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Copywriters! Any advice?
Thread poster: Paula Morrison

Paula Morrison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Changing or doing both? Jul 11, 2012

Maiwald-Meylahn you're right! And it's so nice to hear you like it.
I will focus on Spanish but for the moment I will this blog in English i'm creating at the moment.

I want to write in Spanish but I'm just worried that as I previously said, my clients are based in the UK and won't have anything to write about.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 12:46
Chinese to English
Synthesise and puff Jul 11, 2012

Sheila wrote:
How do you know what they want?


I just stick closely to the outline I'm given and expand. (1)

Or rather:

I look very closely at the requirements that the customer provides me with: their concepts, their terminology, their specific focus areas. Once I've given that information a full analysis, I move into the writing phase. I flesh out the concepts and fully elaborate the narrative that the client wants to convey. (2)

As I see it, (1) and (2) are identical. The problem for me is that my natural writing style is much closer to (1) than (2), which is why I find copywriting a drag.


 

Paula Morrison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree! Jul 11, 2012

As I see it, (1) and (2) are identical. The problem for me is that my natural writing style is much closer to (1) than (2), which is why I find copywriting a drag. [/quote]

I think I would have the same problem. Because with (1) you're given a guidance and that helps you create. Sometimes having (2) means that despite the specific requirements, more than help is a restraint, don't you think?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:46
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I need to educate my clients, then Jul 11, 2012

Phil Hand wrote:

Sheila wrote:
How do you know what they want?


I just stick closely to the outline I'm given and expand.


My client instructions so far have been along the lines of "write my website, please". I'm afraid it's a case of the blind leading the blind - neither party has a clue how it works, so how can anyone be surprised when it doesn't?

Sheila


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:46
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I translate as a copywriter. Jul 11, 2012

I regularly translate Italian copywriting into English and of course the English has to have the same "pizazz" (if that's how you spell it).

I sometimes have to hold my nose while I'm doing it. I'm more used to heavy academic discourse.

But my clients like the way I do it and and keep coming back for more.


 

JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:46
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
A good brief is essential Jul 11, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Phil Hand wrote:

Sheila wrote:
How do you know what they want?


I just stick closely to the outline I'm given and expand.


My client instructions so far have been along the lines of "write my website, please". I'm afraid it's a case of the blind leading the blind - neither party has a clue how it works, so how can anyone be surprised when it doesn't?

Sheila


You really need to spend some time with your client first ensuring that you know what they want and that they have given you all the relevant information to write their text. Otherwise it's like someone saying "make me a cake" and you having to guess which type they want.

The more detailed the brief, the more likely you are to a) produce what they want and not spend ages rewriting and b) find it much easier to write the copy when you come to that stage.

That said, you also have to be sure that the brief is what the person who will be approving the project actually wants, not what your contact thinks they want.

I recently rewrote a very dull scientific piece from a company website into much more "salesy" language, exactly as they requested (through an agency, I might add). After several weeks it turned out that what they actually wanted was something they could give to their investors - in other words, they wanted it made *more* dull than it was to start with! I still don't know if they are happy with it, as the communications delay is so huge that I am beginning to wonder if they are actually based in this galaxy at all.

Jane


 

Adrian Garcia-Landa  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:46
English to French
+ ...
copywriting is much more personal Jul 11, 2012

Hello,

Interesting thread. I have worked as a copywriter and still do aong with translations. Compared with translation it is for me at least much more rewarding because it is so much more personal. I relate more strongly to a text I have written myself than to one somebody else has written. And what is sometimes bothering about translations, is that you don't see the 'afterlife' of it. Where does it go? Who reads it? Are people happy with it? With copywriting you have a more feedba
... See more
Hello,

Interesting thread. I have worked as a copywriter and still do aong with translations. Compared with translation it is for me at least much more rewarding because it is so much more personal. I relate more strongly to a text I have written myself than to one somebody else has written. And what is sometimes bothering about translations, is that you don't see the 'afterlife' of it. Where does it go? Who reads it? Are people happy with it? With copywriting you have a more feedback.

The drawback is that copywriting is less straighforward than translations. With copywriting you enter the field of liking and taste, your work is exposed to the subjectivity of the client. He might not like it, you'll have justify your work and develop a better feel of you client. In other words, salesmanship is necessary at a level that is not for translations. Then that might be exactly what you want, the possibility of a deeper interaction with clients than translations offers.

Copywriting can be trained certainly, once you have the wish and ability to write. I don't know if that can be learned, as someone pointed out in a post above.

To train it, the best thing would be to practice as much as you can, to try to work for an advertising agency if you feel like it or to go to creative writing classes or join a group of writing fans.

Bear in mind that a copywriter is asked to be versatile and to adapt his style to the requirements of the client. Unless you have such a unique and unimitable style that clients want exactly that. And that a client may change his mind during a project.

But then there are so many uses that can be made of copywriting or writing in general. The other I day I stumbled on the modern version of a public writer here in Germany, where I live, who specialises in portraits of small businesses and freelancers. Look at his site even if it's in German, it's interesting: http://www.carstenbrinzing.de/index.htm

I dont' how how his business works but it's an original new way of copywriting.
So if you have the wish of becoming a copywriter I would follow that wish. There's a German saying that goes like this: A wish is never given to you without the strength to realise it. That was a nicely sententious and grave saying, full of heavy stuff, that's why I like it!

Adrian
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Lau Wei Tsinn  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 12:46
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...
A detailed brief defines the job for the copywriter Jul 11, 2012

I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who was once the client for such copywriting services. I came from a marketing/advertising background and engaged advertising agencies to develop advertisements in various mediums for me.

Usually, a standard creative brief would include basic details like the background of the campaign, who the target audience is (this could be slightly different across the different advertising platforms), tone of voice, the intended message, copy poi
... See more
I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who was once the client for such copywriting services. I came from a marketing/advertising background and engaged advertising agencies to develop advertisements in various mediums for me.

Usually, a standard creative brief would include basic details like the background of the campaign, who the target audience is (this could be slightly different across the different advertising platforms), tone of voice, the intended message, copy pointers and copy highlights etc. The more detailed a brief is, the better it is for the copywriter to know where to start. I forget to add company background as well. Every company have their own branding and brand personality and a good understanding of this will help with the copywriting.

Since I switched over to translation, I have not done much copywriting although I am very interested to look for more such opportunities. The lack of a decent number of sample pieces for my portfolio also contributed to my lack of progress in landing such jobs. Or, maybe I am just not looking hard enough, preferring to establish my credibility as a translator first? Language also plays another part. There are more enquiries for Chinese copywriting (although I grew up natively with Chinese, I was not brought up in an environment that nurtures the creative expression of this language). So, that leaves copywriting in English. That makes me one out of a very large pool of linguists, all eyeing for the same pie and many of whom are from countries that are perceived to be more native for the English language.

How to charge for copywriting is another question that I would like to hear more opinions of. Unlike translation where there is a fixed number of words in the source text, copywriting is more open-ended. My agencies used to charge me a flat copywriting fee but that was because my ads were more visual than copy driven. They probably pay their copywriters a lot less than what they charged me. More research, thinking and creativity is perhaps expected for copywriting. This differs from job to job, which makes it more tricky to determine a fixed per word or per page fee. For me, I would prefer to charge by hourly rate since that would be the best gauge of the volume of work done on the job.
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Paula Morrison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I think I've got it! Jul 12, 2012

I think I'm going to concentrate on Spanish writing. I will polish my skills and focus on those clients who might need copywriting in Spanish.

I'm working on two different blogs but somehow connected, so when I start publishing, i will let you know so you can all have a look and leave your comments.

In the meantime...
What are the basic things you're asked to do as a copywriter?


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 12:46
Chinese to English
Please, good Chinese copy! Jul 12, 2012

Lau Wei Tsinn wrote:

There are more enquiries for Chinese copywriting (although I grew up natively with Chinese, I was not brought up in an environment that nurtures the creative expression of this language).


I beg you to do some writing in Chinese... anything to try to improve the dreary copy that companies throw up on their websites at the moment. Really, you were awarded a third-grade provincial-level award for safe production in 2007? Well I'll be certain to buy from your juice shop, then!


 
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