Am I trying to commit professional suicide?
No, just being my usual open and honest self, while having a quiet vent about the never-ending onslaught of ‘experts’ that have appeared over the years.
The usual definition of an expert is:
“A person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.”
I’ve been a copywriter for just over a decade now, so I guess I fall into that category.
BUT I don’t think of myself as an expert; instead, I am someone with a lot of expertise in the copywriting/marketing arena.
Isn’t that just splitting hairs?
I guess you could see it like that, but to me, an expert is someone who knows everything about his or her chosen field, but how can that be? Especially when you look at something that changes constantly.
Granted, the nuts and bolts of copywriting haven’t changed – the principles have remained the same since marketing started – but the way it’s used is continually morphing.
Those wanting to get into the profession often ask me where they can get a copywriting qualification. The simple answer (although very cheesy) is life.
Yes, you can come out of university with a first class degree in marketing, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be the best copywriter in the world.
Life experience is more valuable to a writer than a fancy degree.
A big part of this job is climbing inside the heads of consumers.
Some clients will push you towards writing about their business because that’s what’s important to them, but that won’t sell.
You have to understand what is important to their customers; why they need the product/service you’re trying to sell and how it will make their lives easier. A degree doesn’t help you do that, but experience will.
Why do I think I can do the job?
Firstly, there’s no ‘think’ about it, I know I can do this job. If I couldn’t, I’d have gone out of business a long time ago.
My previous working experience was in customer-facing roles, so I know what makes people tick. While my children were young, I did a BA (Hons) in English with the Open University. Part of that degree was creative writing, which is very useful when honing storytelling and emotive writing skills.
Above all, I listen.
Never call yourself an expert
A large part of the issue I have with ‘experts’ is that many don’t appreciate that they must never stop learning.
Take the raft of social media and SEO experts. How can you possibly be an expert in something that changes daily (ok, perhaps not that often but you get my meaning)?
I am continually reading the blogs and articles of copywriting’s elite. I study the work of others, especially if a mailshot or piece of content draws me in. I avidly watch the adverts between TV shows and read magazine ads to dissect the bad and the good. In other words, I never stop learning.
Perhaps that mentality does make me an expert in my field in the eyes of some. But I won’t consider myself as such until I know all there is to know about copywriting and human nature – and that will never happen because nothing stays the same.
Sally Ormond is an internal copywriter. She may not class herself as an expert, but that doesn’t stop her global client base from growing year on year.