What traits do you need to be a great copywriter?
We recently met the next crop of youngsters at the Humber College Portfolio Show, all hoping to be the next great copywriter. As we flipped through books to find the gems in the limestone, we got to thinking about what “gem” means to us. We came up with five common traits every great copywriter has:
A great copywriter can feel their reader’s pains and joys. They can put themselves in readers’ lives. They can consider readers’ lived experiences that led to reading the copy in question and present messaging the reader’s been wanting to hear, whether they knew it or not.
A great copywriter knows they’re great, even if the client doesn’t think so in the moment. They know feedback isn’t about them as a person or a writer — it’s about moving a piece forward, even if the feedback seems to be moving it in a different direction.
This is a tough one for many a young copywriter to wrap their head around because “writing is like opening up a vein.” But the ones that can will make any received feedback work because they’re focused on the words and not their egos.
The other confidence piece is the willingness to push a client in a direction or advocate for a concept. Ultimately, clients are looking for great copywriters they can trust to capture their words because they can’t do it. If a client isn’t adding value, a great copywriter will have the confidence to lead them back to a place of contribution.
A great copywriter enjoys learning about new things, and really enjoys finding the nugget of interest in anything. They know how to research online and how to get answers from people on the phone, through email or face to face.
When a great copywriter is given a product to work on, they look at the product from every angle, examine every component and take the time to understand how it works because they know that good stories are told in the details.
A great copywriter knows that “perspective” means more than a unique view on life. Perspectives on language, selling, customer service, love, loss and security are all helpful for internalizing the perspective of the reader.
And the great copywriter get a lot of their perspective from reading whatever they can, sometimes just to see how another writer constructs their sentences or manipulates language. Every perspective helps eventually.
“Boom” is that feeling you get when you read a great copywriter’s work, and the words go through your eyes and into your soul. People sometimes involuntarily say “boom” after they read a passage of killer copy.
“Boom” has different names in different arenas. Lawyers call it “rock star.” Athletes call it “passing the eye test.” You know it when you see it. We saw a bit of “boom’” in a few writers at the show, but it means nothing without the other four traits. We’ll know by the end of the summer whether these young copywriters are the whole package.
We’re excited to see what happens.