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Three Killer Skills Professional Writers Need to Succeed in 2018…

"If you are both killer and poet, you get rich." – David Ogilvy

What brought you here today? What are you hoping to learn, be, become, do, or change by reading Copyblogger?

We’ll be asking that question a lot in the coming year, but while we wait (feel free to answer in the comments below — we’d love to hear it), allow us to talk about why we write this blog.

We love writers. I mean, we really, really love writers.

Both Brian and Sonia are lifelong scribblers. We write to explain ourselves to ourselves. We write to understand the complexities of the world around us … and our own heads. We write to teach, to engage, to encourage, to provoke, and — if we’re lucky — to persuade and yes, to sell.

That’s because we also write to make a living. Which has been pretty good to us so far.

The quote you see in the post image is one that both Brian and Sonia have enjoyed for a long time — that combination of the killer and the poet. It’s David Ogilvy’s commentary on something his colleague William Maynard once said, as quoted in the classic Ogilvy on Advertising:

“Most good copywriters fall into two categories. Poets. And killers. Poets see an ad as an end. Killers as a means to an end.”

Too much content produced in the name of digital marketing is viewed as simply a means to an end, and that’s why it fails. And yet, no one is interested in paying you to express yourself unless it also meets business objectives.

The Art of Persuasive Writing

“Poets” love language. We marvel at that perfect turn of phrase when we read, and strive to display that artistry in our own writing.

Let’s face it — we’re word nerds. And that’s the foundational psychological quirk that sets us up for greatness.

Most importantly, we write. Whether you love the process or merely love “having written,” once the toil is over and the words are out there, poets become great writers by putting in the work.

Brian likes to say that he can’t teach a killer to be a poet, but you can always enhance a poetic type with other sophisticated skills. And that’s another reason why we love speaking directly to writers, because we’ve seen first-hand the amazing results that come when creativity is combined with a little killer instinct.

In 2018 and moving forward, with the overwhelming volume of crappy content and mediocre filler, you want to cultivate that poetic nature. You want to put as much art into your marketing as you can.

But we all know that there’s more to making an excellent living as a writer than just writing well. You also need some of that killer in you.

The best copywriters and content marketing professionals understand how to combine poetry with purpose. When creative writing is employed strategically, with the aid of illuminating data and powerful technology, your capacity for meaningful impact and personal success skyrocket.

Let’s take a quick look at these three “killer” skills as an overview of what we’ll focus on this year at Copyblogger. These are the three arrows you’ll need to add to your quiver in order to survive and thrive in the digital marketing space.

1. Strategy

Content marketing and copywriting, no matter how artfully executed, are not ends unto themselves. It’s ultimately about selling something, after all.

Beyond business objectives, what constitutes the right words at the right time is completely determined by who you’re trying to reach. Guiding real people through the buying journey and prompting desired actions is an artful exercise, but it’s strategic purpose that leads your words to create exactly the right experience that leads to the sale.

2. Analytics

Modern marketing is all about the data, right? We’re drowning in information about our prospects, and yet we’re suffering from a lack of meaning.

While the A-word tends to send poetic types scurrying away in fright, analytics is all about the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. And while developments in machine learning can help us recognize the patterns, it’s going to take the soul of a poet to translate those patterns back to human emotional response.

3. Technology

Pure killers love marketing technology. But as we’ve seen in the last few years, technology without emotional connection can actually hurt more than it helps.

Marketing automation and conversion tools need to enhance the experience, not lead it. And the move toward personalized website experiences is a huge opportunity for writers to use smart technology to create content and copy that speaks directly to individuals, as if you’re having a personal conversation.

The Rise of the Killer/Poet Hybrid

It’s tough to succeed as a pure poet these days. You’re generally answering to a pure killer who sees you as a low-cost means to an end, and doesn’t value the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve invested in honing the craft of writing.

Instead, the people thriving online these days are known as hybrid marketers. Yes, they can write — and they can do a whole lot more than that. Not only is that what clients are looking for, it’s what they’re willing to pay dearly for.

The killer and the poet, all in one package. This year we’re committed to getting you richer, both financially and professionally.

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