Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post about the many different job titles you can have as a freelance writer and the differences in responsibilities they involve. One of the most in-demand titles is copywriter. What is a copywriter? What does a copywriter do? What skills does a copywriter need? Can you become a copywriter if you don’t know how to write? Find the answers to these questions and more in today’s post.
Copywriting Is Defined As “The Art Of Persuading (Or In Some Cases Convincing) The Reader To Take Action (Or Think A Certain Way) Using Language And Devices That Influence The Mind Of The Person Reading The Text”
According to the Collins Dictionary, copywriting is “The art of writing for publication or radio; prose composition with the aim of persuading or convincing others.” It is often considered a sub-set of advertising, public relations, and marketing. However, copywriting can exist independently of marketing and advertising. It can be used to write everything from business correspondence to online content or ads. Depending on the needs of the project, copywriters may or may not be involved in the brainstorming, pitching, and approval of the final ad or piece. A copywriter’s job is to create persuasive content that will engage the reader and inspire them to take action.
What Does A Copywriter Do?
A copywriter’s main responsibilities include the following:
- Writing compelling ad copy (or other content) for different industries and business websites.
- Creating marketing materials (like emails or social media posts) for businesses.
- Editing and/or formatting content for publications like newspapers, magazines, or blog posts.
- Organizing and formatting business presentations (like pitch decks or marketing plans)
A copywriter may also be responsible for creating graphics, like logos or brand images, for businesses.
The Difference Between Copywriting And Other Titles
Not all titles are created equal. While copywriting is a popular choice among freelancers, it is not necessarily the most demanding or lucrative. Here are the various job titles that often go along with copywriting and how much they pay:
Public Relations Specialist
With the ever-evolving field of public relations, it is not surprising that the job titles keep changing. However, as a general rule of thumb, a public relations specialist is in charge of dealing with the media (mostly newspapers, radio, and TV) on behalf of an organization or business. This person is usually also responsible for creating and maintaining positive media coverage for the company.
A public relations specialist typically works for an advertising agency or in-house marketing department. Their duties involve gathering, analyzing, and distributing media information about the organization or business. PR specialists may handle all sorts of media – online, newspapers, radio, and TV – and work in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, finance, and real estate. It is not unusual for PR specialists to take on freelance projects too.
Like public relations specialists, product managers are in charge of dealing with the media (mostly newspapers, radio, and TV) on behalf of an organization or business. The difference is that a product manager is responsible for the creation and distribution of products (like groceries, cars, housewares, etc.) for the company.
A product manager usually works for a business that sells a variety of products. They are responsible for planning the releases of new products and ensuring that those products are advertised and promoted in the most effective ways possible. A product manager must have a good understanding of marketing, communications, and sales to be effective in their role.
When an organization creates content (like an ad or a blog post) for online or offline consumption, they often outsource the task to a content strategist. A content strategist is someone who creates and executes the overall content marketing strategy for an organization. In other words, they decide what content should be created (e.g., ads, social media posts, articles, web pages) and how it should be created (e.g., by who, when, and where). A content strategist typically works for an advertising agency or in-house marketing department. One of the main responsibilities of a content strategist is to develop and implement a content strategy for the organization.
A content strategist’s duties are similar to a copywriter’s but with one important difference: A copywriter is writing for a business or organization to inform and influence others to take action. A content strategist is creating content to inform and influence others to take action – like buying a product, subscribing to a service, or voting for a candidate.
The Skills You Need To Be A Copywriter
To be a successful copywriter, you need to have the following skills:
- The ability to think creatively and produce unique content
- The ability to organize thoughts and ideas
- The ability to persuade others
- The ability to research information and data accurately
- The ability to speak clearly and persuasively
- The ability to write clearly and concisely
- Excellent spelling, punctuation, and grammar
- The ability to think critically and analytically
- An understanding of marketing and advertising (often a necessity within the industry)
- The ability to research the field and the available opportunities
- Knowledge of the digital landscape (including email marketing, SEO, and social media)
How To Become A Copywriter
Now that you have an idea of what a copywriter does and the skills you need to be successful at it, it’s time to figure out how you can become a copywriter. There are a few different paths you can take to land this job title. Below are the details.
The Traditional Path
One of the most well-known ways to become a copywriter is to start your career in newspaper journalism. This is a path that many journalists and authors have taken and it often leads to a career in writing. Even if you don’t end up pursuing journalism as a career, many newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets still need copywriters to write for them. All you need is a college degree in journalism or communications and you can be on your way to a fulfilling career as a copywriter.
If you don’t have a traditional college degree but you still want to pursue a career in journalism, you can take the Yale Publishing Course. This is a professional certificate that allows you to pursue advanced journalism training and entry-level copywriting positions. Once you have the certificate, you can work for any news organization or publication. If you want to pursue a career in writing, this is one of the best options available to you.
The Self-Taught Path
If you are someone who always believed that you could learn something new about writing just by reading books, then you can follow in the footsteps of great writers and educate yourself on the subject. To start, you can pick up a copy of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. This is one of the classic books on writing and it offers advice and instructions on how to become a better writer. You can also read the books of Elmore Leonard or Harold Robbins, two other famous self-taught authors who also happen to be legends in the industry.
If you have a specific writing style or voice that you want to emulate and don’t have the money to buy a book on writing, then you can find many samples of well-written prose in various magazines and newspapers. Look for articles that you think are well-written and study them. Take note of the techniques the writers used and how you think the language flows. With enough practice, you will become a competent copywriter.
The Social Media Path
More and more people are looking for work from home opportunities. If you are one of them, then you can take advantage of the internet and social media to grow your freelance writing career. Start by creating compelling content for social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. Then, find and connect with journalists, bloggers, and other content creators on social media. You can show them your work and eventually, they may ask you to write for them. Plus, you can engage with potential employers and future co-workers through social media.