Copywriting

Introduction 

You may not realize it at first, but copywriting is everywhere. From the brochure the mailman left in your mailbox, the perfume pamphlet you get on flights, the articles you read online, to the radio commercials you hear in your car, the billboards you drive past, and the sponsored links that pop up on your social media feeds. 

It’s all some form of a copy. Its purpose? To persuade you to make that purchase or take another type of action

Now, how willing you are to make that purchase depends on how persuasive the copy is. The more persuasive a copy is, the more likely it is for you to make the purchase. Trust us, we know all about it. And if you want to learn this yourself, we explain it all in our copywriting article. We’ll brush up on some copywriting basics, tell you why it’s important, give you some tips on how to develop your copywriting skills, provide you with some examples, and so much more! Take our word for it - after reading this article, you’ll think differently about copywriting, advertisement, and purchasing. 

Let’s begin! 

What Is Copywriting? 

Copywriting denotes the activity of producing texts for advertising purposes. We refer to the text as “copy” and its purpose is to increase brand awareness, boost sales, and attract prospective buyers. Ultimately, the point is to persuade a buyer to take some action (it could be buying a product/service, subscribing to a newsletter, taking part in some sort of questionnaire, and so on). 

Here’s a more detailed definition of copywriting

Copywriting is the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a purchase, click on a link, donate to a cause, or schedule a consultation. 

These materials can include written promotions that are published in print or online. They can also include materials that are spoken, such as scripts used for videos or commercials.

The text in these materials is known as “copy,” hence the name “copywriting.”

Copywriting is a diverse discipline, as there are different types of it including direct mail copywriting, annual report copywriting, SEO copywriting, and so on. Each of these has a specific purpose, style, concept, and audience. 

That’s why each piece of copywriting is a story on its own - no two pieces are ever the same (if they are, then you have a plagiarism problem). And that’s actually the beauty of copywriting - each new copy means a new idea and a new approach.

Copywriters assist in creating catalogs, billboards, sales letters, newspaper advertisements, scripts for TV and radio commercials, various taglines, brochures, and so on. The more diverse the clients are, the more varied the copy tasks are. This basically means that copywriters usually get experience from different fields, as opposed to just specializing in a specific type of copywriting. 

Copywriting vs content writing 

Copywriting and content writing are two separate disciplines, yet people still tend to use them interchangeably (or they struggle to understand the differences right off the bat). Let’s dig into this so that we’re able to discern them better. 

Content writing tends to inform, entertain, and/or educate, whereas copywriting is meant to be direct and fully focused on generating sales. So, the purpose behind copywriting is to sell an idea, service, and/or product to another individual and it’s very advertorial in nature. Content writing usually denotes longer pieces of writing, has a much stronger focus on SEO, and its main goal is to drive organic traffic to a particular website (on the other hand, copywriting tends to turn traffic into leads). 

Here’s an in-depth definition of content writing

Content writing is a form of online writing which is closely linked to web marketing campaigns. [...] Content writers work according to the brief provided by a client. This brief will define their task and any SEO related requirements, such as keyword density. The job of the Content Writer is to turn this brief into a finished product which becomes part of the target webpage. Content is distinct from journalism or conventional copywriting in that it is designed to achieve prominence on the web, and must be tailored for this purpose.

Differentiating between the two is important because if you’re hoping to find a job as a copywriter or a content writer, you need to understand what skills you need for each one, and what tasks and responsibilities you need to tackle. After all, each comes with a set of challenges as well as many benefits, so it’s important not only to know but to fully understand the differences too. 

So, the bottom line is - content writing refers to producing content with the sole purpose of informing, educating, and entertaining, to name a few; copywriting aims at securing sales and making a profit. 

Copywriting examples

Discussing the process of copywriting without including actual examples is pointless. So, we decided to show you several examples of amazing copy to inspire you and to show you what happens when you unleash your inner copywriter. 

As Joseph Sugarman put it: “All the elements in an advertisement are primarily designed to do one thing and one thing only: get you to read the first sentence of the copy.” 

While we agree that the first sentence is imperative since that’s when you decide if you’ll continue reading or not, but we also believe that analyzing the copy, on the whole, is just as important. 

What do you think? Let us know. :) 

Now, onto the examples. 

1. ONNIT 

Check out this product copy for shoes: 

Robert Frost once wrote, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.” It’s a stunning line that perfectly depicts the decision all men must eventually make: to rest or go further.

If your choice is to rest, please, take a seat. But, if your choice is to go further, doggedly pursuing your dreams like a hungry hunter, you could use a good pair of shoes.

Crafted in Italy from genuine italian leather, this shoe incorporates the same durable first-rate construction. Black on black, however, breeds a deeper level of sophistication, making them the perfect ally for dream-hunting, be it by day or by night.

Lace them up. You have promises to keep.

DETAILS IN THE FABRIC.

Italian leather. Canvas fabric. Debossed AM logo. Leather lining. Rubber soles. Gunmetal grommets. 8 mm wide flat shoelaces. Shoe bag included. The Gray and Brown color options come with a back-up pair of laces for when things get rough. Designed in Austin. Made in Italy. Built to hunt monsters.

FIT.

These shoes fit true to size.

GREAT GOODS REQUIRE GREAT CARE.

Dirty? Use a towel and a little water to remove debris. Note: Apply leather cleaner only to the leather. Not to the canvas.

2. Lion Matches Vintage Ad 

The ad makes matches the most important product there is, and it reads as follows: 

“I light cigarettes, cigars, pipes, candles, lamps, fires, stoves, fridges, geysers, Christmas puddings and distress flares and I cost three hundredths of a cent.”

“It’s easy to see I’m not in it for the money.”

“I’ll light anything that burns. I’m particularly good with cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, because my clean, clear flame is taste-free. 

So all you taste is the tobacco. Not me. 

I’m long on versatility too. 

With my 42 mm length, I can easily get a light to those hard-to-reach parts of the stoves, lamps, fires, geysers, and so on. 

OK, so maybe I’m not modest. But my price - at ⅓ cent for around 50, definitely is. 

After all, what else can you get for a three-hundredths of a cent?”

3. Snowboard Ski Resort’s “One Star” Ad Campaign 

Snowbird Ski Resort gathered their negative reviews and turned them into advertisements (which they ended up actually putting on billboards). How cool is that? Here’s one: 

★☆☆☆☆

I’ve heard Snowboard is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute or littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun!

Greg, Los Angeles, CA 

4. Medium’s “Our Story” Page

This is a very simple example of a copy, but at the same time, it’s very powerful because it crosses out (literally!) all the things we hate about social media and the digital world, and they included EVERYTHING we want to hear. 

A platform built for….

advertisers people 

quantity quality

sponsored content original ideas

pop ups & banners clean reading experience 

clickbait engagement & depth

pageviews viewpoints

5. Miss Clairol’s Hair-coloring 

There probably isn’t a woman in the world who won’t be thrilled to come across such an ad: 

Does she… or doesn’t she? 

Hair color so natural only her hairdresser knows for sure!

A little change can make a fabulous difference. She knew that the very first time she tried Miss Clairol. Seems she’d never realized how flattering clear young hair can be… or that even first gray strands add years to a woman’s looks. Now she counts on Miss Clairol - but always! It keeps the color radiantly fresh and her hair is in beautiful condition - lovely, livelier than ever. 

And that’s why hairdressers all over the world recommend and always use Miss Clairol. They know its automatic color timing will achieve the perfect color every time. And Miss Clairol really covers gray. But best of all, they like the way it conditions the hair, keeps it silky, lively, completely natural-looking. So try Miss Clairol yourself. Today! Takes only minutes! 

6. Basecamp 

Basecamp is a real-time communication tool that allows teams to create and manage their projects, chat with one another, and simply stay up-to-date with all the tasks. This used to be Basecamp’s homepage: 

Get it together and manage projects the right way. 

Before Basecamp: Projects feel scattered, things slip, it’s tough to see where things stand, and people are stressed. After Basecamp: Everything’s organized in one place, you’re on top of things, progress is clear, and a sense of calm sets in. 

Give Basecamp a Try

5,320 companies signed up in the last week alone! 

Basecamp uses the PAS formula: Problem, Agitation, Solution. Here’s how PAS actually works: 

  1. Problem: Clearly elaborate on your customer’s pain point. For instance, here the pain point is obviously disorganization. Basecamp uses lively language in the “Before Basecamp” section to illustrate they understand what’s going on inside their customers’ heads.
  2. Agitation: here you need to twist the proverbial knife through making your copy much more emotional and personal. Before you offer a solution (your product), you should make your reader want it even more. Basecamp highlights how stressful it is when you don’t have project management in order.
  3. Solution: the last step is to introduce the solution! This is noticeable in the “After Basecamp” section. Even the language changes and everything sounds much calmer. 

Copywriting definition:

Copywriting is:

  • the occupation of writing texts for advertising purposes;
  • persuasive business writing;
  • very dynamic and each task is different (there are no monotonous days, for sure); 
  • done with a well-planned agenda; 
  • supposed to be direct, precise, and catchy; 
  • expected to take into account the potential customer and the image the brand wants to build for itself; 
  • a very important craft; 
  • keeping things focused, conversational, and advertisable; 
  • the ability to give readers quality; 
  • writing gripping headlines; 
  • perfected over time; 
  • needed in a business context for marketing materials for services, products, various fundraising campaigns, and so on; 
  • understanding your clients’ needs and knowing how to satisfy them; 
  • more about using verbs than it is about using adjectives (for instance, saying that your product or service “saves you $15 dollars a month” is much more persuasive than saying that it's “cost-effective”);
  • playing with words effectively to produce a satisfactory copy; 
  • supposed to call people to action (like buy a product or subscribe for a course) and generate sales;
  • more than just writing - it involves doing research, planning, editing, managing projects, and measuring the impact of your work (your copy) later on; 
  • done for promoting products, demonstrating expertise, educating a specific audience, to name a few; 
  • expected to be unique for each project (each copy is supposed to reflect the authenticity of that specific product/service); 
  • becoming aware of many marketing-related things such as SEO, social media campaigns, engagement, ROI, and so on; 
  • knowing when and how to include clear visuals that go with the text you produced; 
  • about identifying the “extra words” and then removing them; 
  • about appealing to your readers’ emotions and establishing a connection. 

Copywriting isn’t: 

  • plagiarism and stealing others’ work or ideas;
  • open manipulation with words in order to satisfy your end-goals; 
  • content writing or creative writing; 
  • connected to copyright law (copyright refers to protecting one’s inventions or creative works); 
  • a fixed template - there are many types of copy including, but not limited to:
    • product sales page online;
    • brochures and pamphlets; 
    • promotional emails;
    • product demo videos;
    • sales letters, and others;
  • for those who struggle with words and with expressing themselves; 
  • for the subjective ones (we refer to those who are subjective toward their writing style, not toward the client’s brand); 
  • for those who simply beat around the bush; 
  • a skill you’re simply born with - it requires a lot of experience and learning (although you may be naturally good at writing, for instance);
  • for you if you tend to skip proofreading or you hate editing; 
  • for those who don’t know how to get to the point (being as specific as possible is crucial with copywriting!); 
  • for those who don’t understand how the basic human mind and psyche function; 
  • about complex or overly complicated style - the simpler a copy is, the easier it is to connect to it (keep in touch with your “human side” at all times while writing);
  • set in stone - you’ll find yourself and your style constantly evolving, changing, and adjusting; 
  • for those who lack self-criticism and aren’t open to advice or others’ ideas.

The History of Copywriting

You may be surprised to read this, but copywriting is much older than what you may initially think. 

The concept of copywriting has been around since Babylonian times, and the first printed material was for the purpose of promoting the sale of a prayer book back in 1477. Yes, 1477, you read that right! 

Also, remember that the first printed papers were distributed on the streets? That’s also an example of copywriting! This began by creating ads on large posters made of paper, handwritten with a quill and ink(sounds funny when you consider the digitized world we live in today, right?). Plus, back then there were no printing machines to make more copies of these posters, so each one had to be handcrafted. 

A bit later on we have the appearance of the first professional copywriter - John Emory Powers. He lived from 1837 to 1919 and worked for the well-known department stores of Lord & Taylor and Wanamaker’s. They were able to recognize the significance of great ads, and he was the first person to do this job full-time; he is said to have created six ads per week! What a heavy workload! 

Of course, copywriting has undergone a lot of changes since its humble beginnings, but its purpose remains the same.

Why Is Copywriting Important? 

Do you know that apparently “73% of the buying decision is made at the point of the headline”? This means that readers are that quick to “judge” your copy (not even your whole copy, but just the headline) - that’s how powerful copywriting is. 

You don’t have to be part of a marketing company to understand the importance of copywriting. It’s enough to just be an active consumer and think about the impact certain ads have on your decisions and thinking process. 

You don’t have to be an actual copywriter to grasp the meaning of a specific copy or its purpose. All it takes is to consider how many of your purchasing decisions are affected by what you hear, read, or see on a daily basis.

This applies to the implications that copywriting holds, but when it comes to why it is important, here are a few reasons. 

1. It helps you achieve your business goals. 

Copywriting drives profitability (and no other activity can live up to it). It assists in all your marketing campaigns, ROI expectations and predictions, collaborations with other partner companies, and so on. 

2. It increases brand awareness. 

Copywriting is definitely one of the best ways to gain brand exposure. Of course, you need to have a good copy in order to raise “good” brand awareness. 

Also, most companies have their unique style when it comes to how they do their copies, so they may become recognizable for it. This includes all aspects: taglines, headlines, the logo, the words and the tone you use, but also things such as colors, layout, and the overall format. A good copy creates value-driven content, and high-quality brands are truly sought after. 

3. It connects you to your audience. 

The copy you put out there is the first thing that introduces your audience to your brand. So, it’s very important to write copy that resonates with your target audience and suits your brand image. 

In other words, through creating a copy, you’re basically trying to communicate with your potential audience - copywriting is not just about representing the company, but also about the customers and their needs and wishes as well. Your copy gives customers a peek into your brand and they basically have the necessary info to decide whether they’d like to be a part of it or not. 

4. It shows you where your brand stands in relation to its competitors.

Knowing how your copy is received and what’s being written/said about it helps a lot. Especially when you’re trying to make a comparative analysis and see how you rank in relation to your competitors. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should steal your main competitor’s copy approach, ad format, and so on, but making some comparisons every now and then wouldn't hurt. 

It’s also useful to see the approaches your competitors had taken and whether they succeeded or not (so you can either learn from their mistakes, or adjust their approach to suit your needs). But, as we already explained, you need to come up with a unique copy, not merely copy theirs.

How to Develop Copywriting Skills? 

There are many ways to work on developing your copywriting skills. And our advice is to combine at least several in order to get better results. Of course, copywriting is something you need to learn over time, and the more you do it, the better copywriter you’ll be, but still - there are steps you can take to start improving your copywriting skills. 

Here are our suggestions: 

1. Brush up on the basics. 

While you may not necessarily need to have a degree in literature, journalism, and/or a related field, having some basic knowledge is a big asset. Knowing at least the basic principles of writing, punctuation rules, grammar, and spelling can prove to be highly useful in the long-term.

2. Focus on your writing style. 

You may not be able to develop a specific style right away, but over time, you’ll notice certain recurring words, patterns, and phrases that make your copywriting recognizable. Again, don’t worry if you don’t notice this right away - it will probably take some time because you’ll need at least several copies to make a relevant comparison.

Now, when it comes to your writing style, here’s what Jay Abraham would advise you to do: 

Make your copy straightforward to read, understand, and use. Use easy words; those that are used for everyday speech. Use phrases that are not too imprecise and very understandable. Do not be too stuffy; remove pompous words and substitute them with plain words. Minimize complicated gimmicks and constructions. If you can’t give the data directly and briefly, you must consider writing the copy again.

3. Imitate (copy)writers you admire. 

Imitating your favorite copywriters can be a fun activity to get you started. Note that we didn’t say “copy from your favorite (copy)writers” or “steal their work”. It’s supposed to be a way to get exposed to other people’s work while you work on your own specific project. 

So, do some research, read examples, and identify styles and writers you resonate with the most. Afterward, store these texts somewhere so that you can access them at all times. Sometimes, if you’re feeling blocked or if you’re not sure about your ideas, going through some of them can be highly beneficial and inspiring. 

4. Edit. 

We can’t stress enough the importance of editing. So many copywriters are satisfied with their first drafts and/or final ones that they don’t think their work needs editing. 

A piece of advice: if you feel like editing is a pain in the neck and it takes up much of your time (although this is very unlikely), find an editor. That way you get to not only resolve your “problem” and resistance to editing, but you also get to hear what another person thinks about the copy you’ve written. 

Examples of Copywriting in Everyday Life 

The perspective of those creating the copy

Judith Charles once said that “a copywriter is a salesperson behind a typewriter”, and we believe this is one of the best explanations of copywriting we’ve ever read. It perfectly sums up the purpose of a copywriter - to sell the thing their copy is advertising. As simple as that. 

While profit may be the end-goal, we need to consider everything in between too. First of all, copywriting is a valid profession, and copywriters love working with words, coming up with ideas to promote services/products, and experimenting with different templates and niches. 

In other words, they’re representing a specific brand while embracing their own creativity and individuality. So, for them, it’s about contemplating ideas, juggling with different word options, and finding a way to be on the same length with their prospective clients. 

Copywriting is a craft, and like any craft, it requires practice. This applies to all types of copies you may be asked to write. Here are some options:

  • sales pages;
  • web pages;
  • emails and newsletters; 
  • magazine and newspaper ads; 
  • brochures, leaflets, and pamphlets; 
  • press releases; 
  • speeches and presentations;
  • video and podcast scripts; 
  • social media content; 
  • physical advertising places (billboards, public transport, to name a few); 
  • radio ads, TV ads, and so on. 

Whether you’re a freelancer, a full-time employee at a marketing agency, or you work in the marketing department of a specific company, you must have dealt with some of these copy formats. While having experience with different formats is highly beneficial, it’s important to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to producing any type of copy. 

We believe the following copywriting stats will illustrate this and give you a clear understanding of some of the aspects you may need to take into account when producing your next copy. 

  • 8 out of 10 people are said to only read the headlines; 
  • Personalized calls to action are allegedly 202% more effective;
  • 74% of web readers pay attention to the quality of spelling and grammar (so make sure you thoroughly edit everything you write so that you don’t potentially lose customers and clients);
  • Readers consume just 20% of the content found on a page;
  • Social proof is able to increase newsletter signups by 20%;
  • 60.8% of marketers agree visual content is necessary;
  • 73% of companies hire someone to do their content strategy;
  • Messages that are written at a third-grade reading level are said to receive 36% more responses. 

Finally, while it’s important to keep up with the latest trends in copywriting and be aware of what’s going on in your “field”, make sure you don’t lose your authentic self along the way. Ensure your copywriting work reflects your own style. 

How to approach this? 

  • Do you know the purpose behind the piece of content you’re supposed to write? How comfortable are you with all the details? Is there anything you’re missing or perhaps need to reconsider? 
  • What precisely are you trying to achieve with your copy? What message are you trying to communicate? Why should it matter to your potential audience?
  • Who are your customers? Do you know what they want/need? How can you tell?
  • Where do the opportunities lie in this specific field? What type of approach should you adopt? 
  • Who are your major competitors? Have you seen what they’ve released? Have you taken a closer look at their advertising strategy and copies? 
  • How biased are you when it comes to the brand you’re working for and your overall writing style? Or maybe you’ve been too critical about something? Take some time and reflect on this. If possible, think of concrete examples. 
  • If you’re working on a copy you don’t necessarily like or really approve of, how does your working style change? What’s your approach? How does it differ from your “normal working” times? 
  • Are you interested in hearing feedback about your copy? If yes, how do you react to a negative one? Are you open to suggestions and ideas, or you’re generally convinced that what you’ve produced is good enough? Also, if you’re open to criticism, who do you listen to? Is it a superior or a fellow colleague who’s also engaged in copywriting? 
  • What is your definition of a successful copy? What’s the format? What’s the product/service/brand you’re writing about? Do you personally resonate with it? 
  • What are the brand’s potential threats and weaknesses? Will you try to “hide” them? 
  • Finally, why should your customers pick your service/product over competing brands? Are you sure your copy is that convincing? If you were the prospective buyer, would you make that purchase? If you’re feeling reluctant, don’t give up right away - simply take another look at the copy and see what can be changed.

The perspective of those receiving the copy 

Of course, here we refer to the buyers, the clients, the customers. Those are the ones who “receive” the copy and then react to it. So, now, we’re dealing with the other perspective. What happens after copy is released? How is it received and how do the customers react to it? Is it generating sales? Is it boosting brand awareness? What are its overall effects? 

To understand this, we need to understand the modern buyer, their buying process, and their current needs. Hence, here are some stats to support the B2C relationship:

  • global B2C eCommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021;
  • 39% of smartphone users are more likely to browse or shop a company or brand’s mobile app because it’s easier or faster to make a purchase;
  • 93% of brands got a new customer because of a video on social media;
  • 35% of marketers choose to send three-to-five emails per week to their customers.

Including some B2B customer experience stats comes in handy too, such as the following ones: 

  • at least 80% of B2B buyers are not only looking for but expect a buying experience like that of a B2C customer;
  • 77% of B2B buyers feel that making a purchase is very complicated and time-consuming, 90% of survey customers do not follow a straightforward customer journey, often looping back and repeating at least one or more tasks in the buyer journey;
  • B2B buying cycles are getting longer and more complex — 58% of buyers said their decision process was longer in 2017 than in 2016 and just 10% said purchase time decreased;
  • 77% of B2B buyers are conducting more detailed ROI analysis before making a purchase decision, 75% are using more information sources for research and evaluation, and 52% are increasing the number of buying group members;
  • more than half of all B2B buyers view at least eight pieces of content during the purchase process, and 82% of buyers view at least five pieces of content from the vendor prior to purchase.

Finally, when we’re in the position of a buyer, it’s important to go with what aligns with our values, needs, and wishes. After all, there can never be a brand, a copy, or a product that will live up to everyone’s expectations. But the problem today is, as Robert Collier put it, that ”we have become so accustomed to hearing everyone claim that his product is the best in the world, or the cheapest, that we take all such statements with a grain of salt”. So instead of chasing “the best products” out there, focus on what those products realistically do and find those that live up to our own, individual expectations. 

How to approach this? 

  • Do you really need this product/service? What are your main worries about buying it? If you were to recommend it to your friends or family members, what would you say to them? 
  • What is the real cost of this thing? Do you maybe have other priorities right now? Can you afford to spend this amount of money? Will Rogers once said: “Too many people spend money they haven't earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.”
  • What do you gain by buying this? How often can you use it (be honest about it)? Do I have something similar already that can do the same job? Maybe I can even borrow it from someone else? Or would you rather put the money elsewhere? 
  • Are you attracted to the product and the brand itself, or you’re wooed by the ad and the overall promotion material(s)? Also, is this an impulse decision? 
  • How do you react to digital ads that pop up across all your social media channels? Are you intrigued to find out more about a brand you’ve never heard of before? Or maybe you feel more comfortable sticking with the ones you’re already familiar with? 
  • What do you know about this brand (apart from reading this ad, listening about it on the radio, and/or reading about it on various social media channels)? Have you done enough research or you’re only relying on the information the brand “has served you”? 
  • How much are testimonials and reviews important to you when it comes to buying something you aren’t knowledgeable about? 
  • Are you getting value for money? Have you looked for lower-cost alternative solutions? 

Famous Quotes about Copywriting 

“Your job is not to write copy. Your job is to know your visitors, customers and prospects so well, you understand the situation they’re in right now, where they’d like to be, and exactly how your solution can and will get them to their ideal self”.

- Joanna Wiebe 

“Let’s get to the heart of the matter. The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy. Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copy writer’s task: not to create this mass desire – but to channel and direct it.” 

- Eugene Schwartz

I’ve learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one. 

- Leo Burnett

“It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.” 

- David Ogilvy

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”

- Leo Burnett

“Every single element in an advertisement – headline, subhead, photo, and copy – must be put there not because it looks good, not because it sounds good, but because testing has shown that it works best!”

- John Caples

“The vast majority of products are sold because of the need for love, the fear of shame, the pride of achievement, the drive for recognition, the yearning to feel important, the urge to look attractive, the lust for power, the longing for romance, the need to feel secure, the terror of facing the unknown, the lifelong hunger for self-esteem and so on. Emotions are the fire of human motivation, the combustible force that secretly drives most decisions to buy. When your marketing harnesses those forces correctly you will generate explosive increases in response.” 

- Gary Bencivenga

“Poor copy cannot overcome faults or gaps in dealer distribution; it cannot even cash in on the finest dealer setups. But good copy can, and does, surmount many dealer difficulties, making them secondary, and selling in spite of them.”

- Victor Schwab

The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships. 

- Leo Burnett

Here’s the only thing you’re selling, no matter what business you’re in and what you ship: you’re selling your prospects a better version of themselves. 

Joanna Wiebe

“The copywriter uses words as tools to persuade and motivate an audience. You persuade your readers that you have something valuable to offer; you motivate them to acquire it for themselves. This is the essence of effective copywriting.”

- Richard Bayan

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

How do I become a copywriter?

There are many ways to become a copywriter. Some end up in the copywriting world because it’s what they truly wanted, others have come across it by accident. Whichever group you fall into, the road to becoming a copywriter is more or less the same. But before you actually call yourself a copywriter, you need to understand the following: 

“The very first thing you must come to realize is that you must become a “student of markets.” Not products. Not techniques. Not copywriting. Not how to buy space or whatever. Now, of course, all of these things are important and you must learn about them, but, the first and the most important thing you must learn is what people want to buy.” 

- Gary Halbert

Now, after we cleared this up, here are some things you can do to increase your prospects of becoming a successful copywriter: 

  • Actively pursue job openings. 
  • Take advantage of freelance opportunities (for instance, consider joining online platforms such as Fiverr or UpWork).
  • Work on building up your portfolio. But, remember - quality over quantity. Always. 
  • Don’t obsess about money. At least not right away. Now, we’re not saying you should work for free, but don’t expect to earn 100$/hour if you haven’t worked a day in your life as a copywriter (or even if you’re in the beginning stages of your career as a copywriter). 
  • Be ready to get rejected. This can happen even after you’ve established yourself as a prominent copywriter. 
  • Identify a niche you’re comfortable with. This may not be something you’ll be aware of right away, but after some time you’ll know which areas you feel more comfortable writing about. 
  • Go to networking events and talk with people. You’ll be surprised to see how many opportunities may pop up when you physically show up somewhere. 
  • Join networking groups and be active on social media (especially LinkedIn). 
  • Finally, believe in yourself. If you don’t, why would others? 

Is copywriting difficult?

Copywriting isn’t easy, that’s for sure, as nowadays with such a vast competition you really need to be creative and offer something new and refreshing in order to stand out. That said, if you really love what you do (in this case, copywriting), then you’ll probably be willing to embrace all the potential “difficulties” that come with it. 

Some may claim that copywriting is hard to get into (besides it allegedly being difficult as a profession), as there are already a lot of copywriters and the market may seem a bit saturated, but isn’t this somehow true for all professions? Here at Skillsprout, we strongly believe that if an individual has a passion they want to pursue and they have the necessary qualifications and knowledge, then they absolutely stand a chance at being successful in their undertaking (whatever that may be, irrespective of all the challenges along the way). 

Also, copywriting may seem difficult because oftentimes it’s completely misunderstood. For instance, people think you only need to possess writing skills to do it, or you need salesmanship qualifications to write a solid copy. The truth is, you need a bit of both to succeed. 

To produce an outstanding copy, you need to take a lot of factors into consideration: SEO research, the writing style, prospective customers and their expectations, the brand you’re representing, the product/service you’re trying to sell, and so on. And a lot of people may find this “difficult” because:

  1. they either don’t fully understand all of these and how to apply them;
  2. and/or they don’t have what it takes to be a good copywriter, therefore, it may feel like what they’re doing is quite difficult but the problem is they’re stuck at a wrong job. 

Finally, some may identify copywriting as a difficult undertaking because they easily lose sight of their end-goal, which is usually to make a customer buy the thing, and so they fail to reach the desired result. This, in turn, makes them feel as though their task is difficult to handle. As David Ogilvy put it: “When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”

Can you become a copywriter without a degree?

Yes, you don’t need a degree to work as a copywriter. In fact, no degree can prepare you for the responsibilities copywriters have as much as having some copywriting experience can! Of course, you still need some skills and qualifications to become a successful copywriter (which we already sort of addressed in the first question).

Prospective clients and employers may be more interested in your writing portfolio, style of expression, and attention to detail much more than your degree and formal schooling. 

That said, having a degree in a subject such as English language, journalism, or media and communications can be a huge asset. Also, as we already mentioned, working on your copywriting skills and getting some type of informal education aside can be highly beneficial as well. 

You may wish to consider enrolling in an online course (such as the one we offer), reading copywriting books on your own (which we get into in the next paragraph), as well as simply putting yourself out there and grabbing each opportunity that comes to you. 

Also, you can join a freelance writing agency, reach out to potential clients, network with other writers, or even start your own copywriting business and see where it takes you. Just be open to the possibilities, and be ready to embrace them when they show up. 

You can also work on establishing a niche for yourself - would you be comfortable engaging in the travel market, fitness, healthy lifestyle, beauty, wine and food market, or something completely different? Maybe even several of them? Finding a niche for yourself allows you to explore a single area in greater depth, and each writing experience helps you with your next task from the same niche. 

A lot of times copywriting is about finding the right job, having the right client, and finding the right words to get the message across. It takes some time to do this, but with dedication and persistence, you’re absolutely going to get there. 

Suggestions for Further Reading 

We believe you should learn copywriting from the best minds, and that’s why we chose the best books out there and included them in our article. 

That said, even if you have no copywriting aspirations (yet), it could be fun to learn more about the way copywriting works, what copywriters have in mind when producing a copy, and above all, how you may interpret all of that from a customer’s point of view. 

After all, keep in mind, we’re all customers. 

Enjoy! 

  1. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, by Ann Hadley 
  1. The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost your Sales, by Dan S. Kennedy 
  1. The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-by-step Guide to Writing Copy that Sells, by Robert Bly 
  1. The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters, by Joseph Sugarman 
  1. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads, by Edward Boches and Luke Sullivan 
  1. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business, by Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman
  1. This book will teach you how to write better: Learn how to get what you want, increase your conversion rates, and make it easier to write anything (using formulas and mind-hacks), by Neville Medhora
  1. How to Write Copy That Sells: The Step-By-Step System for More Sales, to More Customers, More Often, by Ray Edwards 
  1. Copywriting Secrets: How Everyone Can Use The Power Of Words To Get More Clicks, Sales and Profits . . . No Matter What You Sell Or Who You Sell It To!, by Jim Edwards 
  1. Finding The Right Message: How to turn voice of customer research into irresistible website copy, by Jennifer Havice and Jennifer Zaczek 
  1. The 16-Word Sales Letter: A proven method of writing multi-million-dollar copy faster than you ever thought possible, by Evaldo Albuquerque 
  1. The Halbert Copywriting Method Part III: The Simple, Fast, & Easy Editing Formula That Forces Buyers To Read Every Word Of Your Ads, by Bond Halbert and Sam Markowitz 
  1. The Big Book of Words That Sell: 1200 Words and Phrases That Every Salesperson and Marketer Should Know and Use, by Robert W. Bly 

Final Thoughts 

All in all, copywriting is a significant discipline that’s now more relevant than ever. It shows us how the advertising world functions, and how consumers are persuaded to buy a certain product or service over others. 

Also, you don’t really need to be an actual copywriter to understand copywriting. Understanding it may very well help you become a more conscious customer too. And nothing shows this better than our online copywriting course. We’ve prepared a detailed course about copywriting - it’s beginner-friendly, but very informative for those with some knowledge about copywriting too! 

We focus on: 

  • explaining what good writing looks like;
  • determining the intent of your content; 
  • considering the user experience; 
  • writing an effective email campaign; 
  • market analysis and market validation;
  • A/B testing, and so much more! 

Finally, Shirley Polykoff once said, "Copy is a direct conversation with the consumer." The question is whether you're ready to start conversing.