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A few weeks ago, I received an email solicitation from probably the most well-known press release distribution service in the country with a headline that read, “Become an Expert News Release Writer in Minutes!”
If I downloaded the free guide, I would receive 25 percent off my first release. They’ve also used this gimmick as a paid advertisement.
I’m sure you’ve read or viewed some type of content that made similar claims. Just read these pearls of wisdom and you can expertly write a better press release, headline, blog post, call-to-action, Linkedin profile, “About” page, brochure or bio – as long as you follow these simple steps!
I hate those articles. With a passion.
Can you learn the difference between a good headline and a bad headline? Can you learn how to construct an effective call-to-action? Can you learn what kind of information in a press release will be appealing to reporters?
Yes, yes and yes. Anyone can become better educated. But…
Reading A Few Tips, A How-To Guide, Or Even A Book About Writing Won’t Make You A Great Writer
It’s not like learning how to assemble a prefabricated birdhouse.
Not to sound arrogant, but the ability to write well is a talent you either have or you don’t. If you have some level of writing ability and a desire to get better, this talent can be cultivated over time. A long time.
Articles that promise to make you a better writer overnight often provide helpful information and sound advice, but the promise isn’t true. This type of content may make you more knowledgeable, but that doesn’t instantly make you an expert writer or even good writer.
There’s no silver bullet solution that simply injects writing talent into your body. And you can’t learn instinct or gain real-world experience by reading a single piece of content, regardless of what the headline promises.
Why These Claims Are Dangerous
Some writers of these articles are well-intentioned and just want to help. Others are deliberately misleading you, using a gimmick to get you to read their article, download something or buy something.
Regardless of their motivation, this approach is a recipe for disaster. When people who shouldn’t write their own content feel empowered to write their own content, bad things happen.
Poorly written content can quickly damage the reputation of an individual or a brand. It can also let down and turn off potential clients who expected more. Best case scenario, you end up with average content, but we all know “average” anything isn’t good enough.
If you were to read content from a person or brand for the first time and find that this content didn’t offer anything of value – or was poorly written – would you read anything else from them? That kind of damage is virtually impossible to repair.
Writing Talent Isn’t Developed In Minutes
Personally, when I see a headline that essentially says someone can be transformed into a good writer by following a few tips or best practices, I find it more than a little insulting.
I would never claim to be anywhere near the best in the business as far as marketing copywriters go. But I like to think I have some shred of writing ability that I started tapping into at a very young age. Hell, I had a press pass before I had my driver’s license.
Over the course of many years, I’ve been educating myself so I could use that talent to become a better marketing copywriter. That’s because even the best writers won’t be effective marketing copywriters unless they put sound marketing strategy behind the words.
My point is that content writing, like most special talents, requires some natural ability, and it takes time to hone one’s craft. The education never ends.
The Bottom Line
I could read a fantastic article about photography, which might show me how to compose pictures in a more aesthetically pleasing way. But it wouldn’t give me the natural ability to go out and shoot consistently great photos like a professional photographer could.
I could read a how-to guide that takes me through the steps of building a deck. And I may actually be able to build one. But would the deck look like it was built by a professional carpenter? How much time would it take me to produce average results?
I could take a cooking class and learn how to prepare a few gourmet dishes, but that wouldn’t make me a chef.
The same applies to content writing. Knowledge doesn’t equal talent, and talent doesn’t just happen spontaneously. Non-writers who get sucked in by a headline that promises to make them a writing genius in minutes tend to produce content that’s dangerously bad.
Yes, those articles can make you smarter. No, they won’t make you an “expert” writer. End of somewhat subdued rant.
Do you agree, or am I just an arrogant snob of a copywriter?