You may have been writing for years, be that professionally, as a side hustle or as a hobby. Even if you’re just starting out in the written world, you’ll be well aware that digital is in demand, irrespective of almost every sector. With so much business moving online, whether that involves a company website or an entire service, having digital copywriting skills could become an essential part of your portfolio. At the very least, it’s a useful writing skill to have under your belt. Question is, where do you begin?
What is a digital copywriter?
It’s in the name! As a digital copywriter, you’ll use your writing skills to write copy specifically for digital purposes. This could cover anything from e-commerce websites requiring product descriptions to a weekly company blog. In truth, there isn’t a huge difference between being a copywriter and being a content writer, with the job titles and roles overlapping in several areas. However, this will work in your favour, as you’ll be able to take on more opportunities.
So, where do I begin?
It’s important that you have an awareness of the skills required for digital copywriting, so ensure that you do plenty of research into this before you get started. Required skills are subjective rather than mandatory. For example, an understanding of UX (user experience) will come in time, so don’t worry if you’re unsure about certain aspects. As cliche as it sounds, the most important thing you can do is have a vested interest in becoming a digital copywriter and learning about how you get there.
Practice short-form copywriting
Although not black and white, when it comes to digital anything, the shorter and snappier the better. Page loading times, blog ‘scannability’, whatever: customers and page viewers will be turned off by anything that simply takes too long to use or consume. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to practise short-form copywriting.
Social media copywriting is a good direction to head in to get started, as there will be preset limits to what you can physically write, steering you in the right direction. You’ll also be able to hone the most important elements of digital copywriting, such as SEO keyword inclusion and writing content for a specific target audience, as there won’t be room for fluff or filler copy.
Follow the leader(s)
Whatever field you’re in, there will always be those more experienced than you. Rather than being daunted, engage with them through their website. Don’t overstep and bombard them – this won’t win you any friends, or jobs for that matter! – but keep up-to-date with their work and especially their blog. Once you feel inspired you can use this motivation to help you start your own blog.
Don’t just look for other digital writers, either. Who do you want to work for? What are they writing right now? What do they do on their blog, if they have one? What is their overall tone? How would you change it? Challenge yourself by writing as if you were working for that company or brand already, even if it’s just a 100-word product description.
Find your writing specialism
Within digital copywriting, and indeed any form of writing, you’ll find particular topics that interest you or that you know more about from experience. When you’re seeking writing jobs, or even better, if you’re being sought out, you’ll want to have your own brand so you stand out in this competitive market. You could have a particular interest in sports, for example, but how does this translate easily to working for you as a digital copywriter?
It could be something as simple as writing product descriptions for the website of a golfing goods company. It might sound tenuous, but don’t discount it yet: if you already have knowledge in this area, then you’ll know exactly what customers are looking to hear when they’re browsing the website. You’ll be able to connect easily with the specific target audience, which is always a skill that companies are looking for writers to possess.
Get your work out there!
The most important step you can take to being a digital copywriter is to get noticed! Setting up your own portfolio online is the simplest way to do this, and if you decide to become freelance, it will become nothing short of an essential part of your career as a digital copywriter.
Use a website building service such as Squarespace to get started: you don’t need to have anything more than a portfolio page of writing samples, an ‘About’ page and a contact page. Be sure to showcase a dynamic variety of pieces, even if these aren’t works of copywriting: any poetry you’ve written, for example, will help illustrate that you’ve got a wide understanding of what it takes to write and that most importantly, you’re passionate about writing. Care can often be more valuable than inexperience.
By specifying your copywriting skills as digital – and this works for other writing specialisms too, such as ghostwriting or content writing – you’ll be able to target the right companies who are looking for digital copywriters. “Traditional” businesses may not want to engage with the digital world, but there are a host of start-ups and brands alike that will be keen to get you on board. And who knows: with your work out there, you could be the deciding factor for businesses wanting to take on a new digital direction.
The most important piece of advice of all is that the sooner you start, the better. By taking up live digital copywriting briefs on sites like Copify, you’ll be able to discover which type of digital copywriting you prefer and hone your skills as a copywriter generally. Whether you want to be a freelancer permanently or not – and even if you don’t stick with the digital realm – this is an easy way to get started.