CopyCon 2017: More takeaways than a fish and chip shop

Learning at Australia’s first dedicated copywriting conference

Darling Harbour wasn’t sure what hit it. Almost 90 copywriters and content types swarmed like surprisingly cuddly bees for CopyCon, Australia’s first dedicated copywriting conference from the fabulous and inspiring Kate Toon (she’ll probably edit that bit out #modest).

On a day when there could be competition, there was collaboration. Friends not foes. Learning, growing, and wearing real shoes for a whole day. Here’s a run through of the top takeaways from all the speakers and panels.

 

Kate Toon – Keynote: The state of freelance copywriting in 2017 – How to survive in a post fiverr world

“There’s never been a better time to be a copywriter”

Top takeaways

  • Think it’s the zombie apocalypse of copywriters? Maybe, but there’s plenty of room for everyone and loads of support
  • The world wants content = Google loves amazing content = Google loves copywriters
  • The 6 Ps of copywriting (it was actually 8) – positioning, pricing…(sssh to find out the rest you’ll have to buy a video ticket :-) Kate)

Matt Fenwick

Matt Fenwick: Wrangling complex web projects: Introducing information architecture

“Show users the road rules of the website with clear signposts”

Top takeaways

  • Make copy more than a commodity – shift the conversation to connecting in a strong, durable and useful way through information architecture
  • User research can be as simple as card sorting exercises
  • Organising information and shaping content helps create aha! moments for users
  • IA knowledge helps you drive the copy conversation and add value
  • Say no to FAQ pages and provide information in context

 

Angela Ponsford: How to write fabulous Facebook ads

“It’s all about the hook”

Top takeaways

  • Copy transforms through emotion and intellect – grab hearts and minds will follow
  • FB is aspirational – there’s some magic words and ones to avoid
  • Copy is the most important part of the ad – more than the image, video or headline – copy makes you take action
  • Don’t angst over ad writing – ads are for selling
  • 5 key elements of a FB ad

ang copycon

Angela Denly: My story – Balancing parenting with copywriting

“Juggling not struggling… don’t try to achieve someone else’s dream”

Top takeaways

  • It’s OK to have a life and responsibilities away from copywriting
  • Parenthood can do a number on your self-confidence (especially for mums) – back yourself
  • Freelance for flexibility and build a sustainable income by knowing your billable hours and working smart when you can
  • Denly’s law – the work gets done in the time you have to do it

sofasession

Sofa session: How to work with advertising agencies

“Agencies understand the value of great copy”

Facilitator:       Katherine Rodrigues
Panel:              Corina Seeto, Steve Manning, Sarah Morton

Top takeaways

  • Agencies can provide a good flow of work, exposure to great brands and a chance to be part of a team
  • Meet your deadlines, communicate and be reliable. Make their life easier and they’ll love you for it
  • Never do a free test for an agency – but consider negotiating part of a project as a paid test to show your chops
  • Be aware of relationships and work to please the person you’re truly reporting to
  • Get a foot in the door through job boards, keeping up with the industry or take a chance on a cold email

kelly Copycon

Kelly Exeter: 10 hacks to help you smash through every writing day

“Turn off your notifications and put yourself on the clock”

Top takeaways

  • Time is not the enemy – embrace constraints to provoke action
  • Move – daily exercise is crucial. Eat – the breakfast you choose is crucial to how the rest of your day plays out
  • Understand your response to inner and outer expectations
  • Get offline – time for deep work without interruption
  • Be kind to yourself

Kat copycon

Katherine Rodrigues: My story – My best year yet

“You can find freedom in defining your limitations. Know what you want and what you don’t”

Top takeaways

  • Finding a supportive copywriting community with smart resources can change your business
  • Rookie errors include not properly considering the offer, negotiating under pressure, under quoting and over committing
  • Never start a project without a clear and complete brief – no matter who the client is

bel copycon

Belinda Weaver: Turning today’s inspiration into profitable action (live from San Francisco)

“Find a return on investment for being here today. Inspiration is great, but it’s different to an action that moves your business forward”

Top takeaways

  • Learn to separate good ideas from great ones
  • Don’t melt your brain with information – let it process and see what bubbles up
  • Shortlist ideas into actions and manageable tasks – schedule them in your calendar and get that shit done
  • Don’t obsess on others – focus and take a chill pill
  • Schedule time for business development and creativity

Mel Copycon

Melinda Leyshon: Using awards to boost your copywriting profile

“The age of persuasion has been replaced with the age of authenticity… Rock the Kasbah!”

Top takeaways

  • Awards boost business. They create social proof and credibility – especially when quality and customer satisfaction are being judged impartially
  • Choose a theme to thread through your submission
  • Judges look for evidence, relevance and entertainment
  • Opportunity for professional development and business analysis
  • Get over yourself and toot your own horn. Lose the modesty and write in first person to make a connection

karen CopyCon

Karen Goad:  Financial secrets for copywriters

 “Creatives often don’t want to deal with tax, or profit and loss. Don’t put your head in the sand.”

Key takeaways

  • Don’t ignore your finances and simply hope for the best
  • Sole trader or company? The best structure depends on your income and individual circumstances
  • Set tax and GST aside in a piggy bank account
  • Communication is key to managing money issues
  • Minimise tax through deductions – talking Netflix and coffees

Jenny copycon

Jenny De Lacy:  Using video to win more clients

“Video fits into every aspect of your marketing, but there’s no one size fits all”

Key takeaways

  • Lose the angst about video. You can be nervous and still be confident. You look like what you look like, get over it
  • Video is low-cost marketing to engage and build trust
  • Content planning – know who your clients are and what they need. If you have blogs, you already have video scripts
  • 3 keys for the image: what’s behind you, can I see you, can I hear you
  • Over 80% of users watch Facebook without sound – use captions

niche copycon

Sofa session: To niche or not to niche

“I kissed a niche and I like it”

Facilitator:       Andrea Rowe
Panel:              Jenny De Lacy, Matt Fenwick, Melinda Leyshon

Key takeaways

  • Niching is knowing what you’re good at – and what you’re not
  • Gives your business currency and relevance – makes it easy for people to refer business to you
  • Don’t put all your eggs in the niching basket – other jobs can keep you fresh and boost your income
  • Can be a choice to work with likeminded people
  • Connect through networking, volunteering, AGMs or wherever your niche clients hang out online

 

mez copycon

Mez Homayunfard: The 3 cornerstones of SEO in 2017: Relevancy, technical mastery and authority

“Content is the centerpiece of SEO strategy”

Key takeaways

  • SEO changed in the last 6 months – less differentiation between ads and organic results. Positions 1-3 are the real goal, not just page 1
  • Technical SEO remains important, but content is makes the difference
  • SEO can’t be done in a silo, or from a checklist anymore
  • Data driven marketing isn’t just for big business – use Google, SEO tools and competitor research to inform your content development
  • Ideal content length varies across industries – do your research. There’s increasing demand for long form content with images and resources

Glenn copycon

Glenn Murray – Keynote: Fearless confident writing

“You’re as good as anyone here…”

Key takeaways

  • Clients want your help – and you’re not going to make it worse
  • Let the words out – its alright to start bad and then fix it
  • Fearless does not mean flamboyant – write what needs to be written for real-life readers, not your clients 
  • Clients want to love your work – so help them by solving their problems and listening
  • It’s OK to be terrified at the start of every job

Luke Copycon


Luke Achterstraat:  The Uber of communications: How market places are changing the way we work and write

“The best team wins, so we’re building a community around our team. We want to win on quality”

Key takeaways

  • Commtract is a jobs platform dedicated to the communications sector
  • Building a community, offering events and professional development is part of building the best team
  • Quality of jobs and market rates – we’re not in a race to the bottom

All that and éclairs too

CopyCon is getting rave reviews, for good reason. A day full of practical and heartfelt information for real life copywriters. With coffee. And éclairs.

Amazing Sponsors

Big fat thanks to the CopyCon 2017 sponsors.

Like this post?

Here’s some of the wrap up posts shared by CopyCon attendees:

A post shared by Kate Toon (@katetoon) on

Editors note

What a great wrap up from Amanda.
I’d just like to chip in and say thank you to everyone who supported my first ever conference. It was a huge amount of work, but seeing all those happy Copy faces in the room made it all worth while!!

I’m still recovering, but I’m kinda, maybe, almost thinking I’ll do it again next year.
Watch this space.

Missed out?

Why not buy a video ticket and watch all the sessions.

Over to you

Did you have any aha moments at CopyCon? Let us know in the comments below.

Amanda Vanelderen imageAbout Amanda Vanelderen

Amanda Vanelderen from WorkWords is a copywriter and comms specialist.

She cried at Glenn Murray’s CopyCon speech and left with a full brain, full heart and full goodie bag.

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