If you’re new to writing you may not have considered copywriter as a way to break into the industry.
Copywriting is as challenging as it is interesting and most writers overlook it in favour of more traditional publishing roads.
But wait, what’s a copywriter?
If you think about copywriting as writing for business then you’ll have it just about right. A copywriter is the person who comes up with slogans, billboards, traditional media ads and just about any other kind of sales copy (words) you can think of.
And what about all the words that go on websites? And those business blogs everyone has these days? Yup, a copywriter is behind it.
Because uncredited copy is everywhere, it’s easy to miss it as writing.
For people just getting started in writing, they may not even consider this type of writing as an option because it seems so mysterious.
Sure, it’s not as recognizable as, say, a published author credit or a byline in a newspaper or magazine but it certainly pays the bills.
By the way, if you’re looking to up-level your freelance game, I’ve created copywriting worksheets to help you work through some important questions.
Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my free resource library.
When you’re there, navigate to the freelancing category and download the “Freelancer Positioning Worksheet.”
The difference between copywriting and other types of writing
When most people think about writing they think of fiction and non-fiction.
Copywriting falls into the non-fiction camp and champions the art of persuasion.
AKA rhetoric. In general, a copywriter’s job is to persuade someone to take an action be it purchasing a product, signing up for an email list or clicking on a link.
You’ll find copywriters within marketing departments or working for advertising agencies or public relations firms.
And most freelance writers you meet are copywriters who are tired to explaining to people what copywriters do so they default to the generic “writer.”
How copywriting works
If you watched Mad Men then you have some idea of how copywriting fits into the larger world of sales and marketing.
In general, they’ll start with a brief from a client or brand explaining what problem their product or service is trying to solve and who will benefit from it.
They may have meetings with art directors or graphic designers to brainstorm concepts. And they may meet with the company to learn more.
Once there’s a firm concept in place, the copywriter will then create the different deliverables. Let’s say this project is an advertising campaign for a toy company who wants to launch the next big Christmas gift hit.
The copywriter would look at all the different aspects of the campaign (say for example, television ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, social media posts, email blasts, etc.) and create the written components.
Become a freelance copywriter
To get started as a copywriter there isn’t any sort of standardized degree or certification. You just start.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
In order to get work you need to showcase your skills. If you have a portfolio, great. If not, then get writing. Start a blog or devote yourself to some other form of content marketing to get your name out there.
If you don’t have skills, consider working at an agency. There are a couple benefits here, you’ll gain experience and learn how the industry works. There are a lot of agencies and they all need writers.
Browse LinkedIn and look for terms like “media,” “communications,” “marketing,” etc. From there figure out which ones are hiring and start applying.
Sure, copywriting may not be as glamorous as publishing in a literary journal but if you can find the right clients it can afford you a decent living.
It might be tricky to explain to other what you do, but it won’t matter if you fall in love with the art of copy.
Do you want to learn to be a copywriter?
There are a lot of freelance writing courses out there, but finding a good copywriting course is a bit trickier. So imagine how pleased I was when I stumbled upon Comprehensive Copywriting Academy. It’s exactly what the name describes.
I took the course and wrote a review of it for The Write Life.
If you want to learn how to become a copywriter and don’t know where to start, this is the course for you.
Here are just some of my notes from the beginning course to give you an idea of how strong the foundation is:
Copywriting is writing that sells, either literally or by convincing people to do something. It combines the science of marketing with the art of writing and is much more than simply being clever.
In fact, copywriting isn’t being clever at all but most people think it is. Most people don’t understand how to make copy effective and few people are able to write copy well.
Here are a few places you’ll see copywriting:
- banner ads
- direct mail
- newspaper and magazine ads
- radio ads
And now, for what is not copywriting.
- Novels, short stories and non-fiction aren’t copywriting
- Magazines and newspaper writing isn’t copywriting
- Ghostwriting is not copywriting if it’s not selling
- Blogging is technically not copywriting, it’s content writing
There are two main types of copywriting, direct response and branding. Direct response copywriting aims to get an immediate response from the audience while branding copywriting works to establish the image of a product or company to generate awareness.
Branding copywriting is more about getting an audience to buy into a brand while direct response copywriting wants you to buy now. Right now.
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