A lot of you already know I’m Italian.
It might be surprising still to know that I never wrote a single word of copy for Italian clients.
Not because I hate Italian as a language. Mostly because the market there is still way behind the English-speaking countries.
Clients don’t understand or value copywriting, for the most part.
Anyway, where am I going with this?
I think a lot of companies shy away from hiring copywriters who are not English natives, because they assume (understandably so) that their work would be inferior.
I always had my thoughts on the matter which of course might be biased as I am myself a non-native speaker, but I think we actually have a couple of advantages.
First, attention to detail.
To me, the simplest mistakes stand out as I haven’t been used to writing in English my whole life. It’s not automatic and the extra friction helps me pay more attention.
(You can’t imagine the number of times I stumble on a native using you’re when they wanted to say your or vice versa.)
Second, a wider perspective and more empathy
This is a bit personal and specific to the person but generally, knowing two languages opens up your mind.
It puts you in a modality where you have to try and wear the other person’s shoes for a while.
This is helpful in copy.
Third, the clearest copy actually sounds like it’s written by a 6th grader.
What better advantage than, as a non-native writer, to avoid using fancy words or complex sentences?
Clarity trumps cleverness.
Lastly, the most powerful copy uses voice of customer data.
As non-native writers, we don’t have a ton of nested idioms or ways of writing.
We are like a clean(ish) slate.
And I believe it’s easier for us to adapt to the language the audience we are writing for uses.
Did you know that one of Agora Financial’s (a hugely popular multi-million dollar American newsletter business) top copywriters, Evaldo Albuquerque, isn’t a native speaker?
And they write for a tough market. 50, 60, 70 year old, affluent conservative men in the US!
Talk about having to be specific with that voice.
Anyway, my point is not to say you can suck at writing in English and kick ass at being a copywriter.
Of course good knowledge and proficiency in English matter.
But maybe less than you thought.
But there’s a problem with non-native English speaking copywriters…
…actually, with any copywriter…
…not understanding how people make decisions.
And just throwing random words they think are persuasive on the page.
That’s the main problem. Not necessarily the fact that the writer is non-native.
This is to say, pay attention to the thought process more than the words, and make sure the copywriter you hire can back their decisions up with research.
This Wednesday I’ll be a guest on the Empire Flippers “The Opportunity” podcast, where we’ll talk all things SaaS, positioning and copy.
Have any questions you’d like us to answer? Just reply to this email.