“Copywriting is the art and science of writing copy (words used on web pages, ads, promotional materials, etc.) that sells your product or service and convinces prospective customers to take action” ~ as defined by Neil Patel and Joseph Putnam, Quick Sprout
In the past, traditional copywriting involved mostly sales, marketing and advertising messages from cute jingles, cleverly-worded ads, direct mail, catchy headlines for posters, billboards, flyers to radio and TV scriptwriting, and continuity writing. While all of that still applies today, with the advent of the internet the scope of copywriting has evolved to include all the new platforms that words are required for.
Copywriting has evolved to include the new platforms that words are required for.
This is good news for writers as it opens up so many more writing opportunities with copywriting. So let’s dive into what is copywriting and how to gain some copywriting jobs.
What is Copywriting?
Marketing, Advertising and Sales Copywriting
There are those who separate marketing, sales and creative copywriting and direct response copywriting into three different categories. I feel that they all fall under the creative copywriting banner as they tend to overlap with one another.
Creativity and conceptualization is a large part of the copywriter’s job who writes copy for ads, marketing and promotional material as it often forms part of a larger campaign.
For this reason, the copywriting definition means that the copywriter is usually included in the brainstorming sessions with the other creatives, brand managers, product managers or advertising account managers. Marketing and branding knowledge is useful in sales copywriting.
The goal of sales copy is to encourage the reader to take a specific action. This could be to purchase a product, choose a service, sign up to an email list or even donate to a cause.
Effective sales and advertising copy is more than just snappy slogans, catchy taglines and punchy headlines. It has a certain skill and science behind it. A good sales copywriter knows which words (and how they’re put together) bring the best results. Good seductive sales copy should be clear, concise and persuasive without being pushy and in-your-face.
Content and Website Writing
Website copywriting involves writing well-thought out and targeted copy for a company’s website and includes the landing page, about page, opt-in page (if applicable), sales page, product or services page, etc. A well-written and structured website is designed to drive traffic and ultimately, for most companies, convert to sales. It should be informative and easy to navigate.
Content writing involves interesting and informative articles, blog posts, how-to guides, and even white papers that will be published on the web and possibly also included in e-newsletters.
Both website and content writers will benefit if they have SEO, web design, and even basic coding knowledge.
Closely linked to web and content writing, SEO writing is a fairly lucrative niche to follow. Everyone’s on the web these days and that means companies need content. Ideally, they want content that ranks well in Google searches.
Enter SEO (search engine optimization). Not every web page can land on Google’s first page, but those involved in SEO copywriting are striving to get as close as damnit to it!
And if you can prove you can write content that positions a website fairly well in searches, companies will be happy to pay good money to have you write for them. So go out and find those freelance copywriting jobs.
SEO copywriters need to be clued up on which keywords will attract more Google love. More importantly, they need to keep abreast of Google’s constantly changing algorithms to ensure that they write content that matches any new curveballs Google throws at us and that it continues to rank well.
Yuwanda Black is a very successful SEO writer who gives newbies some good advice on breaking into the SEO market. If you are interested in learning more about SEO writing, head over to her website for some tips.
Technical writing is not the first thing you associate with copywriting and is often an overlooked area of writing. Granted, it is not everyone’s forte. But technical writing is highly lucrative due to the fact that writers are usually highly skilled or knowledgeable in the topic they write about.
This could be anything from engineering, science, computers, finance, medical, physics or biotechnology. The list is endless.
In many cases, technical writers tend to have a background in the specialized field they write about. So an aeronautics engineer may write about how space shuttles are built, for instance.
However, even if you don’t have a background in the subject, if you have a knack for technical subjects you could be in high demand as a writer. It will be much easier to land work, given that the pool of writers you are competing against is much smaller in a specialized niche.
If you’re interested in a career in copywriting, there are plenty of resources and courses out there to help get you started. Taking a copywriting course is not mandatory – many successful copywriters never took any formal studies, but getting to grips with the basics of good copywriting will undoubtedly give you a leg up.