We are all Copywriters

This week, Jeopardy had a question about a famous copywriter in Final Jeopardy. When putting words together makes you famous enough to be on Jeopardy, it’s tells you copywriting is a true profession.

Copywriting has been on my mind for a lot of reasons in the last few weeks. I’m working on a couple of new projects that require a lot of email communication. After some awkward exchanges thanks to me shooting off a cryptic note, I have had to pause and realize that taking a moment to read what I wrote before hitting send would save me time. Tons of time.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of some of that awkward or cryptic communication. It never fails to amaze me that a one line email response like “Can we talk about this?” can send shivers down my spine. Does that happen to you too? Context really does matter. When we provide a frame, it helps our friends, family and colleagues interpret the message the way you intended. Even emails with lots of words can leave me confused and misinterpreting the message.

When we expect other people to connect the dots, there’s a really good chance they will connect them differently than we intended. Sometimes that’s useful; more often, I have realized it’s better to take a moment and be clear, especially when the stakes are high.

My biggest “copywriting” project has been my new website. It is officially launching today and I would be thrilled for you to check it out here.

Bringing things down to their essence is an art. While we were in the early stages of this redesign, I wanted a copywriter to hold my hand or better yet, fix it for me. In my dreams, he would come in, read my stuff and tell me what I should say about myself. I wanted it to be easy.

Instead, the copywriting was really hard work. There were dozens and dozens of drafts along with a lot of second guessing about the message, the process and whether or not I wanted a new website at all.

In the end, I had to be my own copywriter. It’s my story and my message. The decisions of what to leave in, what to cut out (there was a LOT left out), and what to reword took some time and the help of some good editors. Expecting someone else to either approve of the message or craft it for me would have abdicated my responsibility.

That said, I’m open to feedback, especially from the people who read my stuff and know me well. Feel free to hit reply and give me your thoughts about the new site. If you want a copy of my new article “Five Reasons You Don’t Want to be CEO”, no need to sign up again on the site. Just let me know and I will send it. If you happen to be one of my clients who already is the CEO, you helped me write this. Thank you!

You are writing words every day. Where are you shortcutting your writing and expecting the reader to connect the dots? Where could you take a moment to read what you are writing as if you didn’t know the full context? Where could you be more clear?

Sending a clear message is more important than ever. Between texts, emails, chats and so forth, much of our lives are driven by the written word. We are all copywriters.