Copywriting is a big thing these days. Every company has a list of in house or freelance copywriters churning out content for them day after day. So, what is copywriting? You ask. Well you don’t ask, but it helps me move on with my general point.
Copywriting is the art of bullshitting your way though 300+ words when 4 would do and no one’s really that interested anyway.
Having always thought I would become either a kick arse rock star, an acclaimed actor or world-renowned author, I didn’t really bother honing any skills, or developing any knowledge base that would help me in my day to day life. This is a fact that has backfired on me somewhat. In terms of rock starryness, I was in a band that won Hertfordshire under 18s battle of the bands when I was 16. We won £300 and got to headline an outdoor festival in the middle of Letchworth Garden City one frosty day to a crowd of 9, one of which was an old man that told us to quieten down. In terms of acting, I have appeared in the Oscar winning picture The Theory of Everything, using my chameleon like acting skills to successfully portray a 60s student, a 70s student and some bloke in a tuxedo. Redmayne did not mention me in his speech. The bastard.
All hopes rested on my authoriness and to that end I have worked hard to refine my use of the written word, coming up with words such as ‘starryness’ and ‘authoriness’. I wasted 3 years studying for a degree in English Literature, by which I mean I turned up on the exam days. After completing 3 young adult fantasy novels before being told by a literary agent that pretty much no agent can be bothered to look at young adult fantasy and, if they do, it rarely makes any money, I poured my heart and soul (and one lightly beaten egg) into a piece of literary fiction. After three drafts I sent it to various agents to be told that ‘whilst it has merit, dear god no, never contact us again.’
So, after splitting all my eggs into three ridiculous and improbable baskets only to leave all three of them on a train somewhere, I realised I had no employable skills.
Or so I thought.
I managed to get work as a copywriter/content editor, despite my loose canon approach to grammar. I like to think of myself as a punk writer, deliberately ignoring all literary rules.
From the editorial side, I trawl through content created by hundreds of self-employed freelancers who have no business writing anything, let alone making a career out of it. I spend my time redoing other people’s work for minimum wage whilst they earn far more than I.
Every website, every catalogue, every piece of marketing material produced had a copywriter generate the text for them. Which means, thousands of people are in employment despite their clear lack of any skills whatsoever. Which is either good news or bad news for me, depending on your outlook.
Good news, because I can pay rent (just about), bad because it’s all so very dull and pointless and dull. The writing skills I have honed over the years can be utilised in exchange for money. Alas, they’ll be used to talk about the virtues of a vegetable peeler.
I spent a fortnight writing descriptions of various cars for a website that sold various cars. Realistically, all that was needed was ‘Here is a Land Rover. You know what it does.’ Instead, I had to write about how spacious they were. I know very little about cars, but I do know that all people care about is that they’re spacious, my working theory being that due to the rocketing house prices, people are taking to living in Land Rovers.
I spent another fortnight editing copy for a renowned UK chain whom I won’t name for legal reasons, but are effectively a store that sold baths. A bath store if you will.
Two days of this editing was devoted entirely to toilet seats. Now call me ignorant, but I don’t feel there’s much that can be said about a toilet seat. The writer in question kept on trying to convince me that ‘this toilet seat is very versatile’ which I had to remove from 30 + pieces of content for fear of being implicated in a case of false advertising. Unless there are toilet seats out there that double as stylish hats or cheese boards, they have a very singular purpose. For all their qualities, versatility is not one of them.
This is a symptom of a terrible marketing disease. Companies are deciding that they need to sell their items, as in really sell them. As opposed to just pretending to sell them, which is a lot more complicated.
Because of this bizarre idea, we are left with websites sporting plastic cups accompanied by an entire paragraph extolling the virtues of said plastic cups. ‘These are more than cups, they are vessels to carry whatever your heart desires. Perfect for mass suicides, they’re available in a host of different colours to match your cult.’
It’s madness. Currently writing pieces for a well-known auctioning site that rhymes with ShleBay, there’s a listing of Celebrity dolls. My original entry was ‘Do you want an old Michael Jackson doll in its original packaging? If so, get a fucking life.’ This was rejected by the client and I was given a verbal warning.
A freelancer describing a listing of picture frames stated ‘no home is complete without pictures of your family.’ Or before I edited ‘No home is complete without pictures of you’re family.’ (£10 a piece she was paid). Anyway, incorrect words aside, this annoyed me because it reaffirmed the fact that I will forever have an incomplete home, due to the fact that I don’t even have a girlfriend with whom to start a family, let alone take pictures of to put in a £2.85 frame.
It’s a picture frame damn it. All that is needed is ‘A frame for your pictures. £2.85, buy it or don’t it’s your choice at the end of the day.’
But we have to really sell it.
So, I will utilise my new found knowledge of copywriting to really sell my self-published shitty comedy short story collection that I published years ago without editing it properly.
Flesh out your virtual bookshelf with The Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness, a recently discovered collection of children’s short stories by esteemed and entirely fictional 19th century author Hubert J Watergipridget. These clever and engaging stories, introduced and interpreted by the top man at Cambridge or somewhere (who may or may not also be fictional), will have you on the edge of your seat, so close to the edge that you are guaranteed to fall off at some point, so maybe put some cushions down, or read it lying down.
For as little as 99p or whatever small change it is in your country that uses other nonsensical currencies, you will get the most versatile eBook yet, as this can and will be used as a stylish hat and also has enough curative powers to cure cancer or chronic back pain. It will expand your mind so much, that you will evolve beyond the need for a physical form and will in fact become a lesser god.
Buy it today.