What is a copywriter?

“What does a copywriter do?” she asks politely with a somewhat quizzical look.

And so I begin my oft repeated response. Being a professional copywriter, it’s a common experience – explaining what, exactly, it is that I do. Typically when in social settings, meeting for the first time and exchanging the ubiquitous “and what do you do?”

"What is copywriting?"

“What is copywriting?” So happy you asked.

No, I clarify, I don’t deal with protecting rights to a book or photo or invention. Copyrights and copywriting are two very different things.

I write copy. Words, text, content.

And the kind of writing I do touches your life every day in a hundred and one ways.

I write copy, traditionally speaking, that sells, promotes or markets a product or service. From headlines that catch your eye to the promotional sales letter you find in your mailbox to the ads you scan to the websites you visit. I make sure the brochure you pick up is engaging, the article you peruse is informative, the instructions you refer to are understandable, that the blog you follow is entertaining.

“Ah,” she says. “That’s really cool.”

It is, actually. And it’s an enlightening conversation every time.

Writing copy. Let me count the ways.

While I might, as a “copy writer,” write a novel, the most common type of copy associated with the term is marketing related. Both short (media, ads, brochures, taglines) and long-form (articles, blogs, white papers) may be among the services a copywriter offers. Website content is its own unique, and highly visible, beast produced by many copywriters including SEO to improve search engine rankings. A copywriter can have their niche, but most are remarkable in their ability to dive into the challenge of any given project. Give us a writing task, and we’ll find the words. The best words. Under a deadline.

A good copywriter crafts content that entices, inspires, intrigues and informs. A good copywriter not only writes – but reads. A good copywriter is a great listener, able to hear and hone in on a client’s needs, and in turn capture and fine-tune their unique “voice” into a message that speaks clearly to their target audience.

Think we just sit down and start to write? Think again. Research, interviews, establishing familiarity with the subject, and simply “brain time” to allow ideas to flow and form are all necessary to the process. Some of my best work percolates during the course of a good walk.

Why hire a professional copywriter?

So who needs a copywriter? Anyone looking to successfully connect to their audience with the written word.

Having a solid grasp of the target market being written for, the appropriate tone of voice, company values and mission, messaging and product – not to mention the subtleties of the particular format being written in – are all vitally important to producing successful copy. That’s where we professionals step in.

Small businesses short on time and resources gain from hiring a copywriter to provide writing assistance. Large businesses and corporations often have copywriting staff, and may bring on freelance writers for additional support or to provide project-specific expertise. Educational institutions, advertising agencies, start-ups – all are scenarios where copywriters provide their services.

In each case, whether freelance or on staff, a professional copywriter’s ability to work closely with the client and, when called for, collaboratively with designers and creative staff is important to a successful end product.

What is a copywriter? A flexible, creative, inquisitive, organized writer of copy that engages and inspires the reader to take action.

Thanks for asking.

What would you add to a list of copywriter services and top skills?