So, you’ve decided to take a stab at copywriting. Copywriting has been around for a while, but it is still something that confuses many people. Whether you’re considering it as your next career move or something to do as a side gig, copywriting is an industry that’s sometimes misunderstood.
Copywriting is a form of marketing that promotes products and materials via written content and persuades people to take some action: purchase, click or download, donate, or book a call.
If you’d like to understand the nuances to see how you fit in the world of copywriting, we can help. This article will answer the age-old question, “What is a copywriter?” and so much more.
Who Uses Copywriters?
Most businesses use some form of copywriting. Any business with a web presence uses copywriters, and it works for any type of business — even non-profit organizations. Service providers also use copywriters. Any online business uses copywriters, but copywriters are crucial for brick-and-mortar business as well.
Most Fortune 500 companies use copywriters extensively. Their large budgets afford them the opportunity to have persuasively written content to engage and cause their many customers to take some form of action.
There’s not an industry that doesn’t use copywriting to promote its products. So regardless of your niche, there’s a copywriting gig out there for you.
Copywriting vs. Content Writing
Most people think when they see copywriting and content writing, they are just two groups of words used interchangeably. But copywriting and content writing is not the same thing. While they’re similar, they both have a different purpose.
Both are very important to the marketing strategy, but one sells the brand while the other shares information. What we mean by selling the brand is that before a business can get people to buy their products, they first have to believe in what the business is doing and trust them. Customers need to know they can depend on the business to put their best interest first and that their main priority is not to sell them something. Content writers help to build that trust.
Once that trust is built, copywriters swoop in and reel them in. It’s a balancing act — one in which both copywriting and content writing are meant to connect with the audience meaningfully.
Here are some key differences between the two:
- Inform, educate or instruct, entertain – Content writers make sure the public understands your brand.
- Writes in long-form most of the time – Content writers understand what it takes to measure successful marketing — click-through rates and open rates are prime examples.
- Writes articles, blogs, white papers – Content writers create content that ensures you know the brand.
- Writes social media posts, emails – Content writers create value.
- Writes newsletters, reports, e-books – Content writers create content with the intent to change mindsets and to share knowledge.
- Experienced in SEO – Content writers optimize their content with searchable keywords that align with the business’s goals.
- Sell your brand – Copywriters sell your brand to the target audience.
- Persuade – Copywriters create a sense of urgency and persuade people to take action on the brand’s behalf.
- Writes in short-form most of the time – Copywriters create quick-to-read content that gets right to the point.
- Writes for ads – Copywriters write for online and print ads.
- Writes taglines and slogans – Copywriters identify unique and catchy taglines and slogans that resonate with the target audience.
Content writing keeps the audience informed and ensures they understand to generate interest in the brand. Copywriting markets the products and services to the customers. In its simplest form, content writing drives traffic to the brand, copywriting converts them into customers. While they’re both essential to the business, you may want to consider which one of these you feel would be better for you.
Different Types of Copywriters
To make things even more confusing, copywriting comes in different forms. So before you start searching for your next copywriting gig, consider which of these three types of copywriters interests you.
A freelance copywriter is someone who writes on a job-by-job basis. They manage their own calendar and work directly with their clients to ensure their clients’ needs are met. They are usually a one-person company and may have several different clients. A freelance copywriter provides a price or proposal for their work, and once done, submits their invoice to the client for payment. They may work in different niches or have a specialized niche(s). This is typically someone who either wants to do something on the side in addition to their full-time work or have decided they want to leave the 9 to 5 to be their own boss and concentrate on their freelance work. On any given day, the freelance copywriter has a lot more than copywriter to focus on because this is their business. So, they’re likely wearing multiple hats.
An agency copywriter is someone who copywrites for a marketing agency. They work alongside other marketing reps, like graphic designers. They may get an opportunity to work directly with the client, but for the most part they are working through other people within the agency. Agency copywriters are usually briefed by someone within the agency on what the client needs and delivers it. Agency copywriters spend the bulk of their day doing nothing but writing.
In-house copywriters work for large organizations that have their own marketing departments. They are full-time and work for only one client. This allows them to connect with a brand, develop their voice and enjoy a close working relationship with that brand.
Common Examples of Copywriting Skills
A good copywriter needs to be able to do several different hard skills and soft skills well. Since copywriting consists of writing a variety of content, copywriters must have excellent writing and communication skills. Technical skills and computer skills are also important, as well as some other skill sets. Several of them are highlighted below.
A strong background in written communication skills isn’t the only communication skill copywriters need. They also need strong verbal communication skills. Copywriters need to speak up confidently and firmly during meetings, collaborate with their colleagues, negotiate with clients and initiate pitches.
Strong computer and technical skills are important for copywriters who work on digital marketing and advertising projects. They need to know how to use content management systems, create web pages, apply basic formatting and other related tasks.
Strong Writing Skills
The one thing all copywriters are expected to know how to do well is to write. This is necessary, from creating content for ads to writing advertising slogans. The ability to know how to persuade people to action just merely by reading what they see in front of them takes skill. It’s art in its finest form. This is the one skill that all copywriters should have.
Copywriters create; this takes the skill of being a creative thinker. Creating written content takes a lot of creativity and even more imagination. Copywriters need to be able to connect concepts and find innovative ways to promote brands and businesses.
Copywriters solve problems. Their main problem is finding a way to bring brand recognition to a new company or a company whose stock has plummeted and needs to build its trust. Copywriters are always trying to find ways to fix real problems for businesses. At the same time, they also need to find a way to stay within a project’s budget and timeline while developing the strategies that businesses need to further their goals. If a copywriter isn’t able to problem solve, production won’t be up to par.
Research is an important skill for copywriters. There is always a need to research, especially when they’re promoting new materials or products. They also need to research the brand’s competition to learn their marketing strategies always to stay one step ahead of them. This type of research is crucial for developing their own marketing strategies.
Interpersonal skills are always at work all day in the life of a copywriter. It’s important to maintain all types of relationships — clients, colleagues, customers — it never ends. They also need to engage with customers and potential customers as they get feedback to gauge how the market feels about the brand and its products and services.
Copywriting is not for everybody, but it may be just right for you. If you’re serious about this path, there are several things you can do to get you started. You can begin to take some courses to learn to write persuasively, practice writing and build your portfolio, find your copywriting niche and find your first copywriting client.
Or you can go to Copywriter Today and join our team of copywriters. At Copywriter Today, we’re always looking to grow our team with new and talented writers. If you’re sure copywriting is for you, we’d love to have you. Check us out to see if you think we’re a good fit for you.