I had an unexpected request from someone I don’t know but who had heard my name at the church we both attend. Her 13-year-old daughter is pursuing a Girl Scout badge and needed to talk to a writer about his/her career. All she needed to do was take a few moments to ask me a few questions.
Happy to oblige. We arranged a time between church activities.
I explained that being a copywriter is the business side of my writing life – how I earn income. I write for businesses who need to promote their messages. These days that looks a lot like web content, email and newsletters. When I started in this field, it looked like television commercials, radio spots, billboards, brochures and print ads.
She doesn’t watch TV or read newspapers. I felt we might have a generational issue as I described my starting point, though I gave it my best shot. I did say, “Things are different now.”
She was only required to ask me two questions; because she’s an overachiever, she asked four – one being, “How did you know this is what you wanted to do? I’ve never heard of it.”
Back to that generational issue. How do you explain the source of your dreams to someone who never saw a Bewitched rerun, doesn’t know Alka-Seltzer goes “plop plop, fizz fizz,” and didn’t get misty-eyed when Coca-Cola wanted to teach the world to sing?
I said, “If you could advance my dreams from back then to today, it’d be like wanting to create a viral video and watch those view numbers go up and up.”
I hope she gets her badge.
That’s my takeaway, by the way. If I had it to do over again, I would have told her that being a copywriter is always about helping someone else get their badge.
Maybe this is the CMO under pressure to keep the content pipeline filled, or the development director who needs to communicate with donors, or the ad agency outsourcing a special project. My name is hardly ever associated with the work I do. Instead, it’s about saving someone time or taking off the pressure or completing the project that has been languishing.
The Girl Scout asked one more question: “What is something you like to do?”
I told her, “I like to take photos and videos of my cat and share them on social media.” She smiled. That part she understood.
Minnie Lamberth is a marketing copywriter and developer of Story Shaping, a creative encouragement platform.