When I tell people I’m a copywriter, I can often see the word go right up and over their heads. I can sense that their ears turn off and everything that comes out of my mouth next is completely lost in translation. Kind of like when you hear something in fast forward and it sounds like a bunch of squeaky hampsters.
In a verbal conversation, I’m also worried that people often think I’m saying “copyright-er” instead of “copywriter”. Although I’m not sure that “copyrighter” is even a word.
Copywriting does have to do with copyright in terms of intellectual property (IP) and ownership rights, like any other creative work, but in and of itself, the nature of copywriting doesn’t have anything to do with legalities. Although there are different types of copywriting; and some can be for more legal, financial, medical, or government type documents. But before I lose you…
I am not some kind of IP lawyer.
I do, however, assign the copyright – as in the right to use whatever words I drum up and string together – to my clients. Once I’m paid for the work, the formulated content now is theirs, not mine.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s debunk the second myth.
Copywriting – affectionately abbreviated to copy – is not ‘sleazy’, ‘cheap’, or associated with any other feeling that makes you cringe.
When done well, it’s far from ‘sleazy’ and often the very reason a client or customer is compelled to ‘buy’. It’s often in direct contrast to what your 9th grade English teacher taught you.
Copy doesn’t necessarily have a set word limit, but it does highly consider the design of its medium. Copy and design completely go hand in hand. Kind of like a nice, chilled glass of rosé with a smooth goat cheese on a crisp cracker. Mmmm…
Copy can be long, it can be short; but it’s not allowed to be a snooze-fest. Which brings me to our next point…
Copywriting is not ‘ancient’, ‘dying’, ‘unnecessary’, ‘boring’, or any other word thoughtlessly used to describe it.
If anything, copywriting is in its prime and it’s a highly, highly undervalued asset in the world of marketing and creative entrepreneurship.
I’ve maybe shared this quote by Ann Handley a gajillion times but its that good.
“Your words (what you say) and style (how you say it) are your most cherished and, yet, undervalued assets.We think that because everything’s digital and we’re all publishers that words aren’t the main event. But writing matters more now, not less.”
After stating my career path, when people actually have the curiosity to ask me “What’s a copywriter?” Instead of an aloof definition, I often reply with this:
“I help business owners articulate what they do (and why) so their clients/customers want to buy from them.”
And then I get: “Ohhhh. That’s so cool!”
And IT IS COOL. Because every day I get to see really talented, gifted, smart AF people go from sounding like a total carbon copy (YAWWN) to standing fully, shoulders back-proud in their shoes.
I get to see bounce rates go down on websites and followers come pouring in on Instagram accounts.
Because when you’re clear, and people understand how you can solve their needs, they will listen.
Copy is related to COPYING.
Ew. No, no it is not. I also dread when people associate ‘copy’ – as in words – with stealing other people’s writing, thoughts, or ideas. Although nothing is truly original in theory, great copy is often sourced from many different places. A word or phrase here or there – but never from within the same exact industry or from a close competitor.
Copywriting is about being fully authentic, creating alignment, and discovering a consistent voice that’s easily identifiable to your brand.
Copywriting is really hard.
Yes and no on this one. Writing copy is hard and it does take a bit of natural talent or instinct but there’s also a lot of systems, processes, and formulas within this field.
For example, sales flyers or sales pages should have certain pieces of information included on them, within a certain format or flow.
They should have a compelling, attention-getting headline (not to be confused with click-bait-y). They should quickly address the reader’s concerns and offer solutions. They should mention the features but really highlight the benefits.
People want to know what ‘s in it for them. Don’t make them wonder, question, and worse…walk away.
Make it almost painstakingly clear and don’t fall in love with your own words so much that you end up losing your reader in the process. (It’s easier to trip up on this one than you might think.)
The best writing is ruthlessly empathetic to your reader; never self-indulgent.
Copy doesn’t matter so much if you have good design.
Pretty photos, killer web design, and the most unique of logos, as incredible as they are, don’t exactly move people to action.
You know what does?
They’re like the roadmap that takes people from point A to point B on a rugged road trip that somehow now feels like a joy ride.
SO – now that we’ve debunked some myths…what is the definition, you ask? What can you hang your hat on? Here’s the kvh. definition:
the art of writing marketing, advertising, &/or promotional materials in a way that connects (human to human), converts (causes an action to take place), and kills the notion of “sleazy sales(wo)man”.
Basically, copy is the art and science of strategically delivering words to get people to take action. It’s what makes you feel like marketers are reading your mind or writing just to you. In theory, they are. That’s the jackpot!
Copy is what gets people pulling out their wallets or coughing up their email addresses before you’ve even gotten to the fine print. It works because you’re providing compelling value, with both emotional and rational appeal, and here’s a big idea: a real solution to your reader’s problems.
It works, because you do, too.
And that’s good business.
What kind of things need this so-called “copy”?
And if you’re a kvh. client, it all starts with identifying your brand messaging. Together, we’ll walk through that and come up with a Brand Messaging doc of your own complete with taglines, bios, what to post, what not to post, brand descriptors, core values…you name it.
If it has to do with your tone + voice, we’ll define it. If you’re interested in working together, browse my copywriting services page &/or go ahead and get in touch to tell me about your custom needs.
When your copy clicks, everything makes sense again.
Do you struggle with copywriting? What’s the toughest part for you? Do you love it? What about it makes you tick? Let me know in the comments below!