An Introduction to Copywriting
Before we even begin discussing the topic in-depth we need to understand exactly what the term ‘Copywriting’ means. I always thought that if you can write, you will automatically know how to apply your skills to Copywriting. I quickly learned that this assumption is very far from the truth!
The Oxford English Dictionary has a very simple definition for the term. It is according to the Dictionary ‘the activity or occupation of writing the text of advertisements or publicity material’.
This is a very good and succinct academic explanation of the term. We do however need to go into more depth to truly understand what copywriting is today and also what a copywriter does in today’s global economy. We are after all in the midst of a Digital Revolution (one of my favourite expressions).
According to Copyblogger, copywriting is one of the most essential elements of effective online marketing. Writing is a form of art and to be able to write proper copy is both a form of art and of strategic thinking. With copywriting,Copywriters are some of the highest-paid writers in the world. You can enjoy a fulfilling and lucrative career working from home. If you, however, know that you can write great advertising copy, but you want to expand your craft to… Click To Tweet you are after all strategically delivering words to your ideal audience (which we will speak of in more detail in a later instalment) and by relating to their aims and interests, you get your audience to take the form of action that you want them to take. This can be anything from buying a product to engaging your services to help your audience address a particular pain point which they have.
Having the ability to craft well-written copy which is carefully designed and planned to serve a particular purpose or advantage is a skill which is highly sought after. In the past, big advertising agencies made tones of money by employing the right copywriters and utilising their skills to craft skilful ad campaigns for rich clients.
These days, you don’t have to work for an ad agency and work in a 9 to 5 job for someone else who makes money off your skills. You can do it all yourself, by offering your skills and experience to clients on a Freelance basis.
Copywriters are some of the highest-paid writers in the world. You can enjoy a fulfilling and lucrative career working from home. If you, however, know that you can write great advertising copy, but you want to expand your craft to include other concepts which relate to the art of writing, and you intend to become a Freelance Writer (note the generality), well ‘the Sky is the Limit’ for you to start your own business and to make money from what you love doing. Let’s have a look at the other disciplines which can make up the career of a Freelance Writer.
Terminological Confusion: Introducing the concept of Content Writing
Well, you may rightfully ask what the difference between the terms of copywriting (or marketing) and content writing is.
According to Sonia Simone, content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers — and customers into repeat buyers whilst Copywriting gets a reader to take a specific action. These can be actions like buying a product, but it can also be subscribing to your email list, signing up for your resource library, or engaging your services as a Business Consultant.
Content marketing includes marketing aspects such as blogs, podcasts, and email autoresponders, whilst Copywriting is sales pages, ads, and direct mail (Simone, 2016).
For Neil Patel ‘content marketing is all about storytelling, and humans have told stories for as long as they could speak. Our attention will always go to those who tell great stories’.
Referring back to what we have indicated earlier about the importance of strategic thinking in Copywriting, you will not be surprised to learn that Content marketing is also strategic in nature. Content Marketing is according to Content Marketing Institute, ‘a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action’.
Instead of just writing copy to pitch your products or services and get your audience to take immediate action, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.
In the end and in my opinion the difference between Copywriting and Content Marketing is instant gratification (buying that box of chocolates right now) versus engaging and nurturing your customer in a journey which will grow your reputation (and that of your business) and which will allow you to not only retain those satisfied customers but also bring in new business.
Neil Patel writes that ‘in contrast to one-off advertising, content marketing shows that you actually care about your customers. I agree with Neil when he says that ‘today, more than ever before, people want to feel like you care about them. The world is louder and noisier than ever before, and attention is our most valuable resource’.
What do you need to become a successful Content Writer?
Sherry Gray wrote an article for The Entrepreneur, indicating that if you want to become successful as a content writer, you need a full toolkit of marketable skills. Let’s have a quick look:
- Successful content writers must master different writing styles. If you are a great writer, that does not mean that you are ready to write great content. Each form of writing has its own style. Blogging is, for example, personable, friendly and often opinionated whilst Ad copy is short and persuasive aimed at obtaining instant action from your customers. If you can master all of these styles of writing, it will make your services more valuable and in demand.
- Successful content writers don’t pick random subjects. As a Freelance Writer, you are on your own at home and don’t have the option of brainstorming subjects with a team. It is therefore crucial that you understand the audience that you are writing for. We will speak more about your ideal audience in next instalments but suffice it to say that marketers call it creating a “buyer persona.” (You will find a downloadable example in the Resource Library of The Freelance Writing Blog). If you know who your audience is, you can write what you know that they will want to read.
- Successful content writers are original. Develop your own unique voice. In this way, your content will be original and consistent which is what your customer wants and what keeps them coming back for more.
- Successful content writers know SEO and blogging platforms like WordPress. You don’t have to be a technical boffin on these concepts, so don’t be scared. You only need a few basics. There is a myriad of WordPress themes in the blogosphere and they all have varying levels of automatic functions (you will find mention of some of these on The Freelance Writing Blog). It’s certainly worth your time to learn the basics if you want to get your business and your brand established and if you want to start making money as a creative entrepreneur. SEO knowledge is also critical for ranking of your business on Google or other search engines but there are also many fine SEO plugins for WordPress (such as Yoast or All-in-One SEO) which can help content writers (and Bloggers) to keep up.
- Successful content writers should also be social media specialists. We will talk a lot more about the marketing or sales funnel in next instalments but suffice it to say that social media puts everything you need within that funnel within your grasp. You can build awareness of your brand, build your audience, meet publishers and network with industry experts and Influencers. Sherry Gray writes that ‘when your writing is published, the fun has only just begun. The more active you are on social media, the more likely your followers will be to recommend your content. Successful content writers are active, public and friendly’.
She closes with a statement which I fully agree with ‘So, think again about writing “success.” It stops being about words on paper as soon as “content” is added to “writer.” Content writers are marketing experts, SEO specialists, on-page coders and social media butterflies. With the right skill set, you’ll succeed and find that yours is the best job in the world’.
Do you want to become a Freelance Writer?
If the answer is ‘yes’, congratulations! You have reached a milestone in your life as an independent creative entrepreneur. My own advice to you is, however, to combine strategic copywriting with skilful content marketing and get the best of both worlds. If you want to learn more about Freelance Writing and how to start your own career as a Freelance Writer, visit freelancewritingblog.com.
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