Monday, 20 October 2014

Skills a Copywriter Should Have

As an extension of my previous post about article-writing, I decided to blog a bit more about a couple of things my life as a copywriter has taught me.

But first, a bit of background info: my job involves being given titles for articles which I then have to write, thereby producing content for the various websites owned by the company. These have to conform to a certain length, style, and format, whilst also having to include various key words or phrases in order to make the article more 'Google-friendly'. It took a bit of getting used to, especially as I have to be able to write in various styles, from long feature articles to 100-word sound bites, but I'm pretty much in the swing of it now.

So, two of the most important skills to pick up as a copywriter (in my humble opinion) are:

1) The ability to reword
Although there are many enjoyable things about being a copywriter, the SEO aspect can be a bit of a pain. In essence, for this company it means that in the interests of being able to catch all customers, the wording that searchers use to search should be the title of the piece, and there are always numerous ways to ask a search engine for information, of course. But this does not mean my carefully researched and planned piece that perfectly encapsulates the topic can be used as an answer for all. No - unfortunately, articles with the same wording will be penalised and not show up at all. Therefore, it is often necessary to write the same article countless times and on each of those occasions, find a fresh way to say it.

What I have learned: That Google's algorithms are annoying and also that I had a secret talent for writing about hot flushes in twenty or more original ways all along, which has only just surfaced now.

2) The ability to accept your limitations
Whenever I do get given a brand new title (which does happen), I am always struck with the familiar fear that I do not have a PhD in the topic, and this can cause me to procrastinate (although I justify as 'research' of course) before I really can't anymore and have to get on with writing the damned piece. Well, I was more like this at the beginning, but have now realised that writing a mere 500 words about the symptoms of bipolar disorder does not require that I know everything there is to know about the psychological, philosophical, neurological, and medical aspects of the illness. It is enough to use reputable sources to simply find out what I need to know and back them up with evidence. Anything else is superfluous and a complete waste of my time and energy.

What I have learned: Save that precious time and energy for more important things, like exploring Peru, or other such activities.

Although there is a lot to learn and get used to, there is a lot to like about copywriting. That feeling of satisfaction after finishing an article/review/research piece is wonderful, and I do like being paid to write all day - flexing my creative muscles and all that. Although the job, almost by definition, involves creating for others rather than yourself, which can be good or bad depending how interesting or boring the topic happens to be, this can mean finding out things you never thought you'd know, never thought you didn't know, or didn't really know you wanted to know. Phew, now my head's spinning. I think I need to lie down.

No comments:

Post a Comment