If you’ve seen the word bandied about in freelancing circles, you’re probably wondering, ‘What is a copywriter?’ And you should know all the deets as it’s a great way to make impressive quantities of cash on the side or full-time while working for yourself.
In short, a copywriter is someone who writes copy — a.k.a. words — in print and digital marketing material. You know when you sit and read the cereal box while you eat your brekkie? ‘Crunchy, delicious loops packed with vitamins and minerals.’ That’s copywriting. When your eyes are drawn to a saucy billboard as you’re driving. ‘Cheap enough to say Phucket, I’ll go!’ Also copywriting. Scrolling through Facebook and you see an ad for a cunning new app. ‘Track your fitness, monitor your sleep, set goals, and smash them.’ Yep, you guessed it — more copywriting.
Copywriting = marketing words.
Copywriter = person who writes them.
Wanna know more? Here’s my little guide to the ‘What is a copywriter?’ question covering everything from the skills you need to the cash you can earn. And, of course, how you can become one. So read on, my friend. Read on.
Table of contents:
What is a copywriter?
A professional copywriter is someone who writes marketing materials, which is a huge umbrella term. It covers everything from website content and brochures to email campaigns, product packaging, and beyond.
In other words, if it’s selling something — be that a product, service, or idea — then a copywriter has likely had a hand in crafting the persuasive words you’re reading.
Essentially, as a freelance copywriter, you pen the words that persuade people to buy products or services or convince them to do something like vote for a political party or sign up for a cause. You get people to take action. And you do it in a way that’s engaging, informative, and on brand.
No pressure, right?
Copywriters must understand the target audience and write in a way that appeals to them.
Think about it.
There’s a huge difference between writing an ad aimed at mums and one targeting teenagers or one selling insurance and getting people to sign up for a charity. The voice, style, and even the words used will be worlds apart.
A great copywriter also understands the product, service, or idea they’re trying to sell. They’ll know the features and benefits inside out so they can communicate them clearly and persuasively.
And, of course, a top copywriter also understands the competition. You need research skills! What are they saying? How can we say it better? What’s our USP? A USP, by the way, is a unique selling proposition — what makes our thing better than all the others like it?
Good copywriters are in high demand because they make a big difference in a marketing campaign’s success. And as anyone in business will tell you, a successful campaign can make or break a company.
After all, without words, there’s not a lot of selling going on. And if you’re good at it, you can earn some serious cash.
What are the types of copywriting?
Oof! Copywriting comes in all shapes and sizes. And as a result, so do copywriters. You could be a specialist in one area or a generalist who’s good at a bit of everything.
Here are some of the most common examples of copywriting to get your head around:
- Website content — The words you see on websites and landing pages.
- Emails — People love getting marketing emails! Ha! Well, they do if they’re well-written and selling some good stuff.
- Social media — Tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram captions, etc.
- Sales letters — Long-form copy used to sell products and services via direct mail or email.
- Advertising — From online display ads to good old-fashioned print ads, TV commercials to Google Ads, billboards, bus stops, radio ads, and more. Good advertising needs great copy.
- Press releases — Writing newsworthy stories to generate media coverage.
- Product descriptions — The words that sell products online and in stores.
- Brochures and leaflets — Collateral used in physical marketing campaigns.
- Product packaging — What’s on the box? That’s right, copywriting!
Are blogs copywriting?
Some people say no. Others say yes. Personally, I think blogs can be a form of copywriting. They can include some aspects of copywriting but are their own distinct thing.
Copywriting aims to directly sell something or get someone to act, whereas blogging, which is part of content writing, is more about sharing information, engaging an audience, and building relationships. That’s not to say you can’t use a blog post to sell something — you totally can. You just need to do it subtly and not too in-your-face salesy.
Blogging is part of content marketing, which is a wider marketing strategy. Blogs help brands to achieve specific business goals like increasing web traffic, boosting brand awareness, or generating leads and sales.
Copywriting aims to sell products now, whereas blogs are more about building a relationship with an audience to pay off in the future. But… you can use copywritten blog content to create the desire to act right then and there. In other words, you can use a blog post to make immediate and long-term sales.
Confused yet? Don’t worry! There’s an overlap between copywriting and blogging, for sure. But they are technically two distinct types of writing.
What skills does a copywriter need?
You don’t need a bachelor’s degree or other formal qualifications to be a copywriter, but you need certain skills. You don’t have to be born with them, though. Many of them can be learned or honed with a little time, effort, and practice.
Here are the key copywriting skills you need to make in a copywriting career:
- Writing skills — Obviously! But it’s not just about being able to string a sentence together. Copywriters need to be able to write in different styles and tones for different audiences and platforms. They also need to know how to craft attention-grabbing headlines, structure their writing, and edit their work.
- Creativity — A big part of being a successful copywriter is coming up with new and interesting ideas that capture people’s attention. You need a knack for turning the mundane into something that’s sexy, compelling, and worthy of people’s hard-earned cash.
- Persuasiveness — Your job is to sell, whether that’s a physical product, an idea, or a service. And you need to do it in a way that’s convincing and makes people want what you’re offering without being too pushy.
- Adaptability — The copywriting world is ever-changing, meaning you need to change with it. You might be writing for different brands each day, so being able to adapt your style and tone of voice is key to nailing each project. You must be flexible, try new things, and always be learning.
- An eye for detail — The devil’s in the details, baby! As a copywriter, your job is to engage people with your words, but you need to know all the deets about what you’re selling, too. This means understanding and communicating complex information so everyone can digest it easily. Otherwise, peeps are gonna switch off real quick.
- Communication — This is a biggie. You need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and concisely. Both to the clients you’re working with and the folks reading your copy. This means being a pro at writing but also being able to explain yourself verbally. And listen! Listening is key to understanding what people want.
Where do copywriters work?
You can be an in-house copywriter for an advertising and marketing company, advertising agency, or digital marketing agency. You can also work directly with large brands in their marketing departments. And then some freelance copywriters work independently from home, in coworking spaces, or wherever the hell they like!
Many clients hire copywriters to work on regular projects, like email marketing campaigns, while other jobs as a copywriter will be one-offs, like a slogan or web copy. A copywriter might be brought in to work on a specific project for a limited time or be hired as an ongoing contractor to produce regular written content.
What does a copywriter earn?
How much do copywriters make? That’s what you wanna know, right? Well, it depends on a few factors, like where you work, your experience level, and the type of clients you work with.
In-house copywriters working for large companies can earn a pretty penny, especially if they’ve got a few years of experience under their belt. Copywriting agencies will also pay top dollar for experienced writers who produce great work. You can expect your salary to start at around $50k and go up to around $90k.
Freelance copywriters working directly with clients can command the highest rate. There’s no limit to how much you can earn when working for yourself. The sky’s the limit. Of course, when you’re starting out, you won’t be able to command the same rate as an experienced writer. But with time and experience, you can easily make more than $100k a year. Not bad!
What does working as a copywriter look like each day?
No two days are the same as a copywriter. You could be working on a new website one day and email marketing the next. Or you might be crafting killer social media posts or coming up with ideas for a video script.
Much of your time will be spent brainstorming with clients or colleagues, researching your topic, writing, editing, and proofreading your work. And then there’s the admin side of things, like replying to emails and invoicing clients. You’d be surprised how much of a copywriter’s time is spent on non-writing activities!
Plus, you must continually update your skills and learn about new trends in copywriting, SEO, social media, and marketing. The more you know, the more valuable you are to clients. So that means dedicating some time each day, or week, to reading and learning.
It’s a varied role that keeps you on your toes, which is one of the things I love most about it. No two days are ever the same!
Are you cut out to be a copywriter?
Think you’ve got what it takes to be a copywriter? Ask yourself if you:
- Enjoy writing and have a knack for it
- Like learning new things?
- Are you willing to put in the hard work to hone your skills?
- Are you creative and able to come up with new ideas and angles?
- Can you accept constructive feedback and use it to improve your work?
- Are you persuasive and able to sell an idea or product?
- Like working with different people and businesses?
- Get excited about new ideas and trends?
- Have excellent communication skills?
- Pay attention to detail?
- Handle criticism well?
- Like having money, freedom, and flexibility in your life?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then a career in copywriting could be a great fit.
How do I become a freelance copywriter?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Although you don’t need a formal degree or certification to do a copywriter’s job, some people find it helpful to study advertising, marketing, communications, English, or journalism.
It’s important to learn copywriting basics, and there are tons of courses and resources out there that can teach you. But the most important thing is to get started and keep practising. The more you write, the better you’ll become. Plus, you need to build up a strong portfolio of writing samples to show potential clients.
Many copywriters get their start by interning at ad or marketing agencies. This helps you learn the ropes and develop your skills. Once you have some experience under your belt, you can start working as a freelancer or apply for copywriting jobs at agencies and businesses.
If you’re serious about becoming a copywriter, be prepared to put in the hard work. Getting started can be tricky, but it’s an awesome career if you’re dedicated and passionate. Yeah? Tell me more…
What are the benefits of being a copywriter?
There are tons of benefits to being a copywriter! Here are just a few:
- Work anywhere in the world. All you need is a laptop and an internet connection!
- Be your own boss. One of the best things about freelance copywriting is that you control all aspects of your biz.
- Make good money. Copywriters are in high demand, and businesses are willing to pay top dollar for quality copy. So a copywriter salary is a healthy one!
- Enjoy freedom and flexibility in your life. You can take on as much or as little work as you want and structure your days however you please and wherever you please.
- Choose your own clients and projects. You get to decide who you want to work with. If you don’t like something, you can simply say no and move on to something else.
- Flexible hours. Don’t wanna work 9 to 5 (shudder)? No problem! As a copywriter, you can set your own schedule and work whenever the hell you like.
- Work with a variety of businesses and industries. Every business needs copy, so you have your pick of industries as a copywriter.
- Use your creativity. A big part of copywriting is coming up with new and fresh ideas. So if you’re a creative person, this career is definitely for you!
- Make a difference. Copy can be used to sell products and services, but it can also be used to raise awareness about important issues and make positive changes in the world.
- Learn and grow. You’re always learning new things and expanding your skill set in this field.
- Never get bored. There’s always something new to learn and write about, and no two projects are ever the same.
- Feel proud of your work. It’s satisfying to see your copywriting campaigns succeed.
- Help clients succeed. When you help a business achieve its goals, it feels pretty darn good! And your clients lurve you for it!
So what is a copywriter? A word scientist and big money baller!
The takeaway? Copywriting is creating words that sell. And it’s an incredible career with lots of impressive benefits! So if you’re looking for a new challenge that offers a shit ton of freedom, flexibility, and a killer pay-check, copywriting might be the perfect gig for you!
And that’s pretty much everything you need to know. Still not convinced? If you’re still wondering what a copywriter is or does, drop a comment below!