What is Copywriting?

There are many writing professions. You’ve heard of the Poet, Novelist and Journalist. But what about the ‘Copywriter’? I’ve written this explanation for friends and family, to explain this interest of mine.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting aims to sell. Discretely, or not. ‘Copy’ refers to the text. Which should always be original, and has nothing to do with being copied from elsewhere. In order to sell ideas, products and services, copywriters must use every ounce of flair and creative talent to turn a few facts into attractive copy that convinces you to part with your money.

It has nothing to do with copy-rite (c), which is the legal matter of placing claim to ideas and intellectual property. Unless a copywriter is selling products with the need for legal disclaimers, or has made outrageous claims, there is little need for a copywriter to cross paths with a lawyer.

An excellent book on copywriting by Mark Shaw. Who, incidentally, began a company called ‘Jupiter’ where I worked for a year. Mr Shaw was no longer there, as he is now pursuing a more active copywriting career.

Copywriting encompasses a wide range of projects. Anything from advertising slogans and product jingles, to product descriptions and the wording on a price tag in a shop. Leaflets, website ‘copy’, poster slogans, company branding, magazine articles… the list goes on. It can be very creative, and at the same time it’s non-fiction and there is a kind of ‘formula’ to this skill.

Who employs Copywriters?

Copywriters have two customers. First, the people who the products will be sold to. You or I. Secondly, their employers. The people who want the ‘copy’. These will be companies who want their products/services to look good, or design agencies. With so many people having a say in a copywriter’s ideas, copywriters sometimes have to sacrifice a strong idea because the ‘Big Boss’ doesn’t like it, even though everyone else may love it.

What makes good Copywriting?

Copywriting often involves storytelling to show the customer why a product or service will change their lives for the better. Copywriters shouldn’t try to be comedians, because the witty idea will stay in a customer’s mind, not the product.

As for knowing when your writing is good, that’s a skill all writers pick up. Knowing which ideas to chase, and which to send to recycling.


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