This post was originally published in July 2015 and completely updated in August 2020.
Copywriting is a dynamic, valuable trade. Without copywriting, the web itself wouldn’t exist.
Despite its importance, many people still don’t know what copywriting is or what a copywriter does on the daily, typing away behind their computer. 👩💻
The answer is a lot more complex, yet less confusing than you might think.
So, what does a copywriter do, exactly? ✍ Follow along as we demystify this job description, infographic-style. Consider this a guide to copywriting for beginners.What does a copywriter do, exactly? Follow along as this job description is demystified, infographic-style, now on the Write Blog ✍ Click To Tweet
First Things, First: What IS Copywriting?
(Hint: It’s NOT the same thing as “copyrighting.”)
Somebody has to write all of those web pages, blogs, articles, social media posts, emails, and more into existence. The brunt of it falls to copywriters.
However, modern copywriting is a far cry from the original ad copywriting of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Instead of ads, catchy jingles, and slogans, think blogs. Think helpful, educational, informational, or entertaining content. Instead of print ads or TV, think digital. Think the internet.📝 Copywriting: Instead of ads, catchy jingles, and slogans, think blogs. Think helpful, educational, informational, or entertaining content. Instead of print ads or TV, think digital. 👩💻 Think the internet. Click To Tweet
- 70 million+ new blogs are published on WordPress
- 54 billion people go online
- 62 billion people use Facebook
- 188,000,000 emails are sent
- 55,140 Instagram posts are uploaded
- 511,200 tweets are published
Copywriters have a hand in all of it!
Need a copywriter? Get awesome content for your brand and don’t worry about lifting a finger to hire a writer. See our rates and offerings in the Content Shop. Over 20,000 successfully completed projects to date.
Copywriting vs. Content Writing
Copywriters create copy AND content for clients.
Is there a difference? Yes.
- Copywriting is the art of writing copy.
- Copy refers to any piece of text written to move the reader to some sort of action.
- You’ll find copy on landing pages, sales pages, and product pages. You’ll also see it in use via calls-to-action – snippets of text calling the reader to act – which can show up in blogs and social media posts/ads.
- Content writing is the art of writing content.
- Content refers to any piece of text written to inform, educate, guide, or entertain the reader.
- Content usually is NOT sales-oriented. Instead, its purpose is to provide value to readers, which builds trust and loyalty over time.
Who Needs a Copywriter?
- Businesses and organizations
- Entrepreneurs and personal brands
- Anyone who needs engaging, impactful, targeted, results-driven copy or content written for their online platform
What Does a Copywriter Do?
Copywriters aim to INFORM, ENGAGE, IMPACT, or PERSUADE target audiences with WRITTEN COPY and/or CONTENT.
- Writing to move people to step into a business’s marketing life cycle.
- Writing to position a business or organization as an authority in their field or industry, using that business’s voice and tone.
- Writing to cultivate loyalty and trust among targeted readers.
The Copywriter Job Description
What does a copywriter do? When it comes to content and copy, a little bit of everything:
- Content writing – Writing content that informs, educates, or inspires.
- Copywriting – Writing copy that moves the reader to action.
- Researching – Vetting topics, keywords, and sources to use in the content or copy. Learning and adopting the correct, client-approved tone and writing style.
- Editing & proofreading – Tweaking and refining grammar, style, and punctuation for readability, accuracy, and to match the brand voice.
- Managing content projects – Ideating content, pitching topics, writing, editing, revising, and working with other content creators (content strategists, editors, graphic designers, content managers, etc.) to get pieces publish-ready.
The Copywriter: A Jack-of-All-Trades
Most copywriters have the knowledge and expertise to write at least a handful of these types of copy and content:
- SEO blogs
- Professional articles
- Web pages and landing pages
- Facebook and Instagram posts
- Native ads on social media
- Email marketing
- White papers
- Product descriptions
- Case studies and product reviews
- Press releases
In-House or Freelance Copywriting?
When a copywriter works in-house, they work for one specific company and create copy/content FOR that company. More often than not, they work in an office.
A freelance copywriter works on their own steam or for an agency. They may serve many different clients across various industries. Most freelancers work remotely.
The 7 Essential Skills Every Copywriter Needs
Cultivate these skills and learn how to become a better copywriter. They’re the foundation of what every copywriter does.
1. Content Creation Fundamentals – Creating compulsively readable online content in various formats for multiple platforms, like blogs and social media
2. Writing Craft & Creativity – Changing up word choice, tone, and POV to engage different audiences
3. SEO – Optimizing copy and content to get indexed in search with SEO best-practices
4. Conversions – Understanding how certain words and phrases come together to create ultra-persuasive messages that inspire people to act
5. Communication – Knowing how to communicate ideas effectively – and understanding how to make complex topics easy to grasp
6. Online Research & Sourcing – Finding the best sources to use in a client’s content to support claims, including compelling stats and data, and knowing how to link and cite correctly
7. Editing & Proofreading – Cutting the fluff to get to the meat of the message, and knowing the correct style and grammar to use in every writing situation7 skills every copywriter needs: 1️⃣ Content creation fundamentals 2️⃣ Writing craft & creativity 3️⃣ SEO 4️⃣ Conversions 5️⃣ Communication 6️⃣ Online research & sourcing 7️⃣ Editing & proofreading Click To Tweet
How to Break into Copywriting: 5 Tips to Nab Your First Gig or Client
What can you do to break into copywriting? Buckle down and…
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice your writing craft. Read all you can, write whenever you can.
2. Prove Yourself
Create a portfolio of writing projects and samples you’ve completed. (No projects to your name yet? Imagine your ideal client/assignment, and write for them.)
3. Take Unpaid Writing Projects for Experience
Take on unpaid work in your free time. Help out family and friends with your skills, then add those projects to your portfolio.
4. Use the Right Resources and Keywords
Search for jobs on Google, Indeed.com, LinkedIn, and other job sites. Use keywords like “content writing,” “copywriter,” “content marketing writer,” and “freelance writer.”
5. Never Stop Learning
Keep improving your writing skills. Take online copywriting courses, read mountains of books, and follow content writers you want to emulate.
What Do Copywriters Do? We Write the Internet.
Pretty awesome, right? 🔥