Saying you’re a copywriter is all very well. But it’s a bit like saying you’re an artisan. What kind? That’s what we want to know.
So, to help you define yourself more precisely and spark more interesting cocktail party conversations (especially with that attractive art director), here is my guide to the ten prevalent personality types among us wordsmiths.
The Novelist Manqué
Yes, you are a copywriter. For now. You spend your days turning out ad copy for cars, accounting software and men’s 'scruffing lotion'.
But you rush home after work at The Clangers (your agency is very on trend), spark up the Macbook Air and begin chapter one…um, again.
“The pit in his mind was deepening like a fracking borehole in a ...” Bollocks! That’s shit.
At 3 am you call it a night. There is a single sheet of A4 in the tray of your printer.
It reads, “Chapter One. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it.”
The Prima Donna
You harbour none of the artistic desires of your colleagues.
For you, copywriting is a calling. A vocation, if you will.
But God help the art director, account manager or client who has the temerity to suggest your copy needs tweaking.
You have the dictionary. Not them.
You have the English degree. Not them.
And you have the direct line to the customer’s brain. Not. Fucking. THEM.
You didn’t just spend two days of your life sweating bullets to produce this copy just for some know-nothing idiot in an Armani suit to suggest it could be “a bit, y’know, shorter."
This is gold. This is diamonds. This is plu-fucking-tonium. And it will not be changed.
“Oh. The client wants to see me in person. Why? Ah. I see. Well, maybe I could just change a few words. Please let me stay here where it’s warm.”
“In a minute. OK, in an hour. Look, you say, this has to be perfect, right?”
Well, it isn’t. Not yet. But it will be.
You know you can get it just right. You just need one more go at it.
Yes, yes, you know there’s a deadline to get the copy into the marketing automation system. But ask the client, do they want it now or do they want it right?
Well, tell them that’s not acceptable.
They should want something that glistens. This is good but it isn’t great.
It’s that final sentence.
It just needs to spear the customer between the eyes and at the moment it feels more like being poked by a slightly greasy finger after someone’s been eating Pot Noodles.
“Yep. On it.” Those are your three favourite words.
Well, apart from “nearly”, “thinking” and “almost”.
It’s not that you’re not good. You are. Really good. When you finally put your hand to the tiller.
It’s just you have to be in the mood. In the zone.
What was it David Ogilvy used to say?
You ought to just go and look that quote up. It’s a great one.
Like, you know, that other one by John Hegarty.
He launched Levi 501s didn’t he. With “Launderette”. That actor went on to star in EastEnders.
No, wait a minute. Scrubs.
Check IMDB, they have everyone these days.
What? The copy? Sure, sure. You have the beginnings of it now. Get a coffee first and then POW! You’re going to nail it.
The Night Owl
How anyone can write during the day is beyond you. There’s too much other stuff to do.
Invoicing. Proposal writing. Playing pinball with the other creatives.
Updating your cv.
Checking how many views your YouTube channel got yesterday.
Browsing vintage typewriters on Etsy.
Anyway, you can work better when it’s quiet.
That’s better, felt a bit drowsy then.
Your other half is so understanding. They know you have to work at night. It’s the only time you can think straight.
OK, so you last had sex three months ago when you were both in bed and awake for 15 minutes.
And it was a little embarrassing when you snored right in the middle of that pitch meeting last week.
It’s your biorhythms. End of.
The Social Gadfly
@ScribeForHire Got a major TOC guide to knock out by Monday. Client’s a ballbuster. You? #worksucks
Check out my Slideshare on copywriting hacks. slidesha.re/ft33n4n5 #HowToCheatAtCopywriting
OK, come on, back to work now.
Right, set up a new doc. OK. Filename. Um…
Ha! Should tweet that.
OK that was fun. Loved that Buzzfeed link from @DinkyDoodles.
Now. Work. Just crack my knuckles. Ha! Crack.
Ought to get as many drug references into this draft as possible. Ooh.
Hashtag idea: #ChangeALetterMakeABookAboutDrugs
Can’t think of anything.
Just tweet that. It’s still funny.
The Timid Genius
You are really rather good at copywriting, you know. Or rather you don’t know.
People tell you you’re a genius. That your work sells stuff by the cartload.
But it’s probably more by luck than judgement.
You just fell into this game. It comes so easily to you it almost feels wrong to be paid for doing it.
So you keep your head down. Keep your fees low. Hope nobody notices you’re just a great, big impostor. And fires you.
In front of the whole department.
The award? Well, the AD had a massive part in that campaign’s success.
You just fiddled around with a couple of lines of copy. Hardly Jane Austen, was it?
And, yes, you did miss out on that creative director position to Jean-Claude. But Jean-Claude always seems so…so confident. A much more worthy candidate than you.
Even if he does always ask you to "fine tune” his first draft.
Buy our batteries and recharge your social life!
Get it? Get it??
Your teeth think our toothpaste is 'all white'!
Get it? Get it???
With our new plumber’s toolkit they’ll be begging you to come up their tradesman’s entrance!
Get it? Get it????
You’d be 'Cupid' to miss out on Valentine’s Day offers!
Get it? Get it?????
Aahh, fuck, you’re funny. Must go back to when you made the big kids laugh at school so they wouldn’t flush your head down the bog.
You know what? You should do stand up. Yeah, I mean it. You’re, like, way funnier than anyone else around here.
What about that time you came for lunch with the account manager wearing an 'I'm with stupid' t-shirt and sat next to the client. I mean, come on, did you see the look on her face? Priceless!
Or when you ‘accidentally’ left a swear-word in the web copy for that Girls’ School.
OK, Oftsed did pick it up but hey, that’s just the way you roll. Deal with it.
It was barefoot?
The winter snows came early that year. Overhead, buzzards circled in the bleak, fog-smeared sky. Sasha’s hands were icy cold, cold as the grave, cold as centuries of kulaks bent to the plough, driving the blade through iron-hard ground to scratch wounds in the resisting soil of Mother Russia. So cold that they could scarcely grip the handlebars of his motorbike. If only, he mused. If only Masha were still here. She would know what to do. Then, a call from the forest.
“Sasha! Come quick!” It was Masha. She had found something.
He pushed his way across the snow-blanketed earth to the edge of the forest. There she stood, his childhood sweetheart. Now a grown woman and swaddled like a big leather baby in black biker gear.
“Here Sasha,” said Masha, “I got you these.”
She held out two… Horror! What were they? Severed hands from a Cossack intent on violating her? No, they were gauntlets of some kind, with wires and black boxes attached.
“What are they,” said Sasha.
“They’re Snugglies,” said Masha. “Heated biker gloves for those chilly-willy days when your hands need a little TLC. Try them.”
Masha slipped his frozen hands into the Snugglies.
“Perfection,” he said.
“Come. Let us ride away from here and get married in Saint Petersburg.”
Andy Maslen is chief executive officer at Andy Maslen Copywriting Academy, managing director at Sunfish, and co-founder of Copy Cabana