what is Copywriting?
Since starting up as freelance copywriter I've realised that quite a lot of people don't know what that is.
‘Soo, what is copyrighting?...’ they might ask.
If you happen to be a Copywriter, then this is probably familiar. On the other hand you may have been pondering this question yourself. If the person asking the question is really keen they will often take a wild guess.
‘So, is that sort of to do with intellectual property law or something?’ or 'So, do you put the little (c) next to stuff?'
It is at this point that I quickly interject with my now well-rehearsed spiel. I will probably have to get used to repeating this but that's ok, I appreciate the confusion. It is a bit of a silly name, given that it doesn’t really explain itself. Although, job names that don’t explain themselves can often be great conversation starters.
The main problem is that it relies on you knowing what ‘copy’ is, a term that has its roots in advertising, and print advertising at that. People don’t tend to care about the technicalities of advertising unless they are in advertising, so for the layman you are banking on them having a certain degree of prior knowledge.
And then there’s the fact that the word ‘writing’ when attached to the word ‘copy’ sounds like a derivative of copyright. Sort of. I mean it doesn’t really make sense if you think about it, but anyway… People generally know what a copyright is so it’s probably not a stretch to assume there is a job version of it, although I’m actually not sure there is such a thing. So, I usually inform them that it is writing as in ‘write’, spelt W R I T E, not righting as in ‘right’, spelt R I G H T. And that is half the battle won.
Of course, that’s not to say the content I write doesn’t have to be right as in grammatically and structurally correct. It also can’t be plagiarised and in that sense has to abide by intellectual property law. And I suppose someone who copywrites does have a right to the copy they write but not a right to copy someone else’s copy. And in this country, we certainly have the right to write… but I’m getting a little carried away.
I had better answer the question: what actually is copywriting??
The dictionary definition, as I referenced before, is ‘a person who writes the text of advertisements or publicity material.’ and indeed that is primarily what it used to be. However, today the role is far broader.
In its simplest sense, copy is simply text that isn’t solely written for the purpose of entertainment, as in fiction and non-fiction literature, or for the purpose of news and opinion, as in journalism. It could be in an advertisement, but more likely it will be in a brochure or the content of a website that you visit. Or it might be in a tweet.
It is somebody’s job to write all those words and that is where I come in.
The nature of advertising has changed drastically over the last couple of decades. There is a great deal more to a company’s brand and promotional material than an advert in a newspaper or directory. And less and less people are using either of those, to the point of near extinction in all but the most prominent cases.
The marketing of a business now primarily happens online; through their own website, through email campaigns and through social media. I don’t have any qualifications in marketing, but I know enough to know that we are surrounded and influenced by copy every day. Rightly or wrongly we are receiving an influx of information at a rate that we never did before. Because of that there is a greater onus on your text, your info and your brand to stand out from the crowd. And not only to stand out but importantly, to get the audience to respond. This could be by buying the product, donating to the charity or simply returning to this particular source of information in the future.
This means the copy has to be good. Hence why people hire a professional copywriter.
I would like to think I am fairly skilled at writing, which is why I’m giving it a stab myself. If you are still reading this, then it must be at least a little bit true.
If you want your copy to stand out from the crowd, feel free to respond by getting in touch with me here.