A complete guide to understanding everything you need to know about copywriting, and copywriters
Advertising your products and services doesn’t always get you the results you need. Most of the time, it’s because the words on your website, in your marketing emails, or on your social media platforms are poorly written or ineffective at getting people to take the final step of making a purchase.
This is a huge factor for success in any industry. Whether you sell DIY home tools or offer insurance services, the way your written content is formulated matters more than you think.
Enter copywriting. It’s a fancy word for writing that you use in marketing strategies to improve sales and conversions.
Copywriting Definition and Overview
- 1. What is copywriting?
- 2. What does a copywriter do?
- 3. Who needs copywriters?
- 4. How to interview a copywriter the right way?
- 5. Copywriting FAQs
1. What is copywriting?
Copywriting is one of the most important elements of advertising and marketing. It’s the process of writing persuasive words (known as copy) that inspire or motivate people to take a specific action.
When you open a magazine and there’s a full-page advertisement selling perfume, the words on that page are the result of copywriting. When you go to a website that prompts you to buy something, the words on that page are the result of copywriting. You can find copies in print, online, and even being read on television or over the radio. Copywriting is almost everywhere you look and listen.
Who is behind copywriting? Behind every piece of copy is a copywriter. Copywriters are individuals who are trained to craft words in a way that will connect with the target audience and move them to do something. Most businesses hire an in-house copywriter or on a contract basis to help them communicate with the world and grow.
It’s important that you don’t confuse copywriting and copyright. They sound the same but are two very different things. You already know what copywriting is. Copyright is a type of protection provided by the U.S. government that allows you to proclaim authorship for an original piece of work. For example, you could claim original ownership of an audiovisual, musical, architectural, literary, or dramatic creation and it would give you the exclusive right to distribute or publish it.
2. What does a copywriter do?
A copywriter writes words that move an audience to take action. There are many different types of copywriting, however, at the base of all of them is the act of studying a specific audience and understanding their needs and desires. Then, a copywriter strategizes a way to best connect with the audience, show the audience their problem is understood, and present a solution.
What does a copywriter create?
A copywriter is a person who provides the words for a variety of assets including webpages, blogs, articles, ads, social media posts, emails, posters, billboards, guides, case studies, whitepapers and more. They use the medium of writing to inform, engage, impact, and/or persuade audiences. The goals can vary from raising brand awareness to positioning a business or organization as an authority, to closing sales.
The copywriter job description
Copywriters, in general, do a little bit of everything, including:
- Writing content with the intent of informing, educating, or inspiring an audience
- Writing copy to move readers to action
- Researching to find information, statistics, keywords, topics, and brand information
- Editing and proofreading to refine grammar, style, readability, accuracy, voice, tone, and punctuation
- Working as a project manager, which involves ideating topics, working with other creators, writing, editing, revising, and publishing
It’s a demanding role that requires a high level of hard and soft skills.
3. Who needs copywriters?
Every business or organization that plans to communicate with its audience needs a copywriter. From sole proprietors to large enterprises, no company is too large or small. Copywriters can find work with:
- Solopreneurs: Individuals who start and run their own businesses independently like interior designers, writers, party planners, graphic designers, and coaches.
- Marketing agencies: Companies with teams that help a variety of clients with the many aspects of marketing.
- Small businesses: Small businesses that are privately owned and generate less annual revenue and have fewer employees than guidelines set by the Small Business Administration. Those limits vary by industry.
- Enterprises: Large corporations with hundreds or even thousands of employees.
- Fortune 500 companies: The 500 largest U.S. companies ranked by Fortune magazine.
- Brick-and-mortar retail stores: Traditional street-side businesses offerings products and services.
- Startups: Companies in the early stages of operations, founded by one or more entrepreneurs developing a product or service.
- Non-profit organizations: Organizations that don’t operate for a profit such as public charities, foundations, trade organizations, and social advocacy groups.
- Online retailers: Companies that sell goods or services through the internet.
- And more!
The need for copywriting persists no matter the business type or niche because a fundamental part of running a business is driving a specific action from an audience. To drive action, you need people to be aware of your company and need to guide them down the path you want them to take. Crafting words that effectively show what an organization is about while influencing the audience in a specific way requires knowledge and skill. Each piece of copy created should fit into the larger puzzle of the brand’s identity and overall strategy.
Copywriters understand the big picture, including the brand identity and the buyer’s journey, and then craft many types of copy that work together to achieve the business’s goals. They help to properly articulate everything including:
- The fundamental components of a company’s brand like the mission, vision, and core values.
- The words that will appear on the company’s fixed assets like their website and social profiles.
- And the pieces required on an ongoing basis like press releases, social media posts, blogs, and video scripts.
If you’re looking for a place to find copywriting work, you’ll have no shortage of options. From mom and pop shops and investment firms to dentists and doctors, take your pick. The key is finding a niche you enjoy writing about that is profitable and in high demand. Then, you can become an expert in the area, earning higher rates and more inbound business.
Long story short, everyone in business can benefit from hiring a copywriter.
4. How to interview a copywriter the right way?
In order to hire the right copywriter for your project, you have to ask the right questions. Establishing a positive and professional relationship with a copywriter is essential. There needs to be good communication all around. That way, the first job will be a success and then you can move forward with more projects afterward.
Below you’ll find a list of suggested questions to ask your potential copywriter. As you can see, these questions are great steps towards a positive conversation.
- Do you have experience writing for my industry? After asking some questions to get to know the interviewee start asking punctual questions. Start by asking if they have experience in your particular industry. If they say yes, ask for what companies they’ve worked for. If not, ask if they could see it as a problem, or are they willing to take upon a challenge.
- Do you have an established research process? Next, ask if they have a research process when starting a new project. Copywriters should be able to dig deep into a company to find out the UVP. Pay attention to what they say their research process looks like. If they say that all they need is a brief, then they might not be the right fit.
- Can you show us some writing samples? Ask to see some of their copywriting work. Most will have a selection of their best work on hand. If there is any of their work live on the internet at that time, ask to see it. Ask a few more questions about those projects; are they successful? are clients seeing good results?
- What is your preferred style of copy? Ask the candidate if they have a preferred style of copywriting. Some copywriters prefer a storytelling angle while others lean towards a more technical approach. Either way, it’s highly likely that they have a preference.
- Do you have a favorite product or service category to write for? Following the previous question, ask about their preferred category or industry. If it doesn’t match your company, don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that they won’t do a good job. If they answer that they prefer a challenge over something they know a lot about, that’s a good sign.
- Are you familiar with keyword research and Google results analysis? Some copywriters offer keyword research and analysis, but not all do. In some cases, a copywriter may have some content marketing knowledge and can offer a deeper analysis of different types of keywords and how they perform. Ask if they are familiar with google results analysis to see if they can make a good assessment as to where your current copy could use a refresh in the right direction.
After interviewing a few candidates and choosing the top one or two, conduct a test to see if they fit the bill. The most efficient process is with a two-part test that will determine how suited the candidate is for the job.
Ask them to write something
The best way to know if a potential copywriter will write exactly what you need is to ask them to write something as a test. If what you need is a set of product descriptions, don’t ask them to write an email copy. Task them with a project just like the one you need or closely related. You’ll probably have better results if it’s a paid test. You can offer a lower rate than what they ask for just for this process.
The copywriter will do their best work if they feel that your testing process is honest and standard practice. Let them know it’s something you always do with candidates. Don’t diminish their work and ask them to prove themselves. Make sure to be transparent in the process.
Give feedback and analyze their response
But wait, that’s not enough. Conduct a second part of the test for better results. Send the copywriter feedback about their work and offer suggestions about how they can improve the copy. Analyze their reaction and see how they go about editing the work with your feedback. This process will show you how they confront constructive criticism.
From the results of this test, you can make a decision if the copywriter in question is right for the role. Base it on the actual work they produce and on the answers to your interview questions to determine the best fit for your business.
5. Copywriting FAQs
What is a marketing copywriter?
A marketing copywriter is a creative mind behind every word a business writes that intends to move people to action.
In the ’50s and ’60s, copy took the form of catchy jingles, slogans, and ads. While copywriters may still be behind those creations today, many write in various forms that are published on the internet as part of digital marketing campaigns. These campaigns often include writing brand identity guides, website pages, product descriptions, whitepapers, blogs, social posts, emails, and more. A marketing copywriter is even behind the content you are reading right now!
While a product description or website’s ‘About’ page may seem simple enough, there is a lot that goes into it. Copy must speak to the desired audience in the right tone with impactful words that drive tangible action. Marketing copywriters often have years of experience, are creative thinkers, have strong research skills, strong time-management skills, a thorough understanding of marketing fundamentals and psychology, and may have a college degree in a relative field. In many cases, they work together with founders, marketing strategists, designers, and developers to bring a company or organization’s vision to life. Further, they may specialize in a particular type of copy like email marketing campaigns and may not offer other types.
At the end of the day, marketing copywriters do much more than just writing words. They understand how to analyze a business and its product or service to identify its differentiating factors. Further, they can step into the shoes of a brand, and craft words that will engage, inform, educate, and inspire the target audience.
In summary, marketing copywriters are the people within a business that write the strategic words that move audiences to action.
What is SEO copywriting?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and some copywriters specialize in this type of copy. SEO-optimized copy is carefully crafted to appeal to the human audience while also sending all the right signals to the search engines. Why? Because then your content will show up higher on search engine results pages, driving more traffic to your page. More traffic means more opportunities to close sales. Optimizing copy for search requires in-depth knowledge of SEO best practices including using the right keywords in the right places, properly using headers, and matching the copy to the reader’s intent. This type of copywriting is needed for web content, product descriptions, service descriptions, articles, and blogs.
What is sales copy?
Sales copy is directly focused on closing the sale at the moment. Sales copywriters must understand the target audience in-depth and how a product or service could benefit them. They need to dig into the subconscious of the audience, understanding why they really buy. Then, they walk alongside the audience, addressing their pain points, empathizing with them, and showing how their problem can be resolved in a way that is relatable and engaging. Nobody wants to feel like they are being sold. Some places you’ll find sales copy are on websites, landing pages, direct response letters, email marketing campaigns, social media ads, Google ads, product pages, service pages, print ads, and billboard ads.
What is creative copywriting?
Creative copywriting requires not only getting the information across but getting it across in a way that is attention-grabbing, interesting, and memorable. It requires strategic, out-of-the-box thinking. A great creative copywriter can get an idea and a feeling across in just a few words that stick in the reader’s mind. You’ll find creative copywriting in slogans, ad headlines, jingles, tv commercials, and email headlines. For example, Ricola launched an advertising campaign with a series of statements that included a (cough) in the middle. One of them read, “She’s (cough) just a friend.” It gets your attention, might make you chuckle, and leaves an impression of the brand’s personality in your mind. As a result, you may just grab Ricola next time you’re choosing a cough drop.
What are the benefits of hiring a copywriter?
Being a business owner doesn’t mean you’re an expert copywriter. It takes specific skills and the right frame of mind to create copy that will accomplish the right goals in the right place at the right time. Publishing copy without a strategy can have a negative effect on your business and will take time and money to fix.
Hiring a copywriter can help you:
- Write powerful, effective copy for your specific business needs
- Ensure your copy is free of grammar and spelling errors
- See your business from a new perspective
- Release the tension of having to write the copy yourself
- Save you and your employees time destined for other tasks
Depending on your needs and budget, you can hire a junior copywriter or someone who specializes in a particular type of copy or a certain industry.
Why does quality copy matter for a business?
A business to do well needs to sell its products or be hired for its services. That’s where good copy comes in. The main point of copy is for people to see your ads, social media shares, landing pages, and feel inspired to spend their money. That’s why good copywriting is essential for turning leads into paying clients.
There’s a progression of positive things that good copy does for your business;
- First, it makes an emotional impact on potential clients with words.
- This emotional impact makes them feel like they can relate to your brand.
- When they relate, they will feel like your brand can solve their problem or pain point.
- The call-to-action helps motivate them to make a purchase.
- This leads to increased sales and conversions for your business.
As you see, copywriting has an important role in the success of your business. That’s why it has to be done strategically. Refreshing the copy for your business in the right direction can improve conversions considerably.
Copywriting doesn’t have to be mysterious or complicated. It takes research, skill, and a deep understanding of your business needs and goals, but the benefits of hiring a good copywriter can not be overstated.
Hiring a copywriter to help your business saves you time and brings expert skills to your business to have the best impact on your bottom line. A skilled copywriter who is armed with all the information they need can amplify your marketing efforts and ROI to new heights and curate your brand image for your target audience.