How I learned copywriting
June 30, 2016 • Glenn Murray
A question from an aspiring copywriter
This morning an aspiring copywriter asked me:
“You mentioned you had no formal training in copywriting. Where did you learn the technique when you just started out? Books? The internet?”
As always, I ended up with an essay for an answer, so I thought I’d share it here…
No-one starts with a completely blank slate. We’re all customers, we’ve all dreamed of being business owners, we’re all writers at heart (even if we haven’t done it professionally before), and as writers, we’re smart and curious creatures. That combination right there is far more important than any books.
Also, I was a technical writer in the software industry before I started Divine Write, so I’d had a lot of experience converting complex subject matter into engaging English, and I already had a reader focus.
Of course, the experiences of other copywriters are important too, and shouldn’t be ignored. But I’ve found them most useful in solving particular problems. Headlines, for instance, were a weakness for me when I started out, so I read The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman. And when I was struggling with some business things, I read The Copywriter’s Handbook by Bob Bly (and some business writers) and spoke to some mentors.
I think if you worry too much about learning the ‘rules’, you’ll focus too much on applying them in your writing, and that will undermine your creativity and personal response to the job. You’ll also be far less inclined to BREAK the rules, which is one of the most important techniques you can use in your copy.
What do you think? How did you learn?