Well, as eventful as it was, 2015 whizzed by like a speeding train.
In fact, my almost 5-year stint as a fulltime freelancer has gone by as if I was in a 100 metre dash.
And yeah, while I’m at it, my 18 or so years as a wordsmith in a creatively constipated industry now feels like a vividly twisted dream.
So here I am, awoken from what seemed like a pseudo-comatose state of mind – anxiously wondering where my career is headed as I approach my 40s.
Freaking 40s, nuts!
But to be honest, it hasn’t been as delusional or convoluted as I’ve made it to be. Yes, putting 18 years of your heart, soul and neck into something ought to be paying dividends.
And it has, for the most part.
Strangely, something else has begun to happen over the last couple of years. I have found myself doing much less writing, while being thrust into situations where my overall know-how in marketing began to take the lead. I’ve gone from churning copy after copy after copy; to work on strategic, conceptual and the business side of marketing.
For a long time I thought I would be just generating content till the day I slump over my keyboard, or at best overseeing other lost souls churn out mindless garbage, and then set myself on fire on a pile of badly written client briefs while screaming “no more reeevissiooonnnsss!”.
Yes, people have mentioned I have a warped mind.
So, in essence, I am not just a copywriter anymore. I am somewhat in transition, or maybe I have already transitioned to become a marketing consultant of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, writing is still my first love, and I will continue to be a keyboard slave for a long time to come.
Maybe, just maybe it’s time I pursue my other writing interests. After all, no time to waste as 40 approaches in haste.
Oh… better late than never, so happy new year!
Okay. Sometimes, I can be quite biased.
Just because I’m a copywriter, I tend to dismiss the other critical element of a great piece of marketing communication – the visual. Hey you can’t blame a writer who is defensive of his craft.
So why this sudden affinity towards visuals? Well you can’t refute facts, especially when they make a whole lotta sense. According to research by some geniuses, it is proven that:
People remember 80% of what THEY SEE
Compared to only 20% of what THEY READ
Pretty eye-opening stat, if you will. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out. I would most likely remember the opening scenes of my favourite movie as opposed to the opening lines of my favourite book. Yes, we humans are intrinsically wired to prioritise visual information.
So that’s how people consume data, but here’s the more important stat part of the same research:
90% of the world’s data was created in the last 2 years.
Yes, the last 2 frigging years! And we all have access to virtually most of it thanks to accurate search platforms and social media.
So what does this mean for developing marketing communication content?
Find out everything you need to know about your audience
Don’t ramble, keep it simple and concise; made easy when you know your target
Take on an infographic mode wherever possible; icons, charts, graphs and illustrations
In essence, don’t add to the mindless drivel that’s growing exponentially every second. Say enough to evoke curiosity, compel action and you’re done.
The sad thing is, apparently only 28% of words in a webpage are actually read, which means 72% of this post just added to the mindless drivel.
The secret to become a successful copywriter? Write less.
Yes, it means being able to get a message across in the shortest, most concise and most engaging manner possible.
But that’s not all.
Writing less is also about, well, actually having less writing to do. Think of it from the context of ‘Quality over Quantity’. Having attention divided by five different projects will invariably result in inferior work compared to when if I just had two projects. And if I could just focus on just one project at any one time, I think the work delivered will only get better.
“But hey… you’ve been doing this for donkey years, shouldn’t you be able to work faster and maintain consistent quality at the same time?” Asked an asshole.
Yes, of course. If it’s the usual marketing drivel laden with mindless superlatives and catchy buzzwords, then yeah, I could whip something out with relative ease.
The thing is I’m fed up actually; fed up with writing junk, tired of BS layered over more BS and often feel sick reading stuff that I’ve written in a rush just to meet a deadline.
If only I had more time. Truth be told, these days, I do.
This is my fourth year of being a fulltime freelance copywriter, and I feel that I’m writing less, but delivering more value to my clients that I ever had in my career.
Firstly, I’m fortunate enough to work with clients that allow for the critical incubation period. And secondly, I have made a conscious choice to take in less work.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, it might sound downright counter-productive. But do my existing clients appreciate my dedication, incisiveness and insights? I sure hope they do.
I could be wrong though, some writers let-fingers-fly on intensive and continuous word-spill, and only then go on to pick what’s good and relevant to be included in a piece of work. I guess I’m just more deliberate and patient with my approach.
And to be honest, there’s no secret really. It just takes time, provided you’ve already done a bit of hard time in the industry to start with.