Back in the spring of 2011, in the middle of my second semester at the VCU Brandcenter, our copywriting class was assigned to write small-space ads for a product that we loved.
I chose to do 5-Hour Energy, for obvious reasons.
My research of the product first brought me to its website. It was as bare and boring as you’d think, but I explored it, mining it for interesting facts I could turn into ads.
What I found instead was a contest.
In order to win the 5-Hour Energy “Featured Fan” contest, I had to write a paragraph on why I liked, or what I liked about 5-Hour Energy. My first thought was “Who ever goes on this website? They must get about seven hits a day”. But I quickly realized that I’d be stupid not to enter. I’d be competing with most likely fewer than 50 people. And I’m a writer, it’s my job to do this better than everyone else.
So I figured what they really wanted out of this paragraph was something for skeptics to read that would convince them that the product actually worked.
Advertising in its most basic form.
So I wrote what I assumed they wanted to hear. No lies, just very obvious truths:
-How quick it is to drink.
-How great it tastes.
-How it makes me feel energized.
-How it’s better than coffee.
All loosely disguised by a story about a grad student who is very busy. I spent about twenty minutes crafting a paragraph and took a goofy picture of myself next to some empty bottles.
A month later I get an email saying i’ve won, and they’re sending me 72 free 5-Hour Energys.
That was the first time I ever got paid to write copy.