What is a copywriter?

Occasionally I run into the question ‘what is a copywriter?’, when I tell people what I do for a living. Most have some idea that writing is involved, but sometimes people assume I am in fact fighting piracy.

 

 What is a copywriter? Nothing do with copyright

Although copywriters sometimes argue about exactly what their trade involves, one thing is for sure – piracy and copyright theft is completely unrelated to copywriting. So you don’t have to worry about me kicking your door in because of that MP3 you downloaded from Napster back in 2001.

 

A picture of a BSOD - no longer part of my job as a technical copywriter

The Blue Screen of Death – (almost) behind me now as a tech copywriter

What is a copywriter? Not a copier of writing

Copywriting also has nothing to do with copying writing. It is not being a paid plagiarist. Or a human photocopier.

 

Stealing content, including words, is wrong. Which puts us back into “copyright” territory.

 

So what is a copywriter? Someone who sells with words

At the most fundamental level, copywriting is the art of producing words that sell.

 

Traditionally, copywriting has revolved around sales letters, taglines, and upfront advertising. The age of content marketing however has somewhat changed the definition.

 

Any kind of article, including white papers and reports, which do not blatantly sell can still be considered as examples of copywriting. These articles may not be selling your products or services, but they are selling your brand as an expert in your field.

 

Even the About Us page on your website becomes a form of copywriting if it is designed to ‘sell’ your skills and experience. A bit like this blog post in fact.

 

What is a copywriter? My favourite question!

Having worked in IT for over 16 years, I used to dread the ‘what do you do for a living?’ question. Inevitably my answer would be followed up by a request to help troubleshoot some nagging computer issue. As a technical copywriter, I do still keep up to date with IT issues and technologies. But I no longer need to make house calls to fix dead PCs.

 

Instead I get to talk about the companies I have worked with, the exciting copywriting projects I have helped deliver and the amazing people I have met.

 

Image courtesy of FreePixels.net

Written by Ben Lloyd


Ben Lloyd has worked in the IT industry since 1996, covering a number of roles from helpdesk support to network management and everything in between. Tech Write is built on this experience, offering outstanding technical copywriting services to agencies and clients across the world.

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5 comments to What is a copywriter?

  • Dan Toombs  says:

    Hi Ben

    Loved the article. I’m not even a copywriter by profession but I do a lot of it and have been asked the same questions.

    Good to meet you over on G+ and I’ll be watching your blog.

    Dan

    • Ben Lloyd  says:

      Hey Dan,

      In a content-hungry world, I suspect many more people are now adding ‘copywriting’ to their job roles. It is amusing how the human imagination works sometimes, and the ideas we can come up with to explain an unfamiliar term!

      What sort of content do you write?

      Ben

  • Dave DeBaeremaeker  says:

    Interesting article. Thanks for the clarification. I am not involved in the publication/writing industry at all, so I had really no idea, except I figured it had nothing to do with copyrights (at least no more than any author/publisher deals with copyright issues).

    A copywriter writes copy – can’t be much simpler than that.

    I also enjoy not having to be the worlds computer tech. I work actively as an uber-sysadmin, but its all Linux based server side stuff, so when folks ask me to look at their Windows boxes I can honestly claim I have no idea whats going on there.

    • Ben Lloyd  says:

      Thanks for stopping by Dave. As businesses seek to establish more ‘expertise’ on the web, more and more of us are going to have to add ‘copywriting’ to our skill sets – even tutorials are a form of copywriting if they are designed to attract website visitors. I wrote about that possibility once before here: https://www.tech-write.co.uk/blog/content-writing-is-it-really-different-to-copywriting

      And nice dodge on the home PC support front 😉

  • Uk Based Email Copy Writing  says:

    Great blog. I often think of myself as a good writer until I’m writing something and end up spending so much time perfecting one sentence. So I found it very interesting that Mark Twain mentioned that it makes you a good writer. I also tend to ask myself a lot of questions as I’m writing. I don’t see myself as an excellent writer because there’s always room for improvement but at least an effective writer.

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