Seeing ‘Refreshing Copy’ appear on Facebook and Twitter, a friend of mine asked what I was up to.
“I’m starting my own business,” I started to explain.
“That’s great. What are you doing?”
That’s when I mentioned copywriting.
“Ah, so you’re doing that legal thing … where you protect things that people have created?”
And so ensued a more detailed description of copywriting as writing copy rather than copyright. This, she thought, was even more interesting than that legal thing, which was something of a relief. I would be the person doing the creating, after all.
“And what about your publishing experience? Is that going to help?”
That’s where she really hit the nail on the head. It absolutely helps.
I’ve been involved in publishing for around eight years now, developing and commissioning e-learning content for people who want to learn English. That may not sound very similar to copywriting but there is, in fact, a good amount of crossover.
Here are five points of crossover.
1. You have to do your research
Whether it’s publishing or copywriting, research is crucial. With publishing, it’s about finding out what our students and customers want. What are the trends in Ed Tech at the moment that students are excited about? Market research and competitor research are both important first steps in the creation of an e-learning product. And so it goes with copywriting. If a new client wants you to write a blog post about their new range of lawnmowers, then that’s going to require some (a lot of?) research prior to putting pen to paper. It’s all about being prepared.
2. Know your audience
Some of the students studying English courses I have produced are very young - primary school age. Their English language resources may be limited so both the design of the activity and the words used on screen have to be as simple as possible. Presenting them with difficult stories to read or lots of instructions to process is going to be demotivating. When copywriting, knowing your audience is also vital. Are they young or old? Professional? Scientists? Children? Knowing more about who you are writing for will help you better connect with them.
3. Draft one isn’t your final draft
In publishing, whether it’s print or digital, the content goes through various rounds of editing - content editing, copy editing and proofreading. Writing is a process. Your copy needs to go through similar checks so that it is the best it can be when you submit it to the client.
There are always deadlines no matter what you do. And they’re usually tight.
5. Good communication
I’m a great believer in the School of No Surprises. If there’s a problem, it needs to be discussed. A problem shared, and all that. With large scale publishing projects, particularly where there are large numbers of people working on the project, communication is vital to ensure everyone is on the same page. A copywriting project may be slightly smaller, but communication is no less important. Updating your client regularly will build both confidence and trust in what you are doing, showing that you’re reliable and dependable.
So, to answer my friend’s question, yes. I definitely think my publishing experience is going to help.