What does a copywriter do? Copify blog

We finally answer: just what does a copywriter do?

If you’ve ever heard someone describe themselves as being a ‘copywriter’, you have probably established for yourself that their job must involve some kind of writing. But just exactly what does a copywriter do? Can anyone who puts pen to paper determine themselves as a copy writer? Do they just write legal ‘copy’ that is then copyrighted?

What is a copywriter?

Essentially, a copywriter will typically produce content that is considered to be either advertorial or promotional. That’s not to say they don’t write on any other subject, but often they will be responsible for producing the ‘copy’ (or content) that is used on websites, e-mails, advertisements, brochures, billboards, press releases, company memos, leaflets, and promo video scripts.

This is only a loose description though, and there are many types of copywriting out there. Typically, copywriters are becoming increasingly responsible for producing a lot of digital content including blogs and social media copy. As the influence of the written word continues to show itself, the copywriter role is becoming ever-more important in business. Articulate Marketing adds to this, remarking: “Not all copywriters are advertising copywriters. This in itself causes some confusion as the latter is the more famous (especially after the phenomenon that was Mad Men)… Medical copywriters have their own special niche… To be a copywriter is beyond definition, but it’s fair to say that one thing binds us together: we all work with words on a daily basis.”

As the American Writers & Artists Inc note, “Copy is everywhere — it’s part of a $2.3 trillion industry worldwide… Unlike news or editorial writing, copywriting is all about getting the reader to take action. That action might be to purchase, opt-in, or engage with a product, service, or company. That’s why a copywriter is often referred to as ‘a salesman in print’.”

What does a copywriter do?

No matter who you are working for or what type of work you are doing, there are some key responsibilities that a copywriter will take on. These are not exclusive, nor applicable to all, but typically you can expect to be responsible for:

  • Writing (obviously!)
  • Rewriting/repurposing content
  • Research
  • Transcribing or conducting interviews
  • Turning interviews into articles
  • Editing
  • Proof-reading
  • Creating a social media schedule or blog schedule
  • Sourcing images
  • Planning and implementing a marketing campaign
  • Establishing a brand ‘voice’

Direct Creative go into this in more detail on their website, with a useful overview of all the types of writing you could be doing.

What does a copywriter do? Copify blog
Perzon SEO (www.perzonseo.com)

As Articulate Marketing note, “What’s important to understand is that while words are the main output of a copywriter, writing isn’t necessarily what we spend most of our time doing. We have to do a lot of research and thinking, tweaking and formatting, and a bunch of other seemingly peripheral tasks.”

They continue, “In fact, we often say here at Articulate that for a writing project you should spend half your time researching, a third editing and only a sixth actually writing the thing. Despite what some people think, copywriting is a lot more than just ‘wordsmithing’.”

Copywriting vs copyright

It’s important to note that the copywriter role does not have anything to do with copyright, although these two areas are commonly muddled up by those who don’t realize the difference. Copyright is where a company or individual has got the legal rights to either publish, sell, distribute or reproduce a piece of work – either visual, musical, artistic or written.

Copyright is about protecting a piece of material from illegal use. The right to any copy will be determined either by the person who has produced it, or whoever holds the legal right to a piece of work. Often, copy that is produced by a copywriter for a business will be owned by the person who paid for it, rather than the writer, which means that it should always be unique (both to avoid infringing the intellectual property of other writers and as SEO best practice). However, this should not be mistaken for copyright as the copywriter does not create ‘copyright’ content as part of their job.

Becoming a copywriter

One of the greatest bonuses to being a copywriter is that you don’t actually need any formal qualifications in order to be able to do this role. Some people will have a variety of degrees in a range of subjects, and others will have left school with no qualifications.

Copywriting is open to all age groups from 18 to 80. Whether you’re still studying, employed by a business, self-employed or retired – there are no restrictions on who can become a copywriter. The only thing you absolutely need is a computer, access to the Internet and a love of words – or a natural ability to produce articulate, well-formed copy.

Often people hiring copywriters will look for examples of previous work, so having a portfolio can be particularly helpful. It’s always good to be able to show a range of work so people can see the full range of your abilities. Typically, when it comes to must-have copywriting skills, clients will want to see that you are versatile, a quick learner, a great writer, and consistent with meeting deadlines and quality of work.

Where does a copywriter work?

You may find yourself writing copy for a single business, who could hire you full-time to produce all of their marketing and advertorial materials. The type of client you end up working for could range dramatically from their requirements with copy to the industry they’re operating within. Typically they will be looking to push a product or service and will be expecting you to help them sell it.

What does a copywriter do? Copify blog
James Baker (Flickr)

 

Along with full-time options, you may find yourself able to work on a part-time or freelance basis. Some businesses will want to have you in the office so they can work alongside you, while others won’t mind if you are working remotely. This often suits parents with young children who have taken time off work but still want to be able to earn an income flexibly.

Alternatively, you may be interested in writing copy for an agency or a copywriting website such as Copify. The benefits of this are that you don’t need to have the stresses or hassle of finding the work yourself and building relationships. This work is all done for you, and you are instead presented with a list of articles that need completing.

You can select jobs as and when your schedule allows without any full-time commitments and can see how much you will earn at the time of writing. The money you make is guaranteed income, and you don’t have any of the hassle of having to send out invoices, chase money and wait for it to be sent over. Instead, you’ll get your earnings – often within a month – straight into your bank account. It couldn’t be easier and is a great way to dip your toe into the copywriting water.

A fantastic career choice

As the American Writers & Artists Inc. notes, “The rumours are true. A career as a freelance copywriter is a pretty cushy ‘job.’ You can work at home, take naps in the middle of the day, vacation a lot, and get paid really well… For example, one copywriter I know works decent hours, not only on copywriting, but also on the growth and development of her freelance business. She makes over $120,000 a year.”

Ultimately, with copywriting you can make it fit in around your life, or make it the sole focus of your life. It is flexible, dynamic and no two days are the same. It can be as profitable as you like, with a work flow that suits whatever you’re seeking to achieve. It’s an enviable career path to take!

 

Image credit: Giuseppe Milo, ‘Issues’

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What are the main skills you need to be good at copywriting - Copify

What are the main skills you need to be good at copywriting?

Copywriting can be a great way of flexing your fingers, utilising your creative juices, and earning some extra income (or even using it as your main job if you are writing on a consistent basis!). You may find you end up writing on a whole host of topics for a range of clients globally, and the more experience you get, the more you improve your copywriting skills.

As Anik Singal writes for Lurn, “The written word draws people in. It opens up their imagination. It brings out emotion. It makes it possible for the consumer to relate to the salesperson. And that’s what it’s all about —relating.”

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? But what does it take to develop killer copywriting skills and get started making money from writing? We run through the top seven:

1. Excellent writing skills

No matter who you write for – whether you work through a copywriting agency, in-house, or independently – one of the key skills you must have as a copywriter is to write to an excellent standard. That doesn’t just include knowing your UK spelling from your US or being gramatically correct; it also means being able to steer clear of cliches and use the best words in the right order for the subject you’re writing on and the audience you’re addressing.

Remember, you are being employed specifically for your capabilities of combining words together in the most fluent, nuanced, articulate and inspiring way. If you aren’t able to do this, it will simply lead to disappointed customers, a lot of wasted time spent on edits and re-writes, and a less than profitable use of your free hours. It’ll also make it probably feel like an arduous and unpleasant task to fulfil.

What are the main skills you need to be good at copywriting - Copify
Ryo FUKAsawa (Flickr)

Excellent writing doesn’t always mean long words and complicated sentences. As Copyblogger notes, “Good salesman are not verbose. They do not use fancy words. They speak like an aged rural sheriff. Calm, confident, and kind. They are patient, good listeners, and fantastic storytellers. Each word is pronounced properly. Each story is trimmed of excess. It’s a spell-binding time spent with a good salesman. In fact, you don’t even know you are being sold… be clear, concise, and compelling.”

2. Ability to write to deadlines

As with all copywriting projects, you will need to be able to write towards a deadline. Typically, these could be a matter of hours with shorter pieces or a day to two days for longer articles. It all depends on how quickly your client needs you to turn the copy around and whether or whether it is part of an ongoing project like blog writing.

As a skilled writer, you should naturally find it easier to write quickly and efficiently. However, this also comes with practice too. The more you get used to writing blogs and articles for businesses, the easier you’ll find it is to get started and produce stellar pieces under the pressure of time restrictions. It’s always best to allow yourself plenty of time when starting out and limit distractions, so you don’t find yourself under intense pressure while writing; this can often affect the quality of your work, which isn’t ideal.

3. Great research skills

Occasionally, you’ll get to write on topics that you know thoroughly and enjoy covering. However, in order to get the most out of copywriting, you aren’t always going to be able to write about subjects that you have an in-depth understanding of.

What are the main skills you need to be good at copywriting - Copify
Tam Tran (Flickr)

Quite often you will need to conduct research to write a quality blog, web page or article to the level of detail that is expected. This research may involve reading complex documents, gaining an understanding of the overall climate, and sourcing out news articles. It can also involve finding the most reliable destinations for factual information, and evidence of particular claims – all while writing to a fixed deadline.

4. Understanding the audience

Copy isn’t written in isolation; no matter who you are writing for, there is always going to be a reader on the other end who will digest your words and either be informed, entertained or persuaded to your way of thinking. As Copyblogger writes, “When you sit down to write, picture yourself selling to one person. You need to woo her and her alone.”

Testing The Muse adds to this, “Write honestly about your product or service, and you’ll get more interest in return. People can sense how genuine you are – both in person, and through your writing… Personalise your sales copy to one person: your ideal customer.”

It is crucial that you understand who your audience is and the type of language they’re looking for, the phrases and acronyms they’ll understand, and the tone or sense of humour that they will relate to. This can make your writing become far more engaging and useful – and will improve the reception of your article, which should hopefully, in turn, see you getting more work from the client.

5. SEO success

Copywriting is partly about creating beautifully written prose. However, when it is published online, there are many other factors at play that can determine the success of a piece of writing. This predominantly involves search engine optimisation.

What are the main skills you need to be good at copywriting - Copify
Global Panorama (Flickr)

With everything published online, Google will read the words included to find the most relevant pages for searches being conducted. If you use specific keywords in your writing, these can help your blog or article get pulled up as a top result by Google.

This improves its visibility and can have a dramatic impact on audience numbers. For businesses looking to sell their products or raise awareness of their brand, this can be crucial. Knowing how to produce SEO-optimised copy without it feeling like an awkward piece of writing is an excellent skill.

6. Creativity

It’s important for whatever you write to feel as though it is completely brand new, even if it is based on a topic that has been covered a thousand times before. Part of being able to do this is through writing in a creative and engaging way. It is also about being versatile in your choice of words and using your imagination to construct a completely different perspective on what may be a well-hashed subject matter.

This copywriting ability can help you produce masterful articles that remain interesting, no matter how ‘old’ they are. You may also find yourself writing on subjects that simply aren’t what you’d normally consider ‘exciting’ but which do broaden your range of copywriting skills. This doesn’t mean they should read like the back of a cereal box though, and it is crucial for a copywriter to employ all their skills to bring these to life in a way that people actually want to read. After all, that is your job!

7. An eye for headlines

If you think back to when you read an article yourself, what is the first thing that draws you in? It’s the headline. This short nugget of information is hugely important in getting your audience’s attention and should be written in a way that is creative, captivating and contains everything needed to get a quick, succinct overview of the piece.

As Lingua Greca notes, “If your headline isn’t powerful, you’re dead in the water. Keep learning this art, examine the most successful headline types, practice, and analyze what kind of titles work best with your particular readership.”

What are the skills you need to be good at copywriting - Copify
Salim Fadhley (Flickr)

There’s a lot of skill to writing a good headline, and there are many blogs online that can help guide you in what you should be looking for when doing this. It can be the make or break between what you’ve written actually getting read – and what’s the point of writing it if it never gets seen? Being skilled in headlines can be a killer copywriting skill to possess.

Want to brush up your copywriting skills? Copify can help you take the first step on your freelance writing journey, and you’ll get paid to write for a range of clients worldwide.

 

Image credit: James Barker, ‘Wristwatch

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