Can Anyone Be a Copywriter?

If you take a trip across the Internet to learn about copywriting or find a copywriter, you’re likely to walk away with the impression that anyone can be a copywriter.  Unfortunately, there are many people out there who claim to be copywriters but have no experience and no knowledge of how copywriting differs from narrative, expository, or any other form of writing.  And let me just say right now that I do not think hard sales letters which promise you’ll be a millionaire if you buy this 10-DVD set or similar pie-in-the-sky claims can be included as copywriting.  They’re a different animal all together.

So that brings us back to my original question.  Can anyone be a copywriter?

My answer to that question is yes — if a person takes the time to learn how to put a sentence together and learns the fundamental theories or marketing, consumer behavior, and targeting.  That doesn’t mean you have to have a degree in marketing from a top university (although that can help), but it does mean you need to understand that writing marketing copy requires far more knowledge than grammar, spelling, and the ability to put together clever phrases.

Frankly, I think copywriting should be taught at the university level as a required course for undergraduate marketing majors because the ability to craft effective marketing messages can benefit even the less-creative marketing majors (heck, I had to take 2 semesters of accounting at the undergrad level and another semester in grad school, and I will never, ever be an accountant – copywriting should get the same face time).  It would also be a useful course for writing majors, giving them exposure to a completely different form of writing than they’ve ever done before.

I cover all of this and more in my book, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, which was written for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and beginner copywriters.  I’ve written copy for some of the largest companies in the world working on multi-million dollar campaigns, and I’ve written copy for solopreneurs and small businesses around the world.  With all of that experience and knowledge, I can tell you that you can learn to be a copywriter, but you need to think more like a marketer and less like a writer to be good at it.

Stay tuned for my upcoming series, Copywriting Quick Tips, here on Freelance Writing Jobs where I’ll offer simple tips to become a copywriter who can actually create compelling copy that moves customers to action and helps businesses attain the return on investment they want and need.  In the meantime, do you have any specific questions about copywriting?  If so, leave a comment and I’ll incorporate them into upcoming posts in the Copywriting Quick Tips series.

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5 responses
  1. Susan Speer Avatar
    Susan Speer

    I’ve always said that though I can add and subtract, I should not be trusted to do accounting work. I can cut down a whole chicken but that doesn’t make me a surgeon. Following that logic, just because someone can write a sentence correctly doesn’t mean they have the knowledge, experience or talent to be an effective copywriter.

    When I went through Journalism school, there were two writing camps: Print (newspapers) and broadcast (radio/TV). In either case, you learned to gather and write about the “facts.” There was no room for nuance, mood or suggestion, features or benefits. The advertising and marketing classes in the business school didn’t cover targeting audiences, consumer behavior or messaging strategies, much less any practical copywriting instruction.

    Over the 25 years I’ve written professionally, I’ve learned and evolved. I know which types of writing come easily to me and where I need to focus my learning time to remain relevant in a changing industry. For the last 10 years, I’ve heard most corporate communications, marketing and advertising managers complain that few communication professionals actually know how to write. A boon for me as a freelancer, but sad overall. I absolutely agree that there should be much stronger writing requirements at the undergrad level, and I hope that it’s not limited to an exercise in writing SEO copy.

  2. Ajeva Avatar

    Yes, I agree. Anyone with a flawless grammar, a PC, and an internet connection can become a copywriter. There are plenty of resources on the World Wide Web and one only has to use the search engines to find one. Yet, passion is what separates a top copywriter from a good one. Put it simply, if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’ll never be successful in it. My question now is: ” Do you think bloggers are better than copywriters? ” Bloggers write out of passion while copywriters write and get paid by the hour or so.

    1. Susan Gunelius Avatar

      Ajeva, I think blogging and copywriting are two completely different things. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

  3. Christina Avatar

    I just stumbled across this site and am so glad I did. I have begun copywriting and I am constantly looking for resources to improve my craft. Thank you for yet another amazing point of view.

  4. Lindsey Avatar

    I keep checking on the copywriting jobs, but have absolutely no marketing background. I love to write and really just want to develop that skill and try to make some income from it eventually. Where should someone really start if they want to end up a writer and an editor? It seems like all the jobs are copywriters. Is that the right place to start to eventually end up editing? I just want to point myself in the right direction and start to improve my writing skills again, and get myself on the right path with this in the hope that it can turn into a career.

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