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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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