Not sure what Copywriting is?
Or what representation in copywriting means for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)?
Colored Copywriter, a four part blog series, seeks to define copywriting from the perspective of non-white writers. It also aims to highlight diversity and inclusion (or lack thereof) in the copywriting industry.
Sit back and read up on the experiences of these talented writers!
Today’s guest on the Colored Copywriter is Jonathan Tarin. He’s from Chihuahua, Chihuahua Mexico and has lived in various parts of the US growing up.
From brand communication to shopper marketing, Jonathan has plenty of experience in the advertising industry. I interviewed him to see what roles copywriting and multiculturalism have played in his career.
Keep reading to learn more about Jonathan’s take on diversity in the copywriting world and learn more about how you can connect with him.
Define Copywriting in Your Own Words
To be fair, I feel that the meaning is subjective. I come from the advertising agency business where copywriting is within that construct of advertising. It gets granular.
Within the advertising world, I wouldn’t consider myself a copywriter but I love writing. Even in my professional communications, my responsibility and experience primarily comes from client and account services.
Strategic debt, presentations, emails—I’ve always been very particular about how I communicate on those channels.
And then on a personal level, from a very young age, I would write letters to no one. I had this thing—I have tons of letters. And during this time, it’s fun to go back and ask, “where was my mindset at?”
Depending on who you’re talking about, you’re just going to get an array of different answers.
That in a nutshell is what copywriting is to me.
What's It Like Working as a Freelance Copywriter?
Professionally speaking, if you get hired to write something, you do have to take some sort of compromise depending on the type of relation you have with the client and your values. It also depends on your understanding of your client’s communication and business objectives.
It’s two separate things. They may want to communicate X but their business objective may be something like “I want traffic on my site to be X” or “I want sales to be this much from my investment in you.”
You have figure out how you’re going to authentically mold your client’s story and share it with your audience.
That has to be agreed upon before it’s executed.
Communication and Copywriting Go Hand in Hand
If you don’t have an agreement, you ultimately come out with some unfortunate, sour results.
You client has to understand your voice first and foremost.
I’ve been in both positions— the freelancer and the one hiring a freelancer. The core of everything comes down to looking at each other as human beings and being able to communicate effectively.
As a copywriter, you have to be a good communicator. You need to be clear cut about the business that’s going to be taking place. Have a back and forth.
It’s OK to disagree. People can tense up or get defensive when a client challenges them as freelancers.
Freelances should have the ability to take in the information and process it with humility.
You’re still in power. You can say no.
You can say, “I don’t think that this is going to work out.”
Do it in a professional way. And be OK with it.
What Are Your Thoughts on Multiculturalism in the Copywriting Industry?
I’ve learned through my experience that representation is always going to be important to me.
It’s not always going to be top of mind for the person sitting next to me. That means I have to be 100% accountable for representing who I am, my identity.
In corporate environments, representation is important not just for myself but for those brands. A lot of brands know it. They talk about D and I (diversity and inclusion), which has been a topic for years now. But now more than ever, you have to push for it.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to be vocal about it.
You have to be strategic when you explain these things to corporate leaders. You have to tell them the business implications, what’s important to know about that region or area that they’re working on.
You get tired of explaining why it’s important to have multicultural, culturally conscious material in advertising.
I hold myself accountable first. And it’s not easy. Just because I’m Mexican, it doesn’t mean that I understand my black colleagues. I see things differently because of my upbringing. And so do they. If there’s an understanding anywhere, it’s because I look at my colleagues with empathy. It’s not a full understanding but it’s a stepping stone.
If marketers think that there aren’t people with multicultural
& multilingual upbringings—they’re missing out on a lot!
Any Advice for Copywriters?
As a freelancer, you’re operating as your own business, not an employee. So you have to be very clear about your services and what you’re offering.
When you create integrated strategies for brands and clients that have money and have communication and business objectives, it’s very easy to mold your messaging.
But whenever it’s you as an independent human being, sometimes people don’t think about how to strategically position themselves.
That’s been my learning experience so far. I ask myself, how can I erase what I’ve known for 15 years from a professional standpoint and really just focus on myself and be true to my genuine self?
People love authenticity right now. I don’t care if people disagree with me. And I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. This is me. I’m just saying, “Hey, I’m here. Whether you like it or not. And this is who I am.”
When you’re true to that, people say, “Hey, me too! I get this! I get your voice. I like this.”
When you’re just totally organic, then you can start creating strategies that can better cater to your growing audience.
Any Course Material You'd Recommend for Copywriters?
The way I’ve always started is with journaling and writing. I’ve always expressed myself through writing.
If you do that already, you have to say, “Hey, I am a writer.” If you’re always keeping track of things through journaling or poetry—that’s a resource to you!
There’s this simple book by Joy Kenward called The Writer’s Creative Workbook. It’s a simple flow of finding your creative writing voice and your style. As you go through the book, you’re using a pen and you’re writing.
And then you have to understand that everyone is on social media and there are different expectations for each platform. I asked myself, on which platform are people not willing to be vulnerable?
And I saw that LinkedIn has this stigma for being “professional only.”
Well, “professional” is relative! So I started posting on there and seeing how people reacted.
Facebook and Instagram are easier for me because my friends and family are on there. I post on those platforms all the time.
With LinkedIn, I’m finding this balance between showcasing my professional side and my human side because everything is interconnected.