My first copywriting job out of college was an utter disaster. I was hired because I had several neuroscience journal articles published in grad school and the CEO of the marketing agency thought I’d be the perfect fit for a specific client.
Knowing next to nothing about marketing or copywriting, I took the job thinking that being able to write for one client was all I needed. Fast forward to my first week on the job - of course, there was a steep learning curve related to SEO and marketing, but when it came to the actual writing, I seemed to do well with the technical client. I wrote landing pages and blog posts, but after a few months, we had so much content backlogged for this client that I needed something else to do.
I submitted a few pieces for the next client and received terrible feedback. I was baffled - I had done the same thing I’d been doing for the past three months that had been working so well. What changed?
I didn’t understand when I was on rewrite number six of my landing page copy and the senior copywriter told me, “It’s just not the right tone.”
To be honest, I had no idea what she meant by that, which showed how inexperienced I was at the time. Because I only did very technical, science-based writing, I never really had to think about the tone of my writing. I relayed facts. I summarized the data. I drew conclusions. There was a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it because there was only one source of truth.
I became aware that I was in over my head, and so I left that job. I was young, discouraged, and foolish. I vowed to go into another area of marketing that didn’t revolve around writing.
The thing is, I’m a writer. I was never going to be able to just stop writing. Even after working as an account executive, completing my data science Bootcamp, and landing a role as a marketing analyst, I was drawn back to writing. When I had the chance to write a blog post for a fun, lifestyle brand, I knew I had to approach the project differently…
To write differently, I had to think differently. As David Foster Wallace said,
“Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how & what you think. It means being conscious & aware enough to choose what you pay attention to & to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”
― David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life
When I first read that in high school, I understood the meaning on a larger scale, but now I’ve come to realize the intricacies of how it can be applied to writing through a different lens.
Copywriting is about more than just writing. It’s about telling a brand’s message. Just like different people have different styles, preferences, and strengths, so do different businesses. As you approach a writing project, it’s crucial to consider the brand’s tone.
That’s what helped me break out of a boring cycle of technical writing that all sounded the same. When I sit down with a creative brief, I take the time to explore the brand. I go to the website and read their current copy, of course, but I also look at other things - the logo, color scheme, social media presence, customer reviews and testimonials, leadership team bios, and more.
I nailed that lifestyle piece and went on to contribute regularly to the blog even though I was a marketing analyst. Now, I’m a data scientist for a healthcare company and I do little to no writing during the workday. However, I’m always paying attention to what’s going on around me. And as events unfold throughout the day, I remind myself to think about them from different points of view. I save those thoughts for my writing. Whether I’m submitting a Hire A Writer blog post, working on my own fiction, or telling a story from my data, I say to myself this is water.
Do you want to work with a writer that knows how to think differently? Contact us today and we’ll show you why our team is the right fit.
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