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Hey there blurb-lovers! Welcome to Copywriting 101, a short entry-level series devised to demystify the world of copywriting.
I can’t think of a better place to begin than the beginning.
1. What is ‘copy’?
If you think long and hard about words, this isn’t a silly question by any stretch. What do you think of when someone says ‘copy’? You might copy down a simple but delicious chocolate cake recipe. You might crazily scrawl important notes from a textbook, you might write down the phone number of one of those very shiny blue plumber’s vans I see driving around Adelaide. The point is, you’re copying something.
Here’s where I feel the word ‘copy’ is something of a misnomer in the context of creating copy. Copy isn’t copying. ‘Copy’ is the careful placement of words – words that want to sell something to the reader.
2. What does a copywriter do?
Are you ready for this? The copywriter writes the copy. Ta-daaaaaaaaa!!
(Sorry, I know you saw that part coming. I do like an orderly sequence though.)
3. Why choose a copywriter?
You might be wondering why you’d pay someone to write it for you when – you know – you did writing and stuff at school, and when you think back you weren’t that bad. These days it’s easy for anyone to write a blog, type up some content for their business website and hit ‘publish’. I’m going to take a two-pronged approach to answering this question.
First, the sheer volume of unedited content published by non-writers has created a virtual dead sea of mediocrity. Smack bang in the middle of an age where consumers are more savvy and spoilt for choice than they’ve ever been, you need to stand out – and for the right reasons. (Yes there’s that old addage ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’, but the thing is, there IS. I’ll cover that in another episode where I talk a bit about branding.)
Second, there’s the part where copywriting is an art. I know. It sounds a bit ostentatious for a copywriter to tell you a copywriter is art. But it is. And it challenges and stimulates me every day.
I like Mark Shaw’s explanation:
Copy…is a very particular type of creative writing that requires the inspiration of an artist and the control of a craftsman or craftswoman…
Writing copy…is all about sticking to a brief, while paying homage to the creativity and style of the poet and storyteller.
— Copywriting: Successful writing for design, advertising and marketing. 2nd Ed.
4. When you hire a copywriter, how does it work?
Usually it begins in earnest with the brief. Every briefing process is slightly different, but if you engage a copywriter it is worth your time and effort to give your copywriter a good brief. It’s a solid foundation which allows both of you to move forward to copywriting greatness.
Read through the terms and conditions, and read them properly because if you agree to them, they set the ‘rules’ from which you and the copywriter work.
The copywriter will get in the zone and write your rough copy, then send it to you for edits and other feedback. It’s standard practice for copywriters to offer 2 – 3 rounds of free edits and revisions – because for some people there’d be no end otherwise.
After you’ve paid your copywriter in full – shazaam! – the good copy and its copyright belongs to you.
5. Do copywriters ‘do’ SEO?
Yes, yes we do. And I’ll be talking about that in the next installment: SEO – Whoa!
I’ve seen people asking about SEO in a few of the biz groups I’m in, so if that’s you then stay tuned for this little gem of a topic!
Copywriting: When You Have ‘That Job’ No One Knows About
Since starting out as an Adelaide based Freelance Copywriter, one thing has become abundantly clear to me. A lot of people new to business have no clear idea of what a copywriter is. When it comes to copy, they ‘don’t copy’. They’re not sure if they need a copywriter, and don’t know what the copywriter can do for them.
It’s OK. I’ve had a few jobs where no one was reeeeeeally clear on what it was I actually did:
- I had a whole career where this type of anonymity was desirable – I couldn’t talk about my job. This veil of mystery gave people the illusion the job was something exciting and bad-arse. It wasn’t. (I may have a type of mild PTSD since the night we watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy back to back. It was too much beauty and splendor for this little RAAF communicator.)
- When I was a Workplace Investigator for the Fairwork Ombudsman, people thought I kicked doors in and dramatically righted the wrongs of workplace agreements and Big Business’ unfair treatment of its workers. The pen-pushing reality of that role couldn’t possibly stack up with the romance of such revolutionary images.
- When I worked for ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission), people thought I was an analyst and often asked what that actually meant. I worked in the call centre, and honestly couldn’t enlighten them – but I must admit those analysts were a fun bunch to hang with for after work drinks.
- Now I’m a Copywriter and people who’ve heard the term before think I dress in vintage 60’s clothes, have hard liquor bottles and glassware at my disposal on trolleys, and spend more time ‘chasing tail’ than working…Or maybe that’s me and I watched too much Mad Men. It’s not like that at all – I’m a freelancer, not an agency worker (boom-boom).
One of the fun parts of being a Copywriter is having a voice and a bit of a platform to explain what it is I do. Because being a Copywriter is a challenge and a joy. In that vein, I’m getting ready to launch an information campaign to answer some of the entry-level questions about Copywriting. It will be a series blogs and Facebook posts I’ve boldy called…
Have you ever found yourself wondering what a Copywriter is or does? Have you ever thought about writing your own copy? Have you lay awake at night wondering if you might need to call in a specialist in wordsmithy? Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I shine a light on that question:
What’s a Copywriter???
And if you really can’t wait, just jump on over to my contact page. Leave a blurb and we’ll see if we can get some cracking copy onto your page.