Anyone who has ever tried to explain copywriting will understand the irony of being lost for words. A term that often comes with a lot of misconceptions; it is a job that is far less glamorous than the likes of Mad Men makes it seem. In the simplest terms, copywriting is written content, primarily used for the purpose of advertising or marketing. Copywriters will be given clear aims by a client, usually to persuade a person or group to do or buy something, as well as raising brand awareness.
What does a copywriter actually do?
A copywriter does far more than write copy. In fact, the role of a copywriter can be rather varied. It’s important to note, not all copywriters will work in advertising, some choosing to specialise in a particular niche, for example medical copywriters.
Copywriters are expected to research, interview, edit, proofread, manage projects and source images as well as writing copy. What’s more, with the power of social media in today’s world, copywriters will often be asked to plan and implement marketing campaigns for email, Facebook and Twitter.
Why do I need to go on a course when I already know how to write?
As mentioned above, copywriting is far more than just writing. A course will give you the skills to use your previous experience to excel in the industry, giving you a chance to practise the vital elements of research and editing. Unlike journalists, poets or fiction writers, copywriters will be expected to cover a wide range of subjects and write with the clients agenda in mind, so a lot of time will be spent researching.
A copywriter will be expected to use their writing to promote a product or educate an audience. Whilst a lot of other writing professions give you the space to really develop your own style of writing and tone of voice, copywriters are expected to adapt their tone to the clients brief. Although some may be similar, every client will have a slightly different voice and a good copywriter will be able to grasp that instantly.
Another important thing to learn is that as a copywriter your name will be pretty invisible. Unlike the by-line you would get writing for a national newspaper, most of the time as a copywriter your work will usually be distributed under the clients name. If you are striving to see your name in lights, this might not be the career path for you.
What does working as a copywriter involve?
A copywriter can be asked to write pretty much everything. From blog posts ranging from 200-1500 words, to white papers which are educational documents and email campaigns. A client may recruit a copywriter to help them document case studies, showcasing how the company helped its customers, or to write up an industry report. What’s more, a lot of the time the witty tweets you see from large companies will have actually been composed by a copywriter, all in 150 characters.
As a copywriter you will be expected to produce large amounts of copy pretty quickly, competently and accurately. Although the pay may be low when you are starting out, if you love writing, this is a career where it is guaranteed.
Most copywriters will work within a team. The job will start with a briefing from a client explaining the target audience and advertising message they want to get across. You will then be given a timescale to produce the copy.
Top copywriting tips
To get you ready for your course, here are some top tips from an industry expert:
1. Make sure your spelling and grammar is impeccable – the client will not be happy having to proof your work for you.
2. When going for your first job, be prepared to produce a sample piece in an interview. This might be based on the company or a completely separate writing task.
3. If you are applying to a specific company, know your stuff! Do your research and make sure you are able to talk about the company’s tone of voice and writing style.