Monday Motivations/A Copywriting Career

Do you feel as if your writing needs a change of direction? Have you ever thought about copywriting? Don’t even know what it is? I was in exactly the same boat a few years ago. Read on and perhaps it’ll set you thinking about trying something new:

A Copywriting Career

I hadn’t ever thought about becoming a copywriter. I’d had a love affair with article, short story, competition and filler writing for years but the idea of becoming a copywriter was non-existent. My back therapist thought otherwise.

“You write, don’t you?” she said, cracking my back into place one day. “I need someone to provide the copy for my leaflets. Would you be interested?”

I found myself nodding, obviously outwardly giving a professional, reassuring smile that I was the woman for the job. Inwardly, I was panicking. A leaflet? I wrote articles about collecting cricket memorabilia and stories about cute little kittens for children. I couldn’t do a leaflet.

But somehow I found myself doing just that – and I loved it. So did my back therapist. The rest they say is history and I can now add copywriter to my CV.

I have to admit that before ‘the leaflet’, I wasn’t even really sure what a copywriter did. So here’s a brief insight into the world of the copywriter. And the good news is, whilst it’s seemingly becoming harder and harder to break into article and fiction markets, skilled copywriters are always in demand. A good copywriter can also expect to be paid very well.

What is a Copywriter?

A copywriter produces ‘copy’ i.e. the writing for commercial purposes. Journalism is about informing, whereas copywriting is concerned not only with informing, but also advising, influencing and persuading, with the primary aim of selling a company’s services or products.

What does a Copywriter do?

A copywriter’s role is a varied one. Here are a few examples of some of the work a copywriter undertakes:

Advertisement Writing

Take a look through your local paper or Yellow Pages and you will find numerous adverts ranging from dental practices to flooring services to restaurants. Some companies may write their own adverts but others need a copywriter to make their ad stand out from all the others on the page. If you leaf through the ads you’ll see that some of them are cluttered with too much information and others seem to miss the whole point of what they’re trying to sell. If you find yourself thinking, ‘I could come up with a catchier heading than that’ or ‘They clearly haven’t thought about what the customer is looking for’, then copywriting may be just the job for you.

Sales Letters and Direct Mail

Sales letters and direct mail regularly drop through our letter boxes. Sales letters are sent to customers for many different purposes from trying to tempt a customer with a new offer, to keeping the customer informed and thus making him feel special, promoting loyalty to the company.

Direct mail or mail shots are used to stimulate sales. Take a look through your own mail. You’ll find sales letters and mail shots from insurance companies to magazine subscriptions to dazzling business opportunities. All of these will have been written by a copywriter with the aim of firstly attracting your attention, then arousing your interest, before stimulating your desire to buy the service or product and then finally, prompting you to take action straight away.

Have you ever filled in a coupon or rung the number detailed, fuelled by an urgent desire to take immediate action? If you have, then the copywriter has succeeded in his job.

 Brochures and Leaflets

These give more details about a service or product than a sales letter and often accompany one. Many of them feature lavish illustrations of the product or service to catch the eye. Nonetheless, it’s the words that build on the sales letter and persuade the reader to take action. It’s no good having beautiful pictures and then large passages of long, wordy sentences that bore. If the reader has to work hard to get to the point, glossy pictures or not, he will switch off and put the brochure and letter in the bin. If you can write using familiar words, in short sentences and paragraphs, in a friendly style, you’re likely to captivate your reader. When you next receive a sales letter and brochure, see how successful you think it is in its aim. How has the writer achieved this? If he hasn’t, why not and could you improve on it?

Writing on the Internet

The Internet is expanding all the time and can offer a copywriter numerous opportunities. The websites themselves are usually put together by a web designer, but there is hug demand for online copy including, home pages, sales sites, newsletters and e-zines to name just a few.

Press Releases

Public Relations writing is a little different as the aim isn’t to sell anything but to promote a company’s good name. Often a company will require a press release to be written for the local paper if they’re launching a new product/service or if they’re opening in a new location.

Here, any journalistic experience will be very useful as this is the style that’s required i.e. informing rather than selling. This latter point highlights how varied the role of a copywriter can be and how it overlaps with other types of writing.

Copywriting jobs can be time-consuming. Therefore, they slot in well with other areas of writing. Sometimes a client may take a while to get back to you concerning a draft copy that you’ve submitted. In the meantime, you can be working on your articles and short stories, as well as your next copywriting project.

If you now find that you’re looking at adverts, leaflets and sales letters in a whole new light, then it’s worth considering a copywriting career.

 

Here ‘s my visual stimulus to set your writing week on its way. Why is the girl running away? Where is she going? What’s going to happen to her? Let your mind work its magic:

 

Image

 

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11 Responses to Monday Motivations/A Copywriting Career

  1. julielees says:

    Great post. Really informative. I’m currently undertaking a Proofreading and Copy Editing Course with The Writers Bureau, so your article has given me food for thought. How might an unestablished writer go about getting a first bite at the cherry, so to speak?

    • Hi Julie,

      I tutor ‘The Complete Copywriting Course’ for ‘The Writers Bureau’. It gives you the chance to practice the necessary copywriting techniques and it also gives you lots of information about starting up on your own e.g. business cards, signing up to an agency, creating your own website etc. Here’s a link if you’re interested: http://www.writersbureau.com/courses/copy-writing/

      I hope you’re enjoying the Proofreading and Copy Editing Course. I’m an old ‘Writers Bureau’ student myself and it’s led me to where I am today.

      Thanks for the comment. Glad you found it useful 🙂

  2. acuriousgal says:

    She packed all her trinkets and worldly possessions
    Set out to find all those missing life lessons
    She grabbed her best friend and her trusty pink brim
    Set off for the rails, gone like the wind

    • I love this, Barb! I don’t know if you’ve seen, but I have a weekly writing challenge on a Thursday and you sending me this has inspired me to use the picture as my writing challenge this week. Then a week Thursday, I’ll publish all the submissions I receive and yours will be right at the top. It’s brilliant. You’re so talented 🙂

  3. Steve says:

    For my Bachelors of Arts Theater Arts degree I have a minor in Radio/TV Production. The Radio Copywriting class final exam was just two hours long, not the normal three, and we had to write a 15 second, 30 second, and 60 second spoken radio commercial for a local department store. The pre-exam study instructions were to read the local newspapers and know what five specific businesses were marketing that week. It was the one of the hardest final exams I had in college; your creativity light had to be burning brightly that day.

  4. I blog frequently andd I genuinely appreciate your information.This great article has really peaked my
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  5. 1dlover999 says:

    Hi !!!! I loved the article and I love writing ever since I was 7 I’ve been writing short stories and I would love to be a journalist and I need help with deciding how to become one could you give me some advice or help me ? Thanks

    Sent from my iPhone

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