5 Misconceptions Non-Copywriters have about Copywriting:

1. Summarising long copy into shorter copy is ‘quick’

This misconception is birthed from the non-writerly habit of confusing reading time with writing time. Yes, a summary is quicker…to read. But to write it requires reading ALL of the source material, prioritising the salient points, reordering them to maintain a flow and then basically rewriting the whole thing anyway. It is not ‘quick’. Do not tell your copywriter to just quickly ‘cut something down’. Anyone can select and delete a chunk of text. That doesn’t mean that that neat left-over paragraph of 200 words makes any fucking sense.

2. Writing short, punchy copy is ‘quick’

Again, this misconception comes from confusing typing with writing. I am a fast typist, for sure. I can hammer out a lengthy dictation in minutes (insert dirty grammar joke here). But when I have to come up with a new name for your extremely niche product, a single line to summarise your plethora of services or, bless, a catchy campaign line, I need time. Time to research your industry, and your competitors. Time to churn out a few duds and kill them before they end up in your final copy deck. Effective communication is an art. It’s why you pay me. If all you want or need is a typist, then hire one. It’s significantly cheaper and less frustrating (for me at least).

Whenever I hear people say that they just need a ‘quick one-liner’, I am reminded of Mark Twain’s immortal words:

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Of course, that’s not to say that writing long-form copy is any quicker or easier. When in doubt,  base your copywriter’s estimated turn-around time on how long they spend weeping bitterly into their keyboard after being briefed.

3. Writing SEO copy is easy

Even without having to put together your own keyword lists, writing SEO copy is never easy. At best it’s somewhat tedious, and at its most challenging, it can be like trying to bake an iron file into a Swiss roll. Again, what makes good SEO copy is a copywriter who is able to balance the demands of the medium (and the developers) with the final experience of the reader. If your copywriter doesn’t look like they’re trying to pass a kidney stone the size of a cricket ball while figuring out how to achieve a 10% penetration rate with keywords like ‘semipermeable membrane technology’, they probably just don’t care enough.

4. Most copywriters are drunken, nihilistic failed writers who channel their misery into taglines for yoghurt and toilet paper.

Wait, that one’s true.

5. Copywriters can write copy based on the scantest of briefs

Scant briefs are okay, nay, downright fine on Chris Evans’ ass, but they have no place in advertising. We need to know where the copy is going, who is going to be reading it, why they will be reading it, what the piece is meant to achieve, what the design will look like. We need to know as much as possible to create the best copy possible. Simply sending a link to a website and telling me I need to ‘rewrite’ the copy will earn you not only my resentment, but also a copy deck written almost entirely in Klingon.

And now that you know what’s going through your copywriter’s mind when you ask them to make that emailer ‘more wow’, maybe you’ll have more sympathy when you see them drinking warm beer in their car at 11:00am on  Tuesday.

IwlIj jachjaj!

(“May your blood scream!”)

One thought on “5 Misconceptions Non-Copywriters have about Copywriting:

  1. I do SEO writing – and I must say, it’s harder than writing prose and poems. Been doing it for two years now and I admit, keywords are my nemesis. But, as much as possible, I try to write copies that are understandable by readers without neglecting the SEO elements. It is really a pain in the neck more specifically to an ESL writer like me.

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