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!