What My College Experience Taught Me About Copywriting

It was 2 a.m and I was standing in the pouring rain.

I was in college at a Relay for Life event. I’d co-founded a fundraising team with my childhood friend, Brianna.

Our team had placed into the top three for money raised. With zero experience.

I mean zippo. Zilch.

How did we succeed in fundraising as two sleep-deprived college students?

Maybe you’re thinking we baked our tushies off.

Nope. I mean, we did, but that didn’t bring in profits (maybe we needed to up our cupcake game?).

Or maybe you think we knocked on doors.

Wrong again! We’re both introverts! Mwahaha.

Instead, we did this:

We tapped into a key skill. A skill everyone can tune into. That doesn’t require a degree. One I still carry with me in copywriting. And one you need to hone, too, to see writing success.


Empathy was our breakthrough for fundraising. It’s how we raised more money online than at any bake sale.

Empathy, too often, gets a bad rap.

It’s equated with being too sensitive or squishy. Or crying when the dog dies in a movie. But that’s not it (okay, I do cry when the dog dies in a movie. Anyway…).

Empathy is something we all possess (unless you’re a psychopath). And we all need to flex our empathy skills to succeed in copywriting. Or if you’re a business owner trying to write your own copy.

In our case, we wrote our stories on our fundraising pages. We did outreach. I remember speaking to a group of people about losing my father at 13. We told people about how the disease affected us personally.

We wrote about our desire to help anyone battling cancer get the care they need.

Our dream for a cancer-free world.

People connected with that. Sometimes sharing with us their own personal stories of battles with cancer or losing a loved one.

It was empathy that allowed us to develop a relationship with our audience in a way reports and statistics can’t.

And the same applies to copywriting.

While you don’t need to drop thousands of dollars on copywriting classes, you 100% need empathy to succeed as a copywriter.

Without it, you’re going to struggle writing effective copy.

Ask yourself, what keeps your ideal customer up at night?

Most likely, it’s not “captivating messaging to optimize their website experience.”

It’s probably something like, “How am I going to keep up with the cupcake business while home-schooling the kids in a pandemic? Will my business survive?”

Make sure your writing speaks to them directly. Show clients that you understand their pain points and that you are the one to help them.

If you’re empathetic, you can succeed in copywriting. If not… it’s going to be a tough road.

Over to you. Are you a Copywriter? What skill do you think is essential to copywriting success?

2 thoughts on “What My College Experience Taught Me About Copywriting

  1. Love your take on this topic. I myself think that being a great writer does involve a tad bit of marketing. I’ve found that it’s not just all about writing—it’s an entire package. Which is why I believe it’s important for each writer to brand themselves.

    Anyway, thanks for this post, and for sparking interesting thoughts in my head!


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