When more than 150 freelancers simultaneously shed their slippers, do their hair and emerge from behind their computer screens, it can only mean one thing.
CopyCon, Australia’s only dedicated conference for copywriters, is back baby.
CopyCon 2018 proved to be bigger, better and boozier than the year before, with copywriters coming together from across the nation (and even further) to learn how to take their businesses to the next level.
In this wrap-up I’ll share just a few of the highlights. (Strap yourselves in—it’s a long one.)
BONUS: For the full rundown, get your hands on a video ticket (which also includes all the worksheets from the day).
Psst: And if you missed out this year, never fear. There’s always CopyCon19 in Melbourne to look forward to. Tickets will sell out fast, so sign up to the waitlist to make sure you don’t miss it again.
Editors note: This post was compiled by one of our Copywriting Community Members Anna Rogan.
Day one: The conference
Kate Toon, CopyCon’s fearless leader and founder of The Clever Copywriting School, kicked off proceedings. Walking us through her evolution from a tiny caterpillar copywriter to the resplendent copywriting butterfly she is today, Kate taught us that:
- Copywriting clients are buying leadership and ease. Be the leader your client wants you to be by stepping them through your processes and never leaving them to second-guess what comes next.
- You’ve got to sit at your desk and do the work, even if you don’t feel like it. Nobody loves their job 100% of the time, not even copywriters.
- You don’t need to be a great copywriter to succeed. But you need to be very good at loving your clients.
Prolific editor, ghostwriter and author Kelly Exeter then gave us a step-by-step guide for turning perfectly vanilla copy into droolworthy burnt fig, honeycomb and caramel copy. (This session and accompanying worksheet are worth the video ticket alone.) Kelly imparted the following pearls of wisdom:
- There are no great writers in the world, only great editors.
- You need to give your first draft time to breathe before you edit. If you don’t have time, a quick hack to find the really terrible bits is to read your copy out loud.
- Kill your darlings. If you can’t bear to, put them on Twitter.
Linking selfies to conversion copywriting secrets, the co-founder of Copy Hackers and Airstory Joanna Weibe joined us on a live link from the US to impart her top tips for writing copy that sells, including:
- Start your copy with the problem, not the product.
- People are hungry to see themselves. Your copy should reflect people’s problems experiences.
- If you write copy that worries the most risk-averse people you know, it’s almost guaranteed to be brilliant.
The endearing Dave Eddy from Vicinity Marketing convinced us that real life copywriters poo all over AI bots in almost every way. Apart from taking great liberties with the poo emoji,
Dave presented a litany of tools to help copywriters:
- Embrace the change and make the robots work for us.
- Do more of the high-value stuff and less of the boring stuff that doesn’t make them money (such as transcribing).
(Psst: Dave has compiled a list of these tools here)
Small business advisor, consultant and trainer Jane Tweedy took us on a tour inside the head of small business owners. Her insightful presentation included these gems:
- Small business owners don’t typically know what a copywriter does. It’s up to us to promote our services in a way they’ll understand.
- Small business clients look for copywriters because they can’t or don’t want to write. So don’t make them write. Accept briefs via voice recordings or interviews.
Research geek and content strategist Nat Seppelt presented on how to write authentic, SEO-driven copy that satisfies brand, user and Google needs. Nat taught us that:
- SEO is a philosophy, not just a methodology.
- Jamming as many keywords into copy is definitely not how to do good SEO.
After lunch the ever-engaging Tegan Ang, founder of Writing Your Story, barely left a dry eye in the house as she spoke about her copywriting journey and how writing has carried her through the good times and the bad. Her clever insights included
- Just start. You might fail, but you certainly won’t succeed if you don’t start.
- Putting yourself out there is important, but networking is a long game.
Loquacious and lovely actor, writer and director Christopher Moriarty brought improv lessons to the world of copywriting with a session tackling the creative process. He told us:
- Caring is the start of developing good content.
- Learn to embrace your panic and conquer the blank page faster.
- Get comfortable in the muck. You’re going to be here for a while.
Marina Holmes, Xero’s Communications and Stakeholder Relations Director, became the most popular woman in the room when she said she’s always looking for copywriters to write great content, and invited anyone who was interested to email her to find out more. Marina also walked us through the Xero content marketing strategy from go to whoa and taught us:
- What it takes to pull off an effective content strategy for a big brand.
- How to empower a brand’s voice and reach through modelling and governance.
Popular with both the ladies and the fellas in his rubber jacket, Flying Solo founder Robert Gerrish helped us work through how to turn difficult clients into the angels that teach us how to do business better. He imparted wisdom such as:
- Your business is a nightclub. You shouldn’t let just anyone in.
- When it comes to spotting a difficult client, trust your gut.
- Asparagus is good for you in more ways than one.
With 25 years’ experience on both sides of the PR fence, Natasha David of Clever Type Services was the perfect presenter to teach us how to work with journalists in the modern media landscape. Natasha laid down some home truths including:
- Journos are beasts people, just like you.
- You’ve got to give respect to get respect.
- Spray and pray just doesn’t work. You’ve got to make your approach personal.
The award-winning digital marketer Cherie Clonan showed us that social media success is built on strong social media strategies. She shared insights such as:
- For copywriters on social media, treat Sunday night as conversion night. Get those busy small businesses when they’re facing another week of the long hard slog.
- Ad hoc social posting will only work for so long. You need to schedule your posts to maintain consistency
- A solid strategy will take your social media following from so-so to whoa!
Kate Toon and Glenn Murray Q&A
Rounding out the day, copywriter and beard legend Glenn Murray faced off with Kate Toon for a live Q&A session covering everything from who’s the better copywriter to how to tell a client that good copy takes time.
Day two: Mastermind
Bolstered by Panadol and Berocca, a small group of brave copywriters faced a second day of juicy CopyCon goodness. And they were well rewarded for their efforts.
Masterminders got elbow-deep in the nitty gritty of their businesses with the help of:
- Pitch queen Amanda Vanelderen
- Profit first pioneer Laura Elkslassy
- Profile genius Kelly Exeter
- Process junkie Glenn Murray
Two days of quality content and the joy of leaving the office to talk to real people just like you. Who could ask for more?
The sponsors who made it all a reality
Thank you to the amazing CopyCon18 sponsors:
Like this post?
Here are some more wrap-up posts shared by CopyCon attendees:
- CopyCon 2018: What I learnt at Australia’s #1 copywriting conference
- CopyCon: Lessons for copywriters who missed out
- And that’s a wrap! 7 lessons from CopyCon18
- You had me at hello, and hi! and (squeal!) it’s you
- How to run a conference that doesn’t make people want to hide in the toilet and cry
- 13 CopyCon quickies (with a Beatles soundtrack)
- My CopyCon18 moment of glory (or how to make the most of online communities)
- 10 key learnings from CopyCon18
- Copypalooza – Rocking it at the Copycon18 Copywriting Conference
- Copycon 2018 – Resources every copywriter should know
Over to you
What did you love most about CopyCon18? Let us know in the comments below.