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  • Writer's pictureNikki Olson

What the Heck is a Copywriter...?

Want to know a secret? Of course you do. You’re all about hearing my embarrassing stories and cringey admissions. Who doesn’t enjoy reading about how someone else messed up? I mean, I certainly do. Anyway, here goes…

I worked as a copywriter for five years without actually knowing what a copywriter is.

Whaaat? How is that even possible? How could I have taken a job without knowing what the job was for?

Well, it all started with a Craigslist ad. I graduated college with a plan to become a teacher. But due to my semester of student teaching, I wasn’t done with school until February. This is the middle of the school year and no districts were hiring until spring. This started to cause a real issue for my empty bank account. I had things to do after all. People to see. Places to go. I was twenty-two, and I wasn’t prepared to sit at home all day doing nothing.

I had always loved to write, so I decided to see if I could make any extra money while I waited to apply for teaching positions. So I started Googling and eventually found my way to the jobs board on Craigslist. I was surprised by how many people were looking for writers. Of course, only a few were willing to pay. And most weren’t willing to pay a lot. I went through several bad experiences (including a guy who NEVER paid me) before finding something with potential.

There was one company looking for writers to help with ebooks. I had no idea how to write an ebook, but I gave it a shot. They really liked what I wrote, and they continued to send me work. I contracted with them from 2011-2016 writing blog posts, press releases, website content, and product descriptions for all kinds of businesses around the country. I loved every minute of it, but I had no idea what to call this position.

I worked for that company for five years before resigning to focus on my classroom. For awhile, everything seemed well, but I began to crave something more. I wanted to get back into writing, and the almighty Facebook algorithm must have heard my plea. I began getting advertisements for courses on copywriting. And I realized that that’s what I had been doing when I worked for that writing company all that time ago.

I eagerly dove in and never looked back.

So what the heck is a copywriter?

Simply put, a copywriter is the bridge that convinces someone to take action. Many people think copywriting is just sales, but it’s so much more than that.

Of course, one of the actions you might want people to take is to buy something. A copywriter can help with persuasive landing pages or product descriptions that make your items or services irresistible.

But sometimes you might just be looking to grow your network or keep people informed. In that case, a copywriter will help you with emails, newsletters, or blog posts. There is really no limit to what a copywriter can do for your small business.

What exactly is copy?

The term “copy” refers to the writing that a copywriter does. The origins of this term come from a French word meaning “written account or record.” If we go back even further, we learn that this French word originated from a Latin word meaning “reproduction or transcript.” 1

Let’s move away from the origin of the word, though, and think about what it really is. You’ve been surrounded by copy your entire life and probably didn’t know. I sure didn’t! I remember visiting Spain and thinking that there must be a job for someone to write the translations in promotional pamphlets at tourist hotspots. Turns out there is and that job is copywriting!

Something to remember, though, is that copy is different from content. Many businesses put out lots of great content but it isn’t necessarily copy. Copy works to get the reader to take a specific action. Content serves to inform the reader of something. The lines get blurred very easily, and a copywriter might end up creating both content and copy. But a good copywriter knows the difference and knows how to write to get the reader to take the desired action.

Who needs a copywriter?

Honestly? Just about every business out there could use a good copywriter. Next time you go somewhere, take a few minutes to look around. Notice how many words are around you. There are billboards on the side of the road, wraps on buses, pamphlets outside businesses… and those are just examples of print copy.

Once we head online, it’s even more obvious that copywriting is everywhere. Open up your email and scroll through your inbox. Look at all that email marketing! You probably have newsletters from people you signed up with as well as some you didn’t.

Any business or service you can think of could benefit from a copywriter and not just to create a stellar website. Restaurants can use copywriters to enhance the menu or highlight specials. Coaches can use copywriters to connect to clients through blogs and newsletters. Even the woman next door selling homemade items on Etsy could benefit from carefully crafted product descriptions.

The key thing to remember when you are running your business is that you shouldn’t (and don’t have to!) go it alone. Your time and energy are precious, and you need to devote those resources to the things that really matter. After all, those are resources you can never get back. So don’t spend them if you don’t have to!

Words are everywhere, and a good copywriter will string them together in a way that will get people to take the action you want. This skill is vital to small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. Most importantly, hiring a copywriter returns your precious time so you can put your energy into your passions.

Ready to take the next step with your small business? Let’s chat!

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