Biz Tips: How to answer when people ask you, “What does a copywriter do?”

Biz Tips: How to answer when people ask you, “What does a copywriter do?”


How to answer when people ask you, “What does a copywriter do?”

Who has ever wondered what exactly a copywriter does? Or if you’re a copywriter, do you struggle telling people what you do? Here is an easy answer so people are clear how awesome your job is.

How do you explain what you do as a copywriter?

A question as old as time. Well, probably not, but I never skip an opportunity to say that phrase.

Every copywriter has faced this question and I’m sure we all explain it differently, but there is always a common theme.

That is the general public typically doesn’t know exactly what a copywriter does. So, whether you’re a copywriter who has trouble explaining what you do or someone who’s curious, here is my answer to this question.

First, I feel there are two popular responses I get when I tell people I’m a copywriter.

There’s the group where they just shake their head acting like they know what you do and don’t ask for more specifics. Chances are they most likely think you deal with copyrights, which is not at all what we do.

And then there’s the group of people who respond, “oh, like in Mad Men?”

Yes, exactly like Mad Men. I wear tailored suits, have a leather suitcase that weighs 30 pounds, smoke a cigarette every three minutes, and I can come up with an incredible tagline for Coca-Cola in seconds.

Okay, I don’t give that response. What I really tell people what I do is….

You know what, before I get into that answer, let me tell you how I became a copywriter and how even I wasn’t quite sure what it meant.

I was 21-years old and a news and sports reporter/anchor/producer in college. I was a die-hard sports fan who wanted to write or talk about it for a living. One thing I did know, is that I had a passion for storytelling.

The problem with this career choice was that I graduated in the winter of 2008, right when the job market was a Scooby Doo Ghost Town.

Any reporter job I did get an offer for was making $18–20K a year. One news director told me that I would be making just enough to get by.

I thought, “Wow, where do I sign up?”

NOT! I decided to check other (more high-paying) routes for my career path.

What happened next was honestly the best thing that could have happened.

I found a job as a waiter and bartender at a neighborhood bar.

It was fantastic. The food was solid, fun late nights with staff, made straight cash homie every night and met a lot of awesome people.

I actually recommend any 20-something to work in a bar if they’re still figuring out what to do next. If you want to know why message me. I could write a whole other post on that.

Anyways, that bartender job led me to meet an owner of a creative agency.

I told him about my background and some freelance work I’ve done and long story short; I was hired as a copywriter for his agency.

I thought to myself, “cool, I wonder what I’m going to be doing exactly?”

Seriously, the only thing I knew about copywriting was writing catchy taglines on billboards or magazine ads.

My first day on the job I realized I was going to be proofing a lot of legal copy and writing headlines and marketing bullets for direct mail materials.

The first few months were a major learning experience. I soon found out that a copywriter was a big part of the overall customer experience.

I sat in meetings with marketing teams of some of the country’s largest retailers. I listened to project briefs where we talked about the target audience, the deliverables, the goal of the marketing piece, and suggestions of headlines from the marketing team (always the best part).

My role was to write the copy that will get the customer to take action. That and the design of the piece is how the agency proves its value and delivers a high ROI for the client.

Eureka! My words meant something.

I spent almost five years at that agency before I went full-time as a freelance copywriter. In that time I persuaded customers to spend their hard-earned money with my words.

I still get to do this today, and that leads to what I do as a copywriter.

“I write the words that get customers to take the desired action.”

This is what all copywriters do. There are a variety of projects where a copywriter is needed to write this message. For example:

This can be writing sales copy for a Facebook ad or Google ad that gets you to click and leads you to a landing page.

I could then write the copy for that landing page that gets the customers motivated to buy the product or service.

It can also be writing a subject line that gets the customer to open an email.

For a blog, it could be to get them to visit a website or sign up for a paid webinar.

That’s where a talented copywriter makes a living.

We are hired to write words that get customers to spend their hard-earned money.

With that said, we obviously need to be very good with words, but we also need to be good at sales and relationships.

Read more on this here — (Every successful copywriter needs to be great at these three skills)

You need to be able to sell your services to prospective clients. You have to listen to your client needs and goals very carefully.

You need to understand what makes their product or service unique, who the perfect customer is, and write an interesting message that gets the customer to read the next line of copy, and then the next, and ultimately lead them to take the desired action.

Whatever your task may be, our job as a copywriter is to write words that are interesting, offer value, and motivate people to do something.

To all the copywriters out there and for the people who aren’t sure what a copywriter does, there is your answer.

Our job is cool and important, and I love what I do.

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How to answer when people ask you, “What does a copywriter do?” was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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