What would you call writers with no formal copywriting experience calling themselves "copywriters?"

50 replies
How would you/do you feel about people who may have some writing experience, but don't actually have formal training or mentoring in copywriting calling themselves "copywriters"

Discuss

Also, have you ever had any clients who got suckered into something like this and you had to "fix the mess?"
#call #calling #copywriters #copywriting #experience #formal #writers
  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    I don't have formal training or mentoring in copywriting but I occasionally call myself a copywriter. So what?
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonwebb
    U don't need a degree to call yourself a copy writer...
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Their title has no bearing on my experience or my business, so no I'm not particularly bothered. I'm saddened if someone feels suckered by copywriters, but that's everyone who's ever bought anything from anyone in any industry these days. If I'm going to have to work extra hard to convince them I'm not a rip off, I really am inclined to skip the project and save myself the hassle.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    Who said you need "formal training" or "mentoring" before you call yourself a copywriter? In fact you're probably better off flogging Happy Meals at McDonalds or cleaning car windows at traffic lights or going door to door with a bunch of "magic brushes" to get a good understanding of hooman beans and the psychology of selling.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jeremey
      Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

      In fact you're probably better off flogging Happy Meals at McDonalds or cleaning car windows at traffic lights or going door to door with a bunch of "magic brushes" to get a good understanding of hooman beans and the psychology of selling.
      I see a lot of "template" style MMO sales letters where the seller is desperately developing their product in an effort to escape their job flipping burgers at some fast food joint.

      I'd love to see a copywriting USP however that really plays that up...How someone spent years working at McD's or Wendy's, studying the behavior, mannerisms, and buying signals of customers as they frantically searched the menu for their favorite dollar item...

      How they reacted to probing questions such as "Would you like to make that a large?" or "How about an apple pie with that?" - what it was that truly drove their hunger and how the precarious balance of value over quantity played itself out in their heads.
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      • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
        Originally Posted by Jeremey View Post


        How they reacted to probing questions such as "Would you like to make that a large?" or "How about an apple pie with that?" - what it was that truly drove their hunger and how the precarious balance of value over quantity played itself out in their heads.
        Saying they came up with the "magic line" from a former Mac D's worker
        would have no credibility because they are made to recite them from head office
        because they are proven scripts to upsell that a 15 year old can do.

        It's an automation machine,
        not reliant on natural talent..

        Best,
        Ewen
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        • Profile picture of the author Jeremey
          Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

          Saying they came up with the "magic line" from a former Mac D's worker
          would have no credibility because they are made to recite them from head office
          because they are proven scripts to upsell that a 15 year old can do.

          It's an automation machine,
          not reliant on natural talent..

          Best,
          Ewen
          That is indeed correct.

          Clearly I have to work on making my satire a bit more obvious...

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          • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
            Originally Posted by Jeremey View Post

            That is indeed correct.

            Clearly I have to work on making my satire a bit more obvious...

            Since we have to be obvious, then please know, this metaphor is satirical.

            As a graduate of the University of Love, I have advanced degrees in lovemaking with a specialty in sexual satisfaction.

            I carry my diplomas with me when I go out seeking some companionship.

            No need to say much, just flash my higher education certificates...and the one I have for Multiple Orgasms through Tantric Sex usually does the trick.

            I call myself a lover, and have the PROOF of higher education to back it up.

            I've had many one night stands, but, for some reason, these ladies I've given a higher educated experience to won't return my calls for a second date.

            I call myself a lover.

            No, I don't have any testimonials or referrals nor do I have any repeat lovers. I'm too busy trying to get the next one, thank god for my higher education.

            gjabiz

            PS. This was satire. OH, and as for what people call themselves, that is their business...with the caveat, the proof is in the pudding.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve Hill
        Originally Posted by Jeremey View Post

        I'd love to see a copywriting USP however that really plays that up...How someone spent years working at McD's or Wendy's, studying the behavior, mannerisms, and buying signals of customers as they frantically searched the menu for their favorite dollar item...

        How they reacted to probing questions such as "Would you like to make that a large?" or "How about an apple pie with that?" - what it was that truly drove their hunger and how the precarious balance of value over quantity played itself out in their heads.
        Seriously, this could work providing they can answer one crucial question: did they sell MORE burgers and upsells than anyone else because of what they learned?
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
        Originally Posted by Jeremey View Post


        I'd love to see a copywriting USP however that really plays that up...How someone spent years working at McD's or Wendy's, studying the behavior, mannerisms, and buying signals of customers as they frantically searched the menu for their favorite dollar item...
        My son-in-law spent 17 years working at a car dealership in a variety of jobs including salesman. I've never met anybody who can "read" people as well as him. If he wanted to become a copywriter, he'd have a great USP.

        Alex
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        • Profile picture of the author Jeremey
          Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

          My son-in-law spent 17 years working at a car dealership in a variety of jobs including salesman. I've never met anybody who can "read" people as well as him. If he wanted to become a copywriter, he'd have a great USP.

          Alex
          I'm sure he would...As someone with about 10 years of direct sales experience myself, I can vouch that the experience far overshadows my lifetime of writing and my english degree when it comes to writing copy.

          However, I also worked at a few fast food restaurants as a teenager...maybe it was my limited world view, but I truly got absolutely nothing from taking orders from people and handing them their change and sack of fries.

          It would make a good story to say that I learned much from that experience about human motivations and desires...but it would be completely false. Others who have done time behind fast food counters may have a totally different experience to be sure.
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          • Profile picture of the author Biz Max
            Forget Gary Halbert, learn from Ronald McDonald!...:rolleyes:
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    If a person is persuasive enough with his words (and savvy enough with his marketing) to get clients, he can legitimately call himself a copywriter.

    Alex
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    • Profile picture of the author Woodward82
      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      If a person is persuasive enough with his words (and savvy enough with his marketing) to get clients, he can legitimately call himself a copywriter.

      Alex
      This about sums it up.
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  • Profile picture of the author UtopianWriting
    I think being perceived as a copywriter is more about the portfolio that you show prospective clients than a "degree" which by itself says nothing about the caliber of your writing.

    That's something that attracts me to copywriting--quite frankly, for good or for bad, you'll be judged by the caliber of your writing more than anything else.
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  • Profile picture of the author ladywriter
    I'm unsure how someone would get "suckered in" by someone like that. If they do the proper research, they should be able to have an idea of how well the copywriter writes.

    I have been asked to "fix the mess" a number of times but it's usually because someone thought buying articles for $1 was a great deal--and they want me to "rewrite them" for a reduced fee.
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    • Profile picture of the author expresswriters
      Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      I don't have formal training or mentoring in copywriting but I occasionally call myself a copywriter. So what?
      You can call yourself anything these days

      Originally Posted by thugpoet View Post

      U don't need a degree to call yourself a copy writer...
      Absolutely. It's not quite the same as a doctor who's sticking your heart with a needle during an open heart surgery.

      Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

      Who said you need "formal training" or "mentoring" before you call yourself a copywriter? In fact you're probably better off flogging Happy Meals at McDonalds or cleaning car windows at traffic lights or going door to door with a bunch of "magic brushes" to get a good understanding of hooman beans and the psychology of selling.
      I started out at McDonalds. I learned more about people in those 5 years then ANY hands on training in a copywriting classroom.

      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      If a person is persuasive enough with his words (and savvy enough with his marketing) to get clients, he can legitimately call himself a copywriter.

      Alex
      Could NOT have said it better...

      Originally Posted by ladywriter View Post

      I'm unsure how someone would get "suckered in" by someone like that. If they do the proper research, they should be able to have an idea of how well the copywriter writes.

      I have been asked to "fix the mess" a number of times but it's usually because someone thought buying articles for $1 was a great deal--and they want me to "rewrite them" for a reduced fee.
      I have had this same exact experience multiple times, and agree with this thinking.

      Originally Posted by UtopianWriting View Post

      I think being perceived as a copywriter is more about the portfolio that you show prospective clients than a "degree" which by itself says nothing about the caliber of your writing.

      That's something that attracts me to copywriting--quite frankly, for good or for bad, you'll be judged by the caliber of your writing more than anything else.
      Absolutely. It's the portfolio: NOT the "degree"...when it comes to freelancing.

      These things make a copywriter, my son....

      Do they write well? It's not do they THINK they write well. It's do they have a proven track record, which entails:
      • A portfolio of 10+ varied writing showcases in 10+ varied industries
      • Do they have a reputation (IE 2 years and 1,000 projects)
      • Do they have a high dollar gross earnings. No, not CLIENT earnings. THEIR pocket money taken away from ethical work.

      For a copywriter, it is ESSENTIAL to have a track record and a reputation.

      You can't claim your client earnings as the income you've made and have a right to. Who the fudge does that? Am I wrong to say this is absurd? Would love to hear other opinons if anyone reads this far into my post.
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  • Profile picture of the author Danielle Lynn
    I'd be more leery about doctors that didn't have formal training calling themselves surgeons.
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      Do they write well? It's not do they THINK they write well. It's do they have a proven track record, which entails:
      • A portfolio of 10+ varied writing showcases in 10+ varied industries
      • Do they have a reputation (IE 2 years and 1,000 projects)
      • Do they have a high dollar gross earnings. No, not CLIENT earnings. THEIR pocket money taken away from ethical work.
      These are your criteria. You are entitled to them. However, these are not criteria that are shared by all copywriting clients.

      1. Many copywriters specialize in an industry. Clients who are looking for an industry-specific copywriter don't care a hoot about how many industries a copywriter has written for.

      2. One thousand projects? You must be joking. I've been paid (often very highly paid) as a copywriter for more than 15 years, and I haven't come anywhere close to 1,000 projects. The most highly paid copywriters may take on only 6-8 projects a year.

      3. High dollar gross earnings? Honestly, no client has ever asked me how much I have earned as a copywriter. That never even comes into the equation. They want to know about my skills and experience, not my earnings. And in most cases, they judge this for themselves by reading my newsletter, my books or my web site.

      Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce Wedding
    I don't really care what anyone calls themselves. In our world, it is the client's responsibility to properly vet people they hire.

    That said, there are a lot of copywriter posers.
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    • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
      Over 2,000 completed projects since starting in 2011 and over $200,000 earned.
      The above is quoted from Julia's signature. Doing the math, it appears that the average fee for each project is $100.

      Julia, are you aware that in the eyes of many copywriting clients, this data brands you as not to be taken seriously?

      Unless you want to stay a bargain-basement firm forever, you might want to rethink how you present yourself.

      Marcia Yudkin
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      Check out Marcia Yudkin's No-Hype Marketing Academy for courses on copywriting, publicity, infomarketing, marketing plans, naming, and branding - not to mention the popular "Marketing for Introverts" course.
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      • Profile picture of the author expresswriters
        Originally Posted by marciayudkin View Post

        The above is quoted from Julia's signature. Doing the math, it appears that the average fee for each project is $100.

        Julia, are you aware that in the eyes of many copywriting clients, this data brands you as not to be taken seriously?

        Unless you want to stay a bargain-basement firm forever, you might want to rethink how you present yourself.

        Marcia Yudkin
        Greeting Marcia,

        Yes, I know the WF locals around here don't like my prices and aren't taking me seriously.

        Bargain Basement firm?

        I know what works for me and that I'm not changing it.

        At age 22, my goal is to be retired by age 24. I am 1/4 th of the way there.

        Best,
        Julia
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  • Profile picture of the author Woodward82
    Do they have a reputation (IE 2 years and 1,000 projects
    )

    This is 2.5 projects per day 365 days a year and that STILL comes a little under 1k mark . You are a busy man
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  • Profile picture of the author Woodward82
    The most highly paid copywriters may take on only 6-8 projects a year.
    Is there any real proven trusted numbers on this ?
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    If this post was useful please show your appreciation by hitting the THANKS button. ----- Right here V

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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Being concerned about what someone calls themselves (when they're not paying you for your advice) is about you, not them.

    Hack writers and cheapskate clients deserve one another.

    Brian
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    All my business cards say is, "Mark Pescetti - Orgasmic Therapist."

    So...
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

      All my business cards say is, "Mark Pescetti - Orgasmic Therapist."

      So...
      I don't HAVE business cards.

      I don't want anyone else calling me. LOL
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  • Profile picture of the author wvcopywriter
    I call myself an email copywriter. I do not have credited college course training, but I have had training.
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    Don't have the time to write emails that will get opened, read and your reader to take action then leave me a message. I will get back to you within 48 hrs.

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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Ceskavich
    The only thing you need to do is to do it.

    - Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author fated82
    I don't have a formal education in copywriting and I don't have a mentor. I started my copywriting business without even knowing about the industry.

    Fast forward 8 months now, I have a team of 3 copywriters and 1 designer. We wrote copy mainly for website and print ads for local businesses.

    The key here is just go out and do it.
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  • Profile picture of the author RogozRazvan
    Most of the information based skills in the 21st century are not as formal as the "old" skills. For example, you can't be a surgeon in an hospital without the accreditation. But you can be a SEO expert, copywriting expert, ghostwriting expert, etc without any formal education.

    It is just the difference between regulated and not regulated fields. Maybe one day you'll need to follow the copywriting academy in order to work in this field. However, in 2013 and I guess that for at least one more decade, you don't.
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  • Profile picture of the author Carolynn
    You don't need a degree for alot of online stuff, just like you don't need one to call yourself a web designer.
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  • Profile picture of the author WeavingThoughts
    Formal education is for douches, especially in IM. Skill is what matters.
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    • Profile picture of the author djtrillian
      Originally Posted by WeavingThoughts View Post

      Formal education is for douches, especially in IM. Skill is what matters.

      'Love it! :-) 'straight to the point in 12 words.
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    • Originally Posted by WeavingThoughts View Post

      Formal education is for douches, especially in IM. Skill is what matters.
      I hope the doctor that operates on my eye is skilled AND went to medical school. Formal education is the best way to lay a foundation for high achievement in many endeavors. You can't finish many blog posts for your cool new site if you can't read or write. On a macro level, the U.S. is falling behind many other countries partly because we've lost our focus on education.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jennie Heckel
    Hi All,

    This is an interesting discussion.

    FYI: I know clients are impressed with portfolios of proven sales letters and rock-solid conversion stats.

    Many clients will only hire you if you can show them proof your copy sells well in their target market, (and you can show examples of your sales letters selling right now) with consistent conversion rates.

    If you possess certificates from attending and completing copywriting training, this gives added proof as to your professional copywriting status, and will make clients feel safer hiring you.

    You will find you can claim higher fees when you have attended and sucessfully completed copywriting courses.

    You can ask for a higher fee if you can prove you can deliver copy that converts well -- but you need the conversion stats of the copy you write.

    One thing to do, is always stay in the loop after the copy is delivered in order to offer to do split tests (split headlines, lead in, close, P.S. etc.).

    You can offer copy edits to help improve conversions and offer to assist with split testing. Then be sure to get conversion rate data on the copy you write for your conversion portfolio.

    If you can't find clients to hire you then sell your own products to secure proof of sales and conversion rates.

    Just my 2 cents and what my higher end clients usually want to see before they will hire me and pay my higher rates.

    Good luck to all with your copywriting,

    Jennie Heckel
    Sales Letter Copywriter
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  • Profile picture of the author squadron
    Originally Posted by Jason_V View Post

    How would you/do you feel about people who may have some writing experience, but don't actually have formal training or mentoring in copywriting calling themselves "copywriters"
    There's a lot to be said for natural talent plus practice and failure. Hopefully that talent doesn't get "schooled" out of people by low-risk, low-reward template theories pushed by academics who have never really had to write for a living.
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    • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
      Not sure what you're trying to accomplish with this post, but I have no "credentials,"....except that over the past 15 years my copywriting has helped to sell millions of dollars in products. I'm guessing that counts for something, but that's just me.
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      • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
        Anyone can call themselves a copywriter.

        Anyone can become a copywriter.

        The trick is being a good copywriter - as in producing results for your client.

        Nothing else matters.
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  • The training for copywriting is all over the place. If an individual wants to self-educate all the way up the ladder of success, it's up to that person. Time will be the witness, the judge. And, ultimately, the self-named "copywriter" will be the one who knows whether or not that description is or is not the truth. (maybe)
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    No. But I've seen plenty of people fall for "copywriters" who DO have formal training but who can't sell a condom to a street hooker.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raymond Duke
    Originally Posted by Jason_V View Post

    How would you/do you feel about people who may have some writing experience, but don't actually have formal training or mentoring in copywriting calling themselves "copywriters"
    I would not think about it at all. There are 1,001 more important things to think about.
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  • Profile picture of the author jay walters
    Reading this thread makes me feel at home. Thanks for starting the fight - i mean thread.
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  • I've been studying and doing some copywriting for a couple of years now but I can't really call myself a copywriter. When you have the maybe once I'm able to write a copy that sells in my sleep that's when I'll be able to call myself a copywriter.
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  • Profile picture of the author stanton
    Originally Posted by Jason_V View Post

    How would you/do you feel about people who may have some writing experience, but don't actually have formal training or mentoring in copywriting calling themselves "copywriters"

    Discuss

    Also, have you ever had any clients who got suckered into something like this and you had to "fix the mess?"
    In my experience most copywriters are only good at selling themselves and total s**t at selling anything else, regardless of the bold claims.

    There are some good ones around, but you still have to make sure your product is something people actually want and you have to be able to get your message in front of the right people.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gary Ning Lo
    Being a copywriter means being able to write a copy that persuades a prospect/customer to take a specific action.

    That's it!

    Cheers,

    Gary
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  • Profile picture of the author KevMason
    I feel the old school tradition of Copy Writing is dead, unless you are SUPER good!

    In our world of today it is too easy to go out and do some deep research on your competitors material.

    This will allow almost anyone with decent English to create a marketing piece, and thus call them self a Copy Writer.

    For those that say "it is down to the customer" to ensure they do the correct research on their Copy Writer, shows pretty bad ethics as too you as a person, as this clearly states you would take any ones Money, which is pretty sad.

    No matter what you do in Business you will not like to do certain parts, it may be Copy Writing for some, while others it maybe getting traffic.

    If you read a few books on the emotions of customers such as their desires, fears etc and add that to the research element above that should put you in good stead, to getting better video, or text copy done for your business, or at least know how to identify you are getting the right person to do the job.

    I have seen many stories of top marketers paying tens of thousands of dollars to copy writers, while when they split test their normal copy compared to the professional copywriters the marketers one almost always win.

    What I am trying to say here is if you are NOT confident about a subject, or do NOT feel you can add value in that market please refrain from offering your services.

    Here is a book I found helped me understand customers mindsets and allows me to create better copy:

    "Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion"- by Robert Cialdini


    Hope this Helps
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    • Profile picture of the author stanton
      Originally Posted by KevMason View Post

      I have seen many stories of top marketers paying tens of thousands of dollars to copy writers, while when they split test their normal copy compared to the professional copywriters the marketers one almost always win.
      That has happened to me, a copywriter sent revenue on one of my sites from 1k per day to -$500.

      The major difference between them was that my copy has about 300 words and his was over 1000 words.
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    • Originally Posted by KevMason View Post

      I feel the old school tradition of Copy Writing is dead, unless you are SUPER good!

      In our world of today it is too easy to go out and do some deep research on your competitors material.

      This will allow almost anyone with decent English to create a marketing piece, and thus call them self a Copy Writer.
      Anyone can create a marketing piece, and they should if they can't afford a copywriter for the time being.

      But the lineup of horrible copy people ask to be critiqued in this forum could run from New York to Melbourne and back.

      It's a highly developed skill, and the difference between an experienced hand and most copy is striking. Hang around for a few months and you'll see what I mean.

      Even more dramatic is the depth of marketing knowledge a pro copywriter brings to the job. Review some of the concepts shared by Rick Duris and many others in this forum, and I know you'll agree their ideas and advice is much more advanced than 99% of marketers, product sellers and business owners.
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