Out of the many writing professions out there, I love how copywriting, along with any other form of creative writing, is one where you are encouraged to break the rules. You don’t have to always be grammatically correct or use proper English. Make up new words. Use punctuation unexpectedly. Play around with compound sentences. The goal is to experiment and sound human. Every time I get feedback on my word experiments, I always give the example of one of my favorite campaign taglines: “Got milk?” It should actually be, “Have you got milk?” But that ruins the whole sentiment and spirit of the line, doesn’t it? So loosen up. But remember, you should learn the rules before you break them. More importantly, there are only SOME that can be broken.
If you’re going to be bold, be freakin’ bold. If you’re going to be weird, be freakin’ weird. I’m talking about your personal brand. The point is to go all out and not half-ass it. When I first created my personal brand in college, I took caution in making sure my image was purely professional. I changed my hilarious cover photos, took down my YouTube skits, and deleted anything online that revealed I was sassy and/or into comedy. I still injected a bit of my personality to “stand out,” but it was very toned down. Then I found copywriter Lawson Clarke, aka Male Copywriter, who literally bared it all after he was laid off from Arnold. He went for it by taking on a cheesy 1970’s sexy man persona. And. It. Went. Viral. He welcomes you to his site with his hairy body sprawled nude on a bear rug while the Star Spangled Banner plays in the background. Since then, I revamped and embraced my sassy, comedic personality. It’s not like employers/clients weren’t going to see this huge part of me once they got to know me anyways. Over the years, I’ve noticed the personal brands that really stand out are the ones that go all out, not the ones who carefully craft the public perception they think people want to see. We work in a CREATIVE industry for cripes’ sake! Show them what you’ve got and who you really are. Best part: you’ll better find workplaces and clients that fit you.
I’ve had to write for and refresh a few brands and/or products that were just plain shitty. Bad reviews. Irrelevant features. Wrong ethics. Granted, we’ve done all the right things to make gorgeous websites, logos, and pretty words, but that can only help so much. Look at sites like Reddit and Craigslist. According to creative standards, they look like something straight from 2002. But then look at their following and popularity. Let’s take it outside of creative, shall we? Look at some of your favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, they probably have dinky interiors and outdated signage. But people still line up because of their amazing food quality. So before you go and make something pretty, make sure the content is good because content truly matters.
It never gets old how the human mind can turn anything into a sexual innuendo. If you’re trying to pick up a writer, you may or may not want to throw down these punny lines:
You can massage my body copy all day.
You have a rather large diction.
I like my drafts rough.
I like your outline. How about I format it?
Damn, you are some fine print!
You make me wanna get textual.
What separates a good writer from a great one is the ability to just take a leap. Many times in my career, especially early on, I’ve been tasked to write things I barely understood. But I found that daring to be bold and just going for it like you do know what you’re talking about works quite well. Most of the time, you nail it or aren’t too far off and no one knows that you didn’t know. Other times, it showcases your willingness to take risks and learn.
Our job description is in our title two-fold – we write copy and we copy other writers. As a copywriter, it’s imperative to be up-to-date on pop culture and what’s trending in the world because inspiration can be pulled from anywhere. Song lyrics. TV show scripts. Memes. Speeches. When we recognize good writing, we add that to our arsenal. After all, you write what you read. (Define “read” loosely.)