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Communications, Minutiae

Can copywriters write about stuff they don’t know?

Professional copywriters may have their niche field within an industry sector, but I reckon they still have to contend with subject matter that they don’t always have a deep understanding about.

I reckon sales copy writers focus on the selling – “I know sales” they might think, so the actual product / market matters little.

I’m betting that successful copywriters turn down work that they don’t feel confident with, but I’m sure that those starting out in their career take all the work they can get, and tackle subjects that are well outside of their comfort zone, and outside of their experience.

Me? I write passionately about the following subjects:

  1. Internal Communications – in theory and practice;
  2. Web and intranet design;
  3. Emotional well-being and self-injury;
  4. The Tao and philosophy;
  5. Hard Sci-Fi and Fantasy;
  6. Magick and the Occult.

Subjects that I write about daily:

  1. Business policies;
  2. Lean Change Management and Continuous Improvement;
  3. Mechanical and Hydrodynamic Engineering;
  4. Environmental impact;
  5. How to write and communicate for beginners;
  6. Charitable offers and appeals;
  7. Acquisitions and Mergers;
  8. Press Releases.

As you can see, the stuff that brings in the bucks is considerably different to the stuff that gets me excited and fired-up, although there are some cross-overs.

So, my basic question to you is, how far do you stretch your writing reach? Do you stay safe within your niche? Are you forced by market / financial pressures to branch out into unknown territory, or do you always tackle subjects that mean little to you?

[Wedge]

About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.

One thought on “Can copywriters write about stuff they don’t know?

  • As a reporter, I had a “beat” – a field that I specialized in covering. My first was the cops beat; my last was the schools beat. There were a few others in between. But, over the years, I also covered many stories outside my beat – including some that were waaaaay outside my professional comfort zone.

    I found that I quite liked the challenge of having to quickly (at a daily paper, everything is due five minutes ago) learn everything I could about a complex subject or event and then turn around and explain it succinctly, but completely, in easy-to-understand language.

    Now that I work in school PR, the topics that pay the bills are almost all education-related (though that can be a wider range of topics than you might think) … but I think the skills I learned as a reporter still serve me well.

    Of course, we are all at our best when writing about what we know or what we love. But, I think, given a bit of time to bone-up on a subject – a good writer should be able to translate his or her skills cross-genre, if you will.

    I’m happy in my current niche as a writer. But, to be honest, I sometimes miss the challenge of stretching my writing muscles to areas outside my areas of expertise.

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