Lesson 83: How can a translator benefit from improving copywriting skills?

Lesson 83: How can a translator benefit from improving copywriting skills?

Following up on my last post in February on how to write effective brochures and leaflets, I dedicated this month to talking about improving copywriting skills.

It brings me a few years back, when I was still in high school and I wanted to become a writer. Having always been passionate about poetry and literature, I dreamed of becoming one of these acclaimed poets who then have to be read by school children (no kidding). As a teenager, I was reading a lot and I know that my values and personality have been shaped to a certain extent by these pieces. To pursue my dream, I took up a Polish language and culture degree at a university in the capital city of Poland, Warsaw.

And it was then that I started paying attention to other forms of writing, not only literature or journalism. I started noticing ads, billboards, brochures, even the little print at the back of a pack of crisps. Of course, I knew about these texts earlier, but I never thought about their crucial role in human communication. Since then, these “other” forms of language have been the focus of my interest (including a short article on the language used to advertise watches).

This is where copywriting comes in. According to a very simple definition, copywriting is writing copy (text) for the purpose of advertising or marketing to persuade someone to do something (usually buy a product or service). So, being as fascinated about the conative function of language as I am, I’ve been reading up and taking courses in copywriting for quite some time now.
In this article, I’d like to present a series of benefits that a translator can draw from learning about copywriting. We’ll dive into specific skills and resources in later posts.

Improve writing skills and style

I think you’d agree with me that learning about copywriting and especially practising it will inevitably improve your writing skills and style in general. Just about any book or course on copywriting gives tips on how to write better and forces you to implement the tips. By learning about copywriting, you’re also quite likely to have a more flexible style, accommodating for different registers and formality. And of course, we know that good writing is one of the most important assets in our job.

Boost creativity

This may be just me, but sometimes, especially if translating very dense or institutional documents, by the end of a week I just feel like I need a rebound. Writing just about anything creative that comes from my head, not from the source language, feels like stretching the muscle in the opposite direction. Even writing this article makes me feel like different areas of my brain light up with activity. I remember when doing one of the copywriting courses, we were given assignments (similar to ‘here is a black pen, sell it to me in fewer than 100 words’) that really made me think out of the box.

Show professionalism and language skills

As simple as it sounds, writing well is a good indication of our translation skills. People who don’t work with language are more likely to believe we’re good at translating, if they can see a good piece of writing that we delivered. It may be the copy on your website, your email or a catchy article headline.

Expand your offer

I don’t offer copywriting services myself, but I know some colleagues who combine translation and copywriting services for their clients. It sounds like a great idea and a good addition to your portfolio of skills, as long as you’re trained in copywriting and in translation.

Help with marketing your services

Of course, good copywriting can simply help you promote your services and sell them to prospective clients. That’s what copywriting is supposed to do in the first place! Good copy on your website and your brochures will work and get you clients.

Improve findability

Especially when coupled with SEO training, now often included in standard copywriting courses, web copywriting can have a great impact on your website being found online. Having attended a training session on copywriting for the web, I can recommend it enough. Apart from learning the basics of copywriting, you can find out how to play with text and image, how to create good headlines that work online and how to write for the crawlers without annoying people.

Did you benefit from improving your copywriting skills? Do you have an interesting perspective to share? I’d love to hear your views!

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