The 5 Myths Copywriters Wished You Knew

As a copywriter, my job is to discover your story and then tell it in a way that weaves magic over your audience. I am a professional storyteller - a teller of tales of heroes and daring adventures. Of quests and battles. And of love and connection.

But like most professions, copywriters are shrouded in mystery - and sometimes there are myths that build up around us that take on a life and form of their own.

So here are 5 myths that I happily debunk (plus one truth).

1. Copywriters can write about anything

Perhaps some copywriters can happily swing from one moment writing about the latest stock market opportunity, through to what to put on a pre-schooler's sandwich in another moment. I am not one of them.

Let's be blunt here... my knowledge and interest in equities I can jot on the back of the ripped off corner of an old-fashioned, lick-on-the-back postage stamp.

I am happiest writing about the world of trades and blokey stuff. I have just finished a huge website about mining dams and couldn't have been happier learning about Turkey's Nest dams and geo-membrane liners.

I also love writing about alternative and traditional medicines, as well as the latest in technology and gizmos. Insurance and real estate - meh!

Pick your copywriter carefully. Just as you wouldn't ask someone who writes mysteries to suddenly churn out a Mills and Boon romance novel, you may want to find the copywriter who has an interest in your industry.

2. Copywriters are psychic

All copywriters start by talking with you about your business. We want to know what makes you tick, what services you offer and why you love what you do.

If all we get in response is "Dunno" or "Can't you talk to the receptionist about that", then we will have to rely on our natural psychic abilities to find out what you do.

Even the most accurate psychics, the ones who make millions each year just being a psychic, only claim about a 75% accuracy. You can draw your own conclusions about the accuracy about your copy if you need your copywriter to also be a psychic.

If you want us to know something about how you do your business, you need to tell us. And no... we can't just make something up! (Well perhaps some can, but I have strong business ethics).

3. Copywriters are mediators

If you work in a partnership, or a family business, and you can't agree between yourselves on what your business does and what makes your business great, then it is unlikely that a humble copywriter can solve that problem for you. I have walked into law firms where the partners were close to blows about the direction of the business. They needed a mediator of the ilk that could solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, and not a copywriter.

4. Copywriters are naturally gifted with words

This is where I let you into one of the deepest darkest secrets of our industry. Copywriters pretty much universally hate their first drafts. Often they also hate their second, third, fourth and fifth drafts as well.

The first draft that a client sees is often heading into the seventh or eighth working draft for the copywriter. Bits have been thrown out, deleted, added, crossed out again, shuffled, edited and edited again... before you see anything.

Copywriters stick at it. We are bound by our stubborn pride not to let the darn words get the better of us. Each piece is a performance that we sweat blood over. Sometimes the performance flows and sometimes it is as if we give birth to razor blades.

Naturally gifted? Combined with a lot of hard work ( and pride, craziness, coffee, throwing our hands up in horror and saying we are no good and will never write again, freaking out and huge bursts of relieved laughter when things finally come together). You just get the serene end performance and don't see the other bits.

5. Copywriters know "stuff"

This is sort of a myth and sort of reality. My Wise Sage and knower of all things is Google. As a copywriter I speak fluent Google. If I am going to write about plastic extrusion moulding - I hit Google. If I want to understand why a business soff-cuts cement - I hit Google. If I am writing about the benefits of cupping in relieving colds - I hit Google.

For every client, I spend hours reading relevant legislation, wading through industry journals and checking out competitors. I immerse myself in your industry - getting a crash induction course in what that industry does and how it does it. For days on end I eat breath and sleep router bits, or sequins or smash repairs. That is how copywriters know "stuff". We start by not knowing... then we rapidly learn.

Yes, you can find copywriters who don't do the research. Perhaps they are not the ones you are looking for.

When you hire a quality copywriter, you are also hiring their ability to research and their passion for learning about a topic.

And the one truth?

Copywriters generally love what they do. We love the daily battle of words. We love learning about your business. We love telling your story and seeing the results you get. We love making a difference to your business.

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