What does a copywriter do?

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Comments (21)

Loren Woirhaye - zerodollarmarketer.com in Whittier, California

78 months ago

A copywriter is somebody who writes advertising - which is
defined as "salesmanship in print.

Copywriting is the craft of writing persuasive ads and
letters which get people to part with their money.

Its a deep skill. There is virtually no ceiling to how
much moeny you can make from writing copy and understanding
direct reponse marketing

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Dr. Charles Baldwin in Dublin, Ireland

77 months ago

Copywriting is a lot of different things. Mainly, we write advertisements. It is not a profession that you would traditionally learn in college and being an English major would have no bearing on your writing. In fact, we tend to forget most of the things we learned about writing in school. If the English professors were any good at writing, they would be doing, instead of teaching! Check out the courses at AWAI, if you want to get started. You can get the basics there and graduate to the masters program or one of the sub-programs, like web copy, catalog copy, resumes, travel writing, etc. You can also visit my website for some examples. Good Luck.

Dr. Charles Baldwin
www.irishcopywriters.com

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kely@obrienwray.com in Miami, Florida

70 months ago

Newkid in Worcester, Massachusetts said: Hi,

I am an english major but I am not sure what a copywriter does exactly. I recently read a job description for copywriting. It stated that a canidate needed to be well versed in writing both short and long form copy. I do not have the appropriate idea of the job function. Can some one please elaborate as to what a copywriter does exactly please?

I a copywriter. Today the operative title is creative content provider. I package ideas into powerful messages by stringing the right words (and images) into the right form and length to capture attention and motive minds.

This capability has many applications. I typically write:
• Web Content
• News Releases
• Articles
Advertising Copy
• Brochures (collateral material, used in Direct Mail, Point of Sale, etc.)
• Titles
• Slogans
• Speeches
• Marketing/Sales Letters
Business and Marketing Plans
• Scripts (for radio and tv ads, and advertorials, screen plays etc.)
• Fax, Email, Voicemail and Flyer messages
• Training Manuals
• Other Stuff as Needed

I also provide creative ideas or concepts, or can take an idea and give it substance, direction and content. I have excellent business development and public relations skills. I have University of Missouri Journalism credentials, media, corporate and agency experience.

Today the operative title is creative content provider. I package ideas into powerful messages by stringing the right words (and images) into the right form and length to capture attention and motive minds.

This capability has many applications. I typically write:
• Web Content
• News Releases
• Articles
• Advertising Copy
• Brochures (collateral material, used in Direct Mail, Point of Sale, etc.)
• Titles
• Slogans
• Speeches
• Marketing/Sales Letters
• Business and Marketing Plans
• Scripts (for radio and tv ads, and advertorials, screen plays etc.)
• • Fax, Email, Voicem

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High School Girl in Manchester, Iowa

67 months ago

Kely, I was browsing online and stumbled on your post. You are very articulate and I was wondering if you could tell me what college curriculum you took to get where you are today? I'm a high school junior who is good at school; specifically writing, speech, and music. College can be a pricey experience and I want to make the best choice. Thanks!

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kely@obrienwray.com in Miami, Florida

67 months ago

I attended University of Missouri --received a BA and MA Journalism. When I was a HS junior, I knew I was good at same things you mentioned. THE QUESTION I DIDN'T ASK MYSELF IS WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? Tell me more about that and I can give you a better answer.

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High School Girl in Manchester, Iowa

67 months ago

Thanks for the quick reply! I knew you went to a great school!
I've won a couple of state (Iowa) writing contests and have been encouraged by all of my teachers. I've also placed many times at the state speech contests with speeches that I've written. My mom says that research librarian, English teacher, or music teacher could be a good path. My older sister says PR is a good choice too.
Honestly, I don't know what I want to do the rest of my life! I know I can't live on the farm
with my parents! I'm not afraid to strike out, but making a living writing could be difficult...
Because of the changes in delivery of news and the shocking decline of newspapers, what will happen to the major of journalism?

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kely@obrienwray.com in Miami, Florida

67 months ago

Mostly JOURNALISM grads found jobs outside of journalism. (this was true then, only nobody told me that, and now--so I'm telling you) Some never found jobs in journalism--and sold cars, went into real estate, or got another degree that had more market value.

I had to smile at your posting. I actually interned one summer with the Missouri State Library Association. In retrospect, I should have pursued that opportunity and put my talent at writing to my own personal pleasure. If you enjoy it, do it. The words always flow more easily when not forced. READ THE BIOGRAPHIES OF JACK LONDON, MARK TWAIN, IAN FLEMING...

Like you, I too wanted of the farm. I caught the eye from the local newspaper when I sent a letter that had no typos. I worked for the country weekly my JR and SR years in high school (I swept floors, sold ads, set type, wrote a little, learned a lot) and that experience along with my grade point, got me scholarships to MIZZOU.

Public relations is a death trap. Those jobs are the first to disappear in a recession, along with jobs in human resources. There is always high turnover in agency jobs. Nobody brags about the decline in newspapers. THE DENVER POST is just the most recent to fall. I can remembe when St, Louis, Philadelphia, Houston, had more than one daily paper. A few if they have the looks, the smarts, the talent, the perseverence AND THE CONNECTIONS can earn fabulous high profile careers. Mostly, we find other ways to earn a living.

What the school from which you graduate can do for you at best, is open doors at the entry level. The competition is fierce, was then, is now. My most successful contemporary LILLIAN WILSON BLACK is now asst. dean of Journalism at the University of Missouri.

If I were you, I would send her a letter and get her perspective. Tell her KELLY OBRIEN WRAY sends her regards, and Tom Duffy is smiling. (she will know exactly what that means)

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Tomo in Palm Coast, Florida

58 months ago

Newkid in Worcester, Massachusetts said: Hi,

I am an english major but I am not sure what a copywriter does exactly. I recently read a job description for copywriting. It stated that a canidate needed to be well versed in writing both short and long form copy. I do not have the appropriate idea of the job function. Can some one please elaborate as to what a copywriter does exactly please?

A copy writer connects a product with an emotion that will lead to a buying action. It is a completely different style of writing from tech writing, story writing, or journalistic writing.

Short form copy are things like ads, while long form copy are things like direct mail and sales letters.

Here's a hint. If you want to write sales copy, let go of a lot of your preconceived notions on style, grammar, and who your reader is. Its the only style of writing that is at least as much science as it is art.

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Patrick Thies in Carbondale, Illinois

56 months ago

I have been researching copy writing as a very promising job after college. Im a senior attending SIUC and have a major in cinema minor in marketing.

My specialty is in screenwriting and have written a handful of short stories and working on a feature length film to submit to contests.
Although I wouldn't mind working on an actual set as a crew member, I feel I could be better use writing, even if its not directly related to television/films.

Though I have a minor in marketing I've really got the basics done by attending class alone. I use up my spare time working two part time jobs on campus and involved in major-related clubs/productions.

I guess im wondering at this point whats next. I have made a resume and cover letter and even took a class for it at the college. It gave me info on interviewing tips,email etiquette etc.
It helped, but i fear because I haven't had any real world (paying) experience or internships. Potential employers may look me over and focus on other students who have done more than me.

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BH532 in Cedarburg, Wisconsin

29 months ago

I would love to hear the opinions of existing copywriters, tech writers, etc. as to the best type of education or experience (college or ?) to have in order to pursue such a writing career.

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Nana in Palmyra, Pennsylvania

27 months ago

I recently took an early retirement and am looking for a little extra income. Read some things about copywriting and have to ask...would I have a chance in this field without a college education?

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Tomokun in Orange City, Florida

27 months ago

BH532 in Cedarburg, Wisconsin said: I would love to hear the opinions of existing copywriters, tech writers, etc. as to the best type of education or experience ( college or ?) to have in order to pursue such a writing career.

Looks like there have been a few questions since I last responded.

How exactly does one go about making a deal for 10% of a products sales in exchange for a spec advertisement or sales letter ?

When you find a client looking for content, you let them know that they can either pay you a fair rate (whatever your time is worth to get some work done), or that you'll work for free as long as you get paid off of the sales. Simply point out to them that if your copy doesn't convert, they aren't out any money - but if it does they'll be making a whole bunch more than the measly 10% you'll be pocketing because they'll be able to resell to those customers later.

How are you then able to audit their sales records in order to guarantee fair payment ?
Google analytics is great and free. Just get a code that you'll have them put on the "thank you page" that comes up after they purchase and you'll have all the tracking you need - or you can just trust that they aren't going to rob you blind. :p

Example: a local restaurant ad that increases their sales by 35%

Coordinate with the business owner on this and be firm. Point out that it's in THEIR best interest to track these results because you'll be able to improve future results that much more.

Trust their greed. :) If you really can help them make more money, they aren't going to want to damage that relationship down the road. 1 Ad (if you build it right), will only be good for a brief burst of business. After that, they'll need to come back to you, or do it on their own. Advertising is like Crack - it's addictive.

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Tomokun in Orange City, Florida

27 months ago

BH532 in Cedarburg, Wisconsin said: I would love to hear the opinions of existing copywriters, tech writers, etc. as to the best type of education or experience ( college or ?) to have in order to pursue such a writing career.

I would love to hear the opinions of existing copywriters the best type of education or experience.

Stats and persuasive writing, as well as lots of ad demo testing. No college degree is necessary as long as you have experience and results under your belt.

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Marygoaround in United Kingdom

25 months ago

Hi

You might find this link useful: www.inst.org/copy/what.htm

Best wishes

Mary

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Copywriter Collective in Amsterdam, Netherlands

16 months ago

A <a href=" copywritercollective.com/>copywriter</a> is someone who can find the thing that makes a product or service unique, and communicate that benefit in simple to understand language.

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Dana in Minneapolis, Minnesota

12 months ago

"They would be writing instead of teaching." That's absolute nonsense. You cannot be a good, effective teacher without thoroughly understanding your craft. The idea that "those who can't teach" is not at all just or logical. Think about it--can you teach someone math if you can't do it yourself AS WELL AS boil it down for others? You cannot simplify and rephrase if you don't understand the concept extremely well.

Dr. Charles Baldwin in Dublin, Ireland said: Copywriting is a lot of different things. Mainly, we write advertisements. It is not a profession that you would traditionally learn in college and being an English major would have no bearing on your writing. In fact, we tend to forget most of the things we learned about writing in school. If the English professors were any good at writing, they would be doing, instead of teaching! Check out the courses at AWAI, if you want to get started. You can get the basics there and graduate to the masters program or one of the sub-programs, like web copy, catalog copy, resumes, travel writing, etc. You can also visit my website for some examples. Good Luck.

Dr. Charles Baldwin
www.irishcopywriters.com

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AdrianMeff in Boynton Beach, Florida

10 months ago

I graduated from college two years ago, with a BS in Applied Sociology and a minor in English. The coursework for a degree in sociology includes several stats classes as well as many courses which teach students how to better understand, relate to, and predict the behaviors of differing societal groups. I also have 8 months of professional experience as a technical writer, 7 months of experience as a technical recruiter, and have completed a marketing internship as well as a market research internship.

Although I felt confident in my abilities as a technical writer (my most recent experience), I felt the career path wouldn't be as satisfying to me as other careers might be- specifically copywriting- so I'm now looking to make a career change. Technical writing did not satisfy my desire to study and relate to other humans, as most of the work I completed didn't require human interaction.

With all of that said, does copywriting sound like a good fit for someone with my experience? And if so, does anyone have suggestions as to how I might best market myself as a copywriter although my work history does not expressly say I have been a copywriter before? I'm having some trouble re-writing my resume and LinkedIn experience with the appropriate buzzwords.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions!

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FL_Quaintrelle in Jacksonville, Florida

7 months ago

Dana in Minneapolis, Minnesota said: "They would be writing instead of teaching." That's absolute nonsense. You cannot be a good, effective teacher without thoroughly understanding your craft. The idea that "those who can't teach" is not at all just or logical. Think about it--can you teach someone math if you can't do it yourself AS WELL AS boil it down for others? You cannot simplify and rephrase if you don't understand the concept extremely well.

Wouldn't that be, "those who can't, teach"? Just sayin'...
Let us not forget the value of a comma. EXAMPLE: Let's eat Grandma vs. Let's eat, Grandma.

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Tomokun in Orange City, Florida

7 months ago

AdrianMeff in Boynton Beach, Florida said: With all of that said, does copywriting sound like a good fit for someone with my experience? And if so, does anyone have suggestions as to how I might best market myself as a copywriter although my work history does not expressly say I have been a copywriter before? I'm having some trouble re-writing my resume and LinkedIn experience with the appropriate buzzwords.

Results are what matter in copywriting, not experience. With your background as a technical writer, can you demonstrate that if someone pays you $5K for 2 thousand words that they are going to get a return on their investment?

If not, then you can't honestly call yourself a copywriter; you are simply a technical writer offering copywriting services.

So, if you want to market yourself as a copywriter... do some free work first. Offer to do an email campaign for someone on the promise that they only pay you if you make them money. Write some ads for free, or better yet, write a sales letter selling YOURSELF!

If you find you get results for people, that's a great first step. If you can market yourself effectively, that's an even better first step - because if you can't do it for yourself, why should anyone trust that you can do it for them?

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Tomokun in Orange City, Florida

7 months ago

Dana in Minneapolis, Minnesota said: "They would be writing instead of teaching." That's absolute nonsense. You cannot be a good, effective teacher without thoroughly understanding your craft. The idea that "those who can't teach" is not at all just or logical. Think about it--can you teach someone math if you can't do it yourself AS WELL AS boil it down for others? You cannot simplify and rephrase if you don't understand the concept extremely well.

Sure it is.

Math is a poor example; by its very nature it is academic. However, let's look at something like baseball or basketball - how many little league coaches make it to the big leagues?

How many basketball coaches step in for centers to try and dunk?

The fact is that while someone may not be skilled enough to be a professional, they may be excellent at communicating the fundamentals that other, more skilled people can then master.

Granted, some people prefer to teach; but it is the rare bird that would pass on the opportunity to win a gold medal just so they can teach six year olds how to do a proper split.

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Adrianmeff in Boynton Beach, Florida

23 days ago

Tomokun in Orange City, Florida said: Results are what matter in copywriting, not experience. With your background as a technical writer, can you demonstrate that if someone pays you $5K for 2 thousand words that they are going to get a return on their investment ?

If not, then you can't honestly call yourself a copywriter; you are simply a technical writer offering copywriting services.

So, if you want to market yourself as a copywriter... do some free work first. Offer to do an email campaign for someone on the promise that they only pay you if you make them money. Write some ads for free, or better yet, write a sales letter selling YOURSELF!

If you find you get results for people, that's a great first step. If you can market yourself effectively, that's an even better first step - because if you can't do it for yourself, why should anyone trust that you can do it for them?

Thanks, Tomokun. That was sound advice. Luckily, I was able to secure a full-time copywriting position without doing free work first :)

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