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Copywriting 101: The Ultimate Guide to Copywriting

If you’re here, you’re new to the world of copywriting and you want to know what copywriting is.

Welcome aboard!

Copywriting is one of my absolute favourite things in the world. There’s something about cutting through the noise and persuading someone to take action with your written words.

Marketing your products and services is hard. It doesn’t always get you the results you want.

Most of the time, it’s because the words on your site, in your emails, or on your social media platforms are poorly written or ineffective at getting people to take the final step of making a purchase.

This is where copywriting comes in!

Whether you’re considering copywriting as your next career, or as a side gig for extra income, this guide will answer all your questions about the copywriting industry.

Keep reading to learn why copywriting is the single most important thing for any business.

Let’s start.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is marketing or advertising writing: writing that is designed to sell or to persuade. It is a text form of salesmanship.

Copywriting is like a call-to-action, but on a bigger scale: Copywriters try to get people to feel, think, respond or, ideally, to Google the slogan or brand to learn more about the campaign.

When you open a magazine and there’s a full-page advertisement selling perfume, the words on that page are the result of copywriting.

When you go to a website that prompts you to buy something, the words on that page are the result of copywriting.

You can find copies in print, online, and even being read on television or over the radio. Copywriting is almost everywhere you look and listen.

Difference Between Copywriting and Content Writing

Copywriting is content directly aimed at making sales. Content marketing can have different goals but focuses mainly on less direct goals, like educating, amusing, or building brand awareness.

Copywriters often write content for their clients, but at their copywriting rates. That’s because copywriters are skilled at being succinct and telling a compelling story.

Because it doesn’t take as much skill as copywriting, content writing has a lower barrier to entry. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t write content but having training as a copywriter can make you a more in-demand content writer who can command higher rates for pieces like blog posts, ebooks, and more.

What is a Copywriter?

In a nutshell, copywriting is about sales. Your objective is to create content and experiences that drive conversions, plain and simple. An effective copywriter understands what drives conversions and incorporates that into their copy.

They aren’t just capable of creating blog posts. They understand how to market through Google Ads, email newsletters, and social media posts.

Who Uses Copywriters?

Copywriting is at the core of nearly every business.

Without copywriters, businesses wouldn’t be able to share their messages with potential customers to expand their markets, or with current customers to keep them engaged.

This includes websites, non-profit organizations, service providers, as well as brick-and-mortar retailers. They all need and use copywriters.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Copywriter?

Copywriting requires a range of hard and soft skills to be successful in the role. Below are seven important skills that copywriters need to be successful:

1. Conversational Writing Skills

The truth is, hard-selling turns people off. We cringe when we see flashing ads by a grinning salesman who tries to shove a product down our throats.

On the other hand, we listen with rapt attention when a friend tells us about a product they love. There’s something about their tone that draws and interests us.

Be conversational in your copy. Imagine yourself telling a friend you care for about a product that will genuinely change his life.

2. Empathy

The beauty of high-quality sales copy is that it isn’t about tricking people. It isn’t about shoving a product down their throats.

Instead, it’s about helping. It’s about improving people’s lives.

To showcase this understanding and come from a place of help, you as a copywriter need empathy. You need the ability to step into your audience’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.

Only then can you craft copy that speaks to their hearts.

3. SEO

A lot of people think copywriting is bizarre television ads selling random kitchen appliances, but this time with the written word as a medium. And while copywriting is about selling, it’s more than that.

Copywriters are often tasked to craft powerful SEO-optimized web copy. This is essential in a world where SEO drives 1000% higher traffic than organic social media.

4. Creativity

Copywriting isn’t about loading an email or landing page with jargon and endless lists of statistics. More often, it’s about telling stories readers can relate to.

To be an excellent copywriter, you need to learn how to take dry, old sales copy and turn it into something new. When your audience is nodding, laughing, and crying with you, you’ll create a special bond with them.

5. Content Strategy

As mentioned above, powerful copywriting is like persuading a dear friend to buy something that will improve his life. The problem is, what if you don’t know who that friend is, how he talks or how you should address him?

When you learn content strategy, you learn to put the pieces of your content marketing puzzle together.

You learn how to speak to your audience using audience personas, how to be consistent in your conversations with them, and how to be unique in a world where a ton of marketing messages are released each day.

6. Curiosity

As a copywriter, you need to be an excavator. To write stellar copy, you need to answer questions such as:

  • How does this product work?
  • Why is this product better than others?

Your curiosity will drive you to find all the answers.

7. Research

Occasionally, you’ll get to write on topics that you know and enjoy covering. However, you aren’t always going to be able to write about subjects that you have an in-depth understanding of.

Quite often you will need to conduct research to write a quality blog, web page or article to the level of detail that is expected.

This research may involve reading complex documents, gaining an understanding of the overall market, and sourcing out news articles.

Types of Copywriting

Not all copywriting is created equal. Depending on what you choose to specialize in, you could be working on anything from a nationwide commercial to email copywriting.

At the end of the day, it’s about identifying the marketing that best serves your brand’s audience.

Below are five common types of copywriting:

1. Brand Copywriting

Brand copywriters go beyond the typical features and aim to create strong emotional responses. Creative copywriting is less about proving a brand is better than the competition and more about creating a memorable experience.

2. Social Media Copywriting

As a brand, your goal when crafting copy for social media is to engage audiences through posts and ads. The challenge with this style is adapting your brand messaging into a variety of unique formats.

For example, the copy you write for a post on Facebook shouldn’t be identical to the copy on a TikTok or Instagram post.

3. SEO Copywriting

SEO is all about getting your content to rank highly on the search engine result pages. To rank highly, your content needs to deliver genuine value to users while mixing in a healthy amount of keywords and phrases.

4. Insight Copywriting

At its core, insight copywriting is about establishing your brand as an industry authority. As a copywriter, you achieve this by producing high-value educational content.

Some audiences just want simple, detailed solutions to their key pain points. For brands with a more experienced audience, thought leadership can be particularly valuable.

5. Email Copywriting

Writing an email that’s compelling is a unique challenge, specifically because its presentation is so unusual. You have to write engaging email headlines that aren’t ignored. Clarity is a priority, but so is value.

Your call to action needs to be strong enough to convert your audience, but the commitment should be small enough that it doesn’t alienate your audience.

5 Great Examples of Copywriting

The ability to find the exact right words to tell your company’s story isn’t an easy feat, and it’s even harder to do so consistently.

So when I come across companies that are doing it successfully, I think their copywriters deserve a pat on the back. Below are some of the companies I think have stellar copywriting to get you inspired.

Rolls-Royce

David Ogilvy wrote this ad in 1958. Why is it still widely considered one of the best headlines of all time?

Detail and imagery. The headline – pulled directly from the Technical Editor’s write-up in The Motor – offers readers a sensory experience.

Beyond the excellent headline, the body copy is long, but packed with detail and emotion, giving not just the specs of the car, but the process that makes it and a sense of prestige and tradition.

You can almost feel the peace and quiet that comes from driving this car. And in post-war America, peace, quiet, and luxury were all things that the upper class – the ad’s audience – craved.

Ricola

In 2014, Ricola ran a series of ads with examples of how a misplaced cough could ruin the meaning of a sentence. This ad is:

  • Funny — especially for an industry that can often be boring and technical
  • Slightly edgy
  • Relatable
  • Simple
  • Memorable

The ad also shows the product without trying to persuade the reader that Ricola makes the best cough drops. Instead, it combines the photo of recognizable product packaging with a memorable copy.

The goal? To keep Ricola top-of-mind the next time someone shops for cough drops.

L’Oreal Paris

Makeup brand L’Oreal Paris worked with ad agency McCann on a print campaign focused on workplace gender equality.

The result: Copy that reads, “This is an ad for men. Hire more women in leadership roles. We’re all worth it.”

It is bold and packs a punch. It keeps the content to the point, helping readers understand facts without any arguments.

Innocent Drinks

The copy on Innocent Drinks’ website, from navigation to product descriptions, is cute without being cheesy. More importantly, this copy says exactly what the product is.

It starts with a clear description: Smoothies made from the finest fruit. Then it acknowledges what their target customers care about — no weird things like additives or artificial colours and flavours in their food.

The copy addresses that point right away before the reader can even wonder about it.

When you anticipate your customers’ objections, you can address them before they have a chance to worry.

The Hustle

The Hustle does a lot of things from a copy standpoint really well. Their email opt-in page, “Your smart, good looking friend that sends you an email each morning with all the tech and business news you need to know for the day” is out of the park.

They have expertly created a trusted and personable brand through conversational copy.

How Much Do Copywriters Really Earn?

Let’s get one thing out of the way: It is absolutely possible for copywriters to earn six figures.

That may be hard to believe considering many of us were taught it’s impossible to make a good living as a writer. And sadly, that’s largely true for many careers that involve writing. But not copywriting.

Because copywriting can be directly tied to helping a business’s bottom line, they’re compensated well for it.

According to Glassdoor, a survey of over 4,000 salaries found that the average base pay for a copywriter in the U.S. is around $64,348 per year.

Conclusion

Some copywriters may kid themselves into thinking that copywriting is a young industry, but the truth is, it’s been around for hundreds of years.

Copywriting is everywhere – on every lamppost sign, billboard, promotional email, and more.

Learning to write powerful copy is key to a successful digital marketing strategy. The best product or service won’t sell if you don’t know how to write persuasive copy.

This guide should help you understand your audience and focus on what matters so you can write copy that converts.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments below.

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