Blog / What does a copywriter do and how does one become a copywriter?
What does a copywriter do and how does one become a copywriter?
Maurice – September 15, 2023 – 10 min read
At the beating heart of the digital world lies an art that forms the backbone of all effective communication: copywriting. But what is behind the term copywriter and what makes this job?
In this article you will find answers to these questions and also learn how you too can become a successful copywriter.
So stay tuned and learn about the world of a copywriter.
What does a copywriter do?
In short, copywriters make the unseen visible. They engage with people, finding out how potential customers want to be approached. Copywriters are the great seducers of marketing and that is why they are essential for any kind of marketing and especially for growth marketing.
The main job of a copywriter is to write compelling, interesting, and attention-grabbing content that moves the reader, listener, or viewer to take a particular action.
These actions are usually aimed at customer acquisition. Desirable actions would be:
- The purchase of a product
- The agreement of a conversation
- Requesting a service
- Registering for a newsletter, product or anything else.
Copywriters, in order to truly generate these actions, need to understand the needs and desires of each target audience and write messages that really resonate.
To accomplish this, copywriters perform the following tasks:
- You write
- You edit
- You research
- You deal with customer surveys
- You work your way into website analyses
- You create detailed buyer personas
- You are looking for suitable images
- You plan marketing campaigns
- You implement marketing campaigns
- You experiment with new ideas
- They measure the impact of their work
- You think about the presentation of what you have written
Copywriting is a centuries-old craft that evolved along with newspapers and magazines. In today’s world, copywriting has adapted to every communication innovation – from television and radio to the Internet and social media.
Every time you encounter advertising, pass by a billboard, see a commercial, skim a magazine ad, or scroll past an advertised social media post, a professional copywriter has usually written the words and helped shape the presentation in terms of the wording.
Now that you know what copywriters do, let’s take a closer look at the first point, “the writing,” and shed some light on what they write.
What do copywriters write?
Copywriters actually write just about anything. I even know texters who create Tinder profile descriptions for others.
But copywriters are most likely to write the following 18 things and types of text:
1. Headlines, subheadings and hooks
The most important things copywriters write are headlines (headings), subheadlines (subheadings), and hooks, because they are what the potential customer sees first, they provide the arguments that stick in the mind, and they provide the structure of the copy.
Most people just skim most text, good headlines make this easier. This allows each potential customer to delve deeper into the text at the points that excite them the most.
Not for nothing didcopywriting legend David Ogilvy say the following about the importance of a good headline: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
That’s why good copywriters also spend at least 20% of their time exclusively on headlines.
2. Bullet points – bullets
Likewise, the great art of copywriting is to put exactly the right bullet points in the right place, thus presenting the reader with a structured argument as to why they should take a certain action.
Bullet points are mostly used to convince the reader of the benefits, to make those benefits more credible, and to add some structure to the entire sales process. Any good copywriter knows how to write bullets that blow the reader away.
3. Blog posts
Most blog posts are between 800 and 1500 words and follow a content marketing strategy. These, as well as the goals of the blog posts, usually depend on the client and their goals. Many blog posts are meant to generate organic traffic, others are meant to help further qualify leads, and still others position a client as an expert.
4. Sales letter
Sales letters are the supreme discipline of copywriting, and that’s why I’m convinced that a copywriter who can write good sales letters can also master any other medium. Sales letters used to be sent to households in the form of letters and served the purpose of advertising a specific product or service as promotional texts.
And if someone succeeds in making a product or service palatable to a stranger about whom they know nothing, that person can also be persuaded to take a certain action through other media, readers or listeners.
5. Landing pages
I like to refer to landing pages as the modern form of the sales letter. Because they are the page a potential customer lands on when they click on an ad or link. Landing pages therefore also pursue only one goal, they try to get the reader to perform a certain action (purchase or registration) through their structure and content their arguments.
6. Website texts
I like to describe a website as a company’s modern business card and even believe that you can find out 80% of everything there is to know about a company by visiting a website. It is important what state the website is in, what is presented there, how the company presents itself, what is important to the company and, above all, how all this is formulated.
A good copywriter brings the soul of the company to the digital world through well-researched, planned and ultimately written website copy, helping each site visitor better understand if they are in the right place.
7. Advertisements – Ads
Advertisements come in all shapes and colors, every newspaper has them, every magazine, most television programs, radios and even most advertising columns. Every time we leave the house, the first advertisements with bold slogans jump out at us. Good copywriters have the ability to ensure that these ads convey the desired message, make the benefits clear to the reader, and ideally trigger immediate action.
8. Product descriptions
The Internet and especially growing e-commerce have ensured that products are positioned differently today than in the past. Hardly any product gets by without a description anymore. The potential customer wants to know what advantages the purchase of this product will bring him, he wants to know that he can rely on this provider and he wants to have his objections addressed and cleared up.
A copywriter can achieve all this by doing a good job with the right product description.
9. Social media posts
Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok or another social media platform, companies want to send the right messages there. To make this happen, many of them employ copywriters for their social media posts. These then ensure that the company’s contributions are seen and that the desired thought processes are set in motion.
10. Emails and email campaigns
Whether these are sales mails, cold mails, newsletters or even entire email campaigns, all these mails are intended to be opened, read, arouse interest, raise awareness and prompt action. Composing mails is an art all its own. However, it is probably the biggest lever when it comes to qualifying leads as quickly as possible.
Because in no other medium is it so easy to build a deep relationship with your own customers. However, in order for this to succeed, many companies employ specific mail copywriters or those with experience in mail marketing.
11. Video sales letter or scripts for videos and podcasts
Visual formats also live primarily from what is said in them. Most of the sales videos were conscientiously and meticulously written by a copywriter, because only then is it ensured that what is said also achieves the desired effect and ideally also triggers an action.
Whitepapers are typically a bit longer than blog posts and range from 1,500 – 10,000 words. The word count depends heavily on the goal of the white paper in question. Whitepapers are basically informative, educational documents that usually first address readers’ pain points or analyze a problem readers have in more detail. Often, the solution to these problems is then directly related to a product or service. So, in short, whitepapers help leads qualify further down the marketing funnel. Most whitepapers are used for lead acquisition or to qualify them.
The transition from whitepaper to EBook is rather fluid, we distinguish the two types mainly in terms of length and width. The general length of the document and the breadth in which a particular topic is covered. EBooks tend to cover a topic from as many sides as possible and are therefore mostly used to explain a complex topic and thus demonstrate a certain expertise. EBooks are also popular lead magnets.
14. Case studies
Case studies tend to be shorter articles that go into detail about how a company helped one of its customers in a specific situation. Case studies usually have a formulaic structure, but really good copywriters still weave a story into the case study to make it interesting and fun to read.
15. Press release
Press releases are smaller documents sent to newspapers and online portals. These usually provide information about a new product, service, idea, company or anything else that is newsworthy. Good copywriters write the press release in such a way that journalists can publish it without major problems.
16. Industry reports
Especially in the B2B sector, industry reports are a welcome tool for gaining new leads and positioning oneself as an expert. Unfortunately, most real experts in a wide variety of industries lack the basic skills to express themselves in a way that the gentle reader can understand. To solve this problem, copywriters with specialized industry knowledge are usually consulted.
17. Brochures and catalogs
Brochures or catalogs are also created by copywriters. They are mostly used for lead acquisition or brand positioning.
18. Direct mail
Is there really such a thing as direct mail anymore? Of course, and they’d be surprised how successful some of our customers are with physical letters or postcards. Just imagine the flood of mail that hits us every day and how few letters arrive in contrast. So it’s no wonder that some physical letters occasionally convert better than mail.
No matter what medium a copywriter works his magic through, his first job is always to preserve the soul of the company he works for. It should never be about showing what it can do, but rather about showing what the particular product or service has to offer the reader.
Now we’ve mapped out the scope and content of a copywriter’s job. But who actually needs these services?
Where do copywriters work
Copywriters work in advertising agencies, marketing firms, corporate communications departments, and many other businesses and fields. However, you can also work as a freelancer or be a part-time copywriter.
Large companies that post copywriter jobs every now and then are the following:
These companies often offer positions for copywriters in a variety of departments, from marketing to corporate communications. It pays to check their career pages regularly to avoid missing out on new opportunities.
But what can you earn and what salary is realistic when working for companies as an employee or freelancer?
How much do copywriters earn?
Copywriters are not paid just for the number of words or texts they write, so their pay depends a lot on what they contribute to the company’s success.
The average Copywriter in Germany has an annual salary of €39,700. However, really good copywriters can earn much more. For example, I know many mail copywriters who are paid based on success and earn over €250,000 a year.
But to temper expectations a bit right away, no one earns that much in their first few years. Besides, you have to be really good at your job to do that. But how can you do that?
How to become a successful copywriter?
There is no one way to become a copywriter. Many copywriters have undergraduate degrees in English, journalism, marketing or communications. This can help, but is not a necessary requirement. There are also many successful copywriters who pursue their profession as career changers without having any formal training in writing or marketing.
Let’s first take a look at what a promising copywriter should basically bring to the table. Ideally, this is a mix of Midset and Skills:
- Willingness to Learn: A constant willingness to learn new things and develop.
- Creativity: the ability to create unique and engaging content.
- Detail orientation: an eye for detail to avoid mistakes and deliver quality content.
- Customer orientation: A focus on the needs of the customer and a willingness to implement feedback constructively.
- Teamwork: the ability to work effectively with others to achieve common goals.
- Writing Talent: The ability to articulate complex ideas in a clear and engaging manner.
- SEO Skills: Understanding of search engine optimization to create content that is visible online.
- Market research: the ability to understand target groups and adapt content accordingly.
- Adaptability: the ability to adjust writing style depending on the project and audience.
- Time Management: Effectively manage time and resources to complete projects on time.
Once this is given, the question is how to now get started in the world of copywriting.
The best way to start becoming a copywriter and gaining professional experience is to start by writing for free. There are many ways to do this:
- You can start a blog,
- write for online publications or
- Volunteer your time to nonprofit organizations.
Once you have some samples of your work, you can put together a portfolio and start looking for a paying job or paying clients.
Many copywriters also complete certification programs or take classes to learn more about the craft of writing. For my part, however, I think this is a bad way to go. After all, how are you going to evaluate how useful or good a certification or course is if you don’t know anything at all about copywriting.
Practice makes perfect and that’s why you should try to practice writing as much as you can, courses you can use in a later stage of your copywriting career to gain and improve specific skills.
The most important thing for aspiring copywriters is to start writing and keep practicing. The more you write, the better you get at writing persuasive copy. And soon you can land a customer order.
In this video, I’ll show you the best way to practice and which books add the most value to get started.
If you’re interested in becoming a copywriter, there are a few tips you should keep in mind.
- First, it’s important that you can write well. You should be able to write clearly and persuasively.
- Second, it’s helpful if you know your way around different industries and subject areas. This way you can write better about the products and services you want to sell.
- Third, it is helpful to be familiar with the various platforms on which copywriters are used. That way, you’ll know how to adapt your writing style to each platform.
But talent alone is not enough, so you should do the following things to become a copywriter:
- Improve writing skills:
Start improving your writing skills. Take classes for it, read books on writing, and practice as often as you can. The more you write, the better you get at writing persuasive and interesting copy.
- Know marketing basics:
In addition to improving your writing skills, it’s also important that you understand the basics of marketing. This includes learning about different marketing channels, strategies and tactics. The more you know about marketing, the better you’ll be able to write copy that triggers a desired action.
- Know sales psychology:
Learn everything you can about sales and marketing psychology , again videos, books and also courses will help. It is basically about understanding the motives for which people decide to buy something.
- Analyze data:
A rudimentary understanding of data analysis is also beneficial, after all you want to know how well your copy performed and what you might be able to improve for next time.
- Learn SEO:
It also never hurts to have a good understanding of SEO. This includes knowing how to research keywords, optimize title tags and meta descriptions, and apply other SEO best practices to write SEO copy. Namely, by optimizing your copy for search engines, you can help your clients rank better in search results and drive more traffic to their websites.
Now that you know how to become a copywriter, it’s time to take a closer look at the different types of copywriters.
What are the different types of copywriters?
There are many different types of copywriters, each with their own purpose. They are usually distinguished by the industry in which they primarily operate or by the medium they ostensibly use. However, most types of copywriters have a lot of overlap with each other:
Website copywriters deal with how website copy works, how to build it, and how best to structure it. Many also help with proper positioning and defining the customer persona. Website copywriters are usually involved in the early stages of a business startup and assist in the initial steps of these businesses.
Conversion copywriters are closely related to website copywriters, but their expertise lies less in textually building and structuring an entire website and more in maximizing the conversion of a landing page, cart page, or similar page. Conversion copywriters are very knowledgeable about what drives potential customers to flee, and they’re usually good at running A/B tests, too.
Direct Response Copywriter
In fact, every type of copywriter should strive towards the ideal of direct response, and yet there are those in this guild who simply master this art better than others. A direct response copywriter is needed when there is a certain urgency and it is really about getting potential customers to respond immediately and take a certain action as quickly as possible.
Brand copywriters are furthest from the ideal of the direct response copywriter; their expertise lies more in manifesting a company’s values in the minds of customers over the long term through copy and content. For example, no one probably knows the benefits of drinking Coke versus drinking Pepsi, and yet we drink Coke because Coke’s branding has suggested that very reaction to us for years.
An SEO copywriter is well acquainted with search engines and their algorithms, he knows very well how to optimize a text so that it ranks as high as possible in the search results. He also knows how to design outreach campaigns and acquire backlinks through them.
A good email copywriter is worth his weight in gold; after all, he’s addressing customers through arguably the most intimate mass channel of all. Through mail, it is easiest to build a relationship with their customers and get them to take action. Email Copywriters are mostly necessary when it comes to improving a Welcome Series, designing a mail campaign or writing cold mails.
Product and ECom Copywriter
Product descriptions don’t write themselves, and no one does a better job of highlighting the benefits of a product than a product copywriter. So if you want to build an online store, it doesn’t hurt to get advice from a product or ECom copywriter.
B2B copywriters know the special needs of B2B clients and therefore have different skills than a B2C copywriter. After all, they know full well that executives make decisions differently than individuals in a private setting.
B2C copywriters are well versed in consumer psychology and know exactly what drives different audiences to act. Most copywriters have either a B2B or a B2C focus, which is usually already evident from their preferred medium.
Social Media Copywriter
Social media copywriters write posts, ads and plan entire campaigns. They know the platforms intimately and what Reach brings. They are well versed in algorithms and know what creates attention.
Tech copywriters are specialists in their field and can communicate with engineers, doctors or other professionals at eye level. Through their technical or professional know-how, they convince the eventual decision-makers of the quality of a process, a product, a project or a service.
PR Copywriters maintain close contact with journalists and are perfect for a larger PR campaign. They help companies build credibility in print and online media to position themselves as experts.
In conclusion, the copywriting profession, in all its facets and types, is a dynamic and versatile career option. Whether in renowned companies or as a freelancer – the possibilities are almost limitless.
Mastering the art of copywriting
Copywriters therefore make the unseen visible, and to this end they provide their readers with the appropriate information, at the optimal time and prepared to meet the needs of the respective type of customer. In this way, they help their customers reach as many people as possible and influence them to take a desired action.
Moreover, copywriters are the heart and soul of modern growth marketing.
What does it take to be a copywriter?
As a copywriter, you must have excellent writing skills, creativity, and a good understanding of marketing and sales psychology. It is also important to understand the target audience and create messages that resonate and inspire action.
What is the difference between a copywriter and an advertising copywriter?
The main difference lies in the specialization. While a copywriter focuses on writing copy that inspires action, a copywriter focuses on creating advertising and marketing materials that promote a brand or product. However, there may be overlap in areas of responsibility. Sometimes the terms are even used synonymously.
What is the difference between a copywriter and a content writer?
A copywriter typically creates salesy content with the goal of persuading readers to take a specific action, while the job description of content writers is to create more informative and narrative content aimed at building a relationship with the reader or imparting knowledge without necessarily promoting a direct sale.