Becoming a parent is a lot like being a copywriter. It’s true! Here’s what I mean.
When people around me used to talk about their kids, I tuned out. First of all, I didn’t have kids. Second of all, I didn’t have kids. That is — until this past June.
As my baby boy came screaming into the world, I couldn’t help but wonder … will this experience make for a good blog post? Kidding! But just like parenting isn’t always an Instagram-worthy collage of perfectly filtered moments, copywriting isn’t an episode of Mad Men, with the dazzling monologues and clinking martini glasses.
Read on to find out some of the unexpected ways these two jobs are alike. (Hopefully you haven’t tuned me out already.)
It’s not about you
You’re going to write headlines you love, perfect subheads, and blocks of copy you adore. But sometimes your creative director has a simply “brilliant” insight, or your client just wants to go in a different direction. Well, as a new parent you learn to sacrifice things to serve your client’s, um sorry, baby’s needs before your own. Who needs sleep anyway?
This also applies to writing copy. Sometimes it’s okay to write or revise something that you know is going to please your client. It makes them happy and makes your life easier. Just remember, part of your job is to challenge them with new ideas, and help convince them to accept something different. Mmmm, peas … here comes the airplane!
You don’t set the timelines
All of you on the agency-side — and client-side, too — understand this concept. You’d think years of writing copy would have prepared me for those every two-hour nightly feedings or the speed required to whip a diaper back on before waterworks occur.
Unlike infants, your account managers and your clients may allow for some wiggle room on deliverables. However, it’s important to understand, tight timelines and unscheduled needs come with the territory. You have to be on top of your projects and be able to adeptly switch to writing about something completely different on the fly.
Cut to the chase
It’s 3 am. Your baby is screaming. There’s been an “accident” and you left the wipes in the other room. Somehow your husband is soundly sleeping through the disturbance. Do you say, “Honey, would you be ever so kind as to wake up and get the wipes?” NO. You shout, “GET UP, I NEED HELP!”
This is how you write a headline. As a copywriter, it’s your job to hit client and internal team expectations by telling a story creatively and often quickly with the information you’re given. So tell the story, but cut it down. Make it quick. Get their attention. Make sure your copy telegraphs “why” they need to care.
Expect the unexpected
Your team nailed that creative presentation. You all left confidently! Then you get the comments back. And the copy changes are plentiful. They have your head spinning faster than you can say “Call the doctor!” All kinds of things pop up with babies — food allergies, colic, rashes, etc. Just when you feel you’re hitting the stride as a new parent — BAM!
In your life as a writer, you could be doing your best copy work, but your clients and your teammates are going to have feedback you didn’t anticipate. Don’t take it personally — be open to their thoughts, and learn from it. Crawl, stand, and take a few wobbly steps forward.
Trust your instinct
You’re going to get a lot of advice as a new parent. And some of it may be helpful, but you only really use what works for you. Similarly, at some point in your copy career it could happen that someone may possibly give you their insights on writing great copy. Maybe that’s even happened to you … like a few dozen times.
But it’s okay to trust your intuition instead. If you have an off-the-wall concept, but you think it works, show it. If an idea you’ve come up with is too safe and watered down, pull it. Instinct has as much to do with writing copy as it does with parenting. Listen to that little voice inside of you.
Writing copy is rewarding, but it can be hard. Raising a kid can be even harder. Be creative, be flexible, be fearless. And if your clients and your babies let you, get some sleep.