What is a copywriter? A guide for small businesses

What is a copywriter

Learn what a copywriter does and why every B2C business needs one to make their marketing stand out.

When I tell people I’m a copywriter I usually get a blank stare followed by:

 “Isn’t that some legal thing to do with not copying other people’s work?”

That’s a common misconception, but no… that’s copyright.

Copywriting has nothing to do with copyright (other than the fact us copywriters are subject to copyright laws the same as everyone else is).

So, to clear things up I’m going to tell you what my definition of a copywriter is. And I’ll also tell you why you must hire one for your business, or risk throwing your marketing budget out the window.

via GIPHY

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So, what is a copywriter then?

A copywriter is… 

a professional who writes words to sell products or services.

The ‘copy’ is the words. The ‘writer’ is the person who writes them.

You’ll see copywriting everywhere. The leaflet about double glazing that came through your letterbox. The Facebook post from your favourite shop. The email that popped into your inbox from your gym. The list is endless.

Every bit of communication you see which comes from a business has often been written by a copywriter (and if it hasn’t, you can usually tell).

What is a copywriter versus a content writer?

Now, this is where there are some differences of opinion…

Some people think copywriting is writing words for advertising: sales copy, TV ads, brand slogans, direct mail, billboards, brochures… that sort of thing.

Content writing, on the other hand, is usually what people talk about when they think of relationship building marketing: blogs, articles, websites, social media etc.

A copywriter, they say, writes words to persuade – to make a hard sell. Whereas a content writer writes words to inform, educate and entertain.

Personally, I think content writing is a form of copywriting.

If we go back to the definition – a professional who writes words to sell products or services – a content writer does that. But they do it in a subtle way. But the ultimate goal for all types of marketing is to get a sale right?

So, for any type of business writing, you can look for a copywriter. If you want relationship building type content such as blogs or websites, then you can look for either a copywriter or a content writer.

How do you know if you need a copywriter?

If you have a leak in your bathroom you call a plumber. If your computer has a melt-down you call the IT guy. Smell gas – call the gas board (and get out the house quick).

And so the list goes on… when you have a problem, you call an expert to fix it.

But the trouble with copywriting is, you might not realise you have a problem. Because you can write can’t you?

Well, of course you can… but copywriting isn’t about being good at spelling and grammar and making sure all your punctuation marks are in the right places.

Of course, all those things are important. But copywriting is also about creating the perfect formula of words that resonate with your customers and persuades them to act. And it’s a different formula depending on the marketing channel you’re using.

To help you decide if you need a copywriter, ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I explain what I do concisely to my customers?
  • Am I happy with the bounce rate on my website?
  • Was the ROI on my leaflet drop as good as it could’ve been?
  • Is the engagement rate on my social media posts high enough?
  • Am I any good at writing – and do I actually enjoy it?
  • Do I have time to spend hours writing my own marketing copy?

If you answered no to any of those questions, then yes – you need a copywriter.

‘But I’m a small business and I can’t afford a copywriter – I’ll have to do it myself’.

A small business owner

It’s true, you could do it yourself. But will it be persuasive, engaging and error free? And will it get results? And by results, I mean, will it lead to paying customers?

The answer is, probably not. 

And that’s not surprising if you’re not trained to write. Writing isn’t your day job and you don’t have time to spend hours slogging over every communication. You’ve got a million other things to do to run your business.

A professional copywriter on the other hand, will produce high-quality content every time. They know how to write copy that… 

  • creates impact
  • is persuasive and
  • engages with your customers

In a nutshell, you need a copywriter to help you get SALES. Think of it as an investment – you need to spend money to make money.

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So why risk it?

How long do you spend looking at a leaflet that comes through your door? 5 seconds? 10? If it doesn’t capture your attention straight away, you’ll throw it away, right?

So, why risk that happening to your Marketing? You’ve already spent money on a graphic designer, print and distribution. If your leaflet is thrown away because of the way it’s written, then you’ve wasted all that money.

And even worse, if your leaflet is poorly written, it could damage your reputation.

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Hire a freelance copywriter

It’s unlikely you’ll need a full-time copywriter for your small business. And that’s the beauty of freelancers. You’ll:

  • avoid the overheads of having an extra employee
  • pay for their services as you go
  • use them as much or as little as you need
  • get high-quality content that generates sales

What services do copywriters offer?

Some copywriters will offer writing for any type of business and any type of media. Others will specialise.

They may specialise by industry. For example, I specialise in Home Improvement because that’s the industry I spent 20 years working in – others may specialise in Health Care or Financial Services.

Then there are copywriters who specialise by the media they write for. For example, some may only offer website copywriting or blog copywriting. Some specialise in social media.

And finally, you will find copywriters that specialise by industry and media. Take a look at my services as an example.

Do I need a copywriter who works in my area?

The simple answer to that is – no. Freelance copywriters usually work remotely from their home offices (or conservatory table in my case). Modern technology means face-to-face meetings, if necessary, can be done via Skype. But usually, emails and phone calls are enough.

A bit about me

Freelance Copywriter Louise Fowen
This is me – crafter of words, lover of lattes

Louise Fowen – Freelance copywriter for the Home Improvement industry

I write B2C copy that promotes products and services aimed at homeowners. My copywriting services include websites, blogs, brochures, leaflets and newsletters.

I work from home in Southampton, Hampshire with two cats for work colleagues (the conversation isn’t up to much).

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