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What is copywriting anyway?

Need to learn a little more about copywriting? Dive right in!

So, what is copywriting anyway?

Good question.

You should probably know more about this ‘potential’ future career of yours before diving head in.

Even if you sort of already know what copywriting is, this little article might just reveal a few things you’d never thought about.

Like what the difference between content and copy is. And why it isn’t just alllll about selling stuff.

Copywriting, in simple terms

Stripped down to its birthday suit, copywriting is probably best described as ‘writing for business.’

Also known as ‘commerical writing.’

Unlike a poem or a book, copywriting is written with the purpose of making someone do something.

That could be to buy a book. Click a link. Subscribe to a newsletter.

It could also be as simple as just making someone like your brand. Connect and vibe with it.

Most forms of copywriting will be used as marketing or promotional material. And this is where it sort of splits into two.

There is copywriting for sales and direct promotions.

And then there’s copywriting (some people label it content writing, but it’s pretty much the same thing) that’s written to nurture and engage an audience.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

The salesly, more direct stuff

This kind of copywriting is written with the purpose of getting the reader to take action - almost immediately.

Also known as direct-response copywriting. Ads and web copy are the two types of writing that fall most under this umbrella.

But then you’ve also got stuff like product descriptions and catalogs (though you could also argue that those are written to ‘inform’ the reader).

This copy is more salesly and direct. It needs to be short, snappy, and to the point.

After all, you’ll probably only have a couple of words to get your point across.

You’ll also need to make it really creative.

Do something that STANDS OUT amidst the noise of all the other ads out there.

Just think about how many ads you saw today. Probably way too many, right?

Did you remember any of them?

My point exactly.

Not everyone loves the short and snappy stuff, so if you’re more of a long-form copy kind of person (hello twin!) then you’ll probably be more interested in the second type of copywriting.

The engaging stuff

Don’t get me wrong - all copy should be engaging.

But the longer-form stuff (i.e., the meatier, more word-heavy stuff) is usually written with the purpose of engaging the audience. Rather than actually getting them to make a commitment and buy/subscribe at that very moment.

Typical examples that fall under this umbrella include blogs, newsletters, and email campaigns.

These are all types of copywriting geared towards nurturing and gaining the audience’s trust.

When you read a blog, do you feel like you’re being sold to?

Well, you shouldn’t.

You should read it and walk away feeling like you’ve been delivered value of some sort.

Maybe that blog taught you something new? Maybe it was really funny? Maybe it got you to reflect?

Point is, blogs and all that other long-form stuff are meant to make you like a brand.

They might not be selling to you at that very moment, but they’re setting you up for the sell. Warming you up. Enticing you.

They’re showing that they have a personality. That they’re not just a stone-cold business trying to take your money. They’re taking their time to get to know you.

That they’re trying their best to keep up with you (another reason why newsletters tend to be such a hit with readers).

Think of it this way:

You read a blog about cookie cutters.

From that alone, I’m going to assume you’re into baking.

That blog is amazing. Really insightful and packed full of tips about the best cookie cutters to buy and why cookie cutters are so important.

You’re impressed.

So, you decide to hit ‘subscribe’ to their newsletter.

Every month, you’re delivered a little email full of wonderful content - all about your favourite thing - baking!

Suddenly, you quite like this brand.

You’ve warmed up to them.

So, when you get served an ad - by that brand - you don’t feel so offended.

It sort of feels…right. Like it was just a matter of time.

Plus, you like this brand. Why wouldn’t you buy from them?

And that’s why it works.

What will you pick?

Ultimately, the kind of copy you decide to write will come down to what you’re good at and what you actually like.

I’ve done web copy and ads before - and I still do them from time to time.

But they’re not my favourite.

It’s taken a few years, but I’ve finally narrowed down my copywriting services into four main verticals; blogs, emails, newsletters, and social copy.

That’s pretty much all I do.

At the start of your journey, you can experiment. You can try out lots of different types of copywriting - in fact, I recommend it!

It will give you a chance to figure out what you like and what sort of writing comes naturally to you.

I love the meatier stuff, so long-form will always be king for me.

But you might find that short and snappy is your thing. And that’s great - own it!

PS - Follow me on LinkedIn for more tips and insights and subscribe to my newsletter for even more career tips and copywriting advice. Or follow me on Instagram for a slice of the freelance life.

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