What Does A Copywriter Do? (The Insider’s Guide)

June 25, 2020 | Sean Foo

Saw an ad, poster or article lately?

Chances are, it was written by a copywriter.

A copywriter is someone who writes words that sell….

…in the form of sales letters, website pages, or even blog posts!

The content that copywriters write also educates and informs readers, which is crucial as almost 50% of buyers will consume 3 to 5 pieces of content before engaging a sales rep.

Let’s dive deep into the world of copywriting, the importance of a copywriter and what they are expected to deliver.


The Role Of The Modern Copywriter

While copywriting has been around for hundreds of years, today’s copywriter needs to be adaptable and craft a wide spectrum of copy.

A copywriter writes sales, promotional and informational materials such as:

  • Websites 
  • Product descriptions
  • Advertising pieces
  • White papers
  • Technical brochures
  • Social media posts

In addition, many copywriters choose to either specialise in niches such as healthcare, technology and finance. 

This is important as every niche has nuances and key information that will take months or even years to really understand and write well about.

But at the end of the day, the purpose of a copywriter is to deliver results and depending on the marketing objectives, it could be anything from closing sales and generating email leads to driving traffic to a website for brand awareness.

To get an idea of what copywriting looks like, let’s look at the most common types of copywriting out there.


The 7 Types Of Copywriting

Where there are numerous types of copywriting you’ll encounter in your daily life, they all filter down to 7 distinct categories.

1. Advertorial Copy

Ever read an article that promoted a service or product near the end?

That’s what an advertorial is – an advertisement written in the form of an article.

Advertorials work as people tend to trust articles published in credible publications e.g. Forbes, even if the authors may not necessarily be from the publication itself.

They can be easily spotted by their “sponsored” or “paid” label.

Example of an advertorial from Forbes. Note the “Paid Program” label.

2. Website Copy

This includes the main web pages, like the Homepage, About page, Contact Us etc.

Compelling copy on the main web pages helps to give visitors a positive first impression towards the brand while connecting with their wants and needs.

Example of a website homepage copywriting by Ahrefs

3. Landing Page Copy

Typical web pages have many links that tempt users to click away.

So while users may explore the site, they may not click on the offer to convert into sales – that’s not ideal, especially if you are driving paid traffic to the page.

What you’ll need is a landing page which is designed specifically to persuade users to buy the offer.

This is done strategically by cutting away irrelevant links and content and focuses on mainly addressing buyer’s concerns, showcasing benefits and presenting an irresistible offer.

Landing pages utilise what is known as direct-response copy and require persuasive copywriting ability to drive action.

Example of a landing page utilizing persuasive copywriting

4. Blog Post Copywriting

Blog posts or online articles, aim to educate and inform readers.

They share not just about the company’s product, but also other relevant concerns the audience may have.

For instance, Grammarly’s blog touches on mental health even though their product is a spell-checker software. 

They do so as their audience may be writing to process their thoughts and deal with the issues they face.

Ultimately, such content aims to build trust and loyalty in the readers, so they will eventually buy from the business down the road when the time comes.

Grammarly’s blog shares not just writing tips, but also mental health tips too.

5. Social Media Copy

These can be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or even Instagram posts.

Social Media posts aim to engage the audience, so they will remember and have a positive impression of the business.

This helps the brand to build relationships with the audience which is crucial for long-term success.

Mint engages the audience with social posts on current issues

6. Email Copy

Recall those newsletters flooding your inbox?

These emails may provide insightful content, or push you towards a sale.

Like Social Media posts, emails likewise aims to engage the audience…

…just that a newsletter’s audience usually have higher buying intent, which is why email marketing has one of the highest ROI of $42 per every $1 spent.

Emails like the Hustle entertain, intrigue and inform readers and is powered by witty and creative copywriting

7. Brochure Copy

The last type refers to physical flyers and brochures you receive while you’re shopping outside.

These are usually more promotional-based, though they may provide useful insights as well.

Copywriting here is done to inform and also to drive action – these could be to visit their website or to call a hotline to redeem an offer or leaving an enquiry.


Examples Of Great Copywriting

In case it isn’t clear by now, copywriting is everywhere!

As long as words and persuasion are involved, there will be copywriting.

Here, we’ll share 3 more examples to give you a clearer idea of how copywriting works.

Apple’s Hero Section

Apple’s hero section stirs visitors’ curiosity, making them stay around longer.

A hero section is the first thing visitors see when they visit a website. 

It is the part you see without scrolling further, or what’s known as above the fold section of a webpage.

It aims to grab visitors’ attention, so they’ll stay and explore the site more.

In Apple’s case, the hero section copy stirs readers’ curiosity by making them wonder what the “biggest updates” are.

This makes readers watch the keynote, get hyped, and start craving for the latest Apple products!

Warby Parker’s About Page

Warby Parker build bonds with readers through skilful storytelling.

An About page ideally aims to build a connection with the visitor, by sharing the story behind the brand.

In Warby Parker’s case, they’ve absolutely nailed it!

They related to the audience’s pains of finding affordable glasses, which makes readers feel understood.

This helps Warby Parker build trust with their audience so that they will remember the brand the next time they need glasses!

The Home Depot’s FB Post

The Home Depot offers fun, DIY project to engage its audience.

Social Media posts aim to engage the audience, so that they will form a relationship with the brand and eventually buy from them.

In The Home Depot’s case, they do so by offering fun, DIY projects that the audience may be interested in!

This helps the audience bond with the kids, so they associate The Home Depot with warm, cozy feelings of family bonding.

So the next time the audience thinks of building (or decorating) a nice little home, guess who would they think of?

If you find these examples interesting, check out more awesome copywriting examples here.


What Type Of Companies Hire Copywriters?

Now we know copywriters write all sort of cool stuff.

If that sounds like what you want to do, that’s great!

Copywriting can be a rewarding career, especially when you can earn 6 to 7-figures a year doing so.

But before we jump the gun – Who would hire you, or be your first client?

Marketing Agencies

When starting out, many aspiring copywriters start here to gain experience.

They may work here as an intern or as their first job.

Marketing agencies can help you gain exposure, as the assignments you get can be quite varied – in terms of industry, medium, and types of copy you produce.

Independent Entrepreneurs, Marketers

After building a portfolio, you may find clients through contacts or freelancing sites.

Amongst your first few clients may be entrepreneurs running eCommerce stores or coaching businesses.

These clients usually seek direct-response copy where they can easily measure ROI e.g. page conversion rates.

The assignments you get are usually to improve their landing pages, writing copy that delivers tangible results – leads & sales.

Start-Ups & Businesses Focused On Growth

Start-ups and businesses may also approach you to help boost their growth.

They may look to reach new audiences and nurture leads with helpful information, which these are done through content.

They may also ask for direct-response copy to convert their nurtured leads to sales.

Startups are very ROI-focused which means the copy has to driven measurable results.

Big Brands

Lastly, big brands are what copywriters usually aspire to take on as clients.

These businesses have deep pockets, which means they can pay higher fees per assignment. 

They have tons of written materials – both external and internal – to create, which also means plenty of recurring income for you too!

Depending on their communication needs, copywriters for big brands will be expected to write across a variety of mediums – from social media posts and presentation decks to landing page copy.

While big brands have big budgets, they also have big expectations and their standards can be ruthless.


3 Misconceptions Of Copywriting To Debunk

If you want to be a copywriter but still feel hesitant though, there might be some misconceptions holding you back.

Misconceptions that are quite common, yet are simply downright false!

So let’s debunk them, and blow your doubts away.

Yes, you’ll earn good money, IF you can deliver the goods!

Need For Formal Education Or Major In Communications

As copywriting involves plenty of precise language usage, it can seem like a degree in English, Literature or a major in Communications is required.

Yet, that is simply not true.

Just like how a degree isn’t required for face-to-face sales, neither is it required for sales done through print…

…which is what copywriting essentially is!

All you need is consistent practice, which can be done through apprenticeship or self-study.

Not to mention passion and dedication to pull you through!

Copywriters Make Either Millions Or Peanuts

It seems nowadays, we hear only either of superstar copywriters earning 7-figures or others that earn barely anything.

Which makes copywriting feel like a moon shot – you either get rich or die trying!

Fact is, there’s also a less-noticed majority that lies in-between….

…with income depending on seniority, types of copy written, and expertise.

You Can Be A Copywriting Expert In Months

Even though copywriting may seem like it’s just stringing a few sentences together, it takes more than a few months to actually master it!

There are tons of nuances to be aware of, that separates winning copies from bland ones.

Just by changing 1 word, for instance, increased Snickers’ sales by 38%!

To notice and apply these nuances, you need to gain plenty of experience through reading and writing copies beforehand.

It also helps to learn the principles underlying them.


The 5 Non-Negotiable Skills Modern Copywriters Need Today (Besides Writing Well)

Hopefully by now, you feel more ready to start your copywriting journey!

To supercharge your progress, you got to know what skills you need to succeed as a copywriter.

Let’s dive in!


Good Knowledge Of Crafting A Reader’s Persona

To write copies that connect with your audience, you need to understand how they think and feel.

What are their deepest hopes, fears and frustrations? What drives them to read your copy?

Knowing the answers will help you spot and pull their heartstrings, so you can compel your audience the way you want!

Learn how to do so through an empathy map here.

Writing Conversationally

Textbook-style English bores people.

It is dry, chunky, and makes you fall asleep.

As a copywriter, your aim is to connect with people instead of making your high-school English teacher proud. (Though it’s nice if you also manage to!)

This means writing like you speak, using plenty of “you”s, and keeping your paragraphs short.

Matching Tone Of Voice To Brand

When you write for clients, you are also helping to build their brand image.

This means you need to identify their brand tone and stick to it.

It helps if there’s a style guide to refer to, else you may need to read a copious amount of past materials to get an idea.

You can also figure out what tone to use, by considering the type of customer you’re speaking to.

Learn more about matching the brand tone here.

Basic SEO Knowledge

You may write the best article, but it means little if no one can see it!

Small SEO tweaks can help your article be ranked on Google, so your audience can find the article.

Fortunately, it isn’t hard to do these tweaks. 

All it takes is gaining a basic understanding of SEO, and knowing where to pepper your keywords to help your article rank higher.

Powerful Collaboration Skills

Nowadays, copywriters do not work alone.

The modern copywriter often works with designers, content managers and editors as part of an integrated marketing team.

It helps to know how each plays a role in the overall marketing, so you can produce copy in the way they want and that is effective for the overall vision of the campaign.

Meeting deadlines is also key in collaboration, the successful roll-out of a project will demand you produce your copy both on-point and on time.

Learn more about copywriting skills you need here.


What You Need To Know If You Are Hiring A Copywriter

If you are a marketing manager or business owner and all these sound troublesome to you, don’t worry!

You can always hire a copywriter to do the work for you.

Hiring professional copywriters can help you save time, so you can focus more on other pressing matters.

It also allows you to leverage on their years of experience, to ensure that you get results.

Be warned to not pinch pennies though, as cheap content can sink your business!

With that said, how do you find and hire a copywriter that’s right for you?

Take your time and ask the right questions to hire the right copywriter.

Ask For Referrals

This is perhaps the best and most straightforward method.

Asking your network for referrals can get you the most suited copywriters with the least amount of hassle!

After all, these copywriters have been tested to be reliable enough, for them to be recommended to you.

Know What Questions To Ask Potential Hires

If your network has no one to recommend though, you might have to find your own copywriter online.

A quick Google search for local copywriters, or simply browsing through freelancing sites can open up many potential hires for you.

So how do you figure who to hire, to ensure you get quality work?

Asking candidates for their portfolio can help you gauge their writing abilities, to see if they’re up to par for you!

It can help you to see if they have experience writing for your industry as well.

Here are 5 more questions you can ask, to ensure you hire the most suited copywriter for your business.

Test The Waters With A Sample Assignment

Some copywriters may perform well during your interview, only to flop when they actually need to deliver.

This can cause major delays in your projects, putting you under unnecessary pressure and stress!

So to ensure your hires can perform, you can give them a smaller paid assignment to complete first.

This will give you a feel of how they work, so you can decide whether to entrust them with bigger projects afterwards.


Helpful Resources to Learn More About Copywriting

Want to learn more about the art (and science) of copywriting?

Here are 6 copywriting techniques you can learn to generate more sales!

To craft powerful copies, you’ll need to answer these 12 crucial questions before penning down a single word.

And if you are an avid reader, then you must grab and digest these top 18 books to boost your copywriting skills.

Want more?

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