Now that you are here am assuming you want to learn what copywriting is and why it has become so popular. First, let me say that copywriting is different from getting copyright.
With that said, let me dive right into what copywriting is all about. Copywriting is the science and the art of writing with a set target. Copywriting takes various forms, such as video scripts, marketing emails, white papers, sales letters, etc.
Think about that catchy Tv ad you see in between your favorite program; a copywriter wrote that ad.
Do you ever get any sales emails in your inbox? That’s the work of a copywriter!
Ever heard those YouTubers that say, “ hello, welcome to my channel; my name is Wanjiru from this Perfect Mess. Today, I will be teaching you everything you need to know about copywriting but before that, don’t forget to like and comment your thoughts on this video and please subscribe if you haven’t subscribed.”
That is a good example of a copy. By doing that introduction, the YouTuber aims to make viewers like and subscribe to their youtube channel.
However, one thing is unique about copywriting, which differentiates it from other forms of content writing: copywriting is done to drive action.
Characteristics of Copywriting
Most people confuse copywriting with content writing, and there is a huge temptation to think that both are one and the same. However, some things make copywriting unique. Here are some things that differentiate copywriting from other forms of writing.
Copies address a specific audience. Let’s assume you run a women’s fashion line, and you recently introduced plugs-size bras, and you need to let people know that you will be running a sale for the remaining month of august. Your copy has to specifically address plus-size women and not all women.
Copywriting offers a unique promise to the readers. In our previous example, so many women-focused fashion lines already exist, and they most likely sell plus-size bras. So why are yours unique? Why should women buy from you and not from your competitors? Are you offering better prices? Are you custom-making them depending on the overall body shape of the plus-size women? Are you delivering them to their doorstep? Are you offering a favourable return policy? What is unique about you?
In copywriting, we call this unique selling proposition (USP.), so before you start writing a copy, you should have an in-depth understanding of the business, and you should be able to establish what is unique about your business to write copies that sell.
Copywriting requires strong proof. For content writing, say, writing a blog post about why you need a properly fitting bra, facts and figures will do, but when it comes to writing a copy for the same bras, facts and figures might not work; there needs to be enough proof.
How many times did you go through the previous customers’ reviews on amazon before buying a product? I use reviews to decide which restaurant I go to, I used google reviews to settle for the mobile phone data provider to use on my recent trip to Italy, and I like using testimonials, and I know you do as well. While a bomb product description (copy) will draw your attention, good proof of the product’s authenticity will give readers the confidence they need to buy.
So when copywriting, you must use customers’ testimonials or evidence. For example, in our bra scenario, having pictures of plus-sized women wearing well-designed bras will give an overview to a potential plus-size looking to make a purchase. Having your old customers make a testimonial will help you win in writing great copies.
In copywriting, you must include a call to action. Copies, as we discussed earlier, are written with an objective. As a copywriter, always ensure this objective is not implied but explicit. A good example, a few months after starting my YouTube, I would ask people to subscribe, but I wouldn’t ask them to follow me on Instagram.
Although I included my Instagram handle in almost all of my video description boxes, I was hardly getting any following. A few months after, I started including “please follow me on Instagram at Sheeroh Njuguna” in all my videos in my intro and outro.
As I write this, it has been less than four months, and I already got over five hundred new Instagram followers. All I am trying to say is, as a copywriter, you should never assume that your readers know what to do or tell them what to do. Also, let them know why they should do it now. In our previous bra example, you could tell them that there is a 30% off if they buy any of the products within the remaining month of August.
Now that you know what makes copywriting different from other forms of writing let’s go through what makes you a deadass good copywriter. If you are just starting your copywriting career, I know how that feels, and sometimes the pressure to perform may be so much that we end up not doing anything.
Here is the thing to know, though, just like any other career, you will probably suck in your first few copies, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue copywriting. Everything gets better with time.
How to Write Good Copies.
Here is a simple blueprint of what makes for good copies. Always go through your draft to see what part of it is missing and add it, and within no time, you will be a big name in the copywriting business.
As with any other writing form, you must be curious to write good copies. Dig deep into books, publication journals, and any other materials you can access. Luckily we live in a day and age where access to information is no problem. Dedicate some time researching copywriting and the business you are writing for.
We both know it is impossible to write about something you don’t know about. However, you do not have to know about everything; better still, you do not have to know about something to write about it.
However, with proper research and preparations, you can write about anything. In copywriting, research helps you understand the business you are writing for and the audience of your copies.
Through research, you will understand the audience’s needs so that you can craft a value proposition that sells. Through research, you can also understand the lingo of the business you are writing for, so your copies can sound like expert copies.
Before writing your copies, dedicate some time to research, and you will never go wrong with your work.
After researching and drafting the skeleton of your copies, think about that one advertisement on TV or a billboard that stuck with you from the first day you saw it. What was it about it? What did they say about it? Why was the first impression so effective?
A simple answer to these questions is headlines. On a written copy, the first impression is the headline of your copy. In our social media era, the attention span has also greatly reduced, and what that does to copywriters is leaving us no room to slack off, especially with the headlines.
Try to craft a headline that grabs readers’ attention and makes them want to read what’s next. The best headlines, in my opinion, are emotional questions. Let me take you a step back to our research part. When you establish through research what needs your audience wants to be met, you can tap into their “neediness” and come up with something that tickles their emotions.
Let’s say you are writing a copy for a website that allows people to list clothes and other household or office stuff they don’t use for selling. If you think about it, some of the problems of hoarding such stuff include cluttered spaces, lack of time to sell them, high commissions from exiting websites, etc.
Upon establishing the problem, you can formulate a headline that addresses those needs with a touch of emotions to make it more realistic to the reader.
For example, you can say,
TIRED OF YOUR CLUTTERED SPACE? Or, EARN MORE FROM YOUR CLUTTER. These two taglines address the reader’s problem; while they are short and precise, they trigger all the necessary emotions.
The first tagline reminds the reader how badly they can’t wait to have a less cluttered space. The second one informs the reader that the litter they think is useless can earn them some money.
Everyone wants to make money, but earning from something you would have otherwise shoved in the trash bin or left in your store for years without using it is super attractive. In the case of a reader who probably used another similar service, the word more in that tagline informs them that the earnings on this website are higher than the current market rate.
In both cases, the reader will want to know how they can get rid of their clutter or earn a decent income from their clutter, which will translate into them reading the next line of your copy.
As a copywriter, you cannot afford to lack empathy. Your copies are written sales pitches, but you have to avoid by all means making your copies sale-y without any emotions.
Buying is an emotional process, and as a copywriter, you have to put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What is their main pain point? What solutions are they looking for? What solutions are you offering them?
As a copywriter, quit thinking of words as plain lifeless texts meant to be read by people who should buy from you. Instead, look at your work as a breathing, living, and moving piece of information meant to tickle certain emotions in your readers for them to take action.
Your readers have to feel seen and understood. Customers are not objects; they are humans, so form a relationship with them through your copies.
Think about that one time you flew next to a stranger or waited in line with one and ended up being “best friends” after that. In such a scenario, both of you are on common ground, i.e., flying next to a stranger or waiting, so you identify with each other to a certain extent. Sparking a conversation with someone like that, despite where each of you comes from, isn’t that hard.
The same applies to copywriting; bring yourself to the level of your reader. Make them identify with you, make them feel seen. Make them feel that their problems are understood and that someone is willing to offer them a solution. When you achieve empathy, writing a copy that sells will be easier than you know.
Use the right tone
Like empathy, the tone you use to write your copies is very important. The basic thing about tone is bringing your reader to the level of your best friend. Do not write to a stranger somewhere on mars; talk to your best friend in your copies.
Another way of thinking about the tone to use when writing your copies is thinking that you have only one customer. You could be writing an email copy for a business with over one thousand contacts in their email list, but here is the catch, do not write to the one thousand. Make a copy as though you had one person on the email list.
People want to feel important and seen, and you do this not by generalising but by singling them out of the crowd. That way, the copy has the potential to drive actions.
Entertain the readers
In copywriting, facts, figures, graphs, and product features won’t do much of the game, but stories will. Avoid writing plain copies; navigate towards entertaining your readers. Where possible, share a story with them. Paint a picture in their head, and take them on a mental journey. Build excitement in them.
Telling stories, as is the case in the tone used, helps build a relationship with the reader, and as a result, the reader is more likely to take the required action as opposed to a case where no relationship was formed.
As a copywriter, you have to learn to build enthusiasm for your reader, and how this happens is simply building enthusiasm when writing. Always remember that your text is alive. If you write your copies while halfway asleep, you will most likely write less enthusiastic copies that won’t bring any excitement to your readers.
Sell the benefits, not the product.
Listen, the main reason you write copies is to drive readers to take a certain action, and the way to do this is to assure them that you are helping them solve a problem.
When writing copies, avoid dwelling on the features of the product you are selling or the awards your business has won in the past but jump into showing how the readers will benefit from what you are trying to sell to them.
Be brief and to the point.
Your copies won’t sell because they are long. People’s attention span decreases daily, so keep it short and sweet. Avoid dragging readers for too long. Capture their attention with a punchy headline, and ensure that every sentence you write makes them want to read the next.
As we mentioned earlier, copywriting involves selling benefits, not the product. Therefore jump right into how your reader will benefit from what you are selling to them.
Create some white space
So closely related to the brevity of your copies is the way you present your copies. Avoid long sentences and huge paragraphs. Short paragraphs with white spaces between them make the readers pay attention and follow through with your copies to the end.
White spaces aim to retain the reader’s attention through to the end of the copy. Another great way to create whitespace in your copywriting is using bullet points. This ensures that you present your copies in bit-sizes that your readers can read and digest.
Leave no room for doubt.
Think of copywriting as a traditional salesperson role. How much will you spend if you doubt a certain purchase will meet your needs? Probably nothing. That is the same logic you should apply when copywriting.
Are your copies convincing? Are they thorough? Do they have some backing in them? In contrast to content writing, for example, blogs, copywriting requires testimonials to build trust with the readers.
Include what people say about the product you are trying to pitch in a copy. People want to feel like they are not the first ones to buy. Also, people are more likely to trust what other users say about a product than what a seller says.
This takes us back to the amazon reviews we go through before making purchases, for example. In as much as the seller has made great pictures of the product and written a comprehensive description with features and functionalities, the reviews from previous buyers, in most cases, determine whether we end up buying or not.
That is the power of a testimonial. Do not just write the number of sales your company has made or statements like, “buyers liked the product.” Include good, verifiable testimonials from satisfied clients.
What is your selling point?
In your copywriting career, you will most likely write for businesses with competitors, and this is where the unique selling proposition(USP) or your selling point comes in.
What is your competitive advantage? What makes you a better option than your competitor?
You have to mention your unique selling proposition upfront and explicitly. You cannot imply the USP in copywriting.
Understand your business, understand what makes it unique and let the readers know.
Call to Action
Readers need prompting. As mentioned earlier, copywriting is done to drive a certain action. Having this aim in mind as a copywriter is important, and explicitly mentioning that to your readers is a must for your copywriters to sell.
What do you want to achieve with your copies? Is it to make people sign up for your newsletter or take advantage of a sales period? Make sure you mention that for your copies to sell.Now that you have learned what makes for a great copy, let’s look at what you need to pursue a career in copywriting.
Skills and characteristics of a good copywriter.
Copywriting is not the easiest job; if it were, everyone could be doing it. However, it doesn’t mean it’s beyond anyone’s reach. Here is what you need if you are determined to make businesses achieve goals by helping them write bomb copies.
Good writing skills
To be a fantastic copywriter, you have to possess good writing skills. Don’t get me wrong; I do not mean perfect, but you should be somewhere with your writing.
The good thing about writing is that, just like any other skill, you can learn and perfect it on the go. From experience, I think the more you write, the better you become and the more creative you get.
So if you are thinking of pursuing a career in copywriting, do not sit for a year trying to be perfect. Just start; the more you do it and make mistakes, the better you become.
Other than consistent writing, you can harness your writing skills by reading widely. While reading many copies helps you grasp the general copywriting formula, reading general literature and books helps stir your creativity and improve your grammar.
Important also is proofreading and editing your copies. No matter how good of a writer you are, you will make errors when writing your first draft copy. Reading through it after you write will ensure that you catch any misspellings, faulty sentence construction, or improper punctuation.
I would also advise using Grammarly to check your final copy. Grammarly is a typing assistant that helps review your writing for sentence construction, grammatical, and punctuation errors.
I have found Grammarly very helpful in my writing career. However, though, do not just use Grammarly without proofreading your work. There is only too much that AI can do. Human proofreading helps catch contextual errors which the software might not catch. So both human and software editing should go hand in hand.
Another way to write great copies is by planning your ideas before starting to write. Never blind write anything. During your research, write down your key points; it doesn’t have to be neat, but make sure it is something you can come back to and understand. Draw your initial format and visualise it in your head before putting it on paper and finally on your computer.
Planning your write-up does not only help you write great copies but also helps you save time in your writing process.
Unless you are employed by a company or an agency, copywriting will mostly be freelance. Therefore you will need the discipline to stay put and focused on your work when you can otherwise watch funny videos on TikTok or lay on the couch fantasising.
While the motivation to venture into a copywriting career is the ability to be your boss, this comes with a set of challenges, among them being disciplined.
What I have found helpful on this front is putting down a routine that works for you and determine what works for you.
Freelance work gives you a lot of time since it cuts the commute time wasted on traffic to a traditional office job. With more time on your hands, you can plan well.
Determine when you are most productive and have minimal distractions. I have found that having a plan always helps me remain focused. Though sometimes you will drift, as is common to our human reality, you will have a compass to guide you.
A lifelong commitment to learning
A Copywriting career will require you to commit to learning. Sometimes you will work with new clients, and you will be required to understand the nature of their business and the products and services they sell to create copies.
Learning new trends in the digital marketing space will also be important if you intend to write digital copies such as SEO content.
As discussed earlier, avid reading will be very useful for you as a copywriter to get on top of the copywriting game.
While copywriting involves writing alone, especially if you are a freelance copywriter, getting any copywriting gig will require that you possess some social skills to pitch your skills and negotiate a deal.
It isn’t all rosy; some clients can be annoying, and you will need some emotional intelligence to deal with them.
Also, charisma will put you ahead of the game when bidding for a copywriting gig.
As mentioned, empathy is a huge part of writing outstanding copies. As a result, you will need some degree of empathy as a copywriter. Are you able to feel all the emotions of the readers? Can you put yourself in their shoes and answer their main pain point?
What are the pros and cons of a copywriting career?
I assume that you still think copywriting is a career worth pursuing. I will tell you that copywriting is a rewarding career that has been there in the past and will be there in the years to come, so don’t fear that computers might replace it like in other careers.
Once you venture into a copywriting career, here are a few things you should expect.
It is safe to say that slowly the American dream is shifting to many young people wanting to achieve freedom when it comes to time. While many careers out there promise a good return, there are very few career paths that promise good returns plus free time in the same package.
The puzzle in finding most of those highly rewarding careers is the inability to find time to spend the money. Dreamt of working under a palm tree while sitting on sandy beaches? Well, a career in copywriting can help you achieve that dream.
You can write copies from anywhere around the globe as long as you have reliable internet and your computer.
Also, you can change your schedule depending on when you prefer to work. For example, I prefer working early morning compared to in the afternoon. With that in mind, I do not have to start working at 8:00 am or 9:00am. I prefer starting earlier then taking my afternoon off.
It is all different for different people, but copywriting allows you the freedom to plan your time and tasks.
A long-lasting marketable career.
Copywriting is not going anywhere any time soon. Copywriters were needed years ago, and they will still be in demand in the future. Pursuing a career in copywriting allows you to build skills that will give you job security in the coming years.
Also, you do not have to stick to one line of work as a copywriter. As you grow and evolve in the copywriting industry, you can keep changing your specialisation as a copywriter.
A copywriting career is one of those areas you can grow to no limits, both in terms of ranks and income. Corporate jobs sometimes fail to recognize the hard work, and as a result, you may work years without getting proportional remuneration.
In some companies, any extra hours you put in are not compensated as overtime. When some executives set a deadline to be met, they don’t care how many hours you put in before hitting that deadline. You mighty work day and night 24/7, but all they care about is the deadline being met.
In copywriting, the more hours you put in, the more you earn. You are responsible for how many hours you work and, therefore, for your career growth.
You also get to decide how many projects you work on and how much money you charge for each project; therefore, you are also responsible for your own income potential.
Pursuing your passion.
If you love writing, then a career in copywriting helps you pursue your passion and make money while at it. The good thing is, with time, you will be able to identify the area that m mostly interests you and pursue it.
You will never have to wake up and feel sick that it’s another work day. Working a job you love is an absolute goal, and that’s what a career in copywriting presents to you.
Cons of copywriting.
As with everything, copywriting has its downside. Depending on whether you are a freelance copywriter or working for an agent or a company, the challenges of a copywriting job will vary. Here is the main one.
You will have to pitch your copywriting skills.
When working for an agent or a company, you don’t have to, as your agent or boss will avail of copywriting jobs. However, if you pick the freelance route (which I highly recommend), you will have to look for your clients.
This might be a challenge at first, but with time, you will find people approaching you to write copies for them.
Copywriting is solitary.
Working in an office keeps your social web somewhat intact compared to working as a freelance copywriter. Sometimes you will sit in your house or office alone without seeing anyone, depending on whether you have a family.
While this may take a toll on your social life, I find it helpful for my concentration and creativity because I can barely function in a distractive environment, and only a handful of people can multitask effectively.
As a copywriter, though, you will require some discipline to not self-destruct and stay focused on your task, especially because you won’t have a boss on your neck trying to tell you what to do and when to do it.
Where can you get copywriting jobs?
With all the discussed benefits of being a copywriter, you might be ready to start a copywriting career but probably worried about where to get your first gig. As we have already discussed, you can work for a company as a copywriter or for an agency, or as a freelance copywriter.
Working as a corporate copywriter is attractive because you are assured of a certain amount of money at the end of the month, and you do not have to care about where to get the next copywriting gig. In addition, corporate copywriting offers you a steep learning curve if you want to learn more about the area.
However, being a corporate copywriter limits you to writing for that company only, so you lose on exposure to different clients. In addition, your growth both in earnings and ranks is at the mercy of your employer. So, corporate copywriting is limiting in that sense.
Working as a copywriter for an agency is also beneficial because you don’t have to pitch to get gigs; you get to write about different subjects, and in most cases, work is guaranteed.
However, you don’t have the freedom you would have if you were a freelance copywriter. The clients you work for depend on the clients the agency has.
In my opinion, working as a freelance copywriter is a real flex. You have all the freedom to choose who to work with, but you have to look for them.
Here is where to get copywriting jobs as a beginner.
Make use of your LinkedIn
Have you already optimized your LinkedIn profile as a copywriter? If not, do so, so that you can appear in recruiters’ searches. Also, follow other copywriters on LinkedIn to learn new trends in the industry and see job ads. If you are completely new, you could offer to write a free sample copy to put yourself out there. No, this is not desperation; it’s a tact.
Start a blog.
I love blogs! Blogs are amazing in so many ways to a writer. Remember the testimonials we talk about earlier? What better way to convince a client that you can do what you are promising than to present a portfolio in the form of a blog?
Minus a blog being your online resume, a blog helps you earn money in different ways, and you can grow your income as an SEO copywriter.
With a blog, the options are limitless. You can do email copywriting to your blog contacts and sell both digital and physical products.It may take some time to grow your blog, but it will be worth it.
Attend workshops and network.
To make money, you have to spend money. A copywriting career is not a cash cow you are willing to invest nothing into and expect it to generate money for you.
There are free and paid copywriting workshops, but paid ones would be my best pick. During the paid ones, you are most likely to meet people looking to hire copywriters as opposed to free ones, where people looking to be hired will be full.
Attending a paid workshop is not the end; you must network with the other attendees to land a gig. I am sure you have heard that your network is your net worth. You might meet someone who is not hiring then, but they may have a copywriting gig in the future, or they may refer you to someone else, which leads me to the next point.
Like testimonials for your business, a referral is a trust backing for your copywriting business.
I hope you don’t think that business cards are for lawyers and other business people and not for you. Print out a small portfolio as a business card and include all your contact details.
Sometimes you may share it with someone that doesn’t have a copywriting job, but they will mention you to someone else, and you may land a gig that way.
Also, when you get a gig, write those copies as if your life depends on it because it does. I am not saying you lick ass because some clients can be stubborn, do your best as this will most likely earn you more clients and work in the future.
Guest posting is another way of putting yourself out there as a copywriter. Guest posting means writing for another website and, in that way, getting exposure. There are many sites you can guest post for, or you can write a blogger and request to guest post for them.
Thankfully, in this era of technology, myriads of sites post freelance jobs. As a new copywriter, you can sign up for one or several of these sites, which are mostly free, and start sending out your application as a copywriter.
Example of these websites include; Upwork and Fiverr.
We have learned that copywriting is writing intending to drive a certain action. You are now prepared to start your copywriting career. Do not wait until you are perfect to start copywriting; there is no perfect time; all you need to do is start, and you will learn a lot on the go. If you need more resources, check out copyblogger.com for more insights on copywriting. Also, feel free to comment on your questions below, and I will respond to them.