I have traveled and lived in several places in the U.S. over the last year. In talking to the various people I've met, they've invariably asked what kind of work I did for a living.

"I'm a copywriter," I told them. 

Their responses ranged from a furrowed-browed nod to a change of subject.

Many people have no idea what "copywriting" or "copy" is or what a copywriter does.

Here is a short, easy-to-remember definition: A copywriter writes with the intent of getting the reader to act. No, I don't mean getting them to do community theater or pack up and move to Hollywood. By "act" I mean to "take an action."

If you've ever been looking around online and decided to give your email address to some website in exchange for a free e-book, newsletter subscription  or similar item, you've experienced copywriting. If you've ever ordered something on TV after watching an infomercial or QVC, you've experienced it.

"Okay, but that doesn't explain what 'copy' is," you're saying right now.

Definition of "Copy"

"Copy" is another word for "text," particularly text that is used to sell something (or get a person to take an action which may lead to a sale). It is not something that the writer "copied" from somewhere else, but something he/she wrote which is to be copied--printed in a magazine or newspaper or used in a TV/radio commercial, which gets broadcasted over and over.

The terms "copy," "copywriter" and "copywriting," traditionally relate to advertising, marketing and promotion but these terms sometimes get applied to other kinds of writing and writers. For instance, news writers and editors deal with their own kind of "copy."

Copywriters (the capable ones, that is) are trained in a specific and somewhat complex technology that they use to produce writing that engages the reader. It holds and increases their interest because it appeals to some fundamental desire or need for a solution to a problem. Ultimately, if it's written well, it gets them to take action.

To some this may seem sneaky or unethical but there's this one fact: people's desires and needs for solutions to their problems existed long before there were copywriters or the field of marketing. The only thing that marketing does is channel that existing desire or need in the direction of a particular product or service.

A copywriter writes with the intent of getting the reader to take action.
Take for instance the "mid-life crisis." For some men who've reach their forties or fifties, an insecurity may have set in about their looks, physical condition or ability with the opposite sex. They may long to recapture some of their youthful vitality. This phenomenon exists. You've observed it. And it's this phenomenon--not the copy--that enables companies to sell convertible sports cars, hair replacement surgery and Viagra. If one company doesn't make the sale, another will. And truly, all other things being equal, the winner will be the company with the most effective copy. 

Who Uses Copywriters? 

You might be surprised by the number and variety of businesses that use copywriters:
  • companies that advertise by mail (banks, book publishers, credit card companies, insurance companies, etc.)
  • companies that advertise via infomercials (fitness equipment, greatest hits music collections, etc.)
  • companies that sell online (too many to list), by way of landing pages, sales pages, long-form video sales letters, pay-per-click ads, etc.
  • non-profit organizations, who use copywriters to help in their fundraising efforts

(Though regular TV or radio commercials may be written by copywriters, much of that kind of this kind of advertising, which is usually short and clever or cute [and sometimes, confusing], doesn't follow the tenets of actual copywriting.)

Copywriters can also use this writing technology to help companies and individuals define who they are, how they are unique or what they do best, so as to differentiate themselves from their competition. This action is a part of what is broadly known as "branding." 

The Copywriter and the Brand

Branding is not entirely a matter of copywriting but of building an image and emphasizing a particular and desirable value, skill or strength. You've seen and felt it with with many companies. Some that come to mind are Chevrolet (long-lasting, "Like a rock"), Apple Computers (innovation, "Think Different") and Netflix (selection and convenience). 

Once the brand "message" is established, copywriters may write copy that conforms to the brand, to be used on everything from business cards to websites to television. 

And that, friends, is what copywriting is.

If you have questions about your current copy, need a review, or have a future copy project you'd like help in planning, call me at 323-646-2469 or
email me.


07/29/2015 1:39pm

It Relies on your copy writing experience. There are a lot of internet sources, but unless you can show examples of your work, you will have problems getting chosen for tasks. So, I'd recommend developing examples of the type of copy writing you'd like to do.

09/14/2017 3:11am

When I was still a student, there was a contest in our school about Newspaper writing. I was sent by my class to represent the section for copywriting. I can say that it's not as easy task since you need to be an expert if this task was given to you. You need to English-literate and grammar nazi if you want to do this job with a flying color. Thank you for introducing this to public! They'll know that this isn't an easy task at all!

07/29/2015 2:04pm

You are correct. I welcome you to review my portfolio on this site.

03/17/2016 1:28am

I have traveled and lived in several places in the U.S. over the last year too!

05/21/2016 2:25am

You have raised an important issue..Thanks for sharing..I would like to read more current affairs from this blog..keep posting..

06/21/2016 10:34pm

Thanks for telling us what copywriting is!

07/14/2016 11:57pm

Thanks for sharing such a informative post. This is really helful for all. Keep sharing such information .

07/29/2016 11:16am

Thanks so much for a great post. I'd like to know more about these topics and hope that I can receive more insight into this topic.

07/29/2016 12:54pm

ALways post a back link to a source like I do.

09/15/2016 7:29pm

Thank you for sharing your insights on copywriting. I was once inspired to become one. I'm a marketing student and my passion is writing. I've been making fiction since I was in high school and I think my creativity can help in the job. Anyway, this inspiration started just after my finals for my internet marketing class. My marketing plan was for a literature-related business that I already had going on. After my paper was presented and defended, and after the winners for best paper were announced, one of the panelists actually said that I could have a career in copywriting. And that's how it all started.

09/26/2016 1:44am

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02/07/2017 12:32pm

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Copywriting is a latest technology, which recently invented, according to my view, it's one of the best technology we ever have and it's very useful technology.

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