7 Steps to Becoming Your Own Copywriter

So you want to be a copywriter? Good news. I’m here to tell you how. Be realistic, though. You won’t go from novice to veteran overnight. It takes years of practice, hard work, and experience. Still, you can take 7 big steps right now to becoming your own copywriter.

STEP ONE: Watch the clock
Copywriters watch their clocks and calendars like hawks. Time is money. When you quote a job, clients won’t be happy if it takes longer. Now YOU are the client. When you’re distracted, remind yourself that every moment wasted is money wasted. You have a schedule and you must stick to it. Set hourly and daily word counts. If necessary, do unpaid overtime. Next time you’ll have a better idea of how much time the project will take.

Image courtesy of  ratch0013 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of ratch0013 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

STEP TWO: Get organised
Plan out your project from start to finish. Know what you’ll be doing on different days and weeks. Know when interviewees will be available. Have a contact list ready any time you need it. Connect different copy types whenever you can. Make sure your team stays on target. Now you’re the copywriter, it’s very important that the project doesn’t fall behind.

STEP THREE: Be flexible
Life doesn’t always go to plan, and copywriting isn’t any different. An interview might be postponed. A department might need emergency copy. Your team might fall apart. Your project might fall behind. Whatever happens, you can’t give up and walk away. Now you’re the copywriter, you’re driving the project. Take a few deep breaths and think of a Plan B.

STEP FOUR: Do your research
Errors won’t impress customers. Quadruple check facts and figures. When in doubt, leave it out. Embarrassing the brand will cost you money, so only write what you’re sure about. When writing about people, be careful what you say. Writing the wrong thing could get you sued. Even when you’re an expert, quadruple check the facts. It won’t take long and it’ll give everyone peace of mind.

STEP FIVE: Good grammar
No one’s perfect, but your copy should try to be. Pass the copy around so EVERYONE reads it. Writers can’t spot their own mistakes, so you need a fresh pair of eyes. Email a draft copy to everyone on your team. Spotting a mistake AFTER you’ve printed and distributed thousands of copies is costly and unprofessional.

STEP SIX: Go back to basics
You’re probably an expert in your field, but don’t assume your readers are. Leave out industry terms. Explain complicated words and phrases. Assume that customers won’t know what you’re talking about. If Joe Public can’t understand your copy, why should he use your product or services?

STEP SEVEN: Cut the dead weight
Know when and what to edit. If a word, sentence, paragraph, page or phrase isn’t working, cut it out. You can try to make it work, but, once again, when in doubt, leave it out. Get feedback from your team if you need another point of view. My stance is that if you’re unsure about something, it probably means it has to go.

When you’ve finished your copy, email it over to me. Use editing to assess your progress. Soon you won’t need any more guidance – experience will help you improve. All copywriters started from scratch, so stay positive! It’s never as hard as you think. Refer to the 10 Steps to Profit-Boosting Copy for more help on DIY Copywriting.