From John E. Kennedy to Dan S. Kennedy, from Robert Collier to Gary Halbert, from David Ogilvy to J. Abraham, Gary Vencivenga, to whomever you choose...
They all may have started the same way, studying the successful ads of their day, and some may have even copied these out by hand. The studied, they WROTE.
In the case of Direct Response Copywriters (just one niche), they had RESULTS to guide them, to tell them if they could write or not. There is nothing truer than a promotion to a targeted market, to reveal your so-called copy chops.
But over the last century, there have been thousands of copywriters, and in agencies, they today would be the CONTENT writers too.
So, what do the elite share? What do the A-Listers have you probably never will?
What separates them from the crowd?
They EVOLVED into ARTISTS.
There is someone in your hometown, that teaches piano, maybe even plays in clubs and even performs. but they ain't no Billy Joel. They may even have better technical skills than he does. Maybe. BUT, there he is in his Hamptons mansion...while the local piano teacher comes to the WF to figure out how to get a student and eke out a living.
When do they become artists? Again, they almost all share a common denominator. It is when they have practiced their CRAFT, embraced the technical, mechanical, the rules of the machina copy, and then...
BREAK THE RULES. Sort of like Roger Bannister's first sub four minute mile.
NO one could ever sell to a phone book list. NEVER. Then Gary Halbert, with a proverbial gun to his head, TOSSED OUT everything he ever learned about writing copy and wrote the now famous NANCY LETTER, which sparked a huge business.
They break the rules, and have BREAKTHOUGH achievements when...
they find their own voice.
You can copy every Gary Halbert ad he ever wrote, and use them as swipes, but you won't get his results, not even close in most instances, because you are a parrot. A trained seal barking out jingle bells, because that is what you were taught to do.
Everyone, in every craft begins with imitation. You have to learn. So you follow the guides, lessons and stay the course, with practice and by doing, over and over and over, to the so-called tipping point of 10,000 hours of effort.
And you may become a hired hand, even a six figure a year in demand copywriter...but until you have the callouses of effort, the rejection from the market, the failure and disappointments, with the electric and water about to be turned off (like Gary Halbert), and you just keep grinding away at it.
You still may never become an artist, until you find your own voice and the world sees it, hears it, and wants more of it, and they gladly pay you for it.
I can go to my local library, listen to the HS music teacher sing all of Billy Joel's classics, but it sure as heck ain't Madison Square Garden for the real deal, eh?
Just a thought about copywriting. As an ART.