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  • Writer's pictureSarah Turnbull

What is a Copywriter?

Birdseye view of a womans' hands on a laptop keyboard

One of the things we all get asked when we meet someone new is, ‘What do you do?’ When you’re a doctor or a business manager, people know exactly what that means. But when you answer, ‘I’m a copywriter,’ you often get a smile in response and an ‘oh, that’s interesting,’ then a bit of a confused look… So what IS a copywriter, and what do we do?

Copywriting is writing to the client’s agenda – which might be to promote a product or service, or it could be to demonstrate expertise and help increase that clients’ profile to the outside world. Our job is to project the client and their products or services in the best possible light. Copywriting can be found across a whole range of media – websites, adverts, flyers, brochures, company bios, social media, emails and newsletters, videos, apps and company reports, to name but a few! Copywriting is everywhere and it’s an incredibly important tool when you want to grow your business.

A copywriter writes in the tone of voice of their client – following their lead and presenting them as professional, formal, irreverent or playful – depending on how the client wants to portray themselves.

One of the first jobs a copywriter does, before commencing research and writing for the job in hand, is to research and document the tone of voice. This might be as part of the wider brand guideline creation, but tone of voice is critical. As part of this activity, we define and document the types of words and phrases the client uses. Equally important is to document the words and phrases that the client would never use. We’ll look at whether the client wants to use contractions in the writing (‘we’re’ versus ‘we are,’ for example), as well as things like font pairings and headline styles. As a copywriter, I have my own voice, but my job is to adapt to the style and tone of the client I am working for.

The purpose of copywriting for sales is to build a relationship with the clients’ target audience. Copywriting, if done well, gives the target audience compelling reasons for them to take action and build on that fledgling relationship by making contact, making a purchase or following the Call To Action from the client, whatever that may be.

Why do I need a copywriter?

This is a question people ask – and it’s a fair one! The purpose of copywriting is to convince the audience to take action. We do this by giving compelling reasons to the audience, usually in the form of benefit-laden copy. As copywriters we focus on benefits, which is the icing on the cake of the product or service features. Clients tend to focus on features (and before being trained as a copywriter, I did this too!), but it’s benefits that convert.

Image of a house against a sunset sky

As a potential customer in the market for a home security system, you may want to know that the offering includes three CCTV cameras, motion detectors and a link to the security monitoring team, but it’s not very sexy or full of benefits! What is the benefit? Hmmm – how about it gives you peace of mind? How about it will give you the confidence that your family and possessions are safe and protected? How about that it deters crime? How about it saves you money by lowering insurance premiums? These are much more compelling reasons for someone to take the step to contact the company for more information… Copywriters dig down and look at benefits and deeper benefits of the audience making that purchase – and then we tell the audience all about them!

Copywriters prioritise information. Attention spans are now notoriously short, so compelling headlines and benefit-laden information is prioritised to grab and hold the reader’s attention. Because attention spans are so short, we also keep copy concise! Gone are the days when SEO demanded that website copy was over-packed with keywords – things have moved on from 2009! Google prioritises sites that provide usable information that benefits the searcher (and sites that reflect well on Google as a search engine) and gets the message across in a readable format. This kind of concise writing has spread into other forms of media too.

Another skill of copywriters is to break down jargon into readable plain language. Not everyone is an expert in industry lingo. The target audience comes to you for your expertise and your ability to solve their problem – whatever that problem may be. So, we write for the audience then they come to you for the expertise! Copywriters make the audience the priority.

So, to answer the question about why you need a copywriter - our job is to make your job easier. We focus on the target audience and we tell them how you can resolve their problems. We build relationships and we build sales. We write in compelling language that converts your browsers to buyers and we free up your time so you can focus on running your business. That’s a good start!

Like to know more, get in touch, I'd love to chat!



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