12 Top Copywriting Skills Writers Need

12 Crucial Copywriting Skills Every Writer Needs to Succeed: Beyond the Basics

by | Feb 14, 2023 | Copywriting

Being a successful copywriter requires a specific set of skills. Understanding those copywriting skills is important when you’re a business trying to hire a writer. Your goal should be finding a copywriter that can go beyond the basics of strong writing, creativity, and excellent English language skills.

The Express Writers team knows what it takes to be a successful copywriter because we work with them every day. That’s why we’re sharing 12 crucial copywriting skills you should look for when hiring your next copywriter.

With these 12 abilities, a copywriter can deliver creative, high-performing writing that can improve your conversion rates and keep your customers coming back for more.


12 Copywriting Skills Businesses Need When Hiring Writers

The best copywriters work hard to turn their raw talent into incredible writing, earning money for every word they produce. A copywriter with these 12 skills will deliver the superior writing that your business needs.

1. Stellar Research Skills

Most copywriters are writing experts first and may have one or two other areas of expertise. However, with stellar research skills, a copywriter can quickly learn the information they need to knowledgeably write about a variety of subjects as they navigate between clients and industries.

To establish your business as an expert in your industry, you need a writer that knows how to find credible, reliable resources. Good copywriters can tell the difference between a high-quality, authoritative resource and an unreliable one. Plus, they know how to cite trustworthy studies and statistics to back up their claims.

So look for copywriters that know where they need to look to find the right information, whether online resources or somewhere else. If you regularly interview subject matter experts, you’ll also want dedicated copywriters willing to interview them to improve their content.

2. A Good Understanding of the Target Audience 

Knowing the intended audience for a piece of writing can have a major impact on how it is written. For example, an article written for experts in your field will look very different than one written for beginners.

When choosing your copywriter, make sure they know who your intended audience is. A good copywriter should have no problems adjusting the tone and language of their writing to fit your industry and audience.

Consider the words of renowned copywriter David Ogilvy: “If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.”

3. Adaptable Writing Skills 

Frequently, a copywriter has clients from multiple industries with vastly different content requirements. Being able to quickly adapt their writing style and voice for different clients and audiences is a crucial skill for any successful copywriter.

Writers who lack this skill will find themselves frustrated with continually changing demands and strategies. The best writers can quickly pivot to new requests without breaking a sweat.

4. Knows When to Stop

When a copywriter is unfamiliar with a topic, they can use their expert research skills to learn more. However, some writers may inadvertently research too much. They get caught up in learning every detail instead of focusing on what they need to know now.

The best copywriters understand their limits and know when they have gleaned enough information to effectively write about your products for your audience. If you have tight turnaround times for your copy, you need a writer who knows when they’ve done enough.

Knowing when to stop also applies to perfectionists. If a copywriter is solely focused on creating perfectly finished copy before submitting it to a client, they risk missing deadlines and losing a lot of sleep. You want a writer who takes pride in their work but doesn’t get lost in the minutia of creating industry-focused content.

While most professional copywriters seek to create a career-defining, perfect piece, the best copywriters understand that the pursuit of perfection is fruitless.

5. Knowledge of Modern Marketing Principles 

Copywriting, unlike creative writing, is solely meant for selling or promoting something else. Some copywriters, especially when they are first starting out, may make the mistake of trying to add their own personality and unique style to their copywriting. They may try to add extravagant language or unnecessary creativity to their copy to make it seem more literary. This kind of writing distracts from the purpose of copywriting.

On the other hand, copywriters have a firm grasp of modern content marketing best practices. They understand the short attention spans of readers, have a handle on SEO concepts, and realize their writing targets specific audiences who need a product. This allows them to save their creative efforts for projects outside of work.

6. Can Take Criticism Well

To write is to create. When the times come to edit your creation, many writers struggle with the idea of “killing your darlings.” Doing this eliminates potentially self-serving language with the goal of improving the overall message.

In the copywriting field, copywriters need thick skin to accept feedback from editors and clients. If a writer continually rejects criticism, their productivity will likely suffer and they won’t get repeat clients.

The best copywriters understand that everyone thinks about ideas differently and know it’s important to work with your client to create a piece that matches their vision. Plus, keeping an open mind means leaving space to improve your own writing. Sometimes critiques can sting, but it’s part of being a successful team player and brand copywriter.

Express Writers, for example, believes that feedback from our clients is the only way to improve and align writing style and brand vision. We don’t think it’s a negative and train our writers to be open when someone else has a different idea.

7. Is Confident but Not Driven by Ego

While copywriters should be open to accepting criticism, you want them to know when their ideas are worth sticking up for. There are times when your writer will have a different way of thinking than you do, and it might end up better for your marketing content.

Of course, you want them to take their time and have the ability to clearly and calmly explain why a specific word choice or change in direction or tone is important. But if you do that, you could find yourself agreeing with their direction.

If you hire a knowledgeable copywriter, be sure you take the time to listen to their ideas as they may have some inspiration that will change your vision but help your content be even stronger.

8. Find Ways to Improve

Copywriting can be a lonely profession. While you can collaborate on ideas and work with others to edit and improve the copy, the actual writing can only be done by one person. This can cause some copywriters to become stagnant.

Instead, excellent copywriters are always on the lookout for ways to improve their writing skills. They may seek mentors, editors, former professors, or colleagues to help guide them throughout their careers.

Copywriters can also look for classes, workshops, and seminars that offer more hands-on skill-building.

Another educational option is reading. While reading anything can help someone maintain or improve their mastery of the English language, the best copywriters want to stay on top of any industry changes.

They may enjoy reading popular marketing blogs to catch up on the latest marketing trends. There are also numerous highly-rated books written by writing and marketing experts that include some time-tested strategies.

If you are interested in hiring a copywriter, you can ask them how they improve their skills and stay on top of the latest marketing best practices.

9. Self-Motivated

Many copywriters are freelancers or work remotely through agencies. With this mostly solitary work environment, copywriters should be self-motivated to succeed. They likely don’t have a supervisor or other coworkers encouraging them to keep working.

Good copywriters have the willpower to keep writing even when distractions pop up. The best copywriters have likely also figured out what they need to keep themselves motivated and on-task.

Without this self-sustaining motivation, a copywriter may find themselves falling behind, missing deadlines, and feeling overwhelmed.

When interviewing potential copywriters, ask them what they do to keep themselves motivated.

10. The Ability to Create Something New

While the rules of content marketing change regularly, one thing that will never change is needing your copywriter to create new content.

One of the biggest challenges writers have today is coming up with these new ideas. Take almost any idea, and it has most likely been done and rehashed 500 times already. Trying to break out and do something unexpected can create serious writer’s block.

However, successful copywriters understand conquering unfamiliar topics and know how to create something unique from pre-existing ideas. They can take your requests, add a big dose of research, and create something fresh and exciting.

If they do get stuck, they know what to do to get unstuck, like interviewing a subject matter expert in your industry or exploring trending topics that pair well with your chosen topic.

11. Puts the Needs of the Reader First

When a copywriter writes a piece, they shouldn’t be writing it to make themselves, or even you, happy. The end goal of any copywriting should be to please your target audience and meet their needs.

You will likely find some copywriters so thoroughly entrenched in the SEO principles they first learned that they practically forget that a person exists on the other end of the internet. When this happens, the writing comes out optimized for a search engine instead of a real person.

The most effective copywriters are up to date on the continual evolution of SEO, which means prioritizing the needs and intent of your readers and customers. These copywriters know how to naturally use keywords while delivering a user-friendly piece of copy that is exactly what your customers need to answer their questions.

12. Writes with Empathy

To write something that sells, you need to touch a reader on an emotional level. You explore their feelings of happiness, sadness, and failure. Sometimes, you’re even touching on their beliefs.

Excellent copywriters use the power of empathy to prime the reader for the sales pitch without being pushy. This increases the likelihood that they will follow through with the call to action at the end.

According to Peter Noel Murry, Ph.D. at Psychology Today, empathy can enhance the effectiveness of copy threefold.

To add empathy to their writing, copywriters must view their writing from the reader’s perspective. They could consider:

  • Any objections the reader might raise
  • An important motivation for the reader
  • The benefits a product has for the reader
  • How the competition has lost the trust of their customers
  • Explore new approaches to the content (storytelling vs. salesy language)

When looking for a copywriter for your business, you can ask them how they would write about a topic they don’t necessarily agree with.

Being able to predict how readers will respond to the copy is a crucial skill for any copywriter to have. It requires them to separate themselves from their own thoughts, desires, and preconceptions and focus solely on the needs of the reader, even if they don’t agree with them.

Centering your readers and customers this way prioritizes their needs over simply making a sale. By humanizing your content this way, a trained copywriter establishes you as a solution to a pain point, not just a product you sell.

Choose the Expertise of Express Writers for your Copywriting Needs

At Express Writers, we fully vet our writers before hiring them, so you don’t have to. We ensure they have these crucial skills to give our clients the best possible content.

By choosing Express Writers, you don’t have to worry about the quality of writing you’ll get because we manage it internally. We constantly motivate our writers to be their best with ongoing skill-building training and resources.

Our copywriters have the essential skills and personal talents to create the high-performing content you need. We work hard to match each client’s content needs with the skills and expertise of our writers.

Ready to see your results firsthand? Explore our Content Shop to get started.