Not quite sure what copywriting is? Don’t worry, many people don’t. The most common misconception is that it has something to do with copyright law and this little symbol ©.
To make matters worse, many of the definitions out there don’t really define copywriting at all:
“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.”
While this statement romantically paints a vague, impressionism inspired picture about copywriting, it’s not doing much for bringing clarity to the masses. Here’s one that’s just a little simpler – think kindergarten stick-figure:
“Copywriting is the art of writing words (or ‘copy’) that sell.”
Quite simple really. That’s what copywriters do, they find the right words to promote your business or sell your products and services.
It’s quite strange that copywriting is still such a well-kept secret, considering that we’re surrounded by it. Look around, I bet you have at least one piece of copy within arm’s length. TV and radio ads, websites, blogs, social media posts, brochures, packaging – copy is everywhere!
Someone had to write it. Enter stage left, the illusive creature that is…the copywriter.
What is ‘copy’?
So you know copywriters write copy. But what exactly is copy? This is where it gets a little more interesting. It’s hard to define everything copywriters write because the list of mediums that need copy written is endless. Plus, not all copywriters offer exactly the same services. But you can be sure that any copywriter will write some combination of, or all of these:
- Website content
- Landing pages
- EDMs (electronic direct mailers)
- Direct mailers
- Sales letters
- Case studies
- Industry reports
But there’s so much more to being a good copywriter.
Not just a wordsmith…
Being a writer has a certain romanticism to it. But copywriters don’t get to spend all day indulging their love of literature whilst sipping herbal tea from a delicate porcelain cup.
Freelance copywriters are business owners and have all the responsibilities that go with the territory. Finding clients, marketing, invoicing, networking and many other normal business activities fill the day of a copywriter.
But good copywriters also interview clients. They really get to know their clients, their products and services. The ability to listen, take notes and learn is what separates a good copywriter from the rest.
Never trust a copywriter who isn’t interested in completing a comprehensive brief before they get started on your copywriting project. The brief, along with meticulous research, allows a copywriter to become an expert on any topic or product, quickly. All this time spent familiarising also ensures that your copywriter knows exactly what you want. How you want the piece to come across to your readers. And how it should make them feel – a very important part of creating compelling copy.
Copywriters also spend a lot of time editing and proofreading. Although writing great copy often means throwing traditional rules out the window, it still needs to be professional, cohesive and error free.
And then there are copywriters with good project management skills. This is really important. Juggling multiple projects at once, a good copywriter keeps track of each project and never misses a deadline.
Who do Copywriters write for?
Copywriters can write for anyone – any product, service or industry. Some copywriters may specialise in writing for a specific industry because they have a professional background in that industry.
This can be an advantage especially if it is a complex and extremely technical product or service. But that doesn’t mean a copywriter without prior experience in your industry won’t deliver great copy that gets results. Remember, good copywriters have acquired the necessary skills to be able to write for any industry, product or service.
Choosing a Copywriter:
Writing effective copy is a mixture of creativity and science.
A great copywriter has the ability to tell a true story well. Your story. Authentically. With your voice. A copywriter’s voice should always be secondary to the client’s voice. Effective copy aligns so closely with your brand that no one can imagine it coming from anyone but you.
All the while, subtly persuading the reader that you have exactly what they need. To achieve this, copywriters use proven formulae and techniques to write copy that gets results instantly.
Do some research when choosing a copywriter. Don’t let cost, or any other single aspect, be the only determining factor. As with most professional services, having a positive experience when working with a copywriter comes down to the entire project running smoothly and professionally.