What Does Copywriting Mean? And How To Become A Copywriter— Fast
Copywriting (a word that a lot of people don't understand). It's the art of writing as simply as possible and also gets a reader to take action.
Good copywriters also do loads of research to understand their audience and the offer they're promoting.
Copywriters take complicated subjects and make them easy to understand. So people can quickly grasp what they've read without thinking.
Who wants to get out the dictionary when they read something? In my experience… Nobody.
On the flip side, who wants to feel understood? Everyone. Another important thing is being able to understand what you're reading.
And instead of analyzing words, a reader feels them and in turn, wants to click that button.
You're about to discover a little more about what copywriting is and what copywriting isn't.
You'll get an inside look into what copywriters do, how they do it, and which skills you need if you want to write like a copywriter or become one.
Here's a question everybody wants to know…
Is it easy to be a copywriter?
Yes and no.
It's a big question.
When you first put on the copywriting hat, you can use templates to help you get started. This is the easiest path to take. You can follow what already works for other copywriters.
Because when you're learning to be a copywriter, following what others have done (that is in action and works) can help you organize your writing into easy to understand copy.
That's why I've created some templates on my membership site. Because templates are an easy place to start with copywriting. They helped make the transition from a content writer to copywriter easier.
What exactly does a copywriter do?
Not everyone knows this, but copywriters don't just writer sales letters. They also write junk mail, billboards, and Facebook ads.
The thing is, everyone sees copywriting all the time, but most people don't notice it.
In the 1970s, people saw about 500 ads in a single day. And now those numbers can be up to the 5000 range. Wow.
That's a lot of copywriting and it's in your face all the time.
So you can see thousands of ads a day and not even be aware that what your seeing is copywriting (and some of what you see is branding).
Let's say you see the Nike swoosh on a billboard. That's branding.
If there's some ad copy that is trying to sell you some sneaks by featuring the benefits of the waterproof materials and grippy tread, that's copywriting.
Copywriting looks simple.
And when you think about it, it might look easy to write a sentence. But when you want some sentences to make a person take action, it takes a little know-how (but once you have some basics down it gets easier and easier).
I don't know how many times I've rewritten a headline to make it just right, and you might need to write it again.
Copywriting is part art, part science, part testing, and of course, lots of writing.
Let's look at some examples of ad copywriting.
This Apple ad from 1984 said: "Test drive a Macintosh." That's copywriting because it's asking you to take action, and it's also branding at the same time.
This ad is also shaping the voice of the brand as cool and edgy. I mean, look at that modern mouse and weird driving glove. Are they implying that computer is fast?
Or this OK cupid ad… That's copywriting. It's simple, and it asks you to join their dating site. See, the action part of the writing?
If you want to be a copywriter, then you've got to LOVE research, simplicity, persuasion, and words.
You can take off your tready shoes and get comfy, because...
We want to cram as much knowledge in this article and make sure you understand that copywriting IS something that you can learn. Even if you feel like you're "just a blogger."
I understand what this feels like. And overwhelming is an understatement when you're getting started.
It does take practice and patience, and… writing, research, and editing. And lots of it. And getting a mentor (or more than one) helps tremendously.
What does a copywriter do?
Well, copywriters are people that like to write and love to figure out what's going on inside the minds of people. Understanding the audience you're writing for before you start writing is mega helpful.
So you can get readers to click on a button, sign up for an email, or...
That button sells nothing so you know. It's just a not-so-pretty picture.
Direct response copywriting is persuasive writing at its best.
Direct response almost forces people to take action and they don't hesitate if the copy is great.
This is a simple explanation of who copywriters are...
Copywriters are the men and women who research a market (a lot) and an offer.
\They write simply in an easy to read, easy to understand the way.
Copywriting makes people want to sign up, buy something, or make the first move like the single ladies do on Bumble.
Bumble has an easy to understand landing page too. It's simply written and shows how they're different from Tinder, or any other dating site. And they ask the visitor to take immediate action.
This is a landing page here...
Is copywriting the same as content writing?
Writing blog content is different from copywriting, usually. Some content writers understand copywriting and intertwine them, but a lot of them don't.
A blog can simply be a blog.
However, blog posts can also be copywriting ninjas in disguise if you know how to do it.
Most bloggers don't think in terms of copywriting. And a lot of copywriting isn't written like a blog post.
However, some blog posts are written to be more informative and get the reader to take action. This is when content writing and copywriting are intertwined.
An educational blog post that has the sale or action in mind is also called an advertorial or pre-sale page.
This copywriting/blogging duo leads a reader to take some type of action at the end (or in the middle) of an article.
A blog post can be informative, entertaining, or teach you how to do something— without trying to sell.
There are lots of how-to blogs, and content writers that would benefit from some secret copywriting sauce. I bet your blog could use a little copywriting love.
A blog post headline can have copywriting tweaks that get people to click and read.
Some bloggers do this without thinking about it. So if you're a blogger, and you've written and read a lot of headlines, you've probably done some copywriting without thinking about it.
If you write a lot of content, you've probably seen something like this popular headline format
27 powerful and easy ways to get ripped abs in 27 days
People can't not click on a list post article.
Headlines that say 7 ways to do this…
13 things you'll love about XYZ…
Some of these kinds of blog posts are disguised as copywritten advertorials.
Like this advertorial headline below. It's written like a blog post but has tons of buy now links going out to products, that you can get delivered ASAP. So clicking that link is taking an action that could also get you to buy something.
And that my friend, is also copywriting.
I learned a lot about advertorials and pre-sale pages from Rachel Mazza. I used her template structure when I wrote my first pre-sale page. Having the template gave me the freedom to write with a basic understanding of what I needed to write.
If you're writing a blog post or an advertorial, you can also add in SEO to get more organic traffic. That's a juicy method of writing (and one of my faves).
There are other places you'll see lots of copywriting.
Social media posts can use copywriting techniques
Having a call to action in a social media post is a way to get people to visit your blog or check out an affiliate link. A call to action is also known as a CTA. This is something direct response copywriters never leave out of their copy.
A CTA can say things like this guys FB post.
Sergios Dorn's post received 245 comments so people could get access to his framework. He put in the call to action or CTA "Comment Zero...." in his post and it worked like crazy.
You can use copywriting all over the place.
And that's not all...
To get paid as a copywriter or get things to convert on your site, you need to become an expert on whatever it is you're writing about.
Copywriters need a solid understanding of grammar, and understanding of the market their writing for, and the offer they're promoting.
To become a copywriter, first, you've got to claim the title "copywriter" and start thinking like one.
You're probably not going to make a million dollars (like I thought I would after I wrote my first sales letter) when you stick your copywriter flag in the ground.
Every copywriter, no matter how seasoned, does lots of research, writing, reading, and editing.
Having a mentor is also another way to fast track your success as a copywriter.
To become a great writer, you also need to write all the damn time.
Copywriters are not born "naturals." Great copywriters aren't pushed out into the world with their little fingers gripping a computer.
Copywriters aren't born, they're made.
Copywriting takes effort and dedication, but there are some shortcuts you can take, and books you can read to help you get the knowledge you need faster.
One of the books I wish I would have read years ago is Great Leads. It would have saved me a lot of time when I started writing sales letters.
To become a copywriter, you have to want it.
Having passion, curiosity, drive, and the openness to learn from others will help you be a better writer.
Studying, reading, and researching like you're prepping for the bar exam will make you that much better.
Even the best copywriters were beginners.
You go from A to B to C and on down the line.
One comment I got from a mentor said one of my offers was "mildly ignorable," and I didn't like hearing it, but I had to deal.
Getting critiqued can be hard on your ego, but if it's a good mentor, it can help you grow as a writer.
When someone tells you to change your writing it sucks...
When I started writing and had my first experience of working with an editor.
She gave me her suggestions of things I should change and I thought…
What the hell does she know that I don't know?
Just so happens she knew a lot. And every time I have a new editor or client, I increase my knowledge that much more, and so will you.
Even though I've been getting paid as a writer for years, I still feel like a newbie.
I turned in my writing stroller and moved all the way up to a 2-wheeled bike with training wheels, but I'm nowhere near ready to go 90mph on an Italian writing motorcycle.
There is SO MUCH TO LEARN about copy.
There are shortcuts and templates you can use to help you get started in the copywriting department.
But to become great, it takes more time than a template but it helps to have them in the beginning, so you don't miss important things.
When you learn to ride a bike, you need training wheels. And when you're learning to be a copywriter, you need worksheets, templates, and teachers.
You have to start somewhere.
If you're a blogger and want to learn to be a Copywriter you have to put on your helmet and your thick skin if you get critiqued.
You will learn to ride that bike. And you will learn to be a copywriter. You might skin your knees a bit... but you can get back up and write, or ride again.
If you're a content writer, you already know how to write.
You know more about writing than a lot of people. And the way you see the world is different than everyone else's view. This experience gives you an unfair advantage over other people.
Great copywriters all have mentors.
I've had more than one and love to ask copywriters who are leagues above me for feedback and critiques.
Having a group of other writers is a great way to go to learn. It grows an expands with all the brain juice put together.
Two or ten brains are better than one because everyone has different ideas.
Other people can tell you if they feel confused about something you wrote. Or they might tell you about an objection they may have as to why they wouldn't want to buy your product or service.
Getting feedback from others can help you understand your copy better.
There can be that one person that gives you the a-ha moment or unique hook you've been looking for.
People enroll in loads in copywriting courses all over the place. We offer a basic SEO copywriting course for bloggers who want to up their game and increase conversions on their blogs. This is beginner level stuff.
And you can also dig deep with the A-listers of the copywriting world.
There are plenty of copywriting courses to choose from. Find a copywriting course that resonates with you and fits in your budget.
Copywriting for beginners
I can't stress this enough… Some of the most fundamental skills to master if you want to become an expert copywriter is to read other people's sales copy.
The Gary Halbert Letter is a great one to read. And you might be surprised at how simple the language is in his letters and how many golden lessons in writing are in there.
Research, read, and edit as much as you write.
Many copywriters hand copy entire high-converting sales letters multiple times to get things to sink in on a deeper level. Welcome, hand-cramps, and deep insight.
Reading and writing and being aware will help you more than you realize.
Pay attention to everything— words, people and feelings.
Nowadays, I find myself reading my shampoo bottle, parking signs, and anything that has words on it. And tap into the way I feel when I read it.
You can also ask yourself…
How would I write that ad or sales letter to make it better?
It might be hard to make this better, but it's a classic sales letter you might want to read... It's another Gary Halbert Letter. And at Swiped.co, there is a lot of other sales copy you can read.
Now you know copywriting is used when people want to sell you something or create the desire to take action. The main point of a copywriter is to grab the attention and get the person to read the headline, then the next sentence, the next paragraph, and so on…
After that, a copywriter wants to lead the reader to another blog post, fill out a survey, or, of course, buy something. This is something many bloggers miss out on...
Many bloggers don't put a CTA in their articles.
Or a content writer will craft a how-to-do-something article but doesn't lead the reader to take action on their sites like sign up for a gluten-free donut recipe, or dog training checklist, or buy a product.
There are also bloggers and content writers who blog for others…
...but many content writers don't know how to sell, and when you don't sell, you can't make money. I've been there done that time and time again.
So many bloggers write, but don't push the reader to take action.
This is a mistake I made on my blog. I wrote for years but wasn't good at promoting my products and services for money. But I was good at giving them all away.
I had to use my other businesses to fund my writing habit. If this sounds like you, you'll want to pay extra special attention here.
Not having a CTA or anything to sell is where a lot of bloggers are missing out on creating the writing life they want.
So if you're a blogger and you're not making money, you'll want to learn the ways of the copywriter so you can benefit from all your hard work. And to be a successful writer, you've got to learn to sell something. Even if you promote other people's products or services on your site.
I'll get more into that on another day...
I hope you've gained a deeper understanding of this question:
What exactly does a copywriter do?
Copywriters ask for the action, and so can you.
Copywriters stay curious and love to learn about salesmanship, psychology, research, and understanding people.
Copywriters often wear many hats.
Copywriters can also write creative and branding copy for various industries and channels.
A lot of copywriters write for digital marketing, and there are still some print-ad copywriters out there too. Copywriters also write copy for social media, write news articles, jingle ads, job descriptions, and more.
They also do customer research, come up with unique selling propositions, write taglines, landing pages, sales letters, and lead magnets.
Some copywriters also build websites, do graphics, and help with marketing coaching.
If you're a blogger, you can learn how to write copy for your site, build your portfolio from your work and even pick up writing gigs for clients.
So many people need help with writing.
You can make money when you...
And if you become a copywriter, you can help others write what they need.
Freelancing is an option for people who love to write. It's a great side hustle, and it can become the main hustle.
As we discussed previously in the article, the primary weapons of a copywriter are to research, write, understand your audience, and know your product inside and out.
What skills does a copywriter require?
We've gone over a lot of them already.
You're on your way to knowing the in-depth answer to this question, but like we said before… there's always more to learn. Research, writing, and editing are the main foundations.
Any writer can become a copywriter (if you put your mind to it).
And just because someone writes well doesn't mean they're a good copywriter naturally. It's a learned skill.
Let me repeat... with practice, and you can become a great copywriter.
Writing, up-leveling your knowledge, and diving deep is what good copywriters are made of.
Copywriters Love to do research (or least don't mind it).
A great copywriter has to be a master researcher. If you want to be a good copywriter, you've got to be willing to do your homework.
And with enough research, you can become an expert and write about anything you put your mind to.
Many copywriters pick a niche and dig deep into it.
Kevin Rogers calls this your "Bat Signal." And when I learned about Kevin's Bat Signal process, it made me realize I wanted to teach bloggers how to do copywriting so they can uplevel their money-makin' skills. You can listen to the podcast episode about it here.
Copywriters understand proper grammar, but...
You should follow the simple rules of grammar…
… then break them where you deem necessary.
Don't be afraid to be "extra" with your formatting.
I love using lots of ellipses— and em-dashes...
They're my all-time favorites...
Make use of parentheses, bold, italicized, and even underlined copy if you feel like it will make the copy punchier.
The Elements of Style is an excellent book to keep by your side if you need grammar love. And I swear by Grammarly's premium grammar checker. They also have a free version if you're low on dough.
You also want the ability to tap into the reader's emotions.
This is where research and understanding your audience comes in.
The ability to connect with a reader emotionally is a skill that every great copywriter must master.
It turns out, the main point of copywriting research, whether it's in forums, reading reviews, or talking to people, is to try and figure out someone's pain points, problems, and desires.
Let me explain…
You can let a reader know why taking a specific action will help them solve a problem or make their life better in some way.
Your product or service will help them become savvier, learn how to do something faster, or get more money in the bank. Think about the benefits to the prospect?
Good copywriters incite curiosity.
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but curiosity can help you make a sale.
Indeed, this is a skill that all copywriters need to tap into to spark interest in the reader's mind.
A curious mind will want to keep reading, and click on that buy now button.
Understand the reader
One of the main principles is to understand the reader or prospect. An ideal prospect is also known as an avatar in the marketing world.
First, put yourself in your Avatar's shoes and ask yourself some questions about your copy.
- Does it make the reader feel understood?
- Can the prospect imagine what their life will be like if they click on your CTA?
- Do you have a good offer that will actually help them?
Let's pretend you're getting started on the path of wanting to become a writer.
Do you understand how to speak to your audience yet?
You can get clear on your perfect prospect by learning about how to get in the head of your avatar.
While this easy method will also help you understand your ideal prospect on a deeper level.
Make no mistake, you'll have an easier time speaking to your prospect in their language so you can help them figure something out. And promote your offer.
Focus on the benefits of the product and service to the reader.
Turning features into benefits is an easy way to tap into your Avatar's emotions. Think about what your reader had going on before they tried your product to them after they tried your product.
How much easier will their life be if they buy your product or service.
Do your products offer solutions that will help them?
What will life be like after they try your product or service?
What's your answer to these questions?
One of the main points of becoming a great copywriter is to see the before and after experience for the prospect.
No one wants to sell something they don't believe in.
So if you're promoting a product or service, sell something that brings value.
And dig into the benefits of the product that will help your Avatar.
What is an SEO Copywriter?
This is another twist a lot of writers don't take advantage of... SEO and copywriting— together.
An SEO copywriter is a person who writes to get people to take action while also thinking about Search engine optimization throughout the copy. This helps people find you in search.
It's a skill that's highly sought after in the writing industry.
Most people know how to write, but combing persuasive copywriting with SEO will put you a step above the rest. Your site will get more traffic and also inspire people to take action.
SEO writing is a skill that's very much in demand, and people are continually searching for SEO writers to help them out with ranking better on Google or any other search engine.
Is copywriting easy?
Copywriting becomes easier once you get the fundamentals down, and it's also fun to throw in a little SEO.
However, when you decide to become a copywriter, you'll never stop learning.
There are always new methods and things to test to see what resonates with your audience.
And testing will help you discover if there is a different hook or headline that allows your writing to convert better.
To be a copywriter, you need to stay curious.
Copywriters love writing, brainstorming, doing research, editing, testing, and getting feedback.
Most importantly, copywriting takes time, and if you hone your skills, you will get better and better.
I love to combine SEO with copywriting, and if you want to learn more about it, you can check out 3 easy things you can do to get more traffic and customers online in this short video.
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