What is a copywriter? (once and for all!)

Copywriter definition

Yes, 20 years into my profession, I still get the blank look from many when I answer: "I'm a freelance copywriter." So here's a copywriter definition to clear up any remaining confusion.

Defining the copywriter profession

A copywriter is a commercial writer who writes to brand, market, advertise or sell a product or service. Copywriters come from different backgrounds: literature, language, psychology, philosophy, sociology, marketing and business.

Copywriting has something in common with all these fields, but it’s a distinct practice requiring the right balance of innovation and discipline, market knowledge and brand expertise. It’s both a science and an art – fact-based and imagination-driven.

A freelance copywriter can promote one business to another (B2B copywriting) or promote the business to a consumer (B2C copywriting).

Copywriter, copy writer, freelance writer

If you want to hire a copywriter on a project basis, searching for any of “copywriter”, “copy writer”, or “freelance writer” on Google or LinkedIn can lead you to the one that’s right for you.

While the term ‘writer’ covers all types of writing – from screenwriting to novel-writing to poetry-writing, copywriting is a specific business discipline. In much the same way as a scriptwriter is a writer of scripts, a copywriter is a writer of commercial writing – called copy – that converts readers to customers.

"Copywriting" often confused with "copyrighting"

Confusing copywriting with copyrighting is a common misunderstanding that’s important to clear up. Copyrighting refers to securing a creator’s exclusive legal right to his or her work. A copyrighter is a person who secures copyrights. In contrast, copywriter refers to a writer of copy (promotional content).

Some copywriters are equally capable in branding, marketing, advertising and selling. Copywriters who practice direct response copywriting are conversion experts – they write highly reader-focused copy designed to elicit an immediate response or action from the reader.

It's ideal to find a copywriter who is equally talented at branding and marketing as at sales and direct response copywriting so that you can lift your content from communicating to inspiring loyalty and action.

Copywriter vs. content marketing writer

The distinction between copywriter and content writer is not so clear-cut. Content writing combines promotion and marketing in a seamless way - without sounding directly promotional. A content writer could be a blogger or social media content writer. Content is about starting and maintaining conversations with an audience - copywriting is about moving that audience to act and purchase. Not all content writers are good copywriters, and vice versa. The ability to master both disciplines is the mark of a versatile, talented and focused writer

Copywriter specialized in a specific industry

Some copywriters specialize in specific domains such as technology or finance. Specialist copywriters can often write about any topic, but have a particular expertise in meeting the copywriting requirements and reaching the target markets of a particular industry.

For example, technical fields such as software and financial services require writing with a certain degree of industry knowledge and a no-nonsense high-precision writing style. Financial services copywriters, for example, have to be aware of compliance issues regarding the financial services the promote while software marketing copywriters have to know the overall features and benefits of the technology they're promoting.

Searching for a copywriter?

If you’re searching for a copywriter, you’re probably wondering whether I’m the right one for you, how committed I can be as a freelancer, how much I charge, and how quickly I can step into your brand world. I could spend hours or pages answering those questions, but why tell you when I can show you? The only way to find out if I’m a good fit for your unique needs is to reach out and contact me. That’s what I’m here for – answering your questions, writing your ‘big idea’ copy, making dry products attractive, and helping you grow your business and reach your brand potential.