When copywriters say 'work hard but only do what makes you happy'

I'm starting from the beginning, back when, 5 years ago I decided to start my own business - these are my why's and wherefore's. Hopefully, by getting a glimpse into my story, you'll pick up a few ideas and discard any bad ones. I'll be posting these little gems of historical significance over the next few weeks, and with some occasional deviations along the way into other copywriting topics. No book recs today.

I remember thinking early on that it was important to write what I was interested in, and I can remember saying that I found certain subjects boring to another copywriter, who more or less told me that you had to like it or lump it. In other words, you can’t always write on topics you really love, and sometimes you’re going to have to write about stuff you couldn’t care less about, so suck it up and deal with it.

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But why? If I’m doing this for the long haul, then I’d like to do something I really enjoy.

That left me in a bit of a quandary. I had given up my day job because I was bored and miserable and I didn’t want to wind up spending my time writing about things that made me…well…bored and miserable. I wanted to feel lit up from the inside every time my fingers hit the keyboard, but perhaps that was the romantic in me.

It can’t always be rainbows and kittens can it?

I have since written on a wide range of topics in my role as ‘generalist copywriter,’ and that has often led to me writing about things I do find boring. I understand that it’s not about whether I enjoy it, it’s about what the potential customer thinks. I may find that fuseboxes aren’t really my thing, but at the end of the day it’s about the customer, if the customer finds it exciting, then it’s up to me to make it exciting. I have committed myself to this over the years, and I’ve written as passionately as I can on topics I’ve not always been that interested in. After all, isn’t that the job of a copywriter, to market services and products to the public and make them sound amazing? I mean it’s not about you is it?

No, up to a point.

However, I think there has to be room for indulgence, or at least I’m making room for it. I’m now moving away from ‘generalist extraordinaire’ to specialist, and focusing on only one or two deliverables within a specially chosen niche area. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed my years as a generalist, it’s the best apprenticeship I could have wished for. I’ve learnt the importance of brevity, how to write in a more simple yet intelligent way, and how to create that all-important well-crafted headline — regardless of how boring the topic may be. It’s a discipline and a challenge to write about things you know nothing about, and at the same time make it sound like the most fascinating thing ever.

But now I think I’d like to indulge myself…..

I think I’d like to write about things I do know something about, things that get me excited, and make me want to jump in the air. Now I’ve earned my apprenticeship credentials and moved into the intermediate slot I’m looking for the kind of work that makes me want to get up in the morning, not pull the duvet back over myself and hide.

The one solid, residing work ethic I’ve grown up with is this: work hard, but only do what makes you happy, after all, life is too short to go through it miserable. So I’m now going to do what makes me happy, and write about things that get me excited - and hopefully get paid for it too.

This is a 7 days, 40–50 hour week and I’d like to enjoy it.

Here’s to the future, and as I want to remain human I’m going to be working with coaches and creatives (take a look at who my clients are to see if you are a good fit) for the forseeable, for at the heart of everything I do, we do, it’s about people, marketing is about people and I want it to be a pleasurable experience - for them and for me.

Niching, narrowing down, specialising in deliverables helps you to focus and get better in one particular area, where you’re not doing everything, but just one or two areas that you know really well. And then clients will come - and they will come for your expertise and knowledge. Do one thing really well and working those longer hours will feel so much more enjoyable, and once you’re really good, it’ll be shorter hours, better pay.

People pay for expertise, to work with people who aren’t ragged from working themselves into the ground for peanuts, for people who are confident in their own abilities, and make clients feel they’re in a safe pair of hands.

That's the journey I'm on. Hence the job title Taith Copywriting.

 

Taith - Welsh for journey.

 

And if you'd like to go on that journey with me and work with me, get in touch.

 

 

Sorry, I deleted your email....

Yes, emails still work

Yes, emails still work

You sent me an email the other day. It was about percentages and lots of money off something. I think you said something about SHOPING, I can only assume you meant SHOPPING. Because I can’t really think of anything else it could have been. Thing is, you did really well in getting me to open it, although I can’t for the life of me remember what was in the subject headline, but well done anyway. Not everyone gets that far, I often delete emails before I even read them.

Junk-box Jury

So basically I have the junk filter on high on my email account. The reason for this is because I get an awful lot for rubbish in my inbox and I don’t have the time to look at it. However, I still speed read my junk box to check what’s there, because inadvertently, emails I do want to read end up there by mistake, so it’s worth checking. It’s not uncommon for this to happen and I’m sure we all have a quick look in the junk every now and again.

Hilarious headlines

I get all sorts of emails in there, some with some truly hilarious subject headings such as “Gillian how about some turbocharged testosterone” or “8 Foods That Can Cause Serious Gas” or “Do you need Viagra?” God alone knows what this says about me, who knows, but the majority of them end up in the delete box before you can say turbocharge.

Turbo charged testosterone - is that a thing?

Turbo charged testosterone - is that a thing?

Because I’m a copywriter I’m really interested in what makes a good sales email, and so should you, because it might be the difference between someone who opens your email and becomes engaged with what you’re selling, or clicking the delete button.

So, here’s what I DON’T like in an email:

·         Calling me by name – this is subjective, some may find this personal touch really engaging, but not me I’m afraid, I think this type of selling has been done to death. The idea of faking some sort of familiarity with me when you don’t even know me is enough to make me delete it as soon as I see my name in the subject heading. If you are going to use names, for crying out loud make sure you spell it correctly, and don’t spend the rest of your email being too overly-sickeningly familiar,

· Too many exclamation marks – Not keen on exclamation marks, but one is just about ok, but more than three and I’ll think you have an emergency, one that needs an ambulance or a fire engine. Don’t over egg it, it’s not that exciting,

·  Pyrotechnical, over-technical flashy-flashy – Please don’t flash at me, please don’t put neon bright colours in my face, especially before 10am and before I’ve had a coffee. It’s not necessary and neither is lots of text, a simple and effective message is all that’s required, with perhaps a few images of what you’re selling.

As an example – ASOS is great. Subject headline “Dress with up to 70% off” That has my attention. Click on the email and yes a few garish colours, but then mostly images in sets of four, dresses with 70% off and then beneath that, a few shoes that might go with the dresses, and then a list of famous brands they sell, and that’s it. Simple enough to get me interested and no empty promises and no over-familiarisation.

Couldn't fit in all of this email - but you get the PICTURE,  get it?!?!

Couldn't fit in all of this email - but you get the PICTURE,  get it?!?!

So this is what I do like in an email:

·  Simple grabbing subject headlines, perhaps a simple question, a sentence with 6 to 7 characters only, examples are Change.org – “Will you join me?” And Goop – Stop, Collaborate, and Listen” You can be selling ideas or products, but if you want people to listen, you have to grab their attention with something powerful and it doesn’t have to be a long headline

·  An email with a simple font and not too many bright colours and flashing images, something that really grabs me emotionally without being too personal or overly sentimental, and then gets straight to the point

·  Simple graphics, good quality images if you have products to sell, I need to see what you’re trying to sell me

·  Spelling – there’s nothing more off-putting than reading an email with spelling mistakes, it doesn’t look professional.

So there you have it, if you’d like to email again with SHOPPING rather than SHOPING I might pay more attention, and no I don’t need any Viagra, or turbocharged testosterone, but perhaps I might be interested in the gas free foods.