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RapidChat: Natalie Topalian

"How do I distinguish myself in a saturated market?" Unfortunately, there will never be a one size fits all solution to this ever- evolving writing dilemma. Of course, there are ways you can set yourself up for success none the less. Junior Copywriter at The Image Shoppe, Natalie Topalian speaks to some of ways she has been able to cut through the clutter and assert herself as a cheeky young writer.
 
Natalie Topalian

"How do I distinguish myself in a saturated market?" Unfortunately, there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution to this ever- evolving writing dilemma. Of course, there are ways you can set yourself up for success none the less. Junior Copywriter at The Image Shoppe, Natalie Topalian speaks to some of ways she has been able to cut through the clutter and assert herself as a cheeky young writer.
Rapid Growth: As a young copywriter, what is your best advice to those who are interested in going into the field?

Natalie Topalian: Never. Stop. Writing. Seriously. Even if you’re not working as a copywriter yet, or if your current job involves little-to-no writing, make time to do it. Find publications looking for freelance writers for news articles, blogs, etc. I wrote for a few different online publications and blogs toward the end of my college career—and even for a year after graduating—which helped me develop my own voice and learn to write in other branded voices. This also creates an opportunity to build your personal portfolio; your future employer ain’t gonna hire ya without some samples!

RG: What are some of the most popular trends you are seeing right now?

NT: Keep it short and snappy. Sure, there’ll be some projects where you’ll need to write more in-depth copy, but in most cases, the more to-the-point, the better. We all have incredibly short attention spans in today’s world, in part because there’s so much freakin’ content floating around the internet and social media. We’re flooded with so much noise that it’s impossible to pay attention to 98% of it. This is a super-challenging practice for writers because we love to write (obviously), so asking us to use a few words as possible is a tough thing to accept, but it presents an awesome opportunity to creatively communicate as much as possible in as few words as possible. Ironically enough, this usually takes more time than it would to write on and on and on… but you get used to it.

RG: What do you consider your writing voice to be?

NT: My writing voice has definitely evolved over time! When you’re constantly writing for different brands, it’s easy to adapt to their voice and make it your own (especially for the companies you work with most)… almost like acting. Eventually, you learn to separate the two and find your own voice.

Today, my voice is sassy, confident, cheeky, and lively—but it definitely didn’t always sound this way! Just like your fashion choices or people you spend time with, your voice will evolve depending on what’s going on in your life—and it’s really cool yet bizarre to see that transformation over the years.

RG: How early do you encourage other young writers to establish this?

NT: It's undoubtedly important to establish your voice early on in your writing career. Just like playing a sport or learning an instrument, the more time you dedicate to writing at a young age, the more prepared you’ll be as a professional. Once you’re comfortable in your own voice, it not only becomes easier to shift into the voice of another brand or person, but it also makes it easier to come back to your own voice in your personal writing. Like I said, it can be difficult to separate your writing style from that of a brand you work with closely—so establishing your own writing style early on is critical to getting back to sounding like yourself.

RG: Personally, what has helped you?

NT: A couple things: one, reading a variety of material and genres. Over the years, I’ve read everything from poetry by writers like Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, and Allen Ginsberg, to more unstructured prose from Jack Kerouac and Kurt Vonnegut, to collections of essays and more autobiographical material from Tina Fey, Aziz Ansari, and Lauren Graham (my all-time fav), and even fictional series like Harry Potter. Reading a breadth of material provides inspiration and insight on what elements of each style of writing you’re drawn to and naturally identify.

Secondly, dedicating time outside of work, school, and life’s chaos to write for myself is a huge contributor to where I’m at today. Since I was a kid, I’ve filled countless journals, written probably upwards of 100 poems, countless blog posts and articles, and random one-off pieces like essays and even a pretty hilarious review of Tinder—if I do say so myself. 

Seriously… just keep writing. And reading. Words are so cool!

RG: How do you recommend going about developing a diverse portfolio of work?

NT: Write in different formats: essays, poetry, blogs, news articles, short stories, heck, even product or movie reviews. Ask about writing opportunities with organizations whose missions truly align with yours. For example, one of my biggest hobbies (and also my side hustle) is teaching workout classes. With an interest in fitness, health, and wellness, I wrote for a few publications/organizations around this topic.

Give lots of things a try and see what sticks. Hone in your skills in a couple different areas, but don’t say “no” to trying something new.

RG: What is the importance of blogging for a writer personally, and for their career?

NT: I think experience with blog-writing is definitely important, but I wouldn’t say it’s totally necessary to maintain your own personal blog as a writer. I used to run my own blog but found that, while I love blogging for TIS and for our clients, my best personal writing pieces come in the form of poetry and essays. Like I said before, writers should try out a bunch of different writing styles and formats and find their niche. It may be blogging for some and not for others. What’s more important IMO is to continually push yourself to experiment with your writing and make the time to keep writing outside of work; it’s way easy to fall into a rut at work when you ignore the itch to write on your own time.

RG: What challenges have you faced with working in this field?

NT: I still think we’re at a point where many people don’t realize the true importance of high-quality writing. Since we all physically know how to write, it’s not uncommon for organizations to think they can write all their own copy for their website, social media channels, blogs, emails, etc. But there’s a difference between knowing how to write and knowing how to write well, driven with intention and proper messaging. Copywriters can sometimes feel undervalued, but I don’t think it’ll be this way forever. With a rise in the importance of content generation for search, strategic copywriting is becoming more important—which I’m not mad about!

Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media.

 
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