I’ve worked as an in-house copywriter for years, in various companies, producing a lot of different content. Subjects and media may change, but there are a few constants. Here are ten things I learned as an in-house copywriter.
- Feedback comes from everywhere – learn what you can ignore
You’re sat right there in the office, everyone knows where you are and they can come and see you whenever they want something written (and they will). Your time is all up for grabs so people will always be trying to slip in requests without going through the proper channels. You’re allowed to say ‘no’, you can say ‘no’, say ‘no’.
- Cut out the middle man – go straight to the source
You’re may be right there in the office, but so is everyone else. You’ve got the advantage that you can talk to project managers easily and get feedback on your work when you need it. Sometimes it’s best to go straight to stakeholders or brand managers and cut out marketing execs.
- Be ready for rewrites – don’t get too attached
Before anything you’ve written gets anywhere near customers and the light of day,it’s going to pass through so many brand and legal filters, that it simply isn’t worth getting too protective about what you write.
- Hold on to those early drafts – build your portfolio
Your work is going to go through several iterations before it goes out, so it’s worth holding on to your first (or second, if you take Hemingway’s advice) drafts for your portfolio. They’re probably the ones that show the most creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, so hang on to them.
- Strength in numbers – collaborate with your graphic designer
Getting creative ideas out there can be tough, you’re going to need a partner in crime, and your best bet is your graphic designer. You’ve got a chance to work together right from the start to formulate concepts, so work with your designer.
- Innovation goes to agencies – be proactive with your own projects
While you handle all the day-to-day projects, anything new and innovative seems to go out to an agency. So if you want to get involved with something new and exciting, you have to make it happen yourself.
- You’re the voice – be the word authority
When it comes to knowing how the company speaks, you’re the man. You’re responsible for creating the company’s style guide and curating the official tone of voice, so when there’s any sort of discrepancy, everyone will defer to you.
- Pick your battles – decide what’s important
You’ll be writing everything from emails and PPC ads to web content and blog posts, and you’ll get feedback on all of it. You can’t get precious over everything, so pick what matters and let them have their way with the rest.
- No one else will understand – you’re on your own
You’ll probably be the only word-nerd in the office, so when you’ve got a pedantic grammar point or hilariously subtle pun you need to share with someone, keep looking, there’s no one around who’ll get it.
- Get ready to change – it’s your job
Whether it’s laziness or genuine reverence for your craft, people will come to you with every tiny word and comma that needs amending, and you’ll be left thinking “surely, you could have changed that in less time than it took to explain to me what you wanted me to do”.