You’re looking for a copywriter in San Francisco. After all, there are lots of those creative types here, not just “homosexuals and hipsters” as your previous boss told you when you moved West.
IT’S NO SAN FRANCISCO TREAT
It turns out Google isn’t much help in finding a copywriter in San Francisco. Neither is Yelp for some reason, even though it would make a whole lot of sense for people to write reviews about copywriters. Nobody does, though, so you check YouTube instead. There aren’t any copywriters there, but you are distracted and watching videos of a baby falling out of his highchair. You sort of chuckle, but it feels somehow wrong, even though the baby seems perfectly fine. You are afraid you will have to flip through the Yellow Pages to locate a copywriter in San Francisco, but you have some dignity left. Anyway, that would make your fingers dirty.
You find a copywriter in San Francisco the old-fashioned way: you asked someone else in the company and she gave you the email address “of a real pro.” Just imagine discussing your copywriting needs over an informal lunch and a glass of the only wine on the menu you are confident in pronouncing. Copywriters are all tremendous conversationalists; on this point you are certain. This one might prove to be an adequate after-work buddy or happy hour companion, and would definitely know a darling of a pickup line you could try out on that cashier from Whole Foods. This is going to be fantastic.
Excitedly, you’ve sent your first email to the fog-city wordsmith. Don’t be modest—your message is pretty awesome, and you spent an inordinate amount of time preparing its four short sentences. (Wisely, you deleted the words “fog-city wordsmith” at the last minute.) It is imperative for the copywriter to understand immediately that you “get it”—you get it good, in fact—so much so, you could probably write this advertising copy yourself. But you’re a busy man and, hey, it’s not your job. Actually, your life right now would make a mildly thrilling short story, or at least a post on a blog, if you had one. Do copywriters write short stories? You might want to ask that during your first lunch meeting.
A copywriter in san francisco is busy
You’ve hit your first snag. A copywriter in San Francisco is much too busy to meet you out in the open, diddling over an open-faced sandwich and a mediocre Chardonnay. He prefers to send brief missives over email like this:
Awesome product. Ping me later in the wk. —CSF
The first time you received such an email, you were impressed. Admit it. You are convinced this SF copywriter must be pretty damn, well, cool—a modern-day Shaft with a keyboard. Ladies are attracted to him like…like…. You’ll ask him for an appropriate simile at the meeting; it will serve as a fitting ice breaker.
He fails to reply to your follow-up messages for several days. At last, upon receiving his belated response, you have nearly lost your crush.
Apologies. Been slammed ALL week. Let’s regroup Mon. —CSF
Forgivable, surely, but disheartening nonetheless. Hiring a San Francisco copywriter isn’t as simple as expected. Why is he such a bastard? Forget the lunch meeting; they stopped making the portobello burger you liked anyway, and having wine at noon makes the rest of the workday seem so much longer, especially when that marketing intern keeps interrupting your web surfing to ask for advice about grad school programs at Stanford. Who is she kidding, right?
This copywriting thing can’t be hard
It is clear that you are equally capable of writing the necessary blurb, this marketing hogwash wrapped in balderdash, as good as any twaddle scribbled out by a professional copywriter in San Francisco. First, you proceed to brainstorm, which you assume is what writers do, but sooner than you expect you are back to jotting down one-liners to impress that girl at Whole Foods. Asking her out was a BIG mistake, and now you have to find a new location in San Francisco to purchase coconut water in a can rather than that oversized young coconut with a straw on top the way the Mexican deli sells it. It would never have worked out anyway, you tell yourself, because she has three tattoos—one over your limit. This life experience has made you grow as a person; you may even one day learn to have a serious conversation with someone while holding a young coconut with a straw on top. Lamentably, that day is not today.
Focus. You know the company and the product better than anyone. You hash out some fantastic headlines and even a squiggle you’ll send to graphic design to turn into an infographic or sidebar, whichever one these things are supposed to have. It would have been nice to work on this with a professional copywriter, but he is too busy and, sort of a jerk really. At least you think he is, though you haven’t met him yet, you just have this feeling about him from his emails. Just then you receive another one:
Sorry, bro. Your project is my first priority now. Let’s talk about it over lunch? —CSF
The question mark at the end of the last sentence has you imagining his profound remorse. Has this ego-driven SF copywriter hack come crawling back to you? Things are looking up, the tables have turned, and you cooly remove your rose-colored glasses from the desk drawer. Maybe it is time to go back to Whole Foods and give the cashier another chance. At the very least, you could grab some coconut water in a can so that the marketing intern will have one less thing to comment about.
meeting a copywriter in san francisco
Your hands are sweaty. He is late. You’ve already finished your bottle of Sierra Nevada (there were no pronounceable wines on the list) and all but two bites of your avocado and buffalo mozzarella focaccia. This is a disaster. Why didn’t you use that phrase you’ve been meaning to insert into your speech and instruct him to “swing by” the office?
When he arrives you see he is small and underwhelming, a disheveled pretender with vintage glasses and untended clothes. He smells like cloves. There is no way this man gets girls. The rest of the conversation goes downhill. He writes mostly for search engine optimization, articles about women’s clothing that contain the keyword Brazilian. There is no portfolio for you to consider, and his website is under construction, though he assures you his friend, a web designer and DJ, is making it “killer.” You are confident that the school he says he attended is a women’s college. Worst of all, he isn’t even from San Francisco—he lives in Fremont.
copywriter in san francisco, reprise
Like lassoing in just the right unicorn, finding a brilliant copywriter in San Francisco requires sweat and tears, as well as a professional-grade lasso. You have to love your copywriter, not like your significant other, but with unbridled affection and trust. You have to read everything the copywriter writes, and love that too. If you don’t love something on first blush, you must squint your eyes and beat your chest until the writing seems at once somehow both light-hearted and profound. Headlines must make you laugh, excerpts must cause you to weep uncontrollably, like a babe in his arms, but all of it—all of it, without fail—must make you read until the very end.
And when that happens, you know you’ve found your copywriter.
— Benjamin Zadik is a copywriter in San Francisco. He has never been to Fremont.