Hint: It’s more than a clever way with words.
When I was a young whipper snapper dreaming of a career as a writer, I imagined whimsical days sitting at a desk by a window. Sun would always be streaming down on the keyboard as I typed out poetic prose and flowery phrases worthy of a Pulitzer prize. This fanciful vision of writing evolved in my late teens when I fixated on becoming a Carrie Bradshaw clone (so doing all of the above whilst wearing Manolo Blahnik shoes and sipping a Margarita in a trendy Manhattan loft apartment.) Of course, the reality of being a copywriter is somewhat different. Because none of the above answer what makes a good copywriter? Unfortunately, not even the fancy shoes.
What is copywriting?
Copywriting is writing creative content for a business, usually to fulfil a marketing objective. It’s writing…
- With a clear purpose
- That creates a connection with a defined audience
- And inspires an action that will grow a business in some way or form
So, what makes a good copywriter? First and foremost it’s the ability to capture the essence of a business or brand in words. But more than that, it’s to make the business instantly likeable to people they want to like them most. And more importantly, to inspire them to do something that will ultimately help to win work for the business or grow it in some way. Yes, copywriting is driven by inspiring action and ultimately has a financial or business growing outcome.
But it’s not about selling
It’s about connection. A great line of text can create laughter, smiles, or reduce someone to tears. Words can make sense of the most complex ideas and add emphasis so simple details aren’t overlooked. Great content can make businesses feel as familiar as an old friend, inspire confidence when it’s needed most, unearth hidden aspirations, and make even the most out-of-reach goals feel achievable. Great copywriting gets your business noticed by people you never dreamed of reaching. Yes, words are powerful. And that’s why the best copywriters always choose them carefully.
But, what makes a good copywriter?
In my opinion the quality of a piece of writing is determined 50% by the words on the page and 50% by the questions asked beforehand. Great copywriters ask questions. Even difficult ones. Great content emerges from inquisitiveness and a propensity to pry.
But they listen even harder
I love the first meeting with a new client. Beforehand, I make sure I do my research. I read their website, stalk them on social media and get a feel for what they do. But what I find is often the polished version. It’s polite, cautious and restrained.
The purpose of a first meeting is to expose the grit – the raw energy and the uninhibited side of a business. Great copywriters listen out for the detail. Their ears prick at the sound of magical golden nuggets that could be easily overlooked. These small things are often what end up defining the authentic voice and values of a brand.
Recognising that diverse voices create a better conversation
Equality and respect for diversity are non-negotiable in writing. I strongly believe welcoming in many voices creates an immensely more interesting conversation. There isn’t a single voice or style that works for everyone. Or a tone of voice guide to follow.
Great copywriters create content that is completely and utterly, and totally effortlessly you. How you express yourself makes your business unique. A good copywriter doesn’t change your voice, they amplify it to make sure you’re heard in the conversations you want to be part of.
Great writers focus on telling the story
Grammar is important. I’m a writer. I’m paid to present words impeccably and I show unwavering respect to the rulebook of the English language. But proper apostrophe placement isn’t what makes a great writer. The secret to engaging content is how you tell a story. That’s where the magic happens.
Does every business need a copywriter?
The truth? No. You can write the content yourself. 100%. But you may still want to hire a copywriter. You know your business inside and out. You understand the products and services down to the tiniest of details. But it’s still surprisingly difficult to write about your own business. So, don’t be hard on yourself if you decide to outsource it to a professional.
Writing content takes time (that you probably don’t have liberally going spare.) Does writing marketing content typically involves you spending rambling hours procrastinating, followed by further hours of avid avoidance attempts? That’s time you could be focusing on tasks that come more naturally, where you can make a real difference.
5 big benefits of hiring a copywriter
- You’ll get great content, without the hassle of having to write it yourself.
- It saves time. You’ll get content to work with quicker.
- You can keep up with the overwhelming demand for content and create a library of material to keep driving your campaigns forward.
- You can focus your time on what you’re good at and where you can make a difference.
- The fresh, detached perspective of a copywriter often gives content a stronger focus. What you see on the page will be the best of your business.
But hiring a copywriter isn’t the right route for every business
It may not even be an option. If the writing work falls to you, how do you feel about it? Excited? Annoyed? Scared? It’s an additional task that can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
Writing is a lot about confidence. Often the biggest hurdle to jump when faced with the task of writing new content is a lack of confidence – overcoming the feeling that you can’t write, or you aren’t a good writer.
This is something I’m starting to tackle with my Word Stylist mission. By sharing the writing techniques and processes I’ve honed over the years, I want to give business that can’t hire a copywriter the confidence to write great content. This includes free writing resources, step-by-step guides and 1-2-1 coaching.
I believe with support and the structure of some tried and tested writing processes, everyone has the capability to write about their business brilliantly. So, what makes a great copywriter? The real answer is self belief.