Copywriters: Learn your craft like a cabinetmaker.

Learn copywriting like a cabinetmakerI know plenty of beginner copywriters who are constantly taking courses, reading books, following blogs, watching videos and finding as many ways as possible to learn more about the craft of copywriting.

That’s a lot of time and money being invested.

And why not? As a copywriter you can make as much money as a lawyer or a doctor. And even if you buy every course and program out there, you’ll still be paying less for your training than those other professionals.

But…here’s a funny thing.

Back in the late 1970s, when I got started as a copywriter in London, I don’t think there were any copywriting courses. I certainly never took any. And during my first ten years as a copywriter I think I read just one book on the subject – The craft of copywriting by Alastair Crompton. It’s a good book.

So how did I learn my craft?

That’s easy. I learned by DOING.

I just wrote and wrote and wrote.

I wasn’t writing and learning in a vacuum, because I spent a lot of time studying the work of the best copywriters of the time. I would find their work in newspapers and magazines, cut them out, and then study them…line by line and word by word.

Basically I was acting as an apprentice. And the thing about being an apprentice is that you learn slowly, step by step, doing the basic stuff before moving on to more advanced work.

When slow is better

Some new copywriters come out of the gate running. They have a natural aptitude and can do good work from day one. They make a quick name for themselves.

But even with those natural skills, there is a limit to how good they can be.

In fact, that’s pretty much my own story. I came out of the gate running and did good work from the start.

But natural talent can take you only so far. At the 5-year mark, when I looked back at my output from that first year, it was easy to recognize my weaknesses and limitations.

It was the same thing when I looked back at my work after 10 years.

What I’m saying is that whether you’re a copywriter or a cabinetmaker, it takes time to master your craft.

Reading books and taking courses can certainly help. And you can start to make a good income as a copywriter pretty quickly. But there is still a natural process and flow when it comes to truly mastering what you do.

Learn like a cabinetmaker

If you want to be a cabinetmaker, you can’t expect to be a master cabinetmaker within 90 days. If you’re naturally skilled with wood and tools, you can make some pretty neat stuff early on. And yes, you can take some courses to help improve yours skills. But if you want to truly master the craft, you’ll need to be patient. And you’ll need to work hard.

Most important of all…you need to work with wood every day. Learn about your wood, and learn to use your tools. And practice, practice, practice.

It’s the same with copywriting.

Book learning can help. But the best way to learn is to DO.

So even when you don’t have paid work to do, keep writing. Set yourself exercises. Or do some work for a local company at no cost. Do whatever it takes to practice the craft of copywriting every day.

You’ll learn more, and learn faster, by practicing your craft as much as possible.

Less book learning. More doing.

About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach.

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