When I was just three, I visited the doctor with my mum, for a check-up. He went through all the usual tests, then went to try out my reflexes. In the process, he inadvertently gave me a small electric shock to the knee.
‘Ooh’ I said, ‘static electricity’.
My Mum and the doctor both looked at each other – who was this freaky toddler who seemed to have swallowed a dictionary?
By the age of eight, if I’d known that the job ‘copywriter’ existed (in the way that kids all know about being a doctor, fireman, pilot etc), I would’ve plumped for that as ‘what I want to do when I’m older’.
Why have I disappeared up my own backside in a haze of nostalgia? Well, the point is this:
If, as a business/business owner, you’re looking to work with professionals – whether they be copywriters, graphic designers, web designers, event planners etc – always look for one thing in particular: that the person you’re hiring has a genuine passion for what they do.
(the flip side to this being that ‘it’s just something to do for money’).
I love what I do because, from a young age, I was obsessed with words;
-making patterns with them.
-playing with sounds, to make things memorable (alliteration, assonance etc)
-seeing the effect different words, used in different contexts, had on people.
-seeing the difference the same words could have when written Vs when spoken.
-realising I could play on people’s emotions – get them to feel something – just by putting a series of letters in a certain order: the ability to make another person smile, laugh, cry, be shocked just by using certain words seemed like a superpower to me.
-realising that, with the right set of words, I could even persuade people to do things they hadn’t previously considered.
All I did – later on – was add a more professional veneer to things, by going through a copywriting and art direction course, working in agencies, then working directly with clients.
I got better simply by working on more brands – big and small, all sorts of budgets, across all sectors – across different media channels, and making quite a few cock-ups along the way (but learning never to repeat the same mistakes).
All of this is not to make out like I’m the best copywriter in the world, and there’s no-one better than me (although my Grandma would tell you otherwise). However, when I take on a client brief I do a good job because – apart from anything else – I genuinely give a stuff about what I’m doing.
Yes, I want to do a great job for a paying client, but I also want to do a great job out of personal pride. It would wound me to produce poor work. It makes me happy when I do good work.
There are thousands of copywriters, art directors, designers, photographers, event planners out there, all with different levels of experience.
If, however, you’re faced with choosing between two (or more) with similar experience, look for that genuine passion for what they do, when speaking to them. Look for that excitement when they talk about their work and your brief.
Look for someone who clearly gives a stuff about what they do. I guarantee, the results will be good.