Sometimes I hate being a copywriter. It’s bad enough that people look at you blankly when you use the phrase. I mean they know that it’s got something to do with writing, well yes, duh, there’s a clue in the name. Beyond that it’s all a bit of a mystery. Even clients can have some fairly wide-of-the-mark misconceptions, which doesn’t always help! For any business, particularly those operating online, at some stage you’re likely to need copy for your site or marketing material. So understanding what we get up to can help. Often, it seems that part of the problem is that people think you’re up to something dodgy. I mean everyone can write can’t they? How come you go around making a living at it? Weirdly, despite the fact that a select few no longer hold the ability to read and write, there is still something of an aura of mystery around those who do it for a living. In reality there are no rabbits in hats, no hidden cards up sleeves, usually there is just a lot of hard graft.
With the exception of novels, films and religious texts (if you don’t see those as advertising), copywriters write pretty much everything else. Everything else encompasses a bit more than you might realise at first. Words are everywhere, a bit like rats. They say that in the UK you’re never more than six feet from a rat, when it comes to words you’ll be lucky to get six inches away from them. If they’re not on billboards, they’ll be in your wallet, on your phone, the screen in front of you. You’ll find them on cleaning products telling you not to drink said product and (it may come as a surprise to many men) they can be found giving you instructions on how to assemble stuff. These words don’t just write themselves.
I might be speaking personally here, though I doubt it, but copywriters spend a fairly small proportion of their time writing. For example, if you order a 450 word article or blog post from a copywriter, the physical task of writing that amount of content could take ten minutes – assuming your writer can type fast. Yes, we do write, but what to write is usually the biggest question. Certainly for web content purposes, coming up with an even vaguely new ‘angle’ or idea to market a product doesn’t take ten minutes. It can take considerably longer. Copywriters would be better described as “copy-researchers” or “copy-bashing-their-heads-off-the-desk-in-the-hope-of-coming-up-with-a-fresh-angle-on-an-overdone-subject”.
Copywriting takes two key abilities; creativity and hard work. It’s not about simply putting stuff into words, but about putting it into the right words, hopefully in the right place and certainly at the right time. Once the research/ideas bit is over the writing can begin, but that isn’t the end of it. Next comes the editing, for sense, flow and usefulness. Usually proofreading comes next, to ensure that typos haven’t made it through the net – they can be devilishly tricky. For SEO purposes, key words need to be checked, double checked and an SEO copywriter needs to be sure that they are not ‘stuffed’ into the text, flow naturally and don’t look obviously placed. Sometimes that can be the hardest task.
Of course, it’s not all bad. Generally writers work in their chosen field because they love it. It’s a different lifestyle to most others, but compared to many jobs it can offer great freedoms and opportunities to perfect your skills in a field that you are passionate about. In terms of job satisfaction it’s probably high up there on the list of ‘most satisfying jobs’. OK, so I admit that I said sometimes I hate being a copywriter at the start of this post, but only sometimes! When it comes to finding a copywriter to work with you on a project don’t assume that ‘anyone’ can do it. Try to find an agency that has experienced, tried and tested (hardened) writers, who can bring that certain something to your product or site.
A good SEO copywriter will bring inspiration, creativity and skill to your project. As the internet allows words to creep further into everyone’s lives finding a good copywriter who can engage your audience is becoming more important than ever before.