Copywriting is the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.
Copywriters help create billboards, brochures, catalogs, jingle lyrics, magazine and newspaper advertisements, sales letters and other direct mail, scripts for television or radio commercials, taglines, white papers, social media posts, and other marketing communications.
Many copywriters are employed in advertising agencies, public relations firms, copywriting agencies, or are self-employed as freelancers, where the clients are usually small, medium, or large companies.
- Advertising agencies usually hire copywriters as part of a creative team in which they are partnered with art directors or creative directors. The copywriter writes a copy or script for an advertisement, based largely on information obtained from a client. The art director is responsible for visual aspects of the advertisement and, particularly in the case of print work, may oversee production. Either member of the team can come up with the overall idea (typically referred to as the concept) and the process of collaboration often improves the work. Some agencies specialize in servicing a particular industry or sector.
- Copywriting agencies combine copywriting with a range of editorial and associated services that may include positioning and messaging consulting, social media, search engine optimization, developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading, fact checking, speechwriting and page layout. Some agencies employ copywriters in-house, while others use external contractors or freelancers.
Copywriters also work in-house for retail chains, book publishers or other big firms which advertise frequently. They can also be employed to write advertorials for newspapers, magazines and broadcasters.
Copywriters are similar to technical writers and the careers may overlap. Broadly speaking, however, technical writing is dedicated to informing readers rather than persuading them. For example, a copywriter writes an advertisement to sell a car, while a technical writer writes the operator's manual explaining how to use it.
The amount of education needed to become a copywriter is most often a Bachelor's degree in English, advertising, or marketing. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an annual median salary of $62,170 for writers and authors. Then in 2019, PayScale.com stated that the expected salary for copywriters ranged from $35,000-$73,000.
John Emory Powers (1837–1919) was the world's first full-time copywriter. Since then, some copywriters have become well-known within the industry because they founded major advertising agencies, others because of their lifetime body of work. Many creative artists worked as copywriters before becoming famous in other fields.
Gary Bencivenga (1946-present) is universally known as the world's greatest living copywriter due to his Bencivenga Bullets that have helped the world of copywriters develop their techniques.
Gary Halbert (1938-2007) is another world renown copywriter that was known as the world's greatest living copywriter until his death. Halbert was known for The Boron Letters, which was a compilation of letters he wrote while in jail to his youngest son.
The Internet has expanded the range of copywriting opportunities to include landing pages and other web content, online advertisements, emails, blogs, social media and other forms of electronic communications.
The Internet has brought new opportunities for copywriters to learn their craft, do research and view others' work. Clients, copywriters and art directors can more readily find each other, making freelancing a viable job option. There are also many new websites that make becoming a freelance copywriter a much more organized process.
Search engine optimization
Web copy may include among its objectives the achievement of higher rankings in search engines. This involves the strategic placement and repetition of keywords and phrases on web pages, but writing in a manner that human readers would consider normal.
In book publishing, flap copy or jacket flap copy is the summary of a book which appears on the inside of a hardcover dust jacket; back cover copy is similar text, usually briefer, on the outside back cover; and catalog copy is a summary written for a publisher's catalog. This is another way of how copywriting uses writing to persuade the customer to develop interest in the product.
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