Last week, we had Brian Clark as a guest speaker in my copywriting class. He is kinda a big deal.
Brian Clark is the founder and CEO of Copyblogger.com. He is incredibly influential in the copywriting world.
I was excited and nervous.
Excited because I’ve decided I want to be a copywriter. Hearing Clark speak would surely be an inspiring experience.
Nervous because I am a shy girl. I’m much braver than I used to be, and I think part of that comes with age. But famous people particularly make me nervous.
Diane Sawyer came into Saks Fifth Avenue when I was working there, and I was so awestruck I didn’t offer to find her a salesperson. I just told her I wasn’t one and ran away. She is quite beautiful in person.
My professor asked Clark a series of questions and then opened up the floor to the class. I typed a question into the chat window, hoping he or my professor would see it. (My class is online, so we meet up via a website using Adobe Presenter.)
But they didn’t.
So I raised my virtual hand. (We have icons we can click to raise our hands.) My professor called on me.
Through my microphone, I asked, “What is your advice for someone who is just getting their start as a copywriter?” Or how can you, Brian Clark, help a newbie like me be as kickass as you?
He said he had a few pieces of advice he always gave, not that anyone ever listened. I’m listening, I thought.
Pick an industry you like working in, and then focus on getting copywriting jobs in that industry. The more you write about something, the more practiced you become at creating the right tone for the audience. You will become an expert at writing about country music or computers or home furnishings.
I was in. I mean, how fun would it be to just write copy about bands all day?
“Don’t call yourself a writer.”
This one caught me off guard. I wrote it down in my notes as, “Don’t call yourself a writer?!” As someone who has wanted to be a writer her whole life, this was hard to hear.
His reasoning was many businesses don’t respect writers. These employers think anyone can write. (I mean think about it. With the internet, suddenly everyone is a writer these days.)
Clark said these people want someone who can provide a solution to their marketing problem, or “a solution-provider.” So be an amazing writer that can fix any and all content problems, but don’t call yourself a writer.
He made a good point, but I wasn’t sure I totally agreed.
For a long time, I was afraid to call myself a writer because it isn’t my full time job. Now that I’ve moved beyond that, I like calling myself a writer. I wasn’t sure I was I ready to let it go.
I’d been toying with the idea of changing my tagline on my website. “Princess imperfect writer ninja” isn’t working anymore. But after listening to Clark’s advice, I was worried I might have to eliminate the writer part.
I came up with a list of new tagline ideas. But all the taglines used the word writer.
So I went back to the source. Clark has an article on Copyblogger.com that suggests maybe there is some wiggle room. In, “What to Do when You Absolutely, Positively Must Know if Your Content Will Rock,” Clark suggests the only way to know if you have a great idea is to publish it, and let the audience decide.
He writes, “Nobody knows anything … except the audience.”
And then he states, “Consider feedback and apply fundamentals, but ultimately realize that your boss, your spouse, your colleagues, and your high school friends don’t know anything. That also applies to me and everyone else who gives you advice.”
So Clark realizes there is a limit to what advice can teach you, even his advice on the subject of copywriting.
So I sent three of the best taglines to a writer friend, and he picked his favorite. See below.
Copywriter/blogger/editor/flash fiction enthusiast. I wear a lot of hats, but prefer shoes. If you want short, snappy copy, I’m your gal.
But get rid of the slashes, he said. Ok.
So I came up with this.
Copywriter, editor, and flash fiction enthusiast. I wear a lot of hats, but prefer shoes. If you want short, snappy copy, I’m your gal.
Much better, he said.
Then I kept playing around with it. Maybe the below version is better? It’s more concise. But I do love referencing my shoe passion too…
Copywriter, editor, and flash fiction enthusiast. If you want short, snappy copy, I’m your gal.
So audience, let me know what you think. Because you’re the only ones that really know anything.
This week’s song is “Mineshaft” by Dessa. She raps, “The list of things I used to be is longer than the list of things I am…I’m not a writer. I just drink a lot about it.” It’s not quite what Clark said, but it is a pretty good line…