Many people get confused about the different methods of writing because what most of us are familiar with are journalistic writing, fiction writing, blog writing, and perhaps, that writing we do in the private confines of our homes.
We can read all we want (or watch Youtube videos or attend Master Classes) for the basics of copywriting but few realize the tediousness of copywriting work and how its magic is woven. Or at least how it’s supposed to work.
There are many types of writing and I would summarize it quickly under these few categories:
I would also put the different types of writing under other different categories, a slightly longer list, that will put writers in the right frame of mind before we put pen to paper.
- Factual, explorative
- Social media
I won’t dive into every one of them because they each deserve their own article (which I may eventually get into) but allow me to quickly explain what copywriting is and how copywriting works.
What Does a Copywriter Do?
Learning how to do copywriting right starts with knowing how it works.
The primary aim of a copywriter is to engage and sell. That’s the basic principle of copywriting. It’s a Universe away from when you’re writing a blog, updating your social media feed, or writing a journalistic piece.
Before a copywriter dive into the work, there’s a bunch of research, planning, and strategizing going on behind the scene. Lots of materials we’ve worked hard on will end up on the editing room/cutting room floor. We use psychology and predictive methods to identify touchpoints that resonate with our readers/consumers to entice them to do one thing – take action.
Sounds like the job of a conman? Kinda. Can’t deny that because it’s half true.
The difference between the copywriting that writers do in the past compared to what modern copywriters do is that there’s a whole long list of advertising rules we have to follow these days and false advertising can get us into trouble.
When a copywriter dives into a piece, they have to remember that what they’re offering has to have a USP, a Unique Selling Proposition. With the USP in mind, we develop copy and creatives with not multiple claims but just one. One claim, one concept, one idea, one thing consumers will remember us for.
If the copywriter does not have an angle or use a very general approach, it is probably going to miss its target.
So, what copywriters do is to:
- Find touchpoints
- Move consumers emotionally
- Address their needs
- Does it communicate its points and benefits?
- Does it fit the company’s marketing strategy?
- Will it withstand the test of time? If it doesn’t, is it trendy or eye-catching?
Copywriters try to use as few words as possible while crafting the copy. We work with creative directors, marketing experts, graphic designers, and other big guns to hit a home run as quickly as possible.
The snipers of writers.
What Are The Basic Principles of Copywriting?
Structuring the visuals and copy to fit the audience
Once we’ve nailed down the demographic, direction, products, strategy, and creatives, we get around to narrowing down emotions and words that work.
With as few words as possible, we structure headlines, copy, images, fonts, colors, themes, and placements.
The graphics and headline must use words and colors that strike a chord with consumers and readers who are just flipping through a magazine. Most people read the headline or take a quick glimpse at the picture before deciding to read through the body copy. If at all.
Most of the time, numbers and data work. Other times – questions, offers, benefits, command, catchy copy, or intriguing headlines.
The thing with copywriting for advertisements is that we are well aware of the fact that the visual can be more powerful than the words…and we need to complement that. We know the concept of A.I.D.A. well enough to know how to craft the copy around the visual.
A.I.D.A standards for:
How copywriting for advertising and marketing works is that we avoid using jargon which will just float over the heads of the readers. We use the words that readers use and understand to keep the conversation flowing.
Slapping them with jargon works only when you’re targeting a niche demographic or people of like-mind, so it depends on how you want to approach your potential customers. For instance, jargon used in a cybersecurity firm ad in an IT magazine makes perfect sense. The same ad may not have the same result in a daily.
As you may have realized by now, copywriters rarely work alone. It can happen, but it is less efficient.
Once we’re done with the copy, we run through it hundreds of times to see it from different perspectives, run it through editors and others in the company, revise it (it could be as simple as replacing one word for another) until we’re completely happy that we’re going to hit the mark.
I’m kidding. It’s never “done”. 😂
Can Anyone Learn Copywriting?
Anyone can be born a writer, but it is my humble opinion that copywriting has to be learned and practised. Just like SEO content development and writing, it is a hit-and-miss almost all the time.
We’ve got to fail in order to identify what works with our audience. Those who are too afraid to venture out into new grounds in the advertising sphere will remain where they are and may never grow.
The same goes for copywriting. So, yes, people CAN learn to do good copywriting as long as they’re willing to learn and practice.
And fail before they succeed.
Where Can I Learn How To Do Copywriting?
You can start with your ads, for one, trying out different approaches. It doesn’t even have to be anything official so, start with just tampering with and copying the many copywriting styles.
We oldies neither had the opportunity nor privilege of online learning for copywriting, so we regretfully (and secretly) envy the new generation. LOL.
Things like Skillshare, Udemy, and admittedly, if you’re producing online content that veers on the side of advertising, you can always go to sites like SEMRush to get your tools. I wish there were more free stuff out there that can help copywriters hone their skills but if you’re going to sharpen your skill in copywriting and you find someone good to get you going, why not? It’s a small investment in a skill that is going to take you places, right?
So, if you have the conviction to get good at copywriting, you won’t mind putting a small budget on learning how to do it right.
However, you can still head over to Youtube or Google and find free tutorials and try it out for yourself. A lot of copywriters freely share their knowledge and tips on websites, blogs, and Youtube to either promote their products/services or to help aspiring copywriters out there.
So, to answer the question – yes, you can learn copywriting for free. Just don’t expect miracles.
Can Copywriting Make You Rich?
I am not surprised people ask this question, but the reality is that it is like asking just about anyone with an occupation if what they do can make them rich. Can fixing furniture or making shoes make you rich? Ask IKEA and Jimmy Choo.
There have been amazing copywriters who have made a name (and the big bucks that goes along with it) for themselves (but they’re often with a team of talented, experienced people) and they DO come with a hefty price tag. So, yes, they do make a lot of money.
Rich? I am not so sure about that.
I’ve been doing content development, SEO, copywriting, and social media marketing for over 20 years and am still as poor as a sewer rat. Maybe I am not just there. But I believe I come with experience and an eye for what works and what isn’t going to.
Just like everyone else in the creative or marketing field, we still work on something that we (initially) believe is going to rock the world and then come launch time, there’s fingernails-biting all around while we eye the stats.
At the end of each campaign, we huddle around and there can only be two outcomes:
- we’re high-fiving each other,
- we’re picking the pieces apart to make sense of what we didn’t do right.
If you’re new to copywriting and just starting out, here’s one thing you can do. It’s a simple exercise.
Pick out something in front of you right now. It could be a bottle of perfume or your favorite book. Start thinking about how you’re going to write something to sell it. In all honesty, copywriting is all about selling. It’s about marketing something, and moving products and services.
Sit down and write lots of headline ideas, sub-headlines, pick out images or vector files you think will go with the copy, and then see how the magic is going to unfold.
The thing I like best about copywriting is that you get to see people’s response from the data and stats.
It’s not always rainbows and sunshine but when something hits the spot, it feels amazing. And every product or service is different and requires you to rethink your approach. People change, economies change, the world change, preferences change and there’s a lot of deciphering to do.
That is what I love about copywriting. Not just the successes, but the journey of learning how to hit the bull’s eye. Again and again…and again.