What is Copywriting and How is it Important for a Designer?

Copywriting refers to the use of written copy to promote a business or entity. The ultimate purpose of copywriting is to expand the client base of a business. Multinationals and businesses are now promoting themselves globally, with a worldwide audience at their disposal, which has led to an unprecedented rise in demand for copywriters. Advertising and marketing campaigns are increasingly web-based, further raising the demand for creative writers who can get the job done on a tight budget.

What is Copywriting and How is it Important for a Designer?

Copywriting has nothing to do with the legal term “copyrighting,” which refers ownership of intellectual property. In this article, we will explore copywriting from a designer’s point of view, with a focus on tips of the trade.

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The History of Copywriting

The use of copy to promote sales and spread awareness has existed since the early 18th century. Claude Hopkins (1866) is considered the father of copywriting because he developed the habit of studying consumer behavior before writing copy for promotional campaigns. Evidence that copywriting evolved as a distinct field and a specialized profession dates back to 1892. The NW Ayer and Son agency in Philadelphia hired its first full-time copywriter in 1892 to produce copy that would increase sales. Subsequently, there was a steady increase in the demand for specialized copywriters. Times have changed, and people’s media-saturated lifestyle calls for an improved and fastened marketing cycle.

The Evolution of SEO Copywriting

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The market for copywriters grew exponentially with the advent of the Internet. The introduction of SEO made way for a subfield of copywriting referred to as SEO copywriting. Search engine algorithm designers emphasized combinations of keywords, quality content and their associated rankings in order to avoid junk content. Skilled and expert SEO copywriting was born and soon recognized in the world of design and advertising. Naturally integrating keywords in web content is tricky. Expert SEO writers take all the glory for this undertaking and, don’t forget, most of the money.

Tips for Being an Effective Copywriter

Being a copywriter doesn’t mean that you are as effective as your counterparts. Every skill needs to be learned methodically in various stages and aspects. This list of tips will start you on your copywriting career.

Your Attention, Please!

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The Internet is a jungle. Web surfers scan through pages until they get what they want. Writing an eye-catching headline is as important as the article itself. The only way to compel the reader to stay on your page is to catch their eye. Make sure your opening line evokes an emotion, a physical desire or a curiosity in readers—anything to get them to stay for the main course.

Eye-Catching Headings and Bullet Points

Organizing information is an important aspect of web writing. Information needs to be divided into headings and bullet points that attract the reader’s attention when sifting through pages. Nobody wants to waste their time aimlessly browsing information.

Bullet points guide readers to a decision of whether to stay on your page. As a copywriter, you also need to make sure that your website is compatible with all browsers. Information that will persuade readers should be placed at the top of the page so that they don’t have to scroll down to locate something.

Keep It Short and Simple

Readers should know how to contact you for more information. Avoid confusing potential customers. Keep it short and simple: the more details you provide, the greater the chance readers will forget the most important aspects of your campaign. Clarity and concision ensure the maximum utilization of your space and keeps the attention of readers. Readers are then more likely to contact you.

Call to Action

This is the second most important aspect of effectively written copy, after the eye-catching headline. The quality that separates average salespeople from great ones is the ability to identify when to close a sale. A great piece of copywriting without a persuasive call to action would effectively be a waste of time, effort and money. Calls to action create an urgency to respond.

Identify Your Target Audience

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Copy intended to generate sales targets a particular section or group in society. The target audience could vary in age, socioeconomic status, education, gender and so on. The language used for high-school kids would be different than that used for grandparents. Similarly, the words and technical terms employed in writing for a layman are different than those in writing for a group of highly educated techno-geniuses. Analyze your target audience for the copy being written. This will not only ensure a successful campaign, but reduce the effort you have to make.

Connect With Your Audience

Copy that does not connect with its audience is not likely to keep anyone’s attention. The easiest way to welcome the reader into the piece is to write in the second person. Writing in the second person helps readers relate the points mentioned in the copy to their own lives. Read through your copy and count how many times you could replace “we” with “you.” The focus should be on readers, not you.

Know Your Product and Services

Expert copywriters don’t only focus on product features and related services but have a knack for connecting the benefits of a product to innate emotional needs. Connecting with your target audience emotionally will elicit their action.

As a copywriter, be well aware of the benefits of your product or service. Only then will you be able to describe its benefits and beat the competition. Potential customers are interested in knowing how the product can benefit them: the better these benefits are explained, the more likely they will connect their needs to your product.

Proofread

Professionalism and efficiency extends to everything associated with a company. Proofread and revise your writing, ensuring that not a single error in syntax or semantics remains. This will win you trust and legitimacy. Grammatical errors and typos make your company appear unreliable. If your company does not promote itself professionally, then what guarantees that it will uphold promises about its products?

Consistency and credibility are two major factors in building a brand name and gaining loyal clients.

Copywriting Is Important for Web Designers

Designers usually focus most of their time and skill on creating unique, impeccable designs. Big marketing companies and advertising firms hire writers, so designers never write a single word themselves. Instead, the designers are supplied with new content everyday. But be aware of the growing competition in all professions and the increasing demand for multitasking in every field, irrespective of the nature of the task.

Copy and design work go hand in hand, and neither should be undermined in the name of the other. If you are a designer, hone your copywriting skills.

Make Yourself Indispensable

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Designers need to stay updated with new technologies, but that’s not all. A strong portfolio demonstrating more than one skill adds value to your profile and makes you indispensable in these tough financial times. Ask yourself a question. Who has a better chance of beating out the competition with an advertising agency on a cost-cutting spree: a designer who is good at design, a designer who knows how to implement a design and code, or a designer who has coding skills and is capable of preparing their own copy?

The choice for the management team is clear, but the buck doesn’t stop there. As a one-person army, you would be indispensable to any organization.

Copywriting as a Freelancer

Working full-time for an organization is slightly different than working as a freelancer. Freelancers run a one-person show and shoulder all the responsibility—and take in all the profit—of their hard work. Most successful freelancers prefer to run the show on their own. No editor or copywriting department is working along with you. If you hire a third party to do the writing for you, you end up sharing the money.

It’s only fair for your client to expect a completed project. They should not have to hire two different third parties. In either case, it is absolutely necessary for you to add copywriting skills to your portfolio unless you want to pass the buck.

Copy Helps Organize the Page

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You’ve created a style masterpiece and are satisfied with the outcome… until you realize that the styling needs to be reviewed and realigned with the content of the website. This negates a lot of the time and effort you’ve put into the project. It also disrupts the flow of work by which the project should have been completed.

Now consider the following scenario. First, you prepare the copy, keywords and content. Then, you fit these elements into your design and begin to style the look and layout. In this order, chances are you’ll be congratulated for the project. Your original design idea is in place and backed by copywriting that conveys the primary message.

This is only possible when you multitask as both copywriter and designer.

The Final Package

Designers are visual freaks and play with their work as much as possible to create a masterpiece of design. I do not intend to demean the expertise of designers, but they think that the more attractive a website is, the better it is, and this opinion can actually become a hindrance. The majority of web users are not so critical or equipped to evaluate designs.

For the most part, web users like a website based on its feel, layout and ease of navigation while scanning the pages. What matters to them most, though, is the content of the website: the product and features on it.

Copywriting plays an essential role in serving your final product. If a designer is capable of writing their own content and incorporating keywords, then they are more likely to be hired by clients. Neglect the importance of copy in your designs at your own risk. From the client’s perspective, the website will suffer as much from average copy as it will from a poor design.

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23 Comments

  1. This is a great article. Short and to the point. Thanks for sharing

  2. Oh, how true this all is! If I see one more marketing firm with a crap-nugget blog or hear someone will pay $4 for a 2,000 word SEO laden article, I’m going to burst a blood vessel in my brain.

    More often than not, unfortunately, designers are thought of as the red-headed stepchild of the office. How could a designer possibly write something when they need a “design-by-committee” to help them make a great design? Does a designer get to comment upon the marketing plan or copy for an ad? Does the secretary who wants more red in the blue background of a design want the designer to suggest better ways to make coffee?

    When they hung “witches” in Salem, there is no doubt they were the right-brainers of the crowd who had better ways of planting crops or suggested the town not wipe out the local native population. How dare creatives have ideas and talent! I have yet to meet the supervisor who thought a creative could write better copy than he/she could.

    If Einstein were alive today, his theories would be watered down by committee so that E=MC BIG SALE! Burn, witch, burn!

  3. SEO Copy righting matters a lot in getting results.

  4. First I was not sure about the importance of copywriting but later I have learnt that its one of the most important marketing tactics.

    Another great Article from Instantshift. I don’t know why comments are very few over here ? why so man ??

    You can see a good example of power of words here : http://bit.ly/9cBwUA

  5. thanks…nice post….

  6. Copywriting is vital to the success of any site. You just cant rank high without it.

  7. Great and useful article, as a freelancer copywriting skills are important and you need it if you are offering SEO to your clients.

  8. very useful, thanks..

  9. Hi,

    We’re currently looking to recruit an SEO Copywriter and I have recommended your blog article as further subject reading.

    Best,

    David

  10. Copy-writing is must, PERIOD!
    Thanks for great article :) !

  11. Great article!

  12. I once started out as a hobby-webdesigner, but soon noticed that it takes way more skills to be successful on the web. Copywriting is one of those essential skills, in my humble opinion. I also want to umseglung the use of bullets and graphical elements in general, as you stated.

  13. Copywriting is an important aspect of web design and as web design trends change all the time, I feel that I should keep up to date with my copy writing skills to make impressive websites for my clients.
    Thank you for the fantastic post.

  14. Hi,
    Am a student now and am interested in starting my own Social Media Marketing startup. I loved the article. The way you made one realise the importance of copywriting. Could you give me any advicr on how important copywriting is with respect to Social Media Marketing??

    Thanks.

  15. Copywriting is the message. I work for a Kansas City web design company, and we understand that the you can have an effective site from an SEO standpoint with no design integrity whatsoever. Bear in mind, though, that copywriting and SEO are not the same thing.

    Joel, copywriter
    poweryourmarketing.com

  16. Writing is very important. I have a hard time choosing words when I’m writing blog posts or taglines for my designs. I don’t suck at it but I’m not very good either.
    How can I learn to write better?

  17. I think copy writing is very important to designer…they must have to know about copy-writing if he is doing professional work or choose designing as a profession …your post is very useful specially keywords are very good

  18. Copyrighting is extremely important and very easy to do so I suggest it!

  19. Really great stuff and informative too.. Would surely benefit budding writers like me………

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