What is the role of a copywriter?

by Kate Hannon

What is the role of a copywriter

Despite being a popular occupation, the duties of copywriters and freelance writers have changed in recent years. Whilst many people have a vague idea of what the role entails, they may still ask what is the role of a copywriter and how can you get started?

In fact, copywriting takes various forms and copywriting roles can vary quite considerably. Depending on the type of jobs you choose, you might expect to find yourself undertaking the following types of tasks:

Writing copy for clients

Generally, writing copy on behalf of clients is the main part of a copywriter’s role. If you work as an in-house copywriter, you may be writing on behalf of just one business but if you work on a freelance basis, you will be able to write for different types of clients and cover a wide range of topics.

If you’re asking, ‘what is the role of copywriter?’, writing is most common answer but it’s only partly correct. When you’re operating as a full-time copywriter, you may be asked to produce various different types of copy, such as articles, web pages, blog posts, company newsletters and reports. Any form of writing a company uses has inevitably be written by a copywriter, from marketing slogans to advertising jingles, press releases and even employee handbooks. Whilst some copywriters prefer to work on certain types of projects, there’s plenty of scope to undertake different types of work.

Depending on the specific brief, copywriters will need to adapt their writing style and will often be required to write from alternative viewpoints. If you’re writing copy for a web design company, for example, they may want you to promote certain services and highlight the benefits of particular design options.

For most copywriters, it’s these tasks which take up the most amount of time. Before you start writing, you may need to conduct a significant amount of research but this will depend on the nature of the work. Technical reports and long-form content may need more research than a short blog post, for example.

Once you’ve researched the relevant areas and clarified the brief, you’ll be able to get started with writing the content that’s required. Although this takes up the bulk of a copywriter’s time, everyone works differently and you may find that it’s easier to complete the work once your research is complete or you may want to conduct research as you write.

Editing and proofreading

For any copywriter, proofreading is a vital skill and it’s something which is always necessary. If you’re wondering what is the role of a copywriter, editing and proofreading is a significant part of the job description.

Once you’ve completed a piece of work, you’ll want to read through it to ensure there are no errors or typos using our grammar checklist for writers. This ensures that the client gets a first-class piece of copy and it also serves to enhance your reputation. This is particularly important if you’re working on a freelance basis as a good reputation can lead to repeat clients and positive recommendations.

Usually, copy will be proofread at least twice before it goes to the client. If you’re working for an agency, for example, you’ll be expected to proof your own work as a copywriter and another member of the agency staff may then proof your work before it’s submitted to the client.

Although copywriters should always proof their own work, more experienced copywriters may also choose to edit and proof other people’s work. If you have good attention to detail and are able to hone in on misspellings, grammar anomalies and incorrect syntax, copywriting roles which include extra editing and proofing might be the right option for you.

Strategic decision-making

In some instances, a copywriter’s role will include the strategic management of or participation in a company’s marketing activity. Although this isn’t traditionally the remit of a copywriter, the increasing use of online copy has resulted in the two roles merging somewhat.

When companies require content which will be used online, it may be used for a variety of purposes. Although the client may wish to advertise their services, promote their brand or motivate their customers, online copy is frequently used for SEO purposes as well.

If a company commissions a copywriter to work for them, they may expect input regarding the direction of the content in terms of marketing terms, as well as information regarding the use of key terms for SEO purposes. This is particularly common if you’re working with SMEs, as they may lack the resources to manage these areas in-house.

Although some copywriters prefer to focus solely on the research, writing and editing elements of the role, assisting with marketing strategies can be extremely useful. By widening your skillset and taking on additional tasks, such as the creation, implementation and management of a company’s online marketing activity, you can provide a more well-rounded service to clients and potentially increase your revenue.

Bringing in new business

Many copywriters choose to work on a freelance basis, often getting started by signing up with a copywriting agency like Copify, and it’s easy to understand why. The ability to fit your job around any existing commitments and create your own unique work/life balance can be very attractive. If you’re working on a freelance basis, however, you’ll be responsible for sourcing your own work and bringing in new clients. Inevitably, this adds another dimension to the question of what is the role of a copywriter.

As well working on behalf of your clients, you’ll also need to promote your own services. This may involve networking with people online and face-to-face, meeting with potential new clients, attending briefings, either remotely or in person, and liaising with existing clients on a regular basis. In addition to this, you’ll need to manage the administrative side of a copywriter’s role, such as, invoicing, accounting and/or tax.

Although copywriting does involve a significant amount of writing, there is far more to the role. With the ability to undertake thorough research, write in varying voices, manage marketing activities and attract new business, today’s copywriters have the opportunity to specialise in certain areas and create a role which is compatible with their lifestyle and their expertise.

Main image credit: mentatdgt

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Kate Hannon

A law graduate who is also qualified in digital marketing, Kate has over eleven years’ experience in copywriting, helping to launch the digital strategies of the many clients she has worked with. She provides specialist marketing services to businesses in the legal and financial sectors on a freelance basis and joined Copify in 2013.