In which I unveil the ancient secrets as to what a copywriter is and is not

“A copywriter is the butcher that makes your meat look like filet mignon.”

Copywriters are all reverse psychologists

When you hire a copywriter you may think that it is his or her job to amiably accept your project. Well, let’s be honest: you’ll be lucky if the copywriter looks you in the eye on your first encounter. All the best copywriters are masters of reverse psychology: “You shouldn’t hire me as your copywriter unless you have complete faith in my wizard-like abilities.” They do this because they have an inflated sense of ego and a deep-rooted fear of rejection. Most successful copywriters aren’t people you want to invite over for tea. (Bonus tip: if you are cornered by a copywriter at a cocktail party, spill your martini on his shirt and run away.)

There are so many copywriters out there, you should be able to find one you truly enjoy working with. Still, convincing the copywriter of your own worth is the first step in finding a great one. At the very least, you’ll both feel better about yourselves.



Copywriters may not love your product
(or service, or whatever the hell it is you do)

It’s true, and it’s not such a bad thing. There are likely lots of people in your company that feel the same way. The overwhelming reason to hire a copywriter is to gain an outside perspective. You know you have an awesome copywriter when he or she asks you lots of questions. Not stupid questions like “What is your mission statement?” or “Would you like to see pictures of my pug named Darwin?” but rather clarifying questions like: “It appears as though you are trying to target middle-aged men with mommy issues…Am I right?” Your copywriter should be able to analyze the texts you already have and see what’s missing, what isn’t stated perfectly, and what-the-hell-is-that-doing-there-let’s-get-rid-of-that-before-someone-actually-sees-this-piece-of— A copywriter is the butcher that makes your meat look like filet mignon.

Copywriters, like any hired guns, do their best work when they love the job and have a clear target to aim at. That means that they enjoy writing as an artform, but more specifically that they are genuinely interested in making something read better.

Copywriters don’t know how to sell

So, let’s be honest again: copywriting is about selling, but it’s the big elephant in the conference room no one wants to admit. Ultimately, copywriting does not sell what you think it does anyway. Great copywriting sells you—not your product. It allows people to get a stunning glimpse of the person you are (or claim to be) and all the wonders you are rapidly accomplishing. Copywriting tells a story about you in such a way that anything you offer, whether it is a product or service or a pile of dung beetles, seems like just the right thing because, after all, you did it. It inspires people to believe you are wickedly intelligent, puppy-huggingly approachable, Golden Girls friendly and loyal. (If you are none of those things, man do you need a copywriter.)

Face it: copywriters are inherently bad at selling products. If they were so great at it, they would be salesmen. What copywriters are good at is selling a feeling, an experience, a desire to part with money for the momentary pleasure of believing a desire is on the cusp of being fulfilled by a stranger in a white hat. If you play your cards right, you could be that stranger.

Copywriters are people too

I write this with the least amount of irony possible. A good copywriter wants to help you, but he or she also wants to feel appreciated and part of the team. Ask a copywriter for input about your product, your website design, or any other ancillary aspect of your product. You may be surprised at how engaged the copywriter becomes. Of course the original advice still stands: don’t invite the copywriter to your cocktail soirée. They’ll spend all the time in the corner trying to think of something witty to say.

They are people, but just not those kind of people.

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