There’s no mystery about it:  If you’ve never taken a writing course you can become a copywriter fairly quickly – especially with the plethora of basic copywriting guides out there cutting out the esoteric stuff and going straight for the jugular (i.e. what clients want).

How successful or reputable a copywriter you become, however, depends on whether or not you “own” the basics – and there’s no shortcut for that.  So before I deliver those 7 meaty offline research tips I promised in the last post, let’s tackle the often glossed-over subject of basic research…

The first thing any journalist is trained in…

The Difference Between Primary Research and Secondary Research

If you sit down and Google subjects, you’re indulging in Secondary Research.   That’s reading and working from material others have written about a subject.

“Primary research” means getting to the source:

  • Talking to the subject, product creator or certified industry expert (“talking to” sounds so much less intimidating than “interviewing”)
  • Reading the actual, original material that people on the net have never seen but are quoting (and misquoting)
  • Testing or handling physical materials, products and methods yourself

For example, let’s say you wanted to write an article about popular horse “whisperer”, Pat Parelli.  If you contact Parelli yourself and interview him, you’re doing primary research: If you look up articles online about him, you’re dealing  with secondary research.

Which type do you think is more likely to help you to:

  • Make more impact with authenticity and authority?
  • Reveal facts others don’t know?
  • Be truly unique?

Yup.  Primary research.  Every time.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about evaluating what your research uncovers.  That sounds dead dry, I know; but learning how to sift and siphon your research data into four basic categories will help grow your confidence as a copywriter.

(If you have any questions or thoughts on the subject, be sure to leave a comment – I do answer.)

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Filed under: Sales Copywriting