How To Create A Unique Copywriting Voice Without Being Weird
Amongst copywriters there’s a lot of conflicting advice. Perhaps the biggest source of paradox with copywriting advice is write how you talk.
Copywriting is a cut-throat field. Naturally, it’s full of big voices who are trying to out-compete each other in the “Be your own BIG voice” and “Here’s my unique spin on things!” department. You wouldn’t expect any less.
In theory these two bits of advice shouldn’t clash horribly:
- Write with a unique and authentic voice
- Embrace the quirks in your style
I mean, when I write them out like that, they’re practically the same thing.
In practice, the above approaches lead to a hell of a lot of copywriters creating some weird form of “I’m unique” one-upmanship and giving the advice that if you write in normal English sentences, you’re going to get lost in the crowd.
This article is going to clear this confusion up and I’m going to fill you with the knowledge you need to go forward with carving out a writing style that will work.
Let’s talk about the issue first.
The Problem With Arbitrarily Trying To Create A Unique Copywriting Voice
If you want to be a writer, then you’ve already heard the phrase, “you need to develop your own voice.”
I could rumble on about creating a voice with your writing, but I’m 90% sure I’ve written about it before. Also, here’s the bad news: you can’t create a writing voice. Not with copywriting, fiction or journalism.
That throws the cat in with the pigeons, I suppose.
Your writing voice – such as it is – is like your speaking voice, or to get more esoteric, your personality. You can pretend to be someone you’re not, and you can build habits to change the person you are over the long term, but your personality is ingrained into you so deeply that you’re not conscious of it.
Your writing style is the same. It’s the written form of your personality. You can pretend to be someone else in text form and attempt to change your writing style in that way, but it’s probably not going to work. It’s probably not going to be pretty either.
Other copywriters suggest that you create a unique copywriting voice by being weird. If you’ve ever watched a nerd pretending to be a cool guy, you’ll know that trying this leads to a completely disingenuous display. The same is true with writing.
As most people start out with learning from the best, let’s talk about that.
How To Copy The Masters – And How Not To
When you start copywriting, you’ll probably take some advice, copy out great advert by hand and read a few books by master copywriters.
There’s a tendency to assume that in doing the above, you’ll copy the style of great copywriters and therefore make yourself a different version of the writers you copy. It shouldn’t work like that though.
Writing like Gary Halbert doesn’t mean write like Gary Halbert.
You have to take the techniques and use them in relation to your own self. Don’t fight your own instincts.
Ultimately, you should not be thinking about the words you type. They should come naturally.
How To Be Different – And What Not To Do
You’ll occasionally see sales letters that read like a James Bond movie. “I was a down-and-out drug addict, then I changed my life and mastered the art of X.” Sometimes, you’ll think, “This is a great pitch, I can totally see this person’s life in the words before me.” Other times, you think, “This is a load of rubbish. Yeah, right… you were a loser and then you found the one secret, blah blah.”
The difference is in the authenticity of the style. You can’t mimic that. Case in point:
A friend of mine is currently in a jungle somewhere in South-East Asia. He makes money online, eschews social conventions, drives far-too-fast and far-too-powerful motorbikes, and may be into illicit pleasures that totally don’t include drugs, women and sketchy neighbourhoods. When he actually gets around to business stuff, the whole nomad lifestyle thing is a major part of his brand.
If I were to do like a lot of copywriters do, I’d see him as an example to follow. His marketing is successful and it’s pretty unique.
But if I tried that, I’d fail pretty quickly.
Because I’m nothing like him. The idea of taking (obviously perfectly legal) pills and then getting on a two-wheeled death machine and riding up a mountain “just to see what happens” is so outside my comfort zone that even a guy with a reading ability of a ten year old could suss out that I was lying.
There’s plenty about me – and my writing style – that’s different from what you find elsewhere. It’s not a second class attempt at reckless abandon though.
I wrote about this more in “How to Create A Unique Brand.”
Final Thoughts: How To Create A Unique Copywriting Voice Without Being a Cliché
The way to create a unique copywriting voice is to embrace your own personality – and by that I don’t mean create some character that you play when you write. I don’t mean add stupid stuff in just to be different. Instead:
- Write more.
- Practice writing about your own life. Write out your thoughts, feelings and recount your day.
- Allow yourself to write the analogies, similes and metaphors that come naturally to you
- Don’t force any of those things though
- Forget what you’ve read in books or in other sales letters; providing you’re reading them, copying them and learning from them, the important lessons are going in subconsciously.
- Forget trying to up-the-ante or creating some larger-than-life character out of yourself. It’s incongruous and people can sense it.
Providing you follow the above tips, your writing style will naturally come through, and it’ll also develop over time.