5 Myths about Copywriting You Believe
Someone, somewhere, once said something that was untrue. Maybe the person said it in jest, or maybe the person said it out of his or her ignorance, but the person said it.
Someone else heard what that person said and then repeated it to others. And then those guys repeated it to even more people – and then the chain continued eternally.
The result of that ever-continuing chain? A widespread myth that doesn’t have even an ounce of truth in it – just like all the copywriting myths I’m going to be dispel today.
In this post, I’d like to point out to you 5 myths about copywriting that you, as a new copywriter, probably believe. Banish them from your mind.
Myth 1: Copywriters Must be Inherently Talented
Copywriting, like pretty much everything else in the world is a skill that you can develop. At the beginning of your copywriting endeavors, you might not be able to put a persuasive sentence together. What you need to do is just keep working and working at it until you’re able to convince and persuade people to buy a product.
Sure, it’s gonna take time. Sure, it’s gonna be a lot of hard work. But you will be able to do itl.
Myth 2: Copywriting Work is Hard to Find
The person who started this myth clearly had never been a freelancer. Copywriting work, ladies and gentlemen, is not hard to find IF you’re a talented copywriter.
Think about it. Literally hundreds of new products launch online every single day. All of them need copy, and we freelance copywriters are the ones who supply it most of it.
If you haven’t yet got your first client, don’t sweat it. The first client is always the hardest. Once you’ve got a decent amount of feedback and excellent samples for client prospects to review, new customers will be steadily streaming into your freelance business.
Myth 3: Copywriting is Easy for the Talented
Ernest Hemingway might not have been a copywriter, but I think we’re all agreed that he was an incredible wordsmith (and would have probably made a fine copywriter had he tried his hand at it). Once, he said the following:
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
Folks, copywriting is not easy, even for the inherently talented. It might be simple and, at times, formulaic, but simple ≠ easy.
Sometimes, the words just get stuck in our heads and refuse to flow out onto the paper. Sometimes, we pull our hair out in frustration because we can’t remember that perfect adjective that’s on the tip of our tongue. Sometimes, we give up.
Copywriting. Is. Hard.
Myth 4: SEO is the Most Important Aspect of Copywriting
I’ve been hearing this term a lot lately: SEO copywriting. Tell me you’ve been hearing it too.
Well, what exactly is it?
The last time I checked, when you write copy, you’re writing for people to convince them to purchase a product, not for search engines. Google isn’t the one who’s gonna be sending money to your bank account in exchange for a product. People are.
So that’s who you write for. Not some nit-picky search engine spider who likes bolded, frequent keywords and robotic, unemotional writing.
Myth 5: People Care About What Happens to Your Business
Newsflash: nobody cares about you or your business.
I don’t mean to sound rude, but it’s the truth. Nobody actually cares about what happens to your business. The only thing people care about is how your business benefits them.
I mean, c’mon. We’ve got enough to worry about already with student loans, mortgages, and that destructive p90x weight loss training. Your business’s internal affairs is not highly ranked on our list of priorities.
So when you write copy, don’t talk about your business. Don’t talk about its merits, its awesomeness, or about how some guy won Employee of the Month.
Talk about how your business benefits its customers and what your readers get out of the product.
The next time you see one of these myths proclaimed on a blog, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.
I’m curious – what other myths have you experienced copywriters seen on other blogs? How did you react to them? Share with us in the comments below!
Great article Jonathan.
I especially like Myth #4!!!! Not enough people are taking a stance AGAINST the SEO Copywriting myth. Thank you for pointing this out.
My sentiments exactly. Copywriters new to the game are all getting taught by the so-called “gurus” that they have to write in a way that appeals to both search engines and readers. I myself was an advocate of that foolish strategy not so long ago.
But since then I’ve discovered that it’s not possible to delivery 100% reader-friendly content when you’ve got search engine optimization in the back of your mind. SEO copywriting is the phenomenon that never meant anything.
Good article. I think listening to gurus of any kind always produces more harm than good. I think that nowadays when Google is working against ranking sites based on organic traffic SEO will slowly lose relevance anyway. And even if the copy will please the search engine it is no use if it disappoints the customer.
I kind of disagree with the point about talent though. Writing is a creative process so you need to have a knack for working with text and communicating of chosen messages to the client. Sure, 90% of success still depends on your hard work.
It’s a good read Jonathan. There are a few typos but I’m happy you point your point just fine.
Live to write another day!
Glad to hear you liked it, regardless of the typos. My deepest apologies for them.
The biggest one is that “content” is a legitimate description of what we do. “Content” is writing reduced to a commodity, and when you’re selling a commodity you find yourself competing on price. That’s why there are buyers who expect to pay a penny a word and five dollars for an article. Writers should never have accepted that language.
Agreed. I despise the term “content writing”. Writers are NOT a commodity. That’s the #1 mindset new copywriters should get rid of. Otherwise, they’ll keep competing on price, as you said, which is what has reduced the value of a fine piece of content to a penny per word.
Spelling my own name wrong doesn’t add to my credibility, but I stand by what I said last time.
Interesting. I’ve read that quote on several blog posts, and I’ve always seen it credited to Hemingway. The two writers lived in the same era, so I guess it’s up in the air for further research. :)
Could you advice me on how to begin a freelance career? I imagine you don’t just say you’re a freelancer on linkedin and people start contacting you.
David Abbott. William Bernbach. Drayton Bird. Leo Burnett. David Ogilvy. Dave Trott.
All of them were inherently talented. And they were experienced when producing their best work. So it’s like any other trade really; the combination of experience and ability puts the best ahead.
Let’s be realistic, you can’t just walk into copywriting just because you’ve got a keyboard. You need experience and / or ability. Ideally, both.
That’s right, Will. But with talent in itself (without practicing and working hard) one can not go far either. Sometimes those who have less talent but more determination to learn and practice achieve much more. ;)