Copywriting 101 [Issue 01]

I’ve gotten lots of questions as to “how to do copywriting?” First thing you have to know, copywriting is very different from fiction writing, poetry writing, song writing… The difference is: There is a clear objective that needs to be met. Whether it’s to persuade someone to buy something or to brainwash their thinking, there is something that needs to be achieved.

Therefore in copywriting, you have to select your arsenal carefully. Writing for marketing is a skill – every choice of word, phrase, sentence structure, flow – there must be a rationale to justify it. Using a simple one-paragraph example I recently edited, here are some things you can consider:

Original paragraph:

I love my job because it allows me to put my passion into my profession and gives me the opportunity to inspire the next generation of artists to create something beautiful and engaging for the art industry. (To date, Stanley’s online art gallery on deviantART has been viewed for more than 85 million times and have 300,000 active followers around the world.)

New paragraph:

I love my job – I’m making my passion my profession! Every day, I get to share this passion with an international art community (Stanley’s artgerm.deviantart.com gallery has more than 85 million views!) and inspire the next generation of artists to create beautiful and engaging art.

#1: “…because it allows me to put” is passive, uninteresting and unnecessary. Remove it.

#2: You could edit it to become “I love making my passion my profession”, but I chose to keep the phrase “I love my job” because honestly, how many people can say that? It’s a bold statement in itself, 4 words that are hard to come by, and also somewhat envy-inspiring. And in marketing, anything envy-inspiring is gold.

#3: You could say “I love my job because it’s my passion”, but I’d choose to use the line “making my passion my profession” – there’s just something about using rhymes in marketing: it’s catchy, gives a nice ring to it, and almost creates its own tagline.

#4: In addition to the above, also note there is a difference in meaning when you say “I love my job because it’s my passion” VS “I love my job – I’m making my passion my profession” – the latter more clearly shows that it’s been your passion long before it became your livelihood.

#5: Although many experts will frown upon the use of an exclamation mark here, especially for formal writing such as news articles and business webpages, I chose to use it to drive the spirit of the strong statement in play – you can almost feel the adrenalin that courses through it! Don’t forget, the exclamation mark is used to indicate strong feelings – if this isn’t worthy of an exclamation mark, I’m not sure what is. Especially for a so-called “emotionless” bunch of people, perhaps we should start learning how to interject exclamation marks in our lives once again!

#6: After making such a strong statement, it is almost mandatory for you to utilise the next sentence explaining yourself, or supporting your bold claim. Just HOW exactly? What do you MEAN? Ah, because… “Every day, I get to share this passion (blah blah blah)…”

#7: Why the use of “Every day”? Because I wanted to drive home the message again that we all do work every day, but how many of us get to share our passions with others or inspire others? Work, with its routine nature, is almost more likely to make us feel down, than alive. But I want to evoke your imaginations for a second – Imagine if every single day, you get to share your passion and inspire others… Also, it highlights again what an amazing profession he has chosen for himself that it benefits him every day.

#8: Using the words “I get to” shows again how rare this opportunity is and that he has actually clinched the prize. Again, not everybody gets to – he does. And he gets to say so.

#9: I liked the idea of being able to “share this passion with an international art community” over just saying he has a popular online gallery. “International” shows global reach; “art community” paints the image of an entire group of like-minded people who are in search of inspiration daily – and he’s right there at the forefront of inspiration.

#10: I chose to shorten “Stanley’s online art gallery on deviantART” to “Stanley’s artgerm.deviantart.com gallery” because 1) the .com shows you it’s online, 2) the former doesn’t give the link that you can visit if you’re actually interested to, after reading this article, and 3) since the word “art” is everywhere, we don’t even need to say “art gallery” anymore, it’s otherwise inferred from the fact that it’s on the deviantART platform.

#11: Between both statistics – more than 85 million views VS 300,000 active followers around the world – I went with the one that said “million”. Yes, it really is that easy. Anything with “million”, “billion”, anything that sounds more mind-boggling than you could possible calculate = good. Use it.

#12: I kept the “inspire the next generation of artists” because it’s about being a mover and shaker, a leader, an innovator, an educator, all in one. It’s about paving the way for others to follow; it’s about becoming a legend, and leaving a legacy. There is something grand about it, and I’d like to keep that imagery and atmosphere.

#13: I chose to keep “beautiful and engaging” because they are good words, but I swopped “something… for the art industry” to just “art”, because the first has a very commercial direction to it, while the latter has a more open, ethereal, inspirational feel to it.

#14: Instead of the more long-winded version, the result is short, to the point, but still encapsulates the essence of how passionate he is about what he does. Job done!

And so there you have it. It might look like one simple paragraph, but a lot of brainwork has gone into it! Sure, there are lots more ways to improve on it, but for its purpose, this will do for now. So remember, when writing or editing anything, just keep in mind your objectives, and rationalise your choices. Happy copywriting! :)

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