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[FAQ] #1 What is a copywriter?

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When I first started my career as a copywriter and began sharing the news with family and friends, I was often asked the same things over and over again. These Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQs, made me realise that perhaps many of you might have similar burning questions. 

In this series, I will attempt to answer the most common questions about being a copywriter, copy editor and proofreader so that you may rest easy in this knowledge and perhaps, learn something to help you achieve your goals.

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#1 - What is a copywriter?

A copywriter is, essentially, a writer who provides the 'copy' or written text for small businesses, sole traders, organisations, companies, community groups, or anyone else who needs persuasive, engaging words for their online or print advertising & marketing campaigns.

Ok, so what does a copywriter actually write?

In a nutshell, the purpose of copy is to attract potential customers to stay long enough to read what you are about and want to buy what you are selling.

In that way, a copywriter might be employed to write a wide range of documents for digital or print media, specifically created to align with the target audience. For example, copywriting can include any of the following texts:

  • website content
  • SEO copy
  • descriptions of products and/or services, words on product packaging
  • product reviews
  • headlines, slogans and taglines
  • press releases, advertisements and social media marketing
  • personal or corporate profiles on LinkedIn, About pages on websites, etc.
  • brochures, leaflets, posters or other printed material for distribution
  • white papers, tender proposals, annual reports, award submissions, etc.
  • sales letters and EDM (electronic direct marketing - basically emails) scripts
  • blog posts, feature articles, editorials, opinionative columns
  • scripts for speeches, radio ads, video
  • or anything else that you may need to achieve your goals

If you are thinking of hiring a copywriter, you'll want to see evidence of the work that they have done in the past. This portfolio will give you an idea of their ability and whether they have the skills that you require.

How will they know what to write?

You should expect that any copywriter worth his or her salt knows how to write persuasively and creatively using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. They should also be able to use the best words to communicate a consistent message & vision of your business (your 'branding') to your target market.

Copywriters will want to talk to you in depth about this, so you should be able to describe your business at length. So be ready to respond to these sorts of questions:

What is your business? What do you do/make/sell?
Can you describe your product/s or service/s? Can you name its/their features and benefits?
Who is your target audience? What need/want does your product/s or service/s meet in this particular audience?
Who is your competition? Why would others choose you over your competition?

The answers to these and many other questions will really help a copywriter build a picture of what your product or service is all about, so that they can hit the mark with your audience.

You'll find that many copywriters use what we call a 'creative brief' document to help them gather this information. But more about that in another FAQ post.

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