Copywriter Job Description - Skills, Responsibilities and Career
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What Does a Copywriter Do?
A copywriter is a person who writes advertising or marketing copy or content for traditional and/or digital media (e.g. print media, internet, radio and television)
Copywriters are usually part of the creative team in a marketing department. Their job is to come up with the creative concept and to produce engaging copy aimed at a specific target audience, in accordance with a corporate marketing strategy. The copy produced by a copywriter is usually designed to persuade a reader to perform a desired action, such as buying a product or visiting a store. Copywriters produce content of various kinds for a wide range of different product sectors and media types. For instance, they may be asked to write copy for advertising campaigns, websites, landing pages, blogs, ads, guides and manuals, newsletters, social network posts, catalogues, brochures, leaflets and flyers, video scripts or TV and radio commercials.
The task of a copywriter is to produce content as quickly and efficiently as possible without sacrificing quality. This means that their spelling and grammar need to be faultless. But what marks out a really good copywriter is the ability to harness the power of language to engage users and persuade them to perform specific actions. As expert users of language, copywriters are able to produce texts for a range of different media and to adapt their writing style to suit a specific channel of communication, e.g. print media, internet, radio or television.
Copywriters work together with marketing teams on creating and developing corporate communication plans for product marketing and thematic campaigns and are involved in defining the corporate and/or brand image. Their specific task is to create highly impactful and engaging copy that meets the established editorial guidelines.
Other tasks a copywriter is frequently required to perform include editing and proofreading texts produced by others, and managing blog and website content using special applications called content management systems (CMS).
Copywriters working in the digital sector, producing copy for online and social media content, are often known as Web Copywriters. Their job is to produce clear, persuasive, SEO-friendly copy in collaboration with other digital marketing professionals, such as Web Designers, UX and SEO experts, for a variety of internet-based projects and initiatives.
For copywriters working on an advertising campaign, the first step is to develop a brief. This is a document summarizing all of the information about a specific product or client that is needed to create the campaign. A brief should indicate the target market, the media that will be used, the available budget, the tone of voice and the communication objectives. Copywriters use this information to produce the written part of the advertisement, while the visual and design elements are handled by the Art Director (who is the other principal member of the creative team, together with the Copywriter). To ensure alignment with the corporate image and/or brand identity, all the written content must meet the requirements set out in the brief.
Regardless of the type of job they are working on, the task of a copywriter is to produce content that is suited to the specific target market. The key to doing this is the ability to understand and to engage with the target market, adjusting the language used accordingly to ensure that the copy produced is relevant for the reader or listener. If a copywriter succeeds in doing this, his or her words are more likely to influence consumer behaviour and thus lead to the attainment of the established objectives - which may be, for example, increasing sales or conversion rates, generating leads, or improving brand awareness.
Aspiring copywriters enjoy a range of employment opportunities. Large scale companies may have in-house vacancies for a copywriter within their marketing department, under the supervision of the content manager. The majority of job vacancies for copywriters, however, arise in advertising agencies, marketing and communication firms and digital and web agencies. Meanwhile, an increasingly common role is that of the freelance copywriter. This is a self-employed copywriting professional (who in many cases may work remotely) hired by clients to produce engaging and impactful copy in a wide range of sectors.
The working hours of a copywriter tend to be flexible, based on the requirements of whatever project happens to be underway. A key skill for a copywriter is thus to be able to deliver quality work under pressure in accordance with strict time deadlines.
The size of the company may be a major factor in the duties of a copywriter. In larger companies, tasks tend to be more
clearly defined (e.g. planning and writing quality copy and content), while within smaller businesses, a copywriter may be required to perform a number of other marketing and communication functions, carrying out tasks more commonly associated with roles such as Social Media Manager, Art Director, Content Manager, Community Manager or Media Planner, as and when necessary.
Copywriter: Job Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of a copywriter include:
- Producing creative copy for a wide range of communication channels, including traditional media and the web and social media
- Conceiving and producing content that meets corporate market and communication guidelines and strategies
- Interpreting copywriting briefs detailing project requirements
- Producing quality and formally correct copy quickly, accurately and efficiently
- Optimizing content (language, tone of voice, message) based on target market and type of media
- Collaborating with the Art Director and marketing team to create advertising campaigns
- Carrying out tasks such as proofreading, editing and content publishing
How to Become a Copywriter - Education, Training and Requirements
Job advertisements for copywriters typically require a qualification in Communication, Marketing, Journalism or some other humanities subject But while a degree is not mandatory to become a copywriter, what is essential is an excellent command of language, creative writing abilities, combined with a wide-ranging general knowledge allowing the copywriter to write convincingly on any topic.
In addition, copywriters need to make sure they stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices as this will help them to produce copy that is fresh, engaging and relevant. A knowledge of foreign languages also represents an advantage and will enable copywriters to thrive in the increasingly international world of marketing and communications.
For copywriters working as web content editors or producing blog or social media content, a knowledge and understanding of the principles of Search Engine Optimization is essential. Also important is the ability to use the most common content management systems used for blogs and websites (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc.).
What Skills Are Needed to Be a Copywriter?
A successful copywriter needs to have the following skills:
- Ability to write convincing and persuasive copy
- Perfect command of the written word, with faultless spelling and grammar
- Ability to write effectively in a wide range of styles and registers to ensure effective communication and engagement with target markets
- SEO copywriting skills
- Knowledge of advertising, marketing and communication techniques
- Editing and proofreading skills
- Knowledge of main CMS applications (e.g. Wordpress)
- Excellent general knowledge
- Communication, organization and time-management skills
- Attention to detail
- Collaborative attitude
- Adaptability and flexibility
Copywriter Career Path
What's the career progression of a copywriter?
A vast variety of career paths are open to copywriters because the skills involved in devising, planning and developing marketing content and campaigns are highly transferable. For example, copywriters may progress within the marketing and communication team to a managerial role such as Content Manager.
Meanwhile, the strong growth seen in the digital sector has led to the emergence of a number of specialist online communication roles. Digital Copywriters, for example, produce content for the internet and social media, combining copywriting and social media management skills. Alternatively, a strong knowledge of online marketing techniques could lead to a career as a Social Media Manager, Community Manager or Web Marketing Specialist.
Advertising copywriters can use the chance to work with expert Art Directors on high profile campaigns as a springboard to get noticed and perhaps land a lucrative job working for a famous client.
Finally there are also a range of possibilities in offline communications as a journalist, copy editor, press officer or public relations officer.
Top Reasons to Work as a Copywriter
Copywriting is a dynamic, creative profession suited to people with an excellent command of language, strong imaginative powers and an ability to think outside the box. Whether they are working on an advertising campaign or a blog article, a copywriter’s task is to find the most effective and convincing way of conveying the required message.
As is the case with many communications and marketing professions, working as a copywriter also represents an opportunity to participate in a variety of stimulating and challenging projects, meaning a typical working day is unlikely to ever be dull or repetitive. Finally, given the abundance of opportunities for freelance copywriters - who in many cases are able to work remotely from anywhere in the world - another attractive aspect of a career in the copywriting sector is its potential for flexibility.