“There are a lot of sins in life,” Senator Lindsey Graham was
quoted as saying in New York magazine (3/5/17, p. 24). “But the
one that’s intolerable is being bored. I hate boring.”
The problem with saying that something is “boring,” however, is
that the statement is meaningless unless you ask: “Boring to
For instance, I recently had the assignment of writing, for a
chemical company, a white paper on “clean agent fire suppression
systems for data centers.”
While this topic would put the majority of copywriters I know
into a coma, for me, being a chemical engineer and former
chemistry major, it was absolutely fascinating — and pure joy.
Especially in sales copy, being boring is an absolute sin and a
sure road to lack of interest and dismal response rates.
As David Ogilvy once observed, “You cannot sell the consumer by
boring her to death.”
So … how do you avoid being bored with your copywriting projects
as well as boring prospects with the copy you write?
Making sure the copy you write is not boring is a five-step
>> Step one is to, as much as is humanly possible, only take on
assignments that — if they don’t absolutely fascinate you — at
least are interesting to you.
That way, you don’t have to fake enthusiasm, because you will
enjoy learning about that product and selling it to others.
>> Step two is to dig into the topic to find the area of it with
the greatest interest to the reader.
One high-tech copywriter told me, “The most fascinating thing
about technology is that people invented it.”
Joseph Kelly, a former speechwriter for Eisenhower, said: “There
is a kernel of interest in everything man or God made.”
Your job is to find that kernel. In copy, it must either arouse
curiosity, lure the prospect into reading the copy, or make her
want to own the product being advertised.
>> Step three is to do the hard work of research.
Most copywriters I know enjoy learning, so the research is often
fun and intellectually stimulating.
Research is important because, in copy, specifics sell.
Generalities bore the reader and cause her to quickly lose
interest and click away.
But wait. There are two additional steps that can help ensure you
are never bored as a copywriter….
>> Step four: Always have multiple writing projects.
Isaac Asimov said the secret to his great writing productivity
was having many projects, so when he got bored or tired or just
felt he could not go further with his book that day…
…he switched to his columns and articles on other topics, which
kept him fresh and interested.
>> Step five: Write things other than copy.
My 80/20 rule for copywriters is to spend 80% of your time
writing copy for clients.
This is the key to a six-figure annual income year after year.
But to vary things up, spend 20% of your time with non-copy
writing projects that are purely yours.
Mark Ford writes poetry, short stories, and movie scripts.
The late Herschell Gordon Lewis wrote and produced grade B horror
I write short stories and had a book of them come out from Quill
Driver Books last year:
I have had a blast on writing nonfiction books on everything
from sex and Star Trek, to careers and satire.
I also did cartoons and wrote the occasional newspaper or
magazine article, published in periodicals ranging from
Cosmopolitan to the Baltimore City Paper.
This keeps me fresh and ensures I am virtually never bored, except
by paperwork, which I loathe.