5 key takeaways for creative copywriting from CopyCon 2022

2 years ago

In October Aira’s copy team found ourselves in a dimly-lit basement, somewhere in Brighton. The space was filled with tables strewn with ink-scrawled notebooks and endless cups of coffee.

It was also filled with people like us! A veritable cabal of copywriters; an anthology of authors; a cavalcade of creatives … OK I’ll stop. But many of us don’t get out much, so it was strange, but nice, to be faced with 200 of our fellow professionals in a basement comedy club on the Sussex coast. This was the 2022 edition of CopyCon - the conference for copywriters.

There followed a day of insightful and inspiring talks, and here we’ve put together a list of our five key takeaways, covering everything from how being idle can help us achieve more, all the way through to what fonts taste like.

1. We can afford to be idle (sometimes)

Okay, well maybe not lazy per se, but in the opening talk of the event Andrew Boulton highlighted that Albert Einstein (well, maybe Einstein, says Andrew) said ‘Not much happens until something moves.’ However, Andrew shared his own philosophy: ‘Not much happens if everything is moving.’

With that in mind, Andrew said we need to know when to slow things down and be a little more idle. He stressed the importance of planning idle time into your working day to allow your mind to process whatever problem it’s dealing with and offer the best solution.

If we’re always on the go it leaves us little time to flex our creative muscles and try something new. Or, as Andrew put it, ‘Idleness is the act of preserving and nourishing your creativity.’ So if you want to create something great, don’t rush headfirst into the work. Of course deadlines will always be a thing, but give yourself a little time to reflect and see what happens.

2. Standout copywriters are known for ONE thing

A ‘Jack of all trades, master of none,’ approach to being a copywriter can do more harm than good, said our next speaker. Expanding, Diane Wiredu said that copywriters who focus on one thing - and do that one thing very well - are likely to establish themselves as the go-to writer for their niche, which can often be more lucrative than being a bit of a creative dilettante.

If you’re a writer - or you want to be - owning your own style, voice and personality should help ‘cut the fluff’ and find the best project partnerships for you and your clients.

3. All fonts taste different

Author and typographer (to Heston Blumenthal, among others) Sarah Hyndman had the CopyCon audience tasting drinks while listening to various pieces of music to observe how the drinks changed flavour. She explained that different fonts used on vinyl records can convey different meanings to the listener too, but that these meanings can vary depending on one’s experiences and interpretations.

While it didn’t work on everyone, the majority of the room (and two thirds of the Aira contingent) registered a change in the taste of their drink. And the same rule applies to fonts and typefaces, Sarah explained. Each variation conveys a message to the reader, so rather than just leaning on Times New Roman or Arial, consider what the aesthetic of your words is saying.

4. Creativity is a powerful tool that can be used for good and evil

Artist and speaker Steve Chapman used a (cheap, he admitted) bingo machine to decide which of his real-life stories he’d tell the audience, and not one of them disappointed.

Steve has used his art and the power of the internet to put lost cat posters around the world, launch a podcast featuring nothing but silence, and create an art installation that delighted Londoners until one day it mysteriously disappeared (or the council took it).

There was a central theme that connected each of Steve’s incredible, funny and even moving stories - that with creativity and ambition, you can delight audiences who will want to share your message. So in terms of copywriting, is there a more interesting, creative, striking or funny way to get your message across? Coz people like that stuff.

5. Don’t be normal

The final talk of the event was from author and marketer Amy Kean, who has declared war on being normal. Amy highlighted how humans want to be considered normal because they want to fit in and be ‘morally correct’. However, by being creative and unique, you’re far more likely to engage an audience. For example, if you have a blog post to write about flowers - why not write a poem, or a love letter? Something that stands out, goes against the norm and surprises the reader.

By trying new things it allows us to grow, and when we grow we get better. Amy ended by quoting Alain de Botton, who said, ‘Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.’

So, what was the single biggest takeaway the Aira copywriting team got from CopyCon 2022? In short, creativity matters, as does taking the time to nurture it.

When it comes to copy, we spend a lot of time writing things that fit an established style and format. However, in order to draw in a reader and have them engage with a call to action, we have to be brave, bold and creative.

Got any tips for working creatively every day? Need support on a copywriting project? Get in touch for a chat today.

Image courtesy of ProCopywriters - thanks!

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