26 Mar Copywriting Witchcraft and Wizardry
Copywriting is variously described as an art, a science, even a form of magic! The role of the copy writer is to create interesting, engaging copy that fits with a brand image, and reads authentically. It’s no easy feat.
Here are our top tips for becoming a copywriting wizard, and creating magical copy.
1 Determine the personality of your brand
Before you even write a word, make sure you know the brand you’re writing for inside out. Who is the brand’s target customer? Young people with disposable incomes? CEOs in impeccable suits and dresses, who are decision makers in their businesses? The words you use to engage with, and interest, these two groups of people will differ hugely.
Do plenty of background research, and get well acquainted with who your brand is, who they want to be, and who they’re talking to, to get in the right headspace for writing with an authentic voice.
Luckily, the RONIN voice allows for some terrible wizard puns, so hold on to your (witch’s) hat as you read on.
2 Establish a house style
It may seem obvious, but it’s important to establish the basics of spelling and punctuation to develop a house style.
For example, does your client work exclusively in the UK, or does it have customers overseas? If it’s the latter, you might need to use American spellings, and set that as the norm – that means bye bye to the letter ‘u’ in ‘colour’, and hello to the letter ‘z’ in ‘specialises’!
Similarly, as we discussed in the point above, is the brand you are writing copy for corporate, or are they cultivating a relaxed image? This will affect your house style; a corporate client will not want to use abbreviations, whereas a lifestyle brand with a friendly image won’t mind at all.
Make a master document setting out the guidelines of your house style to agree with your client, so you can be sure you’re sticking to a style they’ll approve of. It might even be worth adding a dictionary, too – some clients will have specific terminology that they prefer to use.
Proofread, proofread and proofread again! You could change the font to trick your eyes into taking a fresh look, or change the colour, but there’s something special about holding a piece of paper and reading it to help clear your vision. Print out a copy of your work and go at it with some coloured pens.
ALWAYS get someone else to read your work – they’ll be able to spot errors that you’ll gloss over, because you’ll be thinking about what you wanted to say, not what you’ve actually written. Fresh eyes can help! Don’t just ask them to sanity check your spelling and grammar – encourage your proofreader to ask questions about the content, especially if you’ve been working on a complex topic for a feature or a whitepaper. This will ensure the final version is clear and easy to understand.
4 Prepare for the approval process
Never forget that you’re writing for another business; be it a press release, feature article or blog piece, it’s highly likely that your copy will be passed along a chain of people for editing and approval. Your final draft won’t be their final draft – get ready to make edits!
And if your client is working with another company, you must get their approval for anything that uses their company name. This could result in contradictory feedback; try to stay true to the story and the reason for telling it, but be ready to compromise, and negotiate on some changes.
5 Balance your voice and the brand
This is a tricky one! Chances are, if you’re a copywriter, it’s because you have a passion for writing, and will have your own style. It can be frustrating to write something that you’re really proud of, only to have it chopped and changed until you’ve got Frankenstein’s monster turning up as an email attachment from your client.
There’s no magic spell to this one – you just have to remember that your goal is to create a piece of great writing that fulfils the goals of your client. As long as you understand what you’re writing, and why, they’ll value your creative input to make the work better and more memorable.
At the end of the day, your copy has to ring true for your client, but there are some points that you can confidently stand your ground on – grammar and punctuation!
As for the content? A good copywriter can encourage a brand or business to take some risks with their copy, by demonstrating that it’ll have a positive effect on shareability, or brand perception. But if an idea just isn’t working, and your client isn’t happy, you may have to give a little.