How and Why I became a Copywriter…
I have always enjoyed writing… poetry, prose, stories, academical studies and legal writing. I want to write a book one day on my 18 months spent traveling around the US.
Writing is unlike verbal communication. Once something is said, it can’t be changed. I can alter and adjust to obtain the meaning of a written word any time and anyway I want. It just takes more time.
“Time is on my side, yes it is…” (tip of the hat to the Rolling Stones). I write, I read, I review, I re-write… over and over and over. Writing satisfies my need to be perfect, or as close to perfect as possible.
I will have read and re-read and written and re-written this article multiple times.
Words are key. Or as I say #wordsmatter . Verbally attempting to find words you want leads to pauses like “Ummm” and “Uhhhh”. It’s annoying. Of course with practice one can fix that. Sometimes.
Why writing? I have spent my life doing what I want, usually, and been involved in multiple startup businesses. Each business I started and owned served a need while serving others.
I have also been involved in businesses working for others. Throughout my life I’ve worked as professional proofreader for the NY State Legislature, as a NY Senate Staff member, as a lobbyist in NY and AZ, as a real estate agent, a Paralegal, and a crane operator in a steel factory. I’ve designed electronic security systems for businesses and law enforcement and have driven 18 wheelers across the country.
I’m rich as all get-out. Wealthy beyond the dreams of most people. Yet I can not and will not ever retire. More about all this in a minute.
Working for others was frustrating, always. I felt like a donkey pulling a cart, chasing an apple held in front of me, just out of reach. Run harder! Run faster! Run and never get anywhere. Run, but you never get the apple. You never get the bonus, the OT, the pay raise, the added incentives promised. The business owner always gets the apple.
At some point in my life one of my businesses might have had me painting your house, serving you authentic Philly Cheesesteaks, designing and installing an irrigation system for your yard, or even teaching you how to make beer at home in your garage and then selling you the kit with all the tools and ingredients needed to make your first beer.
I’ve found enjoyment in everything I have done. My homebrewing retail store (click link for that story) was my favorite. I was able to make a living teaching people how to have fun at home. And trust me, spending several hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon with friends, both making and drinking the final product (beer), is a LOT of fun.
Writing for me comes naturally it seems. Either that or I am entirely clueless. I don’t have to think much about what I want to write. What this means is I know enough about what I am writing about in advance.
Copywriting requires this type of knowledge and forethought, acquired through extensive research of and for a client, their business and their audience. And I love to research as much as I love to write.
I have been involved in copywriting for almost a couple years, and have found there are two groups, generally speaking, within the industry. Those who think on their own and write, and those who take fill-in-the-blank templates and swipe files so they don’t have to think.
They spend money and time acquiring collections of templates and swipe files used by others, all proclaimed to have been successful for years and will continue to be for you. Their copy, their writing, mirrors others. Their product is easily recognized because…
- It looks like the competition’s
- It’s never unique
- It leaves more questions than answers
- It’s akin to a cheap bottle of wine in a paper bag (Two Buck Chuck comes to mind). That is, it gets the job done cheaply, quickly and easily. Just not professionally.
And there are those like myself and others (the #noregurgitatedcopy revolutionary luminaries) who use their talents to actually think, research and write…
- No templates
- No swipe files.
- No shortcuts.
- No easy way out.
We do not see the client as a monkey with a checkbook and wingtips.
Recently I watched a podcast on “Lee After Dark”, an interview with a copywriter who has been in the business for over 3 decades. He made an interesting observation, further dividing copywriters into 2 more camps.
There are those who graduate from college with a degree in marketing and call themselves copywriters. They have no “life experience” to draw upon. And there are those who have spent a good portion of their time living life, and have a variety of backgrounds and experiences. He believes every wannabe copywriter must take the time to gather a range of experiences and knowledge in life.
View his work at www.thejolliffe.com and his interview at Lee After Dark podcast. His writing is brilliant. He is adamant about needing and maintaining a lifetime of experiences. Every Sunday he works in a soup kitchen providing food for the homeless, allowing him to meet and talk to a wide range of “interesting characters”. One was a trained Physicist who refused to tell him why he was homeless, but who was nevertheless interesting.
A Copywriter with a Difference
So above I made this comment and said I would return to it: “I’m rich as all get-out. Wealthy beyond the dreams of most people. Yet I can not and will not ever retire.” Why do I say this?
Experiences. I have lived a lifetime of experiences that 99% of people out there will never, EVER have. My friends from high school and college graduated and got jobs (mechanics, teachers, sales people). They worked at these jobs, saved money, and are now retired. But…
- They will never ever know the freedom of hitchhiking across this country meeting great people and visiting places as I have.
- They will never know the feeling of driving a 80,000 lb., 83' 18 wheeler down the highway, or for that matter parallel parking a big rig.
- They will never experience what it’s like to take an idea and turn it into a successful business once, let alone 6 times.
- They will never experience the pain of losing everything and starting completely over, not once but twice.
- They will never know what it’s like to be an officer of a motorcycle club, to experience the bone rattling sound of riding in a pack of 80+ motorcycles rolling down a highway, a metal sea of vehicles parting to make way in front of you, waving and taking photos.
- They will never know the experience of having the Governor of NYS walk into a bar where you are having a beer, and call out your name to say hello, or pick you up in his private jet to fly you to the capitol.
- They will never know the feeling of giving a speech at the State Capitol presenting work you spent 3 months at night working on, for free, in order to help thousands of people economically improve their lives.
This is the type of wide ranging life experience I have. Yep! I am as rich or richer than most of the so-called 1%, the wealthiest of the wealthy. I have experience I draw upon when I write that most do not. The Trump kids have nothing on me. I even look better.
I have traveled a long road to become a copywriter. I have a lifetime of experiences others do not. I have met and learned from some of the best copywriters and others have not. I have worked and been educated in academic writing, legal research and writing, and am an experienced professional proofreader in both academic and legal fields.
There is nothing wrong with going to college and studying marketing or learning about copywriting. Don’t get me wrong. But that’s not where the work ends. That’s where it begins.
Yep… I am happy and I am wealthy beyond what anyone can imagine. My wealth is my experience in life, the people I have met and know, everything I have accomplished and everything I have failed at.
I will never retire. I am doing what I want to do and what I enjoy… writing. Why would I consider doing absolutely nothing with my life after what I have done so far?
As I did when I started up my other businesses, I am doing this for the love of it, and to help others a long the way. Copywriting is an incredible opportunity to meet others, work with others, help others achieve their goals and further experience life in a variety of ways.
It has been said we only live life once. I disagree. Through writing I am able to live life in a multitude of ways and through a multitude of experiences. We do though, only die once. So make the most of your life and live it, gain experience others never will.
Whether you like my writing or not, I would love the opportunity to know you. If you do like my writing, well, you have good taste. Feel free to contact me at any of my profile locations on LinkedIn, FB or Medium.