What does a copywriter actually do?

By Shae Lalor

When people ask what it is I do, I tell them I'm a copywriter. I also call myself a content writer or business writer, as these descriptions all mean something different to each person. (Plus I'm an editor and proofreader, but I'll cover that another time.)

People will then generally nod ... either in recognition or with confusion, I'm not always sure which!

So for those of you who find copywriting a vague concept, I thought I would take a snapshot of what it is I actually do day-in and day-out. Hopefully it goes some way to explaining what copywriters like me do for businesses and organisations of all sizes.

1. I make words sell

More often than not, a business will draft a flyer, social media post or web page to explain their product, service or offering. I then rewrite the message to add zing, to simplify, or to refocus the piece for ease of reading. I might add enticing subheadings, strip out repetition or add a whole new section.

I'm regularly banging on about the value of testimonials and calls to action. In essence, the words need to sell.

Each of these jobs requires significant research: of the business (brand, tone), product/services, their target audiences and competitor offerings.

2. I rewrite and write websites

This is a big chunk of my work. There are many websites out there that have formed over time, with multiple authors, that now don't clearly represent the brand. There are also websites that are old and tired; in dire need of some TLC (in both content and navigation).

And there are always new businesses popping up that need a web presence. Often, the website is the first marketing tool a new business will create, so if done properly, can become the backbone of many other marketing materials.

A big part of web content writing is search engine optimisation. There's a lot that a good copywriter can do to enhance web content to help with Google rankings.

I also rewrite intranet sites  the oft-forgotten internal resource. Intranet sites can be notoriously HUGE and cumbersome to use. A strong site map review and content refresh can ensure all the resources are found quickly and easily.

3. I clarify meaning

Some of my copywriting work blends into copy editing  in fact, they often go hand-in-hand. I am regularly editing and rewriting reports, letters, submissions and proposals to ensure the findings or key messages are clear and meaningful. Again, these documents often suffer from multiple-author syndrome they require one set of fresh eyes to ensure the intent and message is obvious.

No one should have to wade through pages or paragraphs to find the meaning. Where possible, I want to make these documents enjoyable to read.

4. I support communications and marketing teams

Topical and timely content improves online engagement. It provides an excuse for people to visit, and revisit, websites or blogs. Within larger organisations, communications and marketing teams can be stretched with managing daily requests relating to branding, publications, social media, intranet content or media coverage. That's where I come in to help with writing web news articles, blog posts or case studies to highlight the great work that organisation is doing. I'm a handy resource when a team doesn't get the head space to sit and WRITE for a couple of hours a day.

5. I work on my own business

I know how important it is to keep engaging with my own clients and potential clients, to keep improving my website to rank better on Google, and to continually enhance my knowledge and skills. That's why I write my blogs, listen to webinars, meet with fellow writers, attend training and plan ahead. I am continually amazed at how much I learn about my own business each day, and this helps me support my clients too.

Plus there's the admin: preparing quotes and proposals, meeting with clients, invoicing and paying my tax! I also drink lots of coffee and spend way too much time sitting at a computer.

Well that's copywriting or content writing in a nutshell. The best part? Variety. In one day, I may write about five or six distinct topics: from balustrades to landscaping to consultation to massage. Copywriting certainly never gets boring!

 

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