“There is no harder job in the world than copywriting, yet there is none more rewarding…both financially and emotionally. It truly is the world’s best kept secret job”
First of all, there is some confusion about copywriting…let me dispel the most common myth:
What Copywriting is NOT
“Copywriting” is not “Copyrighting”. Copyrighting is the act of securing the copyright on a piece of work. A copyright is just the legal right to reproduce the work.
What Copywriting IS…
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia defines copywriting or the act of writing copy as:
Copywriting is the process of writing the words that promote a person, business, opinion, or idea. It may be used as plain text, as a radio or television advertisement, or in a variety of other media. I agree with this definition, but copywriting goes much deeper than that…It is both a science and an art.
Where You Can Find Examples of Copy
It’s generally used in advertising and marketing and is primarily used to sell goods and services, but it is also is used to communicate with people. You can find it in all ads that you see everyday… That includes: the internet, newspapers, magazines, billboards and radio…on the package of things you buy, on the back of your milk carton and even the bible! More on that later…
The Problem With Copywriting and Why Its So Important
The act of copywriting is the most mis-understood skill in any business, yet at the same time it’s the most important.
Here’s why: It’s really just words on a piece of paper.
It makes it even more mis-understood when a copywriter asks for thousands of dollars and it only took them a week to prepare it.
When written correctly and sent to the right people, it has been known to turn a mediocre business into an industry giant very rapidly.
Your words, reproduced thousands of times, leverage your message to thousands of people…and it costs only fractions of a dollar per letter to distribute it.
A well crafted, persuasive letter is one of the most powerful forces in the world today.
You know, while the National Enquirer won’t even win the Nobel Prize in Literature, they write with simple language and very effectively target their audience…they have over 15 million readers after all. With all the complaints they get, no one has ever complained they write too clear.
Words on a piece of paper have been known to create wars (or prevent them), to sell millions of dollars in goods, to express emotions and so on…
I said earlier that copywriting was in the bible…St. Paul, the Catholic saint, used copywriting to communicate the word of God to other people. He spread the message without ever having to be there personally. He was one of the earliest copywriters.
The president’s speech writer is a copy writer…he or she has to be very careful about the words they use.
The Role of a Copywriter
The role of the Copywriter is to write copy. Simple.
To write copy, a copywriter must research their a) intended audience and b) their subject matter. Then they must put pen to paper and create a message that will communicate their subject matter to their intended audience.
The copywriter must also pay attention to how the copy a) Looks: if the copy looks too overwhelming, no one will read it. b) Flows: if the ideas and words in the copy connect together properly.
In the end, what does a copywriter produce? The length and type of copy can vary…they can produce letters 30 pages long or as short as one sentence (or a word or two).
Writing 30 pages is definitely a skill, where if you want to sell something, it has to be extremely interesting so that someone will read it…
And writing a sentence? Sometimes that can take months of digging into volume after volume of dry product data and material to uncover the one phrase that can best describe the product.
Every word counts and is worth its weight in gold
In both cases, every word counts…the copywriter must agonize over every word because not only are you paying for the space you use (in a magazine for example) to distribute the copy, but the very words themselves can either persuade your audience to listen to you and buy your products…or completely turn them off.
Because of the complexities and the needs for copywriters…there has emerged a wide range of copywriters…they range from artists and English majors to people in sales.
The difference between the two, I will discuss in my next article: “The difference between your “everyday copy” and “copy that sells”
Copywriting has been around for hundreds of years in various forms. Only in the last 100 or so has it been used so widely to sell goods and services. Yet, despite all this, it still remains one of the most mis-understood , but important aspects of any business. Everyone should know the basics of copywriting and use that skill in their business.