What the heck is Copywriting?
Contributed by Idea Collective Member:
Copywriting... What's That?
You might have heard of “copywriting,” but you’re not sure what it is. The word itself is a little mysterious. “Copy?” As in a Xerox machine? Do those even exist anymore? Why would someone need to write a Xerox machine?
Ha, ha. But seriously, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people read print newspapers, the text was called “copy.” Hence, “writing copy.”
But what does a copywriter actually do? Speaking as a copywriter, I can tell you confidently: I write words for a living.
(Don’t confuse copywriting with “copyright.” Copyright attorneys help protect someone’s legal right to original material. But that’s not what copywriters do. We aren’t attorneys of any kind.)
What does a copywriter do?
According to the American Writers and Artists Institute, “Copywriting is the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a purchase, click on a link, donate to a cause, or schedule a consultation.”
As a copywriter, I produce persuasive copy on various advertising mediums, online and offline. Examples of copywriting include the traditional long-form sales letter, sales emails, and social media content for businesses. Basically, if it’s using words to persuade your audience to do something, it’s copywriting.
Copywriters can take their careers in many directions. Some focus only on a particular business niche, like writing for HVAC companies or auto mechanics. Some focus on writing a particular type of copy. These include email specialists or white paper specialists. My focus is writing for business and life coaches, though in reality I end up writing for all sorts of businesses.
Who needs a copywriter?
Virtually every business needs copywriting. Without advertising, no one would know about their business. Besides just needing to let potential customers know they exist, the business needs to effectively communicate their offer. Copywriters are experts at crafting the right advertising message for the right audience.
Copywriting is everywhere. Online and offline, you’re surrounded by the messages copywriters create every day. From emails to fundraising letters, copywriting is all around you.
If you’re a small business owner, you might be doing the copywriting yourself. Perhaps you’re even good at it! But at a certain point, you might want to focus on your area of genius, and let a professional copywriter work for you.
How do copywriters work?
I imagine that all copywriters have their own way of getting the job done, but there are a few foundational principles.
My first job is to listen. I absorb everything I can about your business. I learn about how you serve, how you make money, and who your best customers are.
Then I do research. I find out what your customers are talking about, what kind of language they use, and how they think. I learn how to relate to them and how to get an emotional response.
Finally, I’ll start writing. This is the “ugly first draft” stage, where I try not to censor myself. I don’t edit. I just let the words flow. Then, ideally, I let the piece rest for a day. This allows me to gain some distance from the work and approach it from a more objective point of view.
The piece may go through several revisions. If I have time, I ask for feedback from my writing group. The last step is to present it to my client and receive any feedback they might have. I might revise further, if needed.
Copywriting is a wide profession, and one that can go in many directions. There are folks who work for themselves (freelancers like me), people who work for an agency, or even in-house copywriters.
If you’re looking for a copywriter to help with your business, do some research. Odds are, there is a freelance copywriter out there who specializes in your industry. They may be the best choice to help you.
Overall, working with a copywriter should be easy and profitable. Having a personal connection is key, too. You want to feel like your copywriter “gets” you and your business. A short meeting will help you make the determination.
If you’d like to talk more about copywriting for your small business, join the Idea Collective and benefit from the brilliant minds of its members.
Erica Flynn Lovecraft
The Coaches' Copywriter
I’m the Coach’s Copywriter. I take the words out of your head and put them onto the page.
You don’t need to spend all day wrestling with Microsoft Word. Offload the writing work to a professional, and watch your profitability soar.
I take writing off your plate so you can focus on what you do best: working with your clients. I can write your blog articles, social media content, email funnels, and anything else we dream up together.