December 23, 2016 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
If you’ve ever thought about getting into the copywriting world, but are worried that it might be creatively dry, it’s time to reconsider that idea. Many authors or other creative writers fear that paying the bills with a copywriting job, or learning copywriting skills for marketing purposes, wouldn’t be comfortable, or worse, might dull their creative talents. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Creativity is one of the most crucial skills missing in copywriting today, which means creative types who can handle copywriting are highly valued. But even at the promise of profit and recognition, developing your craft likely matters most. To show how you benefit as well, let’s take a look at the many ways copywriting strengthens your creative muscles.
If you look at many books, blog posts, and websites aimed at improving creative writing skills, you might notice a recurring theme: setting deadlines for your work and sticking to them. The pressure of knowing that a task must be completed within a set amount of time sets the brain into motion. The consequence of failure has been consistently valuable at keeping one’s skills sharp, and it’s been proven that deadlines are the best defense against procrastination. What’s more, you’ll be meeting a deadline for a concrete reward: payment and the potential to advance in the field.
When you’re working as a copywriter, you’ll naturally have to follow some sort of deadline, likely one set by your boss or client. It will then become easier, when writing creatively, to set a realistic deadline and complete your piece within that time. This flow of deadline pressure and satisfaction from a job done on time becomes force of habit. The habit of meeting deadlines is immensely rewarding and strengthens your confidence, both in creative writing and copywriting.
The majority of copywriting assignments have a set word count requirement, and it’s usually an upper limit. If you’ve been writing for any significant length of time, chances are one of the main challenges is keeping something short. When I started taking up writing jobs, I could write long fiction pieces easily, but it wasn’t until I had to get to the point in 250, 500, 1000, 2000, etc. word limits that I gained a new eye for brevity.
Any skilled writer will tell you that getting to the point is crucial. Being able to deliver a message as efficiently and effectively as possible is massively valuable in all applications of the written word. Once you’re comfortable writing punchy 100-word product descriptions, you’ll be amazed at how much better your descriptions are when writing stories. Everything comes out sharper, with more active wording full of subtle implications.
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One of the most challenging limitations of copywriting is having to follow the guidelines set by the client. Whether due to market research, branding, or consistency, the client will want your assignments to follow certain directions. On the surface, this can seem like it would hamper creativity, but like with deadlines and word counts, it all comes back to the innovation it draws out of you. The challenge ironically frees your mind from the broad scope of all possibilities, and you gain a stronger focus.
One of the best kinds of copywriting for developing creativity is a campaign with highly similar assignments that must be considered unique by search engines. This is massively useful for developing innovative writing tactics on a line-by-line basis. You may also have to sprinkle keywords throughout an assignment for search engine optimization purposes. The challenge of adding these words naturally felt restrictive at first, but before long you begin thinking of the most natural sentences that relate the keywords back to the topic. It causes you to think outside the box.
Soon after you begin, copywriting work will cause you to look beyond the surface facts and descriptions in a style guide. You’ll start to see the human wants and needs based around the product, service, or idea being advertised in your work. For instance, I once had to write about industrial floor mats, and I gained a true understanding of how factories keep their workers safe. I saw the need for intensely durable material that grips well against boots, is absorbent, and yet is easy to clean all at once.
These days, when I accept a new kind of work I look first at the audience and their specific wants and needs. It also gives me the confidence that I can understand what people want if I only try. Novelty in bulk assignments came easily to me by tapping into human inspiration in the news, on social media, or from friends. Fiction writers who have trouble with research will be amazed at this new ability to observe and gain insights. My copywriting work gives me a more holistic view of a variety of topics, which then flowed back into my stories when I wanted to add realistic details.
As you can see, there’s little difference between a scary new creative writing project and entering the world of copywriting. Both are valuable experiences that you’ll be happy to gain, because they force you to write under deadlines and with new rules and requirements. So if you’re working on your next novel, poetry book, or other creative endeavor, don’t consider a career in copywriting a distraction or harmful drainage of your creative resources. If anything, taking up the challenge to write in a business setting will give you experience that many less disciplined writers never receive.
Most importantly, creativity shines in the copywriting arena just as well as it does when writing with artistic goals in mind. If you give it a shot, your work will be valued as human and relatable and you’ll likely come away from it a better artist. If you want to earn more from your writing and have any interest, take up the chance to write for businesses, marketers, and anyone else seeking a copywriter. Challenge yourself, learn new things, and make money with your greatest skill. There are people out there who are desperate to work with someone like you.
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