The OTHER skills you need to be a great copywriter

March 1, 2012 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Business Smarts 

copywriter jobsSince I get so many inquiries about copywriters and copywriting, I created a Copywriter Information Center on my business website. Here’s one of the many articles and resources you’ll find there.

I’m often asked what copywriters do. So I tell them, in a nutshell, a copywriter writes copy for advertising and marketing materials, such as print ads, direct mail, and brochures.

Oh, great, they say. I’m a pretty good writer. I got good grades in English class. I should get into copywriting.

Well … it’s not just about writing.

In the real world, a copywriter must have skills beyond copywriting.

A copywriter must also have expertise in a variety of areas related to creating and producing the ads they write, which may include:

Marketing and Advertising Principles: A copywriter must have a basic understanding about business and selling in order to work with clients, colleagues, and sales people. Copywriters often attend meetings, give presentations, and deal directly with clients.

Design: A copywriter will work closely with designers to brainstorm ideas and help craft promotional messages. Often a copywriter will provide a designer with a “copywriter rough,” a sketch showing what an advertisement should look like.

Printing: Sometimes a copywriter will work with a printer, especially when creating direct mail, to make sure ideas are practical and affordable to produce. Every printer has different equipment and capabilities.

Mailing Lists: While copywriters seldom choose or buy lists, they must review list data to visualize the real people who will read and respond to their copy and to see what type of promotions have worked with the lists selected.

Postal Delivery: When writing direct mail pieces, a copywriter may consult with postal experts to see how mailers can be modified to cut postage costs, whether a piece will cause problems with mail sorting equipment, or what regulations will affect the design concept.

Audio or Video Production: A copywriter writing a radio ad, TV spot, or online video, must consider how an announcer will read the script, how visuals will be created, and what sound effects work best. It is difficult to write an audio or video script without being able to “hear” or “visualize” the final result. Sometimes a copywriter will act as a “producer,” overseeing the production in a studio.

Online Marketing: Today, copywriters must understand how people interact with online information and how to write search-engine-friendly copy. Writing good online copy requires a working knowledge of search engines, social sites, web technology, eye tracking, online shopping, and other matters. Working with programmers and web designers is routine.

Copywriting is like anything else. There’s no easy path to prosperity. You must have skills, experience, and expertise beyond what others offer in order to reach the higher levels. Anyone telling you different is either lying or trying to sell you an ebook. Or both.

Related posts:

  1. Sharpen your writing skills with the stopwatch challenge
  2. New Copywriter Information Center

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Smart Comments

4 Comments on The OTHER skills you need to be a great copywriter

  1. innerdoubts on Mar 1st, 2012 9:40 am
  2. Dean, I disagree. Surely all one needs is a laptop, an online spell checker, a penchant for self-promotion and a disregard for deadlines? (Well, based on a lot of what I see…)

  3. Dean Rieck on Mar 1st, 2012 10:51 am
  4. The key word here is “great.”

  5. | Thoughts on copywriting on Mar 5th, 2012 7:31 am
  6. [...] The OTHER skills you need to be a great copywriter [...]

  7. Ozio Media on Mar 9th, 2012 12:52 pm
  8. Writing good copy is much harder than it would appear to be on the surface. Putting complex information about a business and its services into a short, legible message that the reader will remember and want to act on is a different writing skill than penning a grammatically correct essay. Good copywriters also have to be up to date with all of the new things that come online so that they can tailor their style to suit a constantly shifting medium.