Copywriting Skills: Definition and Examples
Copywriters are professional content creators that develop and integrate different types of copy across a wide variety of outlets. If you’re interested in a career as a copywriter, there are a range of skills you’ll need to be successful. For instance, a copywriter creating digital media will typically rely heavily on technical skills in addition to their writing skills. In this article, we explore some of the key skills that copywriters have that make them successful, along with how to improve your skills and highlight them when applying for a job.
Copywriting skills are hard and soft skills that writers who create advertisements and other written content possess to be successful at their jobs. Since copywriting consists of writing a variety of different content types—including marketing materials, digital and print content—professionals in this career must have exceptional writing and communication skills. Technical and computer skills are equally as important, and copywriting skills will also encompass other aspects of communicating in writing.
Examples of copywriting skills
Copywriting requires a range of hard and soft skills to be successful in the role. The following examples highlight several important skills that copywriters need to be successful:
Strong writing skills
The first and foremost hard skill that these professionals have is writing skills. Copywriters create different types of copy that can range from longer forms of content (like white papers and journal articles) to short product descriptions and advertising slogans. The ability to convey ideas that ultimately persuade an audience to take action in writing is a skill that all copywriters should have.
Aside from written communication, copywriters also need to have effective verbal communication skills. The ability to speak up during meetings, collaborate with colleagues and clients and initiate sales pitches when necessary may all be ways that communication skills help copywriters be successful.
Copywriters who work on digital marketing and advertising projects will need a range of technical and computer skills. For instance, the ability to use content management systems, create web pages, apply basic formatting and other tasks like these are examples of some of the skills that copywriters need to be successful in the online and digital atmosphere.
Creating written material takes a significant amount of creativity and imagination, and copywriters are no strangers to this kind of thinking. Creative thinking skills that help these professionals succeed in their roles can include the ability to build new connections between concepts and find innovative ways to promote brands and businesses.
Problem-solving is a large part of a copywriter’s job, and this skill is a necessity for navigating different aspects of the profession. For example, a copywriter working for a large advertising firm may constantly rely on their problem-solving skills to stay within a project’s budget and timeline all while developing the most effective strategies to further business goals. Problem-solving is highly important for working through different types of writing projects, too.
Interpersonal skills such as building and maintaining relationships are highly important in a copywriting role. Communicating with customers and clients, listening to feedback and relating to others is necessary for success in a communications role, especially copywriting. Because copywriters essentially market to customers, they’ll need to rely on interpersonal skills to better relate to their customer base.
Strong research skills are a must for any copywriter, especially when it comes to more complex types of writing projects like white papers or technical guides. Additionally, there is always a level of research involved when copywriters create new advertising or marketing materials. For instance, copywriters who create promotional materials may research competing businesses to find out what kind of advertising is working. This type of research can help copywriters build a writing outline and strategy for reaching customers.
What Is “Copy”?
No, “copy” doesn’t mean duplicates. In the world of marketing, copy refers to the product of writers, the text that fills your landing pages and advertising scripts. All companies need copy to explain their businesses to prospective customers, persuade people to follow them on Twitter, sign up for their newsletters or make purchases. Without copy, customers may have no idea that the perfect solution to their problem is out there, waiting for them to find it.
But is copy the same as content? We’ll get into the differences between copywriting and content marketing a little bit later, but let’s cover the gist of it. Copy is considered the written communication used to persuade an audience to take an action, or to motivate brand awareness. Content is the information communicated to a target audience using some form of media. While copy is always written content, content isn’t always written copy. Content can also come in the form of video, infographics, podcasts or more.
The Content Marketer
5. Build A Recurring Leads Channel
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to get Google to send leads to your website monthly, weekly, and even daily. You accomplish this by getting your site to rank for search terms that are relevant to your business.
In my personal opinion, nothing currently beats SEO as a leads channel. It’s how I built my own business, and once I figured out how to do it right, I was able to achieve reasonable results fairly quickly, good results within a year, and incredible results over a handful of years.
I can also continue scaling this channel indefinitely, which is part of what I’m doing by publishing this article. This article will rank on the front page of Google for the search query “how to become a copywriter” within 3 months (update: I originally published this in January 2019 and sure enough, I was on the front page by April. I then predicted to me email subscribers that I would be #1 by August, and I predicted it perfectly. This article now ranks #1 for “copywriter” as well, which is fun).
Part of the reason I feel like SEO is the best channel for copywriters is that it synergises very well with blog writing, which I also advise copywriters to offer. Writing both free guest posts and paid blog content doubles as both advertising for your services as well as backlinks for your SEO campaign. But you miss out on the backlinks benefit if you aren’t actively pursuing SEO.
Until this last year, I would have told you that SEO is the undisputed leads channel for aspiring copywriters, but over the last 12 months, a new contender has become arguably a better choice, at least in the short term.
LinkedIn Audience Building
LinkedIn has always been an intriguing platform for business lead generation, but up until a year ago, it wasn’t really the type of place where someone could build a profitable following.
That all changed last year when LinkedIn revamped its algorithm and suddenly, organic engagement was alive and well. I noticed the same types of posts attracting tons of engagement, so I decided to see if I could play the game and make some content go viral.
That’s pretty insane engagement for diving straight in with no existing audience. I tried posting some more straightforward stuff as well, which grabbed between 20-40 likes a pop with a handful of comments.
In hindsight, this should have been enough engagement for me to spend a few months exploring LinkedIn as a lead gen channel, but my bias against social media at the time, as well as my personal distaste for the styles of content that were most popular on the platform, caused me to bail on the channel.
Today, I personally know three different copywriters who have built their monthly income to $15k+ almost entirely through their LinkedIn following. They consistently post straightforward, helpful content, and engage positively with people in their niches. One of these copywriters, Michal Eisikowitz, was gracious enough to hop on a call and share the story of how she built a recurring leads channel using LinkedIn and a fantastic writer website.
The TLDR here is that LinkedIn is a compelling option for new and experienced copywriters alike. When compared with the complicated process of achieving organic rankings, posting 3-4 times per week on LinkedIn seems like a vastly simpler and more broadly achievable option for building out that primary leads channel.
There was once a time when people were experiencing this same level of success on Facebook. Then overnight, Facebook completely gutted organic reach, and suddenly, all that work acquiring followers was essentially rendered worthless. This could happen at any time on LinkedIn, and indeed, LinkedIn has already scaled back organic reach a bit from when those two posts of mine went mini-viral.
First, LinkedIn owes much of its recent resurgence directly to the algorithm change. It’s the new strategy that is driving growth rather than a founding strategy that was bound to be altered at some point.
Second, while Facebook depends on direct advertising to earn revenue, which directly competes with organic reach, LinkedIn makes the lion’s share of its revenue as a recruiting platform, which depends on retaining and growing organic use and engagement. In other words, LinkedIn’s business model is far more conducive to long term organic reach.
Despite being something of an SEO evangelist, I would actually argue that SEO is in a similar boat. It’s entirely at the whim of Google, and while Google’s algorithm has stayed on a fairly consistent course for the last 20 years, that’s no guarantee it will remain on the same course over the next 10 years.