The Day I Discovered I Hated Copywriting
While in college in New Orleans, I dreamed of being a copywriter for a big ad agency on Madison Avenue in New York City.
After discovering more about Madison Avenue copywriting, my dreams were crushed.
But let’s back up a bit.
Upon graduating from Tulane University in New Orleans, I was an assistant media planner for a big ad agency in New York.
This job got my foot in the door.
In the evenings, I took a copywriting course at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Teaching this class were two of the top award-winning copywriters of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. They were in the trenches on Madison Ave, working for the biggest agencies.
I felt like I was in good company.
It was a good class, and my instructors liked the ads I created.
As a side note, several years later, Lens Crafters ran an ad campaign exactly like one of the assignments I turned in. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or if someone in my class “borrowed” my idea, but the copy and the concept were too close to be a coincidence.
As it turned out, I was itching to move out of NYC, so I moved to Dallas, Texas. I had friends and classmates from Tulane living there, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Putting Together My Copywriting Portfolio
While in Dallas, I started to put together my copywriting portfolio (known as a “book” on Madison Avenue).
I came up with some “clever” ideas for my book.
In addition to putting together my “book,” I designed websites at night to earn extra money.
While creating websites, I flexed my copywriting muscles because my clients didn’t know what to say.
I had to say it for them!
I devoured numerous books about sales copywriting and online marketing to serve my clients better.
From Texas to Connecticut
After six years of living in Texas, I moved back to Connecticut to be closer to my family.
While in Connecticut, I continued to build websites on a freelance basis.
I got a ton of business but was still itching to be a copywriter on Madison Avenue.
So, in the evenings after work, I schlepped to NYC from Connecticut by train to take an evening class in copywriting (This was the second time around.)
While taking that class at the School of Visual Arts, I discovered something very interesting…
I hated it.
Yes, that’s right.
I hated copywriting.
Well, at least the “clever” Madison Avenue type of copywriting.
The type of copywriting that Claude Hopkins and John E. Kennedy (not the President) called “keeping the name before the people.”
I hated what I was being taught in class.
It was a lot of “creative” copywriting where you try to be clever—for the sake of being clever.
Just look up ads for insurance companies (i.e., Liberty Mutual, GEICO, Progressive, etc.), and you will see what I mean.
I didn’t want to come up with an Emu for Liberty Mutual… or a Gecko for Geico… or Flo for Progressive.
I didn’t want to come up with people on a mountaintop wanting to teach the world how to sing in perfect harmony or polar bears sliding down a snowy hill while holding a bottle of sugar water.
No, that wasn’t me.
After my experience of building my web design business and helping my clients with their businesses, I discovered a lot about sales copywriting and the role it plays.
I wanted to write copy that informed people, so they can make an informed decision.
The kind of copy that David Ogilvy calls his “Secret Weapon.”
After about five weeks of this nonsense copywriting, I wanted to throw up. Yes, right there in my lap.
My dreams of being a Madison Avenue copywriter were crushed.
I wanted to write copy that SOLD products and services.
I wanted to write copy I read about in books like Ogilvy on Advertising, Confessions of an Advertising Man, Scientific Advertising, Tested Advertising Methods, Breakthrough Advertising, etc.…
… not some gorilla stomping on a suitcase.
But my instructors insisted I needed to be clever, witty, and funny.
But did that kind of copy sell anything?
No, not really.
But then again, no one really knows, right?
Again, this really made me want to throw up. Right there—all over my desk in class.
After realizing what Madison Avenue copywriting is, I focused on my web design business, where I taught myself a ton about online marketing and copywriting.
I had to promote my business, so knowing how to write copy that converts was crucial to my livelihood.
That’s exactly how I see copy today. I don’t mess around. I don’t try to be clever, witty, or funny. I get straight to the point.
After many years of creating websites and learning about online marketing, I decided my talents would be best served focusing on direct-response copywriting.
So, here I am in Fairfield, Connecticut, writing sales copy, helping my clients and employers generate leads, and close sales.
So, what’s the point of this story?
I discovered what direct-response copy is NOT.
This was a huge realization because many people who call themselves “direct-response copywriters” are Madison Avenue copywriters in disguise.
I have no interest in being “clever.”
I do have an interest in coming up with big ideas that get people’s attention which leads to an increase in business for my clients and employers.
That’s what excites me.
So, I don’t care for Madison Avenue copywriting, but I absolutely love Direct Response Copywriting.
If you read through to this point, I think I have proven to you that I can write compelling copy that gets readers engaged. Who reads About Me pages, anyway?
If you need a direct-response copywriter who loves to get down to work, please reach out to me at Ash@FreshSalesCopy.com