What Is A Copywriter? Hint: It’s Not Just A Writer (With Infographic)

writer sitting at desk with text overlay "What Is A Copywriter" and "Alicia Raeburn Writing"

What do you mean “what is a copywriter?” What, you mean a writer?

I can already hear my grandmother getting into it with me. “Ugh, you kids always have to change everything. Why can’t a writer just be a writer anymore?” 

Hold up grandma, before you get all worked up, let’s chat a little.

A copywriter is a writer, just…a more specialized one. Copywriters add a certain finesse to writing. Unlike journalists or content writers (who focus mostly on informing the reader), the goal of a copywriter is to also get the reader to take action.

Let’s get into it a bit more. Without further ado…

The answer to that question we’ve all been asking ourselves: what is a copywriter? And what am I supposed to do with one?

The Basics: What Is Copywriting?

Ok, we’ve already covered the very bottom rung of this copywriting information ladder: a copywriter is a writer.

And yet (dare I say), we are so much more than just a writer.

A copywriter is a professional writer who writes content (blog posts, website copy, etc.) that uses specific language and mind-reading techniques (AKA psychology-based marketing) to persuade the reader to take action. This could be the writing that leads up to the “Buy Now” button on a product page or those three lines in the newsletter sign up pop up box.

A copywriter is someone who can turn an idea or an object into something useful to its audience.

In doing so, the copy converts readers into leads and eventually, leads into paying customers.

Copywriting is the arm of content marketing that uses words and language to boost sales and drive conversions.

I also made you this handy “What is Copywriting” infographic

What Exactly Does A Copywriter Do?

Compared to a “normal” writer, copywriting is more about creating relevant content that stimulates people to click through.

It’s not writing just any blog post, it’s writing one to highlight your new product in a way that makes it feel like an absolute necessity.

Copywriting is writing an “educational” newsletter that provides real value to the reader…but also motivates them to click that shiny, blue link at the bottom. 

Generally, people associate copywriters with “sales” writing because the point is usually to lead to conversions. AKA, we’re here to make your business money.

HOWEVER, the point of copywriting is to get the reader to take any action, not just to buy. For example, copywriters will create copy that motivates the audience to:

  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Join a FB group
  • Make a phone call
  • Click a link
  • Share content

And yes, many times, a copywriter creates content that encourages folks to buy a product or service.

We do it all, little word nerd magicians that we are.

Types Of Copywriter Jobs

There are a million different ways to be a copywriter, if you over-complicate things. Mostly, there’s a handful of copywriter job types out there. 

Copywriters can be full time or part time, freelance or 9-5. They can be entrepreneurs or solopreneurs, creatives and influencers. 

You know those instagramers who seem to rake in millions for no reason? A lot of them are also copywriters who convince you and all their other followers to purchase things via a picture and their caption. They created content (the picture and caption) that drove you to click the brand and potentially convert into a customer.

Fun, right? 

No matter how a copywriter works, a copywriter is a copywriter when they write copy. Simple. Bing bang boom. End of story.

Mostly, copywriters are hired in the following ways:

  • Copywriter for websites – create copy for landing pages, sales pages and product descriptions  
  • Copywriter for social media -write  social media captions for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Copywriter for newsletters, sales funnel emails or anything else that lands in your inbox
  • Copywriter for specific industries (i.e. a copywriter for real estate, restaurants or hotels)
  • In-house copywriter for a company or marketing agency

What Skills Do You Need To Be A Copywriter?

If you’re looking to hire a copywriter in the near future, you’ll want to look for the following skills:

  1. SEO: Whether you’re writing specifically for SEO or not, a basic understanding of how search engine optimization works can go a long way for getting digital copy to rank on search engines.
  2. Writing: I am aware of how stupid this seems to include this one, but I feel obligated to. Mainly because of the truly, god awful writing I see out there on the internet everyday. If you’re going to hire a copywriter, make sure they can write first.
  3. Research: No more lies on the internet! Unlikely, but any good copywriter should be able to fact check themselves so they’re not putting more misinformation out into the digital world.
  4. UX (User Experience): People often use this term in reference to design, but it’s helpful for copywriting as well. Every piece of content you create for your business should have the user in mind. Does it work well from their end? Is it easy for them to find what they need? Will they leave happy? Copywriters need to have an understanding of what makes a user experience positive, and use that to create copy.
  5. Ability to simplify: This can translate to taking the complex technical features of a new computer and make them seem cool, a la Apple products. Or showcasing how to use a new product if a customer has never seen it before. Taking the complicated and making it easy to digest.

And like everything in life, you get what you pay for. Don’t come to a professional copywriter asking them how many hours it takes them to create something for you. Just hire them and appreciate the value they bring to your business. 

An Example: Launching A New Website

Alright, we’ve discussed what a copywriter is for probably way too long at this point. 

Let’s get down to examples. I call this one, “The sad, dark lonely tale of the website that launched without a copywriter.” 

It goes like this:

You’re about to launch your new business website. Your designer made it look pretty dope, if you do say so yourself, with a load of fancy graphics and a cohesive color palette. No oranges clashing with yellows on your page, not today folks.

You’ve got a business plan and investors. You scored the social media handles you wanted and have the perfect domain name.

Your product is incredible, you found that one item we’ve all been dying for. You’re about to remove pointless suffering for thousands of people across the globe.

The day of the launch comes and you take a deep breath, waft a bit of that artisanally roasted coffee into your nose and hit the “publish button”. You pump a bunch of money into Google’s PPC Ads and sit back, take a sip of that coffee.

There’s not much else to do now. Your site is live, and you’re about to freaking rich!

Except….

Nothing happens. Not after weeks. Or months. Or years (if the soul crushing work of watching your dreams dying before your eyes lasts that long).

Your site is the digital version of a tumbleweed blowing across the road in an old western.

What happened here?

Your Dream Biz Inc. didn’t hire a professional copywriter. 

CEO Bob thought to himself, “I won that essay contest in high school,” he calls over to his wife, “remember that Barb? That essay contest?”

Barb remembers, and Bob merrily writes his website without a second thought.

But when you read Bob’s site, there’s no clarity. It’s all over the map. By the time the reader gets to the bottom of the home page, they have no idea what they’re looking at, let alone what they’re supposed to do.

If Bob had had the foresight to hire a copywriter, he would have been able to organize his page into a layout that made sense to his customers. He would have had well placed call to action buttons, with words like “Click Here” instead of his poetic prose version “Do You Want To Transform Your Life Right Now.”

People do this all the time. Copywriting is creative and fun, but the point is to make your content clear, easy to understand and get the reader excited about your brand.

If CEO Bob wants his website to make some money, he can submit his essays to the local newspaper community column and save the copywriting for a pro.

What About You, Alicia? What Even Are You?

What kind of a copywriter am I? Ah, the dreaded “define yourself” question. 

I do define myself as a writer instead of just a copywriter, but that’s mostly because I also write authored articles. Does that make me a journalist? An author? I dunno. There are too many words.

I am, of course, also a copywriter. Otherwise…why would we even be going through all this?! I don’t have a super specific niche (AKA I say yes to a lot of different types of businesses), but after decades of working in hospitality, I have a soft spot for travel, tourism and restaurant copywriting. 

If you wanted to shove my work into a box, you could say I’m a food and travel copy and content writer. 

But I don’t like being in boxes, and in doing that, you’d miss out on the in-depth newsletter I write for a real estate investment company or the blogging I do for cannabis companies. 

I’ve been writing since my age was in the single digits, in journals that I assume will be published some day under the guise of “she was a writer even in her youth” after I’ve died and hence become famous, a la Picasso.

These days, I write for others mostly. Except for that badass post-apocalyptic novel I work on during my off days.

By my own definition in the article above, I am a copywriter, a writer, a bonafide word nerd. 

Want to learn more about my copywriting and how it can help your business?

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