Happy National ‘Encourage A Young Writer’ Day
We sit down with Adzooma’s Content Team to talk about getting into writing and the tips and tricks they’ve learnt along the way.
As a young writer, it can feel hard to know where to start when it comes to pursuing your dream career.
With today being ‘Encourge A Young Writer Day’, there’s no better opportunity to quiz our Content Team about any advice they have to share.
Together, they have a combined experience of over 42 years, so have picked up a lot of tips and tricks between them.
So, let’s hear what they’ve learnt over their careers so far.
Here’s a snap to put names to faces: (L–R: Jess, Amber, Phil, Paul (Manager), John, Danielle)
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about becoming a content/copywriter?
John: It’s important that you read a lot of different things – a mix of good and bad content. The bad stuff will teach you just as much as the good.
The good will give you ideas of what to use yourself further down the line. The bad will teach you what not to do, as well as make you feel better when your day isn’t going so well.
Paul: I agree with John, you need to read as much as you can and also understand that there are different ways you can write.
There are different styles and types of content and they need different approaches. So, it’s about finding and tailoring your style to the purpose, audience and medium.
You may realise you’re better at one type of content than another and that’s fine – you just have to keep practising.
Amber: I think that it’s important to develop your own voice. It’s okay to be conversational: remember that who you’re talking to is just another person. Picture your ideal audience and talk to them directly.
John: There’s a common misconception that when you’re writing for high-level professionals such as lawyers or solicitor, you need to make your copy sound very elitist. This isn’t always true and even professionals appreciate a conversational, easy-to-read tone.
Jess: I would tell someone to go for it: be prepared to write on a wide range of topics and always make time to improve your knowledge. Read books and different copy to research different techniques you could adapt to your own.
Danielle: I think you have to try new things, even if you’re not used to it, don’t be afraid. It’s never going to sound as bad as you think it will when you read it back.
Phil: I would consider myself to be a Copywriter who also produces content.
It can be very hard to get into copywriting but it can be achieved through practice, practice and more practice. It’s also great to create a portfolio and pick subjects you know and write about them.
Would you say there was anything in particular that inspired you to become a writer?
Phil: 20 years ago, I read a book on copywriting and fell in love with the human psychology of it. After that, I spent thousands of hours practising and building my portfolio.
Paul: For me, my career simply evolved and took that direction. I was attracted to the writing side of marketing because you have the ability to persuade readers through the use of your words. With only your words at your disposal, you have to combine psychology into your writing.
This is particularly true for sales pitches where you can measure the results of the words on the page and see a direct impact on the bottom line of a business.
John: Having worked in both law and teaching English, I feel that marketing is a lot more creative because you have the ability to make it your own.
Danielle: Every page is a new challenge. No two pages are ever the same. You may use things from an old page but it’ll never be a direct copy. I also find reading other colleagues’ content is inspiring and helps broaden your own style.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
Jess: I think for me it was the first ever press release I did on Jamie Dixon (Adzooma’s Head of Sales) Because I studied Journalism at University, PR pieces are something I’m really interested in and love writing.
John: For me, I think it was ghostwriting on behalf of a senior member of staff. I think it’s the realisation that your work your producing must be of a high standard if people are happy to pass it off as their work.
Phil: When I was first writing copy, I rewrote an email which was sent out once a month by the company I worked for. Before, we received 1 or 2 enquires a month on average. My copy increased that figure by 800%.
So, I think it’s seeing what you’re doing is working that inspires you to carry on and keep improving.
Danielle: Mine is like Phil’s. I used to take care of the messaging for a restaurant franchise and they were so impressed with the work I produced that they decided to use it internationally for all their outlets.
Paul: I think in general working for any big brand who uses your work is inspiring.
What are the tips or tricks you’ve learnt along the way?
- Be confident in your writing and in your product.
Make sure you research and learn the subject. Sometimes, you have to find your own information – don’t just rely on what you’ve been given. You’ll probably forget most of the subject the next day, but as long as you sound like a pro when you’re writing the article, that’s all that matters.
2. Listen to criticism.
If people take the time to read what you’ve written, listen to their feedback. You may not always agree with what they say, but not listening is one of the biggest mistakes new starters make.
If you get stuck, show someone who has no clue about the topic. Get them to read your work out loud. If they stumble, it’s likely it’s not the easiest piece to read. Family and friends may be biased, but they can’t lie when reading aloud.
3. Don’t write to everyone.
Focus on one person and write to them. Imagine your target audience. Give them a name, a job, even a pet if that helps, and then decide what it is that they would want to hear. Your message will be a lot clearer than trying to appeal to the masses.
4. Make the most of the tools out there.
Free tools such as Hemmingway and Grammarly improve the flow of sentences and spot mistakes without any extra effort. But, don’t obsess over grammar – it’s not the be-all and end-all, and it proves you’re only human if there’s an odd mistake.
5. Remember to take a break.
if you’re suffering from writer’s block, take a quick break. It’s always better to sleep on it, but deadlines don’t always permit this. Sometimes, all you need is two minutes away from your desk to allow your brain time to reset. You’ll come back with a fresh perspective.
6. Tell your readers what’s in it for them.
Straight away, make sure you’re telling people what’s in it for them. Benefits, benefits, benefits. Most of the time, that’s all people care about.
And, always present your work properly with a header, sub-head and a lot of white space.
Is there anything else you think an aspiring writer should know?
Amber: Whatever you’re writing can never be too long, it can only be too boring. Don’t focus on too much on the length.
John: I agree, you have to remember that whatever you’re writing, you’re doing it for a purpose. Make sure you get across what you need to, rather than worrying about the length of your work.
Paul: Anyone can become a good writer with practice and any type of writing can be improved. The techniques you use for a sales page can also be used on a CV – demonstrate your skills by communicating well with your words.
John: Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back once in a while. If you’re having a bad day, read a post you wrote a year ago and you’ll see how much you’ve improved.
Finally, are there any books you think someone starting out should have on their must-read list?
Phil: In terms of sales copy, Ca$hvertising by Drew Eric Whitman is top of the list for me.
Paul: If you’re more focused on your grammar and style, then The Keys To Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers is another must.
John: I’d say for whatever you’re doing, find the best in the industry and read what they do. Try to understand what makes it so good. For example, if you have a travel blog, find who the best travel bloggers are and study what they do.
If you’re an aspiring writer, then we believe you should follow your dreams. Nothing will ever be as bad as you think, and with practice, the worst writers can become some of the best.