For the parents out there, I’m sure the preceding paragraph about writing compelling copy also rings quite true for your child-raising experiences. While I’m reluctant to compare work to parenthood, for those of us working parents operating in a time of hybrid work, it’s extremely difficult to not let these two worlds intersect. And, at least for me, I feel like I bring lessons learned from one side to the other – and vice versa – all the time.
Alongside my wife, we’re raising our two-year-old daughter. She is, as any parent would say, the best two-year-old daughter ever. As she (quite literally) grows up into a real person before our very eyes every day – emotionally and physically and with length of hair – she’s always surprising us, challenging us, rewarding us, and, I hope, bettering us.
What I soon realized after she joined us is that the lessons gleaned from my experiences raising her are directly transferable to how I approach my creative copywriting projects at work. For instance, I know that with raising a child, they easily get bored when presented with the same activities. And a two-year-old will not hesitate to let you know that they’re bored. They either vote with their mouths (“Dada, I not having fun.”) or vote with their feet (literally walk away to find something better). So this requires me to do some quick creative thinking and be innovative. Sometimes all I have to do is tweak a current activity to give it a fresh coat of paint (“Look, the monkey is wearing the carrot as a hat now. So funny, right?!”). But then other times I need to come up with something entirely new to her. Hide n’ Seek is a recent, earth-shattering example. My biggest takeaway from here is knowing that with both of these routes, new content and delivery mechanisms will soon be required.
And this better understanding of my daughter’s needs makes me a much better creative copywriter. This is because it gives me a clearer lens in how to approach client work – from most effectively building the creative output to how best to present it to the client to how they deploy it to their customers. Sometimes a little tweak to messaging or structure is enough to keep the attention of viewers or readers, while other times a broader makeover is required. Because, like two-year-olds, adults easily get bored when we see the same thing over and over. And while we probably won’t cry about it, we will leave a website, social media feed or physical store in search of something newer and fresher (the adult version of throwing a fit).
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It works the other way around, too. At least for me, being a copywriter helps keep me grounded. I operate in a kind of fuzzy place, as everyone I work with writes effective copy. They do it every day. In emails, in texts, in pitch decks, in…you get the idea. So what sets a professional copywriter apart?
Being a good creative copywriter is based more on instinct and trust in yourself (and your team) than anything else. Sure there’s the brief’s parameters, the client’s voice and the market research to bear in mind, but anyone can check those off a list and deliver an asset. But to filter all of these requirements down to their essence, be okay with endless trial and error, have a thick skin when it comes to both internal and external criticism, and consistently deliver results that are original, eye-catching, memorable AND effective for the client is a very valuable skill set. It’s just one that you have to consistently believe in your core that you possess – and consistently swat away doubts that creep into your head.
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And I believe that this trust I put in myself in my work has allowed me to become a better parent. Just like there’s no true guide to being a copywriter (as much as the one million books about copywriting would lead you to believe), there’s no true guide to being a parent (as much as the one million books about parenting would lead you to believe). So in a world of billions of writers and billions of parents, I just try to rise above in both worlds by being comfortable making mistakes, learning from my humbling moments, always approaching situations with an open mind, and trusting in my own creative process to find the right solutions.
Blake Henderson is the Senior Copywriter on our Creative team. He does both his parenting and writing in New York City.