In a previous article, I wrote that it was possible for anyone to become a writer yet judging by the amount of unintelligible garbage that can be read online, it appears as if not everyone is suitable! Many online businesses are guilty of hiring writers based solely on the price with quality content deemed to be an afterthought. If you are looking to make a name for yourself as a copywriter or are eager to improve on your current level, read on to learn about the biggest mistakes made in the field of copywriting and what you can do to avoid making them.
1 - Clichés
The term cliché refers to words or phrases that are overused such as ‘it’s a game of two halves’ or ‘all that glitters is not gold’. Such phrases are considered to be the refuge of the lazy writer and in copywriting; clichés are like poison since they have no positive effect on the reader whatsoever. While you should definitely use ‘everyday’ language when writing copy, you need to be concise and carry a certain air of authority and clichés ruin everything. Instead of engaging with your copy, readers will simply cringe and be turned off. This of course means that making a connection or a sale is impossible.
2 – Stick With Your First Idea
It is pretty likely that the first idea you think of will not be the best. Most professional copywriters maintain that it is important to come up with dozens of ideas before choosing the best one. You may think it’s absurd to come up with 50 ideas but put yourself in a quiet room and you’ll be amazed at how the ideas flow. It is essential to come up with lots of headlines as well because this single line is the most important in your entire copy. Once you have successfully finished the copy, go back to your first idea and you’ll realise how horrid it really was.
3 – Become Frustrated
I have already mentioned that writing is something we can all do (to varying levels of quality admittedly) and unfortunately, this is also the opinion of most clients. While they have no problem in criticising a writer’s work, they tend to avoid upsetting web designers or programmers in the same manner. As writing is extremely subjective and given the aforementioned attitude of clients, you will need to develop a thick skin.
Bear in mind that every single time you work with a client; you are leaving yourself open to scathing criticism so know that it comes with the territory (cliché alert!) before beginning. No one likes having their ideas rejected but the best thing for you to do is to perform the cyber equivalent of smiling and nodding during bouts of criticism and vow to improve your writing skills.
4 – Be Tardy
Most of my clients comment on my ability to meet or exceed the deadlines they set. I always find it strange since I tend to negotiate these deadlines in advance and always give myself some wiggle room. Simply put, there is usually no excuse for being late with your copy barring some unforeseen personal misfortune and clients will usually understand that. I would advise writers to set strict deadlines in everything they do and create a daily and weekly timetable to ensure all deadlines are met. It is an easy habit to get into and you will quickly gain a positive reputation for being a writer that is reliable and punctual and this in turn guarantees you future work.
5 – No Samples
No matter how talented you are, if you don’t have a portfolio of work you will be find it difficult to get decent jobs. I learned this first hand when I began on Odesk and the only jobs I got were $3 an hour ones! It took a while to build a reputation but once I had some samples to my name and good feedback, my asking rate began to take off. In most cases, you will be a ‘ghost-writer’ and not receive any credit but you can still save the links and include them in your application.
If you want to be taken seriously as a copywriter, it is important for you to take note of all the above tips and hopefully improve as you go along. Experience is certainly the best teacher but if you can avoid all of the above mishaps, you will be far ahead of other prospective writers and this should land you lucrative writing gigs.