Taking your first steps into a new career is daunting. Whether you’re joining the world of work for the first time, or switching things up later in life, it’s hugely exciting – and usually more than a little terrifying too.
It’s classic fear of the unknown. The second you actually start in your new job and your responsibilities become clear, those nerves will start to subside. But with the right preparation, you don’t need to wait until you’re at your desk to get some relief from the butterflies.
So we’ve put together five things we think everyone should know before they become a B2B copywriter – at Radix, or anywhere else. Whether you’re considering taking the plunge into B2B copywriting for the first time, or you’re just curious about what we do, we hope they help.
1. B2B copywriting involves more than just writing
Sure, we spend more time writing than anything else. But that’s only part of the job. To create copy that’s compelling, speaks to the right audience and fulfils our clients’ marketing goals, B2B copywriters need to do a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff too.
First, you have to get to grips with briefs; poking holes in them where they’re a bit thin or information is unclear. Then, you need to fill those gaps – through a combination of self-driven research, and conversations with your client.
Client calls are also a great way to deepen your understanding of the subject you’re writing about. If you work for a B2B tech copywriting agency like Radix, you’ll likely find yourself writing on a whole host of weirdly specific, highly complex things. This will require you to become an overnight expert on the most random topics – and then write about them with authority. The best way to do this is by asking the experts (but googling is a close second).
2. Reviewing content from senior writers is scary, but you can do it
If I can direct your attention to my first point: we’re not just writing every day. Another big part of the job is reviewing or proofing other writers’ work. And when you’ve only been doing the job for a few weeks, and they’ve been doing it for a few years (or more), this can feel a little daunting.
So here are my top tips to help you review and proof with confidence:
- Really get to grips with US and UK English. You’ll need to know the differences, especially with grammar. Here’s a helpful blog on the subject.
- The Read Aloud function on Word is your new best friend – it will help you catch every tiny proofing error.
- If you want to call out a potential issue, but you’re not sure if you’re correct, just leave a comment anyway. Your gut is often right – and even if it’s not, the reviewee can just ignore it.
- Can’t remember a grammatical rule? Google it. And if you’re really not sure, google the exact phrase or word using speech marks, and see how everyone else uses it.
- Remember that the writer of the content you’re reviewing is working to a deadline, so there will be some element of time pressure. And however senior they may be, that means they haven’t had long to proof or double-check every word. So, there will be errors in there – and spotting them before they go to the client is a Very Good Thing. No one will hate you.
3. Nine out of ten times, great academic writing isn’t great writing
If you’ve ever written a college or university essay, you’ve likely been praised for complex, overdeveloped ideas or writing. But when you’re writing B2B copy on already complicated subjects, it’s different. The more clearly you set out ideas, the more authority your work will have – and the more your reader will respond to it.
After all, the average reading age of the UK population is only 9 years. Plus, the UK and the US have a high population of non-native English speakers. So to be impactful, content needs to be clear and easy to read and absorb.
Before I started at Radix, readability wasn’t really on my radar. But when you’re working for a B2B copywriting agency with a 16-point review checklist, you learn to adjust your writing style. Especially when ‘clarity’ has its own section and one of the points is “Is every sentence easy to read?”. And on the way, I’ve discovered tools to help, such as Readable, Hemmingway, and even Grammarly.
(Want to know more about readability? My colleague George’s excellent blog dives into this in more detail. So does this podcast with plain language expert Professor Chris Trudeau.)
4. Learning to handle criticism – and even enjoying it – will be key
Nobody is perfect at their job from the start. It takes a lot of practice to write great B2B copy, so you’re probably going to mess things up quite a bit. And that’s totally fine. In fact, it’s to be expected. (At least, that’s what everyone told me.)
Firstly, it’s a whole new style of writing to learn, for subjects you may never have come across, and using formats you might not have written in before. Getting to grips with everything won’t happen overnight. Especially if you have limited experience in a marketing role.
And because every piece of copy we write is reviewed internally before it’s sent to a client, during this process you might get a lot of feedback on what you’ve done wrong. Of course, this feedback is only ever constructive. It’s delivered alongside a lot of positivity, and your team will be in your corner cheering you on. But if you’re not used to it (or you’re a sensitive flower like me), getting told you’re wrong a lot can suck.
So understand feedback for what it is: the chance to learn from your mistakes and strengthen your writing. And also know that you can push back if you think the reviewer is wrong. Challenge comments, ask why changes have been made, and if you’re responding to client feedback, accept that changes sometimes just need to be made.
5. Your team will provide all the support you need
The best thing about working in a B2B copywriting agency is that you’re surrounded by an entire team of experienced, fantastic writers and account managers. Any issue you may have – whether it’s a subject you can’t understand, or a brief you just don’t get – they will be on hand to help.
You’ll get dedicated training on a whole load of subjects, and all the tools you need to become your best copywriting self. And if you need more buffer time to get your head around something, the AMs are scheduling masters.
Want to join our small but mighty team?
We’re always eager to hear from any bright sparks or talented individuals. So if you think you’ve got something new and exciting to bring to the table, or just want to know more about what we do, take a look at our careers page.