What Is Copywriting?
It’s always best to start with a definition of copywriting. It’s important when developing a new skill that you can accurately name the thing you are about to learn.
So, here’s my simple, no-nonsense definition:
Copywriting is using words to sell people stuff.
It may sound basic at best, but at the very core, that’s truly what copywriting is.
For a more formal definition, Wikipedia describes copywriting as “the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy or sales copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.” So, in other words, it’s exactly what I said … using words to sell people stuff!
It’s that basic yet so complex at the same time. The words you choose and how you use them are the key to unlocking the secret of how to make copywriting work for you. Whether you are an aspiring copywriter or a business owner who wants to increase sales, embracing the power of the written word will bring you one step closer to mastering the art of copywriting and achieving your dreams.
Personally, I have been a copywriter for more than 14 years. My sales letters have generated in excess of $100 million in sales for various clients, as well as my own company (no guarantees are being made here obviously).
Through copywriting, I have had the pleasure of writing for a myriad of different industries – business, health, technology, sports, pets, personal development, and insurance to name a few. I love writing and want to share my tips with you to help you become the very best copywriter you can be!
What is Copywriting? – Short History Lesson
Copywriting has been around longer than you think. According to Jones The Writer, “Copywriting has existed since Babylonian times and the first printed material is said to have come into the world in 1477, promoting the sale of a prayer book.”
Once mass printing processes were perfected in the 17th Century, copywriting became a popular way to promote businesses and increase sales. Copywriting was prevalent in newspapers and even used by our earliest Presidential candidates in political races.
What is Copywriting? – How We Got Here
Years ago, newspapers and mail were the main places to find copywriting, but thanks to advances in technology, copywriting today has many outlets. Today, we have the Internet, social media sites, company websites, advertorials, videos, TV, Radio, podcasts and so much more.
The market is flooded with copywriting. Sometimes it’s so pervasive that we don’t even realize that it’s right in front of our eyes or ears, but it’s everywhere! If I may use a big copywriting word right now, then I would say copywriting is ubiquitous.
If you don’t believe me then here are just a few places, you’ll find copywriting in your everyday life:
- Driving down the street, a billboard promoting an accident attorney catches your eye – that’s copywriting!
- Scrolling through Facebook, you see an ad for a new series on Netflix – that’s copywriting!
- While shopping on the Internet, a banner ad promoting a completely different product pops up on your screen – that’s copywriting!
- A politician delivers an address for re-election – that’s copywriting!
The list could go on and on. Copywriting truly is ubiquitous!
What Exactly Does A Copywriter Do?
According to Media Bistro, here’s how they sum up what a copywriter does as far as day to day work:
A copywriter creates clear, compelling copy to sell products and/or educate and engage consumers, flexing persuasive writing muscle on websites, blog posts, product descriptions, email blasts, banner advertising, newsletters, white papers, PSAs, social media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram, and other marketing communication vehicles.
It’s a pretty thorough definition of what a copywriter does. I’ll add that another part of copywriting is thinking. You really want to do a lot of thinking before you start writing anything down. Copywriting in many ways is the easy part. It’s not what to write about that takes more time.
Who are you trying to sell? What problem are you solving? What makes your product or service stand out from all the others? These are just a few of the questions you need to answer before you start writing your copy.
Now for me, copywriting has been a game-changer. It transformed a young, college drop out into the owner of multiple, million-dollar companies. But, with anything, there are pros and cons and you should definitely consider all of the factors before taking a leap into copywriting.
The Pros Of Copywriting
- Copywriting is necessary for every industry and will always be in demand.
- Copywriting allows you to work independently as a freelancer.
- As a freelancer, you can work anywhere, anytime from the comfort of your own laptop.
- Copywriting allows you to control pay and set rates on a per-project basis, per sale, or as a percentage of overall sales.
- You can receive other benefits, like free products, bonuses, or an equity stake in the company you are writing for.
- Copywriting can be very rewarding and very lucrative.
The Cons Of Copywriting
- Copywriters must love or at the very least like writing.
- Copywriters must have the ability to learn about new industries quickly and have the desire to learn.
- Copywriters must write quickly and adhere to deadlines sometimes with very quick turnaround times.
- Copywriters must possess good self-control and time management skills.
Copywriters are self-starters and are ok working alone – copywriting can be lonely at times.
What Skills Do You Need To Be A Copywriter?
If you think you’re ready to take the plunge and try a career in copywriting, then here is a quick checklist that breaks down what skills you need to be a copywriter:
- A copywriter loves writing! Hopefully, you love writing as much as I do because you will spend a great deal of time at your keyboard. If you don’t love it, you at least need to like it because this is how you will spend the majority of your day.
- A copywriter loves to learn new things! You will learn many things through copywriting so a love for conducting research is crucial. Many times, you will be given a topic that you know absolutely nothing about and have only a few days to get up to speed. After hours of research and writing about the topic, you will become an expert copywriter on the subject.
- A copywriter is creative! This does not mean that you need to be an artist who paints landscapes and sculpts with your bare hands. But, you do need to paint pictures with your words – so to speak. Thinking outside of the box to create unique hooks and angles to sell a product is definitely a trait a copywriter needs to possess.
- A copywriter understands sales! You may not have to meet with buyers face-to-face, but your words are used to sell a product or service and need to convince buyers to make a purchase. If you have sales experience that is a plus because you can harness that experience into your copywriting. Some of the best copywriters were once salespeople who have experience with the process.
- A copywriter is part psychologist! A good copywriter gets into the mind of the buyer and understands their needs, wants, and desires. They understand what drives consumer behavior and how that converts to sales. The more you understand people and the psychology behind sales decisions, the better copywriter you will become.
How Can I Learn Copywriting?
Not a day goes by someone does ask me about copywriting. They want to know how to learn it and they ask to see examples of copywriting. So, I put together a really thorough training and the good news is I made it free. It’s a blog here on the website.
You can go here now to try to do some copywriting practice. There are 21 examples and exercises for you to choose from, so if you are serious about wanting to improve your copywriting, then that blog post is a great place to start.
What Is Copywriting Video
I put together this video that should help you get a better understanding of what Copywriting is and if it’s the right fit for you. Hope you enjoy it!
Copywriting can open many doors and lead to a successful career. But, even if copywriting is not your #1 passion in life, everyone can benefit from learning how to improve their writing skills. It’s something that all of us do every day and it’s everywhere!
Have any questions about copywriting? Comment below and ask away.