When you’re the only one with a pen…
My name is Alyssa Grant, and I am currently serving an internship at DePersico Group. DePersico Group is a design agency that specializes in food packaging. Being the only copywriter on site, I got a lot of writing experience, particularly in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) realm. They’re a smaller agency, operating at about 20 employees, so there was lots of writing to do for internal and external purposes. I learned more things than I can count, so here are the top five things I’ve learned from my copywriting internship.
- Taking time is making time.
When I started my internship, I was so excited to get writing that I didn’t give as much time to preparation (like word webs, brainstorming, etc.). I would end up pushing out a few posts or headlines, then quickly get burnt out. Take the time to gather lots of “play dough”— relevant words, phrases and images that will make it much easier to write. Doing this can cut your writing time by half. It may seem tedious now, but it’ll be really fun to mold them into something great later! Onelook.com’s reverse dictionary is a great resource—you describe a concept into a text box, and it gives you a list of things you could be describing. It’s perfect for when a word is right on the tip of your tongue!
- Remember your resources.
Copy is never “not ready” to be looked at. It can always use an eye. (Or two, or five!) Don’t be afraid to ask someone to look at your copy sheet, even if you didn’t “wow” yourself yet. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective to turn a run-on sentence into a really great piece of body copy! You’re there to learn, so don’t let your pride get in the way of some great portfolio pieces!
- Time travel.
Feeling like you’re stuck at a plateau? Sometimes it can be hard to know if you’re improving with such a subjective job. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come by looking at some older copy sheets from months, semesters, or years prior. Do you instantly pick up on mistakes that the old you would have glanced right over? Can you think of a better way to execute your concept? Revisiting and reconstructing your old work is a great confidence booster and is great practice for real revisions with clients.
- Stay in character.
Always make sure your writing has a consistent tone for each brand that you work on. A helpful thing I learned was to take on the mindset of a popular celebrity that has the tone that your brand is looking for. You should also consider the reading level of your audience. Websites like wordcounter.net give you a readability rating for free! You’ll see which of your words are a bit more difficult so that you know to change them to simpler ones.
- Seriously, stay in character.
This one’s got two meanings. It also means to stay within your character limit. If you’re writing for social media, you’ll be using this a lot. For example, Twitter posts can be 140 characters, but when an image is added, you’ve only got 116 to work with. They include spaces and punctuation, so spend them wisely! Make sure to use a free character counter like lettercount.com to check your limit. Doing it by hand takes much more time, and a mistake could cost you your message.
I hope these have been helpful!