I once said, “I string words together that impact others’ lives. What could be better?”
Is it really about stringing words together in the right way and being a “wordsmith”?
That’s one level, and you can make a decent living if you consider yourself a wordsmith first and foremost.
But I think it goes deeper. Much deeper.
As copywriters, we’re more than simply wordsmiths, weaving words into appealing messages that get people to act.
You and I are a combination of private detective, psychologist, researcher, salesperson, presenter, marketing strategist, and yes, writer.
People often ask me what it takes to succeed in this business. Within a 15-minute conversation, I can usually tell if they’re a good fit, and whether they’ll do really well or just average.
In a future post, I’ll share the exact questions I’ve started asking aspiring copywriting rock stars.
For now, I’d say if you possess some of these characteristics, you’re in the right business.
A good copywriter …
- Is fascinated by human nature
- Has a strong desire to understand people and why they do the things they do
- Asks the right questions
- Listens well
- Is good at anticipating questions and objections
- Loves people
- Isn’t afraid to be vulnerable
- Would make a good private detective (and secretly wants to be)
- Knows how to lead a conversation
- Makes an interesting guest at a cocktail party
- Knows how to sell, or is willing to learn (as much as some people don’t like that word, it’s the essence of what we do)
- Could give a good eulogy for a friend (I’ll explain this in a future post)
- Understands the dark side of human nature, but looks for the brighter side
- Gets emotional occasionally
- Generates ideas without waiting for a specific “assignment”
- Can crawl inside someone’s head and see things from their perspective
- Appeals to the emotions of others
- Is pleasant to hang out with
- Reads more than most people
Legendary ad man David Ogilvy said that the hallmarks of a potentially successful copywriter include:
- Obsessive curiosity about products, people, and advertising
- A sense of humor
- A habit of hard work
Do you need all of these things? No, but the best copywriters I know seem to have most of them.
And, of course, you still have to take your ideas, craft the right message to the right audience, and get them to act. You need to get good at the art of copywriting.
Did I leave anything out? Which ones do you think are most important? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a quick note here, please, and I’ll address this again in part II, “Copywriters Aren’t Just Wordsmiths.”