I’ve been wanting to write this blog post since I started this blog, mostly to act as a reference whenever someone asks me, “What’s a copywriter?” One would think that as a freelance copywriter, I’d be great at articulating what a copywriter does. But one would be wrong.
The truth is, what a copywriter does is too complicated to sum up in a single sentence, or even a paragraph.
If you’re curious about what copywriters do (and what I specifically do on a day to day basis), keep reading!
What’s a Copywriter?
First of all, no, I do not work for the U.S. patent office. You’re thinking of a copyright, and that’s a totally different thing.
Okay, now that we have that over with, let’s move on.
Anytime you see or hear words from a business, whether in the form of an ad, a website, an email, a brochure, or a social media posts – those words are considered “copy”. So, what a copywriter does is write those words.
Unlike other forms of writing like editorial and fiction, writing copy is all about getting your audience to take action. Buy this product, sign up for this email newsletter, follow our Instagram!
This is easier said than done. Countless drafts go into a single piece of copy to make sure it’s as effective as possible and resonates with the brand’s voice. Believe it or not, the shortest copy is actually the most challenging to write. When you only have six words to perfectly describe an idea, it’s quite difficult (and fun, in my opinion).
Traditionally, copywriters either worked in advertising agencies or as part of an in-house marketing team. If you’re curious about what life as an advertising copywriter is like, I encourage you to watch Mad Men. Although the market and technology has changed a lot since the 1960’s, copywriters are essentially doing the same work. We try to sell products, services, and companies through words.
But keep in mind: not all copywriters work in advertising.
Now, more copywriters are going freelance. Copywriting is great remote work, because most of the work can be done alone in your basement (or wherever you like to work).
What Skills Does a Copywriter Need?
Obviously, copywriters need to be creative and have top notch language skills. Copywriters also need to be versatile. Each client has a voice, and copywriters must adapt their writing styles to match that voice. Typically, clients will provide their brand guidelines that include tone of voice. However, sometimes (especially with new businesses), you just have to wing it! We also have to edit our copy for legal and sales departments, so it’s important not to have an ego in this role.
What Do Copywriters Write?
Here’s some more concrete examples of what it is that copywriters actually write:
Usually range from 300 to 2000+ words and take search engine optimization into account. Clients usually want blog posts as part of their inbound marketing strategy. (Want to learn how to write better blog posts?)
Copy for email newsletters can vary a lot from client to client. Some clients prefer a plain text format that reads more like a letter from a friend, while other clients use image-heavy emails with very few words. Copywriters also handle writing the subject line, usually providing several options for testing.
Copywriters also write all the words you see on any business’s website. From the hero banner on the main page to the “About Us” and the contact page – these are all the work of a copywriter.
This type of copywriting also takes user experience into account – how can you present your words and ideas that will make it easier for the customer to get to the next step?
Since e-commerce customers cannot experience a product firsthand before purchasing, businesses employ copywriters to write accurate and persuasive product descriptions. Product copywriters strike a balance between providing convincing information about a product while keeping their copy short enough for customers’ attention spans.
Brands love having a steady stream of content on their social channels, but who do you think writes all those pithy little captions? A copywriter, of course.
And that’s just the tip of the copywriting iceberg! There’s also other types of copywriting, like direct response, white papers, case studies, video scripts, etc. Each type of copywriting has its own skill set.
If you’re looking for a copywriter for a project, make sure that you find someone who specializes in the type of copywriting that you need. For example, don’t hire a blog writer to write Youtube bumper ads. Very few copywriters do it all.
What Does a Copywriter Do?
Here’s a casual list of things that I do as a copywriter on a semi-daily basis:
- Communicating with clients via emails and Skype
- Managing projects
- Sourcing images
- Prospecting clients
- Updating my social media
- Managing my finances
- Oh yes, and sometimes actually WRITING
What a copywriter does in a typical day:
11:00 am – Begin work (Since I work for myself, I have the luxury of following my natural sleep schedule and working out in the morning before starting my day!)
11:00am-11:15am – Check email, plan out day. I use Google calendars to create task blocks, which helps me to focus on what I need to get done.
11:15am-2:00pm – Work on client projects. I like to devote this part of the day to pure writing. My focus tends to be best in the early part of the day, and writing copy requires extreme focus!
2:00pm-2:30pm – Eat lunch. Sometimes I’ll take a bit longer and go on a walk or run errands.
2:30pm-4:00pm – More client projects. Finish up whatever I didn’t do before lunch. If I have time, I will work on my business blog or my personal blog.
4:00pm – whenever I get tired of working (usually 6 or 7pm) – Task-y stuff. Primarily updating my financial spreadsheets, answering emails, social media, and prospecting clients. Unfortunately, this is a big part of the freelance copywriting life. Not only do you have to write, but you also have to manage your own business.
I hope you found this informative. But if you have any questions about what copywriters do, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to answer any questions you have!
And if you’re a copywriter who’s tired of explaining what you do to your aunts and uncles over Thanksgiving, I encourage you to reference this article the next time someone asks you “What does a copywriter do?”
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