Completing the puzzle; a copywriter's dream
What is copywriting? This is a question I am asked frequently. Many people are puzzled as to what a copywriter actually does. A copywriter writes content for all things brand and marketing such as blogs, articles, ezines, brochures and social media posts. Good copy will draw the interest of the reader, it will engage, inform, educate and raise awareness of a brand, product or service. Essentially, copywriting is rearranging words on the page to give greater meaning and to sell.
So what does copywriting have to do with puzzles?
Both require the person involved to collect all the pieces, put them into some sort of order, create the outer framework and then add in the individual pieces one by one until the whole picture is complete. Each piece must fit with the next. Every piece has its place. Completing a 1000 piece puzzle is not dissimilar to writing a 1000 word blog or article. The task may at first seem rather daunting but once you work through things step by step, it all starts to come together. Both require concentration, dedication, patience and solitude.
Step #1 - Research
Before starting any copywriting project I get my research going. I talk to the client, take a brief and get a feel for what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it. I need to know their target audience and often help them identify this through a number of questions. I will then undertake any research required even if just to get myself up to speed on the topic, product or industry. After all, I am writing as part of the business.
Step #2 - Framework
Next step is to decide how the piece will flow and how each component will fit into the framework. Most importantly I work on the headline. Is this asking a question or delivering news? The body copy needs to address the purpose of the headline, leading the reader through an easy read to a conclusion that delivers what the piece set itself up to do. This is no different really to getting all the edge pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in place before filling in the middle. Without a framework, the pieces in the middle will not feel supported.
Step #3 - Sections
It is important to think about the sections of your written piece. Paragraphs need to be concise, address a clear point and sit comfortably in the right place. Meandering around from one topic or idea to another without cohesion will only frustrate the reader. Try to focus on one section at a time. You wouldn't place random pieces of a jigsaw across the board without trying to fit them to the neighbouring pieces now would you?
Step #4 - Take time to ponder
Don't rush. After getting the first draft, go back over what you have done and look for missing pieces. Take time to read and re-read your copy. Do all the pieces sit in the right place? Do you need to swap out one word for another? Could you move a sentence to another place to give greater meaning and improve the flow? There is nothing wrong with staring into space and just thinking. Take a break and then come back to it with fresh eyes. Those bits that you were not entirely happy with will jump out at you and alternatives will float to the surface. Who would keep on trying to find the right place for that last damned puzzle piece when all it is doing is creating more frustration.
Step #5 - Enjoy!
Enjoy the process of piecing the final parts of the puzzle together. You have written the words, polished the grammar and syntax, and hit the sweet spot. Edit, read and re-read. Enjoy the final flush of creativity as you hit save for the final time and sit back with a huge smile on your face. You have succeeded in fitting each piece together seamlessly. The whole picture is now visible and complete for all to see.
Whether I am tackling a short or long piece of copy, the process of working out the puzzle is very much the same. Oh and I do sometimes love a good jigsaw puzzle; but not as much as I love to write copy!
So to all you puzzle lovers, you have more in common with copywriters than you thought.