for various types of collateral: from a tagline, to a print ad, to a marketing deck, to a TV script, to an annual report, to a billboard, to a webisode series, to branded content, to naming a product or service, to writing the copy for a website, to just about anything that requires words to persuade someone to take action or spend money."

That's a mouthful—but pretty much nails it! Although, it's also fair to say that a screenwriter usually writes TV scripts and webisode series. But I'm sure copywriters and screenwriters can fight that one out amongst themselves. 

In short…

All fun aside, in the world of copywriting, all meanings of the word are fair game…And, going back to Word Ninja, that too is actually quite fitting. Words are flying around us, wreaking havoc on how a brand is seen, how we communicate, and it's the copywriter who comes in (and, like ninjas, are often unseen), and whips out some mental martial art moves that result in some killer copy.

So take each definition with a grain of salt and if all else fails, try coming up with your own meaning. After all, if there's anyone suited for the task, it's a copywriter.


What does the word copywriter mean to you? Let us know!


The post What Does the Word Copywriter Mean in 2018? appeared first on .

Recent Articles:

No time for blogging? Four easy steps forward
The Top 5 Smart Drugs for Writers
7 communication habits that will make everyone, including you, happier
DIY advertisers: why titles don't work, and headlines do
Writing business we-wee is bad – but what about me-mee?