You’ve probably had that conversation before. Someone asks you what you do for a living and you say, “I’m a freelance copywriter.” They scrunch their face, shrug and say, “So you just sit at home all day? Great, want to go for a coffee? I’ve got the day off!”
You sigh and stare off into the distance, thinking about how many deadlines you still need to meet…
Working as a freelance copywriter has lots of benefits, but it can be hard work too, especially without plenty of planning. We’re starting off a series of blog posts about becoming a freelance copywriter with an explanation of what copywriting is, and the basics of being good at copywriting.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some tips on planning and using an editorial calendar to track your work, how to adjust your tone of voice to suit your clients’ audience, and more!
What is a copywriter?
Copywriters, broadly, write promotional material. Whether it’s a brochure for holiday, a restaurant menu, an advertising billboard or a branded website, you can bet that the words used to explain and advertise the product or service have been written by a professional copywriter.
“Copy” is the name for the text written within all kinds of promotional literature. It’s an art form in itself, designed to make readers sit up and do something – the so-called “call to action”. Advertising is useless and promotion pointless unless it inspires the consumer to take action, whether that’s buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, downloading an e-book or becoming a member.
Why are copywriters important?
Copywriters are the heart of your promotional campaign if you’re a brand looking to engage with the public. Poor copy doesn’t just result in inaction, it can actively put someone off your brand – a killer reaction that you want to avoid at all costs.
How many times have you picked up a promotional leaflet and seen poor grammar or spelling and just slapped it down again in disgust or worse, laughed at it? You walk away remembering the brand for all the wrong reasons. For a while, anyway – it’s soon forgotten again amid the static of so many other brands looking for your attention.
Good copywriting, on the other hand, not only represents your brand well, but can invoke trust, engender good feeling, invite the reader to engage and, most of all, inspire them to take action.
How do you become a good copywriter?
Thankfully, you don’t need a qualification to become a copywriter (although some formal training in language can help, even if it’s just a short course or online training). What you really need is a fantastic grasp of language and an understanding of how words can inspire action.
You need to be able to get across an idea with the minimum of fuss, getting straight to the point. You also have to be able to modulate your tone of voice to suit your client. You don’t want a breezy, informal voice when you’re copywriting for a law firm. Equally, if your client is a fashion blogger who enjoys a light relationship with her readership, you don’t want to write in tedious, jargon-filled legalese.
Knowing the difference isn’t something you can necessarily be taught, although you can definitely pick up tips from others. Instead, the best way to learn to become a freelance copywriter is to read! Read blogs and other literature that reflects the client you’re working for – read their competitors’ literature,
and develop a sense of what’s working and what’s not.
Be prepared for hard work!
Working as a freelance copywriter is a fulfilling career, where you can be your own boss and adjust your workload to suit you exactly. However, if it’s to be a rewarding one, be prepared to put in a lot of time, effort and especially planning. We’ll touch more on planning in a blog post within the next couple of weeks, where we’ll share some tips on how to manage your time and plan your editorial calendar to make sure you deliver the best work you can!