What does a copywriter do?

It's hard to come up with an accurate description of a copywriter. The best way to describe a copywriter is to just show what a copywriter does. A copywriter will ...

Write advertising and marketing copy.

Every business needs to bring in customers and clients. So they need a variety of printed materials, including ads, brochures, business plans, catalogs, circulars, direct mail, fliers, invoice stuffers, labels, packaging, post cards, product literature, sales letters, self-mailers, and trade show displays.

Write public relations copy.

Any communication with employees, clients, customers, or the general public is considered public relations (PR). The term "corporate communications" is sometimes used to encompass PR and various other communications. Usually, however, PR is anything a business sends to the newspapers or radio and television stations for public consumption, such as feature articles, news releases, press kits, and product updates.

Write technical materials.

Writers generally gravitate away from technical subjects, leaving this area open to those with a background in engineering, computer programming, science, and other high-skill areas. The needs in this area include data sheets, demo software, reports, sales sheets, technical papers, training and instruction manuals, and all manner of technical documentation. These materials are sometimes for fellow technical types and sometimes for the general public, who need complex ideas translated into simple English.

Write speeches.

Nearly every professional is called upon to give a speech at some point, especially highly visible executives and politicians. A speech writer needs an "ear" to write words that communicate, motivate, persuade, or sell. This includes speeches for local, regional, and national political candidates; speeches to raise funds for nonprofit organizations; and speeches for business functions, such as meetings, dinners, and special events.

Edit what others write.

While not a high-paying area, editorial work is widely available for writers with solid skills. This includes content editing, copy editing, fact checking, indexing, research, production editing, and proofreading for general business communications, textbooks, and publishing. For those skilled with other languages, there is also a big market for translations.

Ghostwrite copy.

Ghostwriting means writing something that someone else will put their name on. This can range from writing articles to authoring best-selling books, usually for fees far in excess of what you would get if published under your own name. The best money is to be made with high-profile politicians, business executives, and celebrities.

Write audiovisual and broadcast copy.

Audio visuals are used for training, recruiting, fundraising, and teaching by businesses, educators, government entities, and industry organizations. This includes audio scripts, radio ads, television commercials, and video scripts. It's not unusual for copywriters to direct and produce the final product, which may include hiring a production studio, locating voice talent and actors, shooting video or recording audio, and editing the final product.

Write online copy.

The Internet is growing at a geometric rate and there is more and more work for copywriters online. This includes email marketing, websites, online sales pages, auto-responder messages, banner ads, product descriptions, wiki pages, video and podcast scripts, and other content. Since so much relies on search engines finding this content, online copywriters must understand SEO or search engine optimization techniques.

Write grants to raise money.

While not typical copywriting, this area can be particularly lucrative for individuals who prove their ability to obtain funds from government and private sources. This is a highly specialized area, requiring experience and extensive knowledge. Pay is often based on a percentage of the grant money awarded, which means you may work on commission and not for a flat fee.

Write collateral materials.

The word "collateral" is a catchall term for those miscellaneous items that don't fit in any one category, including annual reports, booklets, corporate brochures, business letters, case histories, catalogs, corporate histories, newsletters, and so on. Most businesses could do without many of these items, but use them as secondary marketing and communications materials.

Copyright © 2009 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
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