Copywriting is the art and science of using words to get a reader to take action. Online, copywriting is your online salesperson.

Let that sink in. Words are responsible for selling. Which means they are directly connected to revenue.

That’s why it’s critical to understand copywriting, copywriters, and how copy can increase sales – and your bottom line.

What is copywriting?

Writing persuasive words that motivate readers to take action is called copywriting.

The sole purpose of copywriting is to get the reader to take the desired action (or “convert”).

Copy that gets the conversion is essential to any business. No matter its size or industry.

Effective copywriting should boost conversions and increase profits. Whether you want to sell a product or service or promote a brand.

Copywriting requires a combination of many skills:

It also involves research, understanding your audience, testing, and optimization.

Bulleted list of what copywriting is: moves people to action, is a conversation between you and one person, it isn't creative, it sells outcomes and value, not products or prices, copy is the name for the words you write. When you write copy, you are a copywriter

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What copywriting is NOT

A common misconception about copywriting is that it involves copyright lawyers.

GIF of Beyonce saying "nope"

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Copywriting is not the same as “copyright,” which is about intellectual property and legal trademarks.

This is copywriting…

Huel protein bar description is copywriting

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And this…

Toothbrush ad is copywriting

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Move the reader to “yes” with your copy

Below, Joanna Wiebe explains what conversion-focused copywriting is and how it helps move the reader to “yes.”

What’s the difference between copywriting and content writing?

Many people use the terms copywriting and content writing interchangeably.

But they shouldn’t.

Schitts Creek Don't do that GIF for what is copywriting and why it's not the same as content writing

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Content writing is about priming your audience.

Copywriting is about converting your audience.

Copywriter, Michelle Chow, explains the difference this way…

“Content writing tells a compelling story that both entertains and educates your audience. Whereas copywriting persuades that audience to take action, mostly in the form of sales.”

What is a copywriter?

A copywriter is a writer who specializes in writing advertising, marketing and other promotional materials.

If you write copy, you are a copywriter.

What do copywriters do?

Copywriters write a variety of marketing materials for online and offline marketing channels.

Projects can include emails, sales pages, brochures, product descriptions, ads, video sales scripts…and much more.

Let’s pause right there…

Another common misconception is that copywriters “just write words.”

An angry GIF from the show The Office

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Couldn’t be further from the truth.

To create copy that actually gets readers to take action, there’s a lot more to the process than simply sitting down at a computer and typing some words.

Here’s a shortlist of tasks that copywriters execute on a regular basis:

  • Review and analyze data
  • Execute customer interviews and surveys
  • Execute stakeholder interviews
  • Analyze competitor and client marketing materials
  • Stay current on the latest research in human behavior and psychology
  • Marketing strategy
  • Review mining
  • Value propositions
  • Messaging hierarchy and frameworks
  • Providing creative direction
  • Project management
  • Wireframing
  • Split testing
  • Proofreading, editing, giving copy feedback
  • Optimization

And so much more.

Who needs copywriters?

Any business that communicates with its audience needs a copywriter.

Copywriters work with Fortune 500 companies, large enterprises, small businesses, online retailers, brick and mortar businesses, non-profit organizations, agencies, and solopreneurs.

If a company wants their audience to take action (make a donation, buy a product, hire them for their services), they need a copywriter.

3 examples of good copywriting and the lessons to take from them

Company: Huel

Description of Huel's shake and man in black shirt

Copywriting Lesson: Copywriting is a conversation between you and one person.

Huel uses “you” as they describe the benefits and features of their product. Speaking directly to the reader gives the copy a 1:1, conversational feel.

Company: Nectar

Product description for Nectar Mattresses duvet product

Copywriting Lesson: Nectar’s copy prioritizes describing the benefits over product features. While also painting a picture of the reader’s dream state (pun intended).

This copy definitely answers the question: what’s in it for me?

Company: Copyhackers

Copyhackers homepage hero with a picture of Joanna Wiebe

Copywriting Lesson: Yes, I’m highlighting the Copyhackers homepage. And for good reason. They’ve nailed the call-to-action.

When you persuade your reader to act, it’s important that you actually state what action they should take next.

In this example, Copyhackers gives the reader the choice of two possible next steps: “Build your copywriting skills” or “Become a freelance copywriter.”

Want to see more examples of good copywriting?

For copywriting dos (and don’ts), here’s The Ultimate 101 List of Copywriting Awesomeness.