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Empathy - The key to great writing

There are many things that I think distinguish great copywriting, or great copywriters.

Good grammar.

An ability to make complex subject matter approachable (or conversely to understand and make something highly technical interesting to a niche audience).

A deep vocabulary.

And the skill to structure and shape a narrative that keeps an audience engaged.

But I think there is one thing that, more than any of these other skills or qualities, is vital to be a great copywriter.


The ability to understand and share feelings, whether they are yours or those of someone else.

I think it helps to have empathy before you start writing.

But I also think it can be inculcated or grown through writing.

I started writing because I was a loner who wanted to be understood.

But as I wrote, I began to feel a strong sense of obligation to not only understand others but also honor their stories or ideas in ways that reflected how much these stories and ideas meant to them.

Everyone you encounter has hopes, fears, dreams, needs.

Good copywriting acknowledges or addresses these fundamental characteristics or emotions.

But great copywriting helps resolve or fulfill them by being rooted in empathy--a true desire to understand the perspectives and experiences of others.

Great copywriting is not just about knowing or selling.

It should speak to something highly personal or profoundly universal in a way that honors the heart of the story it is telling and the audience it is speaking to.

Because great writing is rooted in making connections, not just between a need and a solution, but also between one another.

Those connections are difficult to form without empathy.

So when you start any story or writing, start by thinking about what you are sharing, why you are sharing it, and how it reflects an understanding of what inspired you or the audience you want to reach.

The more you step outside of yourself and really think about the fundamentals of what you are sharing, the more authentic and compelling your content will be.

And the more people will see themselves or their aspirations and needs reflected in it.


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