If you want to be a well-paid copywriter, please your client.
If you want to be an award winning copywriter, please yourself.
If you want to be a great copywriter, please your reader.
— Steve Hayden, found in chapter 2, page 21 of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This
The software guys and ad guys don’t often mingle in most companies, but that small piece of copy writing advice fits us well. Don’t build a resume builder. Don’t build a portfolio piece. Build a project that pleases the user and the other trappings of success will follow.
Stepping back for a moment, why is a software guy burning time with a classic book in the advertising industry? I don’t know what got me started, but I’m glad I finished. Something somewhere on the Internet pointed me toward this book years ago, and I just found it while unpacking boxes after a move. Sixty-two notes and excerpts later, I recommend it to any developer looking to expand their education beyond a single threaded focus on technology. Old editions are still available for the cost of shipping, and there’s a new edition that is available for the Kindle.
Here’s one more of my six excerpts from chapter 2:
They’ll quickly find you boring or irrelevant if all you can speak about with authority is nginx configurations and WebSockets. Your grasp of the client’s technology situation has to be as well versed as any project manager’s. There are no shortcuts. Know the client. Know their product. Know their market. It will pay off.
— Chapter 2, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This
Wait, sorry, I copied that wrong. Can you make the following substitutions?
- s/nginix configurations and WebSockets/Century Italic/
- s/technology situation/marketing situation/
- s/project manager’s/account executive’s/
Universal stuff. It just takes a little bit of mental search and replace.