When I tell someone what I do for a living, I always get the same vacant expression followed by the same question “What does a copywriter do?”
It’s a fair question, and surprisingly, I get rather excited when explaining what I do. I’m also surprised when people take an interest in the words coming out of my mouth and actually question me further. And that’s precisely the joy of copywriting. Words.
What Does A Copywriter Do?
A copywriter creates text or as it is known in the business, copy, for the purposes of advertising and marketing. Creatively writing for companies in a variety of niches that you feel comfortable writing in. Whether that be for print:
Or for digital:
Everyday being different. Everyday being given a plain piece of paper to fill with your ideas.
Now let me say what a copywriter doesn’t do. Copywriters have nothing to do with any aspect of the law to help with someone’s exclusive legal right. We also don’t do photocopying for a living. Yes, I was asked many, many questions regarding photocopying to the point where I just went with it.
There are different ways a copywriter can go, whether into medical copywriting, where he or she produces copy specifically for medical journals, blogs and professionals. B2B copywriting is where one writes copy for a business from a business or B2C, which is writing copy for consumers from companies. The latter being the most famous avenue to go down.
We are the voices of clients. Our role is to inform and persuade the reader to take action. To subtly direct them into making a decision that’s in favour of the client.
But it’s not just writing that is involved in copywriting. We first need to know what to write, and that means attending meetings and then researching. Now, before some of you hit the back button because I mentioned researching, hear me out. Yes, it does mean visiting a library occasionally or browsing the internet if a client doesn’t give all the information required. But, researching can also mean hands-on experience. Getting out there and spending a day shadowing so to get a real first-person experience of what you’ll be writing.
If it’s selling to another business a product that a company deems the next best thing, then guess what, you get to see the product. Resulting in you knowing it inside out until you are confident that you can persuade your target audience into buying the product.
Let me break down the itinerary of a copywriter:
- Meetings with the client to create a brief
- Outline and create the first draft
- Write the actual piece
- More meetings
- Write some more
- And rest
It may sound a bit much, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds, and it can go quite quickly. It all depends on how much information you can obtain from the very first meeting. If you fill the brief with a lot of juice, then you’re on to a winner. It’s always best to go into a meeting with a list of questions that you know you’ll need to complete the project.
What skills do you need to be a copywriter?
Can you jump straight into it? You could, but I don’t think you would get very far.
There are plenty of courses online from reputable organisations; you will need to research each. Don’t just pick the first one that appears in the search engine. It’s always fair to compare. Don’t click on a copywriter/content marketers website where they offer you tons of material that only cost a couple of thousand dollars. There are other sources out there where you’ll receive qualified information and help for less. I should know because that’s what I did to get into this industry.
How do I know which copywriting niche to work?
Some of you will be looking for a change of career. If that’s the case, then depending on what your previous job entailed and the industry it was in, then I would recommend channelling your knowledge into copywriting for that sector. For example, if you worked within the retail industry as a buyer, customer service or as a sales assistant, then B2C is the way to go. You’ll know how to sell to customers, how to make them feel about a product and more importantly how to get that sale across the line.
From learning how to become a Copywriter through a course, you will get an overview of all the many routes a copywriter can choose. And whichever one that piques your interest you should try. Don’t worry if you get it wrong; try a different path afterwards.
Tip: Always go with your experiences. If you know about gardening, then reach out to garden centres. If you have experience within the transport sector, reach out to distribution centres, and vehicle manufacturers.
What are the perks of being a copywriter?
The perks are plentiful. But it depends on whether you are working for an agency or going it alone as a freelancer. Although there are many similarities, there are also some good reasons to be freelance.
As an employee within an agency, you are guaranteed a steady income. You will have assignments to complete, which will feed your passion for writing. Like-minded people will surround you and depending on how the environment is, you will write at ease.
If you go down the route of a freelance copywriter, then you choose the work you do, that you feel the most confident in doing. You will receive a higher wage as there will be fewer overheads. You can take holidays when you want and you are effectively the boss. If freelance suits your requirements better, I strongly recommend networking with other freelance copywriters. If you need a web developer of graphic designer/illustrator, then reach out to those. Being a freelancer in any business can be lonely. And being a writer can be one of the most isolated; so try and make friends with those who can help you succeed.
As a freelance copywriter, you can pick your hours, have lunch when you want and drink as much tea or coffee throughout the day. As a copywriter, you can pretty much work wherever, providing there is WiFi. Coffee shops are an excellent place to go, and when you get writers’ block, go for a walk.
The hardest thing about being a freelancer would be finding work. There are plenty of sites like Bark and UpWork to get you on your way, but I would build a portfolio of free work. Just a couple of pieces to then show potential clients later down the line. If you’re asked for examples before you begin to build your copywriting portfolio, create a piece that goes along the same path as what the client will eventually be asking.
With any self-employed business, word of mouth is the most inexpensive advertising engine out there and could be the first step to getting your first client. With that in mind, talk to your friends and family. Even your neighbours and party guests. Just introducing yourself and letting them know what you do goes a long way to striking up relationships down the line with possible business opportunities.
Tip: Don’t feel downhearted if you don’t get the job. A thick skin is required when you start as a freelance copywriter as there will be more rejections in the beginning before the “yes’s” start pouring in.
Do I need to know a lot about computers to be a copywriter?
The thought of learning something new can be daunting, especially for those who are in the process of changing careers. With most jobs involving computers, it’s not unusual for people to shy away from them. All because they weren’t computer literate. The good thing about being a copywriter is that all the work is through a Word document. So, don’t worry if you feel like a fraud by sending a potential client copy that’s in a Word file. Most businesses have a web developer to convert your text into a website, but there are also web builders that are easy to use.
Youtube has so many tutorials on how to do anything from A to Z, so if you ever did get stuck or needed reassurance, then browse Youtube. Over time you will become more and more confident. You’ll find yourself exploring more through computers that will expand your knowledge and push your business through the ceiling.
A copywriter writes copy for advertising and marketing. In a world where every business needs a copywriter to lift, make aware and push boundaries to reach the front of their respective industries, there are plenty of opportunities to succeed. Just persevere, and the results will eventually shine through.
So, If you’re looking at making the switch to copywriting and have a passion for persuasive writing, then by all means, go for it. As a freelance Copywriter, there are plenty of opportunities to grow. Whether it’s to earn a good wage or to build your own agency, copywriting always keeps you on your toes. It is an ever-changing landscape which in turn creates even more opportunities within the industry.