Copywriting is the backbone of modern business. It’s the art and tone used to embody the biggest brands in business, and the tactic employed at almost every level of an organization, from employer branding and internal communication to marketing and customer success.
Although business copywriting might not sound as glamorous as poetry, script, or novel writing, it’s an essential function of every business. In fact, there are probably many more people making a living off business copywriting than there are from writing novels.
But what exactly is copywriting for businesses? How does it differ from other forms of writing? And how can one become a successful copywriter? This guide will answer all those questions and more, providing a complete overview of this essential discipline.
What is copywriting?
First things first, let’s define what copywriting actually is. Simply put, it is the act of writing persuasive advertisements and marketing materials for businesses and brands. That can include website content, email campaigns, product descriptions, slogans, etc. A copywriter aims to not only inform the audience about a product or service but also convince them to take action—whether it be to buy the product, sign up for a newsletter, or attend an event.
Copywriting is an essential component of a successful marketing strategy. It allows businesses to communicate their value and appeal to potential customers. Without compelling copy, a business might struggle to stand out among the competition and attract leads.
Beginners should also note that copywriting is separate from copyright. While they share similar spellings and both involve writing, copyrighting refers to the legal protection of original written content. This protection can extend to novels, music, and other artistic works.
What is a copywriter?
A copywriter can be anyone with the skills and talent necessary for the content or copy job at hand. Many copywriters have backgrounds in marketing or advertising, as copy is a crucial part of those industries. However, some copywriters might have come from completely different fields and made a career switch to copywriting.
A copywriter is someone who can understand a brand’s message and audience and convey it clearly and compellingly to those people, specifically. Of course, a minimum understanding of grammar and a way with words is a minimum requirement. What’s important is that a copywriter has the right blend of creativity, persuasion, and business strategy.
They might work in-house for a company or freelance for multiple clients at once. Copywriters also often specialize in specific industries or niches, such as fashion or technology. It allows them to have a deeper understanding of the subject and better cater their copy to the particular target audience.
What does a copywriter do?
“Write copy.” Well, that’s certainly part o fit. Without going into too much detail about the specific tasks a copywriter might do on a daily basis, their main objective is to increase brand awareness and drive conversions. To accomplish this, they must first have a thorough understanding of the brand and its target audience. In essence, a copywriter is responsible for the following:
Finding new angles
Every product, service, or brand has been advertised a million times before. So much so, that audiences can become numb to the same tired pitches and slogans. A copywriter’s job is to find a fresh angle, something that will grab the audience’s attention and make them take notice.
Thinking outside the box is an essential key to successful copywriting. This requires being able to look at a brand from different perspectives and come up with unique ideas. Copywriters must also stay on top of trends and current events to keep their copy relevant and timely.
Although product descriptions are indeed a type of copywriting, it’s not always about directly promoting a specific item. A good copywriter can also expose connections between a brand and its audience and demonstrate how the product or service can improve their lives.
That’s where persuasion comes in. A copywriter must be able to effectively sell the value of a brand to the target audience and make them see why they need it in their lives. This process can involve highlighting specific benefits, addressing common concerns, or making an emotional appeal.
Understanding the market
Copywriting begins with listening and understanding. A copywriter must understand the brand they’re promoting and the market they exist in. A famous branding principle is “know thyself and know thy enemy,” which also applies to copywriting.
Before writing any copy, a copywriter must conduct thorough market research and understand the competition. They also need a solid grasp of current industry trends, consumer behavior patterns, and target audience demographics. This knowledge serves as the foundation for creating a compelling copy.
If you can explain why your brand is better than the competition or offer something unique that they don’t have, that’s a key selling point to highlight in your copy.
Intriguing and captivating the audience
Have you ever heard of Haikus? They’re a type of Japanese poem that follows a specific syllable pattern, and they are known for their brevity and simplicity. A copywriter must have the same ability to convey a message in as few words as possible while still being able to intrigue and captivate the audience.
It’s not enough to simply inform them about a product or service. The copy needs to grab their interest and leave them wanting more. Copywriters can achieve this feat through clever wordplay, wit, or even shock value. A copywriter must also understand basic psychology and how to create a sense of urgency, such as through limited-time offers or scarcity tactics.
In today’s fast-paced world, capturing someone’s attention for more than a few seconds can be challenging. A copywriter needs to know how to hook the audience in with just a few words and then deliver on that promise with engaging and persuasive copy. Leave them wanting more, and they’ll eagerly click that “buy now” button.
A copywriter must also be able to simplify complex information and present it in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. Write for a general audience instead of industry experts, and avoid using industry jargon or technical terms. Hyperbole, exaggeration, and overblown promises should also be avoided.
Transparency is key in building trust with the audience, so make sure all claims are backed up with facts and evidence. A copywriter must also stay true to the brand’s values and messaging while still being able to adapt and evolve as needed to keep up with the constantly changing market.
Simplicity also applies to design. Copywriting isn’t just about the words but how they are visually presented as well. Keep the layout clean and uncluttered, with plenty of white space for easy readability. Make sure your call-to-action stands out and is clear, and pay attention to font choices and colors that align with the brand’s image.
Trimming the fat
Finally, a copywriter is responsible for editing and refining the copy to ensure it is error-free and impactful. The more concise the copy, the better. Remove any unnecessary words or phrases that don’t add value to the message.
A copywriter must proofread for spelling and grammar mistakes, as these can significantly detract from the professionalism of a brand.
Furthermore, consider how the copy will be read and where it will be placed – is it an email subject line? A headline on a website? An Instagram caption? Each platform has its own character limit and formatting requirements, so the copy may need to be tweaked accordingly.
Who uses copywriters?
As you can see, copywriting involves much more than just writing words on a page. It’s a highly specialized skill that requires strategic thinking, creativity, and an understanding of consumer behavior. As such, it’s a valuable asset for many businesses and organizations needing promotional materials or advertising.
They might hire a freelance copywriter, bring one on as a permanent member of their marketing team, or work with a copywriting agency that has a team of experienced writers. No matter the source, businesses rely on copywriters to craft persuasive and effective messaging that will help them stand out in the crowded marketplace and drive sales.
Here are the industries where copywriting is particularly in demand:
- Advertising and marketing agencies: Naturally, agencies specializing in advertising and marketing rely heavily on copywriters to handle the workload for their clients. They might also use them to promote the agency’s own services.
- E-commerce and retail: Copywriters can create product descriptions, promotional materials, email campaigns, and more for online stores and brick-and-mortar retailers. Car dealerships are notoriously heavy users of copywriters, as they often have an extensive inventory that needs to be written about in an enticing manner.
- Technology companies: From website copy to white papers and case studies, technology companies rely on compelling copy to attract and educate potential customers.
- Nonprofit organizations: Nonprofits often have limited budgets for marketing, making the impact of their messaging even more crucial. A copywriter can help craft persuasive fundraising materials and compelling storytelling to drive donations and support for their cause.
- Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies: In addition to creating promotional materials, they also need copywriters for patient education materials and accurate, compliant labeling for their products.
- Political campaigns: Political candidates rely on the power of persuasion to convince voters, and copywriters can help them do just that with campaign materials such as speeches, website copy, and advertising.
These are just some of the industries where copywriting plays a vital role. No matter the industry or niche, all businesses need clear and persuasive messaging to attract customers and drive sales.
Basic interview questions for copywriters
Regardless of the company doing the hiring, an interview process is customary before bringing on a copywriter. Whether you’re on the receiving end of the questions or conducting them, it’s helpful to understand the common inquiries. That way, you can prepare your responses or evaluate a potential hire’s skills and fit for the job.
We generally split interview questions into hard skills and behavioral questions.
Hard skills refer to the specific abilities and knowledge necessary for the job. In copywriting, this would be understanding the target audience, SEO best practices, grammar and punctuation rules, and knowing how to use content management systems.
Some examples of hard skill questions might be:
- Can you give an example of a successful campaign you wrote for?
- How do you approach incorporating keywords and optimizing for search engines?
- Tell us about a project where you had to work within strict brand guidelines.
- Which content management systems are you familiar with using?
- Where do you go for industry news and updates?
On the other hand, soft skills refer to more general characteristics and personality traits that can contribute to job performance. These include things like communication, problem-solving, time management, creativity, adaptability, and teamwork.
Some examples of soft skill questions might be:
- How do you stay organized and manage your time while working on multiple projects simultaneously?
- Can you tell us about a situation where you had to adapt to unexpected challenges or feedback?
- How do you approach brainstorming and coming up with new ideas?
- Can you give an example of a successful collaboration with a team or client?
- How do you handle rejections or revision requests from a client?
Why Content Writing and Copywriting are Two Different Things
It’s important to note that content writing and copywriting are not interchangeable terms. While they both involve creating written material, they serve different purposes and require slightly varying skill sets. If you paid attention in English class, you might remember four fundamental types of writing: expository, descriptive, narrative, and persuasive.
Content writing primarily falls under expository writing, where the main goal is to inform and educate the reader. It often includes blog posts, articles, web page content, and informational materials.
The focus is on providing value and offering useful information to the audience. It might also delve into descriptive or narrative writing, as content needs to draw the reader in and make them want to continue consuming it.
Copywriting, on the other hand, falls under persuasive writing. Persuasive writing is about tugging at the emotions and convincing the reader to take a specific action, whether purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, or attending an event. Compared to content writing, it’s often shorter and more direct.
While both require stellar writing skills, copywriting also entails a strong understanding of marketing and sales techniques. A successful copywriter knows how to grab the reader’s attention and drive conversions through carefully crafted messaging. Mind you, both aren’t mutually exclusive. A good copywriter can also excel at creating engaging content and vice versa.
What is the copywriter’s workflow?
Art is very personal, subjective, and the same goes for copywriting. Every copywriter has their own unique process and approach unless they work for a company with strict guidelines. Generally speaking, though, the steps can be broken down as follows:
Before writing a single word, it’s essential to do your research and analyze the target audience. What product are you selling? What pain points does it solve for the customer? Who are they, and what do they care about? Once you clearly understand these things, you can start planning your messaging and desired call to action.
You should also organize your assignment by setting a deadline, outlining the content, and determining the tone and style.
Next, you’ll want to gather information about the product or service and develop ideas for how to sell it effectively. This step will have you comparing your brand to competitors, finding statistics and data to support your claims, and looking at successful examples from other companies in the industry.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the client or team members for clarification. It’s best to do so early on in the process rather than wait until you’re halfway through writing and realize you need to start over.
Once you have all the necessary information, it’s time to brainstorm and come up with ideas for how to effectively communicate the benefits of the product or service. This step may involve creating a list of potential headlines, outlining key points you want to include in your copy, and jotting down any word choices or phrases that stand out to you.
Brainstorming is the most varied step in a copywriter’s process, as each person has their own preferred methods. It might be done in an office setting, at a coffee shop, with pen and paper, or on a computer. Some may do it all independently, while others prefer bouncing ideas off colleagues or even conducting focus groups with potential customers.
It is best to develop as many ideas as possible and then narrow them down to the strongest ones that align with the brand’s messaging and target audience.
When you find your winning idea, it’s time to start writing. Here is where the copywriter’s skills in persuasion and marketing come into play, as they craft each sentence to effectively sell the product or service and drive conversions.
During this stage, it’s crucial to continually refer back to your plan and goals, ensuring that everything aligns with them. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try out new techniques, but also be willing to scrap something that isn’t working and start over.
Depending on the project, multiple rounds of editing may also be necessary before the copy is ready for final review by the client or team members. Here is where a fresh set of eyes can come in handy, as they may catch mistakes or suggest improvements that weren’t previously considered.
It’s also important to pay attention to grammar, spelling, and any other technical aspects during this step. The last thing you want is for your carefully crafted copy to be marred by avoidable errors.
Finally, it’s time for the copy to be reviewed and potentially tweaked or approved. Many companies partake in A/B testing, where they’ll try out two different versions of the copy to see which performs better with customers.
Even after it’s been launched and put into use, a copywriter should continue to monitor its effectiveness and make changes if necessary.
Job opportunities for copywriters
If you’re interested in becoming a copywriter, you’ll be pleased to know that several career paths are available. Here’s what you need to know:
In-house vs. freelance
Copywriters may work in-house, meaning they are permanent members of a company’s marketing team. This route can provide stability and the opportunity to work with various clients within the same industry. You may also have the chance to work with other departments, such as design and social media.
On the other hand, freelance copywriters have the flexibility to work with a range of clients and industries on a project-by-project basis. It’s essential to be organized and self-motivated in this role, as there may not be someone directly managing your workload.
Both options have their own benefits, so it’s up to the individual to decide which route they prefer. You might get paid an hourly or salary rate when working in-house, while freelance work often involves bidding on and negotiating project rates.
Copywriters can work in any industry that requires written marketing materials, such as advertising agencies, public relations firms, publishing companies, and corporations. However, many also specialize in a particular niche or subject matter, such as technology, fashion, healthcare, or finance.
No matter what industry you choose to work in, you should continually stay updated with the latest trends and developments to offer the most effective and relevant copy for your clients.
Content writing platforms
Content writing services and content platforms like Draft are always sourcing stellar writers for their business clients. You’ll need experience writing professionally and a portfolio of past pieces to make it through their thorough vetting process. They also pay you to do a trial piece to make sure that you’re a match for the platform before joining.
Skills needed to be a copywriter
Excellent writing and communication skills are a given for copywriters, but there are also a few other important qualities to possess to succeed in this field. These are skills that aspiring copywriters can work on developing to stand out in the job market.
Creating unique and engaging ideas is crucial for standing out in the crowded marketplace. It’s important to constantly challenge yourself and think outside of the box in order to captivate your audience and effectively convey the message your client wants to communicate. For instance, adapting your writing style and tone to fit different brands and industries shows versatility as a copywriter.
Attention to detail
In addition to creativity, a copywriter must also have keen attention to detail to ensure accuracy and consistency in their work. This includes proofreading for any errors and checking for alignment with the client’s brand guidelines or tone of voice. From spotting a misplaced comma to catching a discrepancy in the product’s benefits, having a sharp eye can make all the difference in creating a high-quality copy.
Adaptability is the ability to pivot and think on your feet to come up with solutions for any roadblocks that may arise. This can range from finding alternative phrasing when the initial copy isn’t resonating with the target audience to being able to adjust plans if a project timeline changes unexpectedly.
Conducting thorough research is key to producing effective copy that resonates with the audience and accurately represents the client’s brand or product. It involves gaining a deep understanding of the subject matter, as well as keeping up to date with industry news and trends.
Working closely with clients and colleagues means that strong interpersonal skills are a must for copywriters. You might need to negotiate project rates and timelines or gather feedback and incorporate it into the final copy.
Confidently communicating your ideas and working collaboratively can make for a smoother and more successful project.
Tools to excel your skills as a copywriter
The sheer amount of things to consider and keep track of can be overwhelming for copywriters, but luckily there are plenty of helpful tools and resources available to make the job easier. Here are some top recommendations if you’re just starting out or looking to improve your workflow.
Grammarly is a writing assistant tool that automatically detects and corrects grammar and spelling errors. It can also offer suggestions for improving word choice and sentence structure to enhance the overall readability of your copy.
Hemingway App is a writing editor highlighting complex sentences and suggests alternatives for improving readability. It also identifies passive voice and adverbs, both of which can weaken your copy’s impact.
Google Drive is a cloud storage platform allowing easy organization and collaboration with clients and colleagues. You can create shared folders for each project and easily access or edit documents from any device.
SEMrush is a digital marketing tool that offers various features, including keyword research and competitor analysis. These can be useful for improving search engine optimization and helping your copy stand out in the online marketplace. Competitor analysis can also inspire and insights for your own campaigns.
Lastly, we should also mention the growing use of AI-powered tools in copywriting. These can assist with tasks such as content ideation, headlines and meta descriptions, and even generating entire ad copies. While they are not a replacement for human copywriters, they can certainly help streamline the writing process.
As a copywriter, it can help you get through writer’s block, provide fresh perspectives, and ultimately save time in producing high-quality copy. However, it’s important to remember that AI tools should always be used as a supplement to your skills and creativity.
The role of copywriting in sales
Copywriting is a crucial component of any successful sales and marketing campaign. The words used in advertising materials, website content, and social media posts can make or break the success of a product’s promotion.
Copywriting involves creating attention-grabbing headlines and catchy taglines and strategically conveying a product’s benefits and value to convince potential customers to make a purchase. As such, copywriters play an essential role in driving sales and generating business revenue.
The job of a copywriter doesn’t end with just the written content. They must also constantly analyze and measure the effectiveness of their copy, adjusting and improving it as necessary to maximize its impact on sales.
Product descriptions, advertisements, and other sales materials may seem like small details in the grand scheme of a business’s operations. However, the words used to promote a product can ultimately make all the difference in attracting customers and driving conversions. That’s why skilled and experienced copywriters are essential for successful sales campaigns.
Is copywriting a growing industry?
As technology and the digital age continue to evolve, the demand for well-written content for websites, social media, and online advertising is only increasing. It has led to a growing need for skilled copywriters who can effectively promote products and engage audiences in the online marketplace.
In addition, copywriting has become an essential aspect of a company’s overall marketing efforts with the rise of content marketing as a crucial strategy for businesses. Content marketing as a market is expected to grow by $487.24 billion from 2022-2026, and that includes a demand for skilled copywriters to produce valuable, relevant content.
Overall, copywriting is definitely a growing industry with plenty of opportunities for those with the necessary skills and experience. As long as businesses continue to recognize the importance and value of well-written content in marketing and sales, the demand for experienced copywriters will only increase.
Types of copywriting
Copywriters can wear many hats during their careers, as they may find themselves working on a variety of different projects and materials. Here are some of the most common types of copywriting:
- Social media posts and advertisements: Captions, hashtags, and advertisements for social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
- Email marketing: Copy for email campaigns and newsletters
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Writing website content that incorporates targeted keywords to improve a company’s search engine ranking
- Product descriptions: Detailed copy explaining the features and benefits of a product
- Video/podcasts scripts: Writing the script for promotional or explainer videos
- Sales pages: Copy for landing pages or other sales materials
- Technical writing: Clear, concise copy for instruction manuals or technical documents
- Brand voice and messaging: Developing a unique brand voice and consistently incorporating it into all written materials
How much do copywriters make?
According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for copywriters in the United States is $48,272 per year. Of course, salaries can vary based on factors such as location, experience level, and industry. Copywriters who specialize in a certain niche or have extensive experience may also have higher salaries.
In addition to a yearly salary, copywriters may also have the opportunity to earn bonuses and commissions for driving sales through their copy. These can result in significantly higher earnings for successful copywriters.
Overall, a copywriter’s salary potential depends on various factors. But with the right skills and experience, it’s possible to have a lucrative career in copywriting.
5 ways to find copywriting jobs
If reading this guide only made you more eager to start your career in copywriting, congrats! You have completed your first step towards becoming a copywriter: recognizing your passion for the industry.
Now, here are some practical tips on finding copywriting jobs and breaking into the industry:
- Job boards
Job boards are a great resource for finding copywriting job opportunities. You’ll need to create a strong, keyword-rich resume and cover letter tailored for each position you apply to. Popular job boards to search for copywriting positions include LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor.
- Freelance marketplaces
As with job boards, having a well-crafted profile and portfolio will help you stand out from the competition. Freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Toptal can be good places to find copywriting gigs or even land long-term clients. Note that many of these marketplaces are a “race to the bottom” in terms of pricing, so it’s vital to set fair rates for yourself.
- Networking and referrals
Nothing is more valuable in the job search process than a personal referral or recommendation. Networking with other copywriters, attending industry events, and reaching out to past colleagues or connections can lead to job opportunities and referrals.
- Cold pitching
Cold pitching involves contacting companies directly via email or LinkedIn to inquire about potential copywriting jobs or freelance projects. Cold pitching can be a bit of a numbers game and may not always lead to immediate success, but it’s worth putting yourself out there and building relationships with potential clients.
A copywriting agency like Draft always looks for copywriters to help clear their backlog of client work and support their growing team. Joining a content agency can provide consistent, high-quality work and the opportunity to learn from experienced copywriters and editors. If you’re interested in joining our team, check out our writer page for more information.
How to Become a Copywriter (Tips from a professional copywriter)
Breaking into the copywriting industry may not happen overnight, but with persistence and hard work, you can find success as a copywriter. Before applying for any copywriting job or freelance gig, you’ll want to ensure you’re ready and fully equipped for the role.
Here are some tips on how to improve your skills and set yourself up for success in the industry:
- Create a portfolio
A strong portfolio is crucial for showcasing your copywriting skills to potential clients or employers. When putting together your portfolio, choose a selection of your best work and make sure it reflects the type of copywriting you want to do (e.g., if you want to specialize in B2B technology, include samples related to that industry). Having a well-designed, easily navigable website or online portfolio is also important.
The best place to host your portfolio is your website, which gives you complete control over the design and allows you to easily direct potential clients or employers to view it. If you don’t have the technical skills or resources to set up a website, use a free platform like Behance. However, most people can set up a WordPress site relatively easily and inexpensively with the help of a hosting provider like Bluehost.
- Take online courses or attend workshops
Knowledge is power, and continuing education is a great way to improve your copywriting skills and stay up-to-date on industry trends. Look for courses or workshops focused on copywriting, whether online or in person. You can also consider joining a copywriting organization like the American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) or attending conferences or events related to copywriting.
- Spend time crafting your schedule
Mental fatigue is real, and as a freelance copywriter, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy work-life balance. That can mean setting boundaries with clients or turning down projects that don’t align with your interests or goals. It also means taking regular breaks and vacations and staying organized with deadlines and project management.
When starting out, it’s easy to be constantly hustling and trying to please everyone, but it’s important to prioritize your own well-being to have a successful and sustainable career as a copywriter.
- Network, Always
Networking is essential in any industry, and as a freelance copywriter, building relationships can lead to potential job opportunities or referrals. Join LinkedIn groups or attend networking events related to the industry you want to specialize in. Don’t hesitate to contact companies via email or LinkedIn to inquire about potential copywriting jobs or freelance projects.
- Believe in your niche
Many copywriters try to be jack-of-all-trades, but it’s important to specialize and focus on your niche. It allows you to become an expert in that specific industry or field and sets you apart from other copywriters who may not have the same level of knowledge or understanding. Believe in your niche and let it shine in your portfolio, networking interactions, and pitch emails. Passion also allows you to do more before getting tired.
The bottom line
Finding a quality copywriter is tough—becoming one is even harder. Draft is home to hundreds of talented, vetted copywriters and content writers.