- To become a copywriter, first, make sure you understand what a copywriter is – and what it’s not
- Professional copywriters don’t just sit down and start writing copy. They have a process
- There’s one key to your success. It’s simple. But it’s not easy
So, you’re thinking of becoming a copywriter in 2023…
I’m not surprised. In addition to all the shifts in the workforce since the pandemic, according to Google Trends, there’s also been a steady increase in worldwide interest in copywriting since 2015.
And it’s a pretty great career path.
Of course, I’m a copywriter, so I would think that 😉
But before we dive into the steps to becoming a copywriter, it’s crucial to clarify what copywriting is – and is not.
Because, like any industry, when you enter the world of copywriting, there’s often some confusion.
So let’s get clear on copywriting…
What is copywriting? And what is a conversion copywriter?
Copywriting is writing that gets a reader to take the desired action.
Copy can compel a reader to sign up for a free trial of an online tool, get a reader to buy a pair of bright orange shoes, or request a discount code.
Copy converts potential clients or prospects into customers.
Becoming a copywriter is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Seriously.
I know you’ve seen those online ads.
A guy next to his expensive car in California.
Telling you that “YOU TOO can make a million dollars by next week with absolutely no experience. No connections. And no work! With this amazing thing called copywriting!”
So if you’re looking to make millions overnight… my advice…
You should probably find that guy’s online ad (Kidding. But not really).
Copywriting is a skill set.
And like any other skill set, to become an experienced copywriter, you need to learn, practice, and hone the skills required to create copy that converts.
All that said, copywriting is a fantastic and rewarding career where writers can get paid great money.
So if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, put in the work, and create your dream writer’s life…
It’s definitely possible as a copywriter. So let’s do this!
What is a conversion copywriter?
To define what a conversion copywriter is, it only makes sense to go to the source.
In this case, the person that coined the phrases “conversion copywriting” and “conversion copywriter.”
Joanna Wiebe, founder of Copyhackers and The Original Conversion Copywriter, says that conversion copywriters create:
“Copy that moves the reader to “yes” using voice-of-customer data, frameworks, formulas and proven persuasion techniques.
Conversion copywriting motivates people to act & make a decision; takes the voice, tone and finding a unique value proposition and combines it with conversion (motivating) and process (research component) and presentation (what you’re saying and how you’re saying it).”Joanna Wiebe, The Original Conversion Copywriter
What does a conversion copywriter do?
A conversion copywriter writes copy for various marketing assets that can include websites, emails, paid ads (and much more) that all help businesses convert leads into sales.
They write pages like this:
And emails like this:
Conversion copywriters know how to write copy that attracts people to your business, then convinces them to buy from you.
A conversion copywriter also understands the psychology of buying and selling with empathy.
They are masters of the buyer’s journey and how to guide prospects through it.
Is a conversion copywriter also a content writer?
Copywriting and content writing are not the same thing. Each has its own specific skill set.
They are not mutually exclusive. And there are benefits to having a grasp of both skill sets.
But not all copywriters are content writers. And not all content writers are copywriters.
Copywriters work on the copy closer to the sale: a sales page, a promotional email for a semi-annual sale, an abandoned cart email sequence, or paid ad copy.
All of which are directly tied to making a sale.
Content writers typically work on the content toward the top of the funnel. And earlier in the buyer’s journey.
Writing blog posts, social media posts, white papers, press releases, case studies, or eBooks are all projects that content writers often work on.
The lines can get blurry
Just note that a copywriter must master a specific skill set that’s not the same as a content writing skill set.
They can help each other. And serve each other.
But they are not the same. And they serve different marketing purposes.
Michelle Chow, a copywriter and content writer, had this to say about copywriting vs content writing:
“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.
While most writers know these definitions, the line between the two can get blurry. Especially when you find yourself writing for both.“Michelle Chow, Copywriter and Content Writer
If you’re still unclear about copywriting versus content writing, check out Michelle’s article for a deep dive into the similarities and differences.
Because you need to make sure that when you say you want to become a copywriter, you really do mean a professional copywriter. Not a professional content writer.
What does a conversion copywriter do (like on a regular basis)?
A common misconception is that a copywriter sits down at their desk and writes from 9-5.
A typical writing project requires much more than putting words on a page.
And a large portion of that work happens way before you start writing the copy that will appear on a web page or in an email.
Here are just a few of the tasks copywriters execute regularly:
- 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
- Analyzing and executing a specific writing style
- Messaging hierarchy and frameworks
- Providing creative direction
- Project management
- Split testing
- Proofreading, editing, giving copy feedback
No matter what type of writing the copywriter is working on, the tasks above are pretty standard.
But copywriters can do more than what I’ve mentioned here.
What do conversion copywriters write?
If you’re considering a career as a copywriter, you’re likely to wonder what type of writing does a copywriter well… write?
Copywriters work on a variety of marketing assets.
This can include online digital marketing assets. Like:
- Landing pages
- Sales pages
- Video sales letters
- Product pages
Copywriters also work on offline marketing assets:
- Direct mail sales letter package
- A brochure
- Trade show materials
- Radio and TV commercials
And much more.
The type of copywriting and assets vary, which is wonderful for a writer that wants to become a copywriter.
You have a lot to choose from. And you’re not likely to get bored.
How to become a copywriter step-by-step
So, you’re ready to launch your copywriting career. But how?
Here are the 3 must-do steps to go from beginner to great, high-earning copywriter.
I’m not going to try and downplay this fact:
Becoming an experienced, high-earning copywriter requires a lot of different skills.
And plenty of the skills needed – go beyond what people typically think of as writing skills.
Look back at the list of tasks above. Many aren’t just writing.
But if you want to become a professional copywriter, you must learn them.
Don’t feel overwhelmed. Start here
To start, focus on learning about persuasive writing.
Effective copywriting (aka getting a reader to take the desired action) means using persuasive writing techniques to take your reader on a journey to the conversion.
There is an abundance of copywriting books and copywriting courses that will help lay this critical foundation.
As you learn about copywriting, keep this in mind
One of the biggest AHA moments for me as a professional writer was when I realized that copywriting wasn’t about simply sitting down at my computer and writing down my ideas.
When your goal is to write copy that converts, you don’t just sit down and write down your thoughts.
Professional copywriters have a process.
And you need a process.
It’s so critical. I want to give you a head start.
Watch the Tutorial Tuesday video below.
Joanna Wiebe (remember, she’s the OG Conversion Copywriter) walks you through the conversion copywriting process.
Learn (and practice) this process, and you will be light years ahead of most newbies.
2. Get copywriting experience
Reading copywriting books and taking copywriting courses is valuable time spent.
BUT! ← And this is big.
You need to write copy. Often. Every day if possible.
It’s the only way to practice and get better.
Okay, Jessica, but I have nothing to write for!
Don’t worry! Here’s what you do: Write for a product you know.
My standing desk is pretty cool looking. I could practice writing home page copy for that company.
I’m absolutely obsessed with my coffee warmer (no it’s not the one below). But…
I could write an Amazon product page for busy writers that want warm coffee but hate reheating it in the microwave 50 times each morning.
It’s just practice. Write for anything.
The important thing is to practice. Take action on what you’re learning.
3. Start designing your copywriting career path
Just like any career, you aren’t locked into any choice.
Many successful copywriters start on one of the career paths I’m about to share.
And then they change as they gain more experience and knowledge.
But you must understand your options.
Professional copywriters fall under one of 3 types of copywriters:
Works in a marketing agency (or advertising agency) that serves multiple clients.
Depending on the business model, an agency copywriter may specialize in a specific type of copy and write that copy for various clients.
Or the copywriter may work on a variety of marketing copy projects for one client or a few of the agency’s clients.
Business owners, marketing managers, and directors are often looking to hire professional copywriters.
Companies look for copywriters at different levels (from junior copywriter to senior copywriter) to create copy for all of their marketing assets.
This often means working on a wide variety of copy projects for the company.
Copywriters also have the option to build their own copywriting business.
Freelance copywriters work with clients that hire them as contractors.
Copywriters that go freelance decide when they work, how they work, who they work with, and what they work on.
They also take on all business responsibilities.
In very simplistic terms: Freelance copywriters are responsible for getting clients, creating the copy, and delivering.
There’s a ton more that goes into it. But that’s a general overview.
So while a freelance copywriter can have a lot of freedom, successful freelance copywriters (also called business owners) would tell you that running a freelance copywriting business also comes with a lot of work and responsibility.
Do I need to decide right now?
Of course not! You can work on steps 1 and 2 for as long as you’d like. But know your options.
The key to being a successful copywriter
How often do we hear people say: Someday, I’ll do this?
Ever notice that someday never seems to come around? That’s why it’s so important to commit.
But how do you really commit? Here it is…
Commit to taking action
Take the first step.
What should that look like? Here are a few options:
- Sign up for Copyhackers intro course “Conversion Copywriting for Beginners”
- Start small. Practice headlines with Joanna Wiebe in this tutorial
- Schedule a block of time to check out the library of Copyhackers copywriting tutorials
Ready or not… go take that first step!