The words a business uses are their biggest asset. Without the power of language, the business will be unable to communicate. But copywriting is more than just a combination of words slopped together on a page.
Becoming a copywriter isn’t an easy ride. It doesn’t happen overnight. There are hurdles you will face and moments, copywriting courses you will want to take, and moments where you’ll doubt your ability. But, arming yourself with knowledge and understanding what you can expect to happen on your journey to launching a successful copywriting business will enable you to tackle the hurdles with confidence.
What Is Copywriting?
Copywriting is written words designed to sell. Businesses need strong copy to make sales and increase their conversion rate.
There are multiple types and formats of copy, which you’ll need to know to become a professional copywriter—but more on that later.
Copywriting vs. Content Writing: What’s The Difference?
Many new copywriters and business owners get confused and refer to copywriting and content writing as synonyms. The truth is, copywriting and content writing are separate arts and demand a different set of skills and strategies.
So, why does copywriting differ from content writing?
The key difference is that copy sells while content tells. But it’s more than just a quirky rhyme to help you remember the fundamental difference.
Copywriting revolves around conversion. Ultimately, the words used by a copywriter are crafted and assembled with one goal in mind: to sell.
Content writing, however, revolves around providing value. That value will then convert to sales, so, understandably, many people use these terms interchangeably. But content is a long-term strategy that focuses on brand recognition and becoming a thought leader in the industry.
On the other hand, copywriting has been designed to convert in as few words as possible, provoking a quicker reaction in the reader.
Copywriting takes creativity, business acumen, and a knowledge of sales psychology and mixes it up in a blender. Once it’s shaken, you’re left with words that convert. In other terms: copywriting.
Do You Need Specific Qualifications Or A Degree To Become A Copywriter?
Strictly speaking, you don’t need any specific qualifications or a degree to become a copywriter. What you do need is buckets of drive, creativity, an understanding of strategy both in practice and in theory, and a willingness to learn.
Some, though not many, business owners will favor copywriters who have educational backgrounds and excel at English Language and Literature. Also, a journalism, marketing, creative writing, or advertising degree will help you stand out from the competition. But is it fundamental? Will it hinder your chances of success if you don’t have any of these degrees? No. Absolutely not.
What Does A Copywriter Do? What Are The Daily Tasks For A Copywriter?
As a professional copywriter, you’ll find that depending on the route into copywriting you take, your daily tasks can vary from other copywriters in the field. That said, there are similarities between all copywriters in the tasks they must complete on a daily basis.
These tasks include:
- Researching. While you may assume that the main task of a copywriter is to write, the research stage is far more time-consuming. And, if done correctly, it helps to keep the writing process streamlined and effective. Research revolves around the target audience, competitors, brand voice, product and service exploration, and market research.
- Planning. Planning the structure of copy is fundamental. There’s no space for ‘fluff’ in copywriting, so every word needs to serve a purpose. Also, the positioning of certain elements will have a psychological impact on the reader. It falls to the copywriter to use psychology for the brand’s gain, persuading the reader to take action.
- Collaborating. With most copywriters, they’ll find themselves working with a larger team once they begin to scale. Copywriters often collaborate with designers, so the visuals complement the language. However, copywriters are also expected to collaborate with any and everyone on the team.
- Strategizing. Strategy is a crucial part of the puzzle for a copywriter. The words used – in whichever format the project demands – need to abide by a wider marketing strategy. There needs to be a reason – something that pushes the business forward – in everything you write.
- Writing. This goes without saying, but writing is one of the main parts of a copywriter’s daily routine. Whether it is the headline or the call-to-action, writing copy is time-consuming and requires solid expertise. The writing process takes the other elements on this list and combines them, leaving the client with words that genuinely convert.
The 3 Routes To Being A Copywriter
There are 3 main routes into copywriting. The path you choose will depend on you as a person. To help you decide, we’ve outlined the routes, the benefits, and the disadvantages to each.
Copywriting Route 1: In-House Copywriting
Being an in-house copywriter means working for a company or corporation. Ordinarily, you’re expected to work in an office alongside your peers. It’s the standard 9-5 setup.
Advantages of being an in-house copywriter:
- Consistent salary and job security
- Potential to be promoted
- Work alongside other creatives for inspiration and support
- Working for one company which you can get to know like the back of your hand
- Set hours
Disadvantages of being an in-house copywriter:
- You have no control of your salary
- Little variety in work which can stifle creativity
- Set hours and lack of freedom
- The need to work in an office is unappealing for some (though many companies now offer remote working)
Copywriting Route 2: Write For An Agency
Writing for a copywriting agency is the middleman between route 1 and route 3 (which we’ll cover shortly). Being part of an agency means you’ll be one of many writers on the team, and you’re given writing to complete. You’ll communicate only with the leaders of the agency rather than the clients themselves.
Advantages of writing copy for an agency:
- More security knowing you’ll gain projects and tasks for them
- No need to cold pitch for clients
- No direct communication with the clients themselves, saving you time
- A standard procedure to follow which is often uncomplicated and effective
- Wide variety in the topics and industries you write for
- You can work wherever you want in the world.
Disadvantages of writing copy for an agency:
- There are ordinarily tight turn-around times, so you’ll need to get the copy written fairly quickly.
- You’re unable to choose your projects and clients, meaning you’ll almost certainly have to write about things you’re unknowledgeable about or dislike at least once or twice.
- The pay varies massively from agency to agency and task to task.
- Some agencies can be difficult when it comes to payment. That’s why it’s important to do your research before becoming a copywriter for an agency.
Copywriting Route 3: Become A Freelance Copywriter
This is arguably the most popular route into copywriting in 2021. Freelance copywriting means you’re registered as self-employed. It also means, by its nature, that you’re a brand owner. Unfortunately, many freelance copywriters don’t make that association, which means their brand suffers from it.
Advantages of being a freelance copywriter
- You can set your own hours and gain more freedom
- You can choose which projects and clients to take on
- You’re able to niche and specialize in an area that you’re knowledgeable about or you have a keen interest in
- There’s no ceiling in terms of how much money you can earn
- You’re able to set your own prices
- You can work with people all around the world
- You can work wherever you go, so long as you have a wifi connection and a laptop.
Disadvantages of being a freelance copywriter:
- You have little security in terms of income
- You’ll need to work incredibly hard in the initial stages before you can gain the freedom you’re looking for
- You’re marketing a business, so you’ll need to develop your own brand alongside other people’s
- Some clients can be a bit of a nightmare
- The emotional rollercoaster of entrepreneurship
- It can be lonely to work at home without a team around you
Side Hustle vs. Successful Copywriting Business
Beginning your journey into copywriting by adopting this craft as a side hustle is an entry route that many people take. Everyone has bills to pay, and sometimes the risk is too high to just take a stint on it.
However, once you’re beginning to see some ROI for your efforts, it indicates that you’re ready. Of course, only you will know when you’re prepared to take your copywriting business full time. But you need to recognize the difference between being nervous and not being ready.
If you can view your freelance copywriter status as a brand, you’ve gained some experience with results, and you’re knowledgeable about the copywriting world, then success is on the other side of consistency.
A full-time freelance copywriting career is one full of rewards, freedom, and no glass ceiling. Though it may be difficult to get started, it’s well worth the hustle when you’re making 5 figure months regularly, doing something you absolutely love: copywriting.