Every single business on the planet needs marketing material. You might not know exactly what copywriting is, but guess what? Every single word written to generate business or sales is copy.
Social media ads, email, video ads, print copy, and website content are considered copywriting and valuable to every type of business.
So now that we’ve answered the question “What is copywriting,” let's talk about who needs to learn copywriting. If you are a marketer, freelance writer, or someone who wants to start their own content business, copywriting is a skill you’ll need to learn.
This article covers everything you need to know about copywriting, including the steps you can take to start your copywriting journey today.
Before we talk about the skills you need to write good copy, it’s worth noting that you don't have to be trained as a writer (or get an English degree) to learn copywriting.
Many copywriters started as teachers, salespeople, or data experts. You’re mistaken if you think you can't make a career as a copywriter because of your education or prior career experience. Anyone can be a copywriter! All you need are some solid skills, a strong work ethic, and a dash of patience.
Successful copywriting identifies with readers and understands their problems. Instead of just describing the problem and its solution, good copy makes the readers feel understood, valued, and recognized.
Empathy plays a huge role in copywriting. Truly knowing your audience, their problems, and their hopes for a solution can help you convince them to take action.
Good copywriting takes readers on a journey — it shows them a perfect world, describes their ideal solution, or gives them a sneak peek into the perfect life.
To achieve that, you need a bit of creativity.
Coming up with unique ideas can be tricky, and figuring out ways to describe the benefits of a product/service in a way that resonates with the audience takes some creative effort.
You can always brush up on those creative ideas by approaching things with curiosity, observing others, and practicing.
While you don't always have to love your job, it's great when you do. And copywriting is something that requires love, enthusiasm, and a hunger for constant improvement.
You can find more success than most copywriters out there by having a genuine passion and eagerness for writing good copy. Sometimes it's that simple.
And if you think you don't have a talent for writing but still want to write, don't be afraid to take the first step. As Stephen King once said, "Talent is cheaper than table salt. A lot of hard work separates the talented individual from the successful one."
Understanding what makes humans click is fundamental to becoming a good copywriter.
No matter what you are writing, there will always be an audience on the other end who will read your words. To ensure your readers take the desired action, equip yourself with buyer behavior and human psychology knowledge.
Writing good copy involves tons of research. You should be good at analyzing competitors, sourcing credible examples, assessing strategies that have worked in the past, and finding out what each audience responds to.
Research helps you gather information and data about your topic to build trust with your audience, and it isn't limited to a few Google searches. Good research involves speaking with subject matter experts, your target audience, users, and clients.
When you’re doing research, remember not to stop at the "what" and "when" — always dig a little deeper for the "why" and "how," too.
Copywriting is marketing. If you have no basic marketing knowledge, it may be challenging to understand your client, their requirements, and the buyer's journey.
Successful copywriters know marketing and understand business. They know which words will have the biggest impact at which stage of the buying journey.
Apart from these skills, you should also learn certain hard skills. Some of those include:
Leo Burnett, a legendary copywriter, summed up the copywriting process like this: "Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read."
So, what goes into creating great copy? It all comes down to three things: getting the reader’s attention, focusing on the benefits, and a call-to-action.
Below, we’ll explore these three main elements in detail and learn how you can incorporate them into your copywriting process.
If there is one thing your copy needs to do is grab people’s attention. Good copy should hook the reader’s interest and establish a connection long enough to guide them to the next step of the buying journey.
So, how do you ensure your readers are interested in what you say?
Do this by creating a loop that makes the prospect want to find out more — adding scarcity generates a sense of urgency while provoking an emotion that will persuade your audience to jump at your offer.
What happens if you don't get their attention quickly?
Studies show you only have two seconds to engage a potential customer, so writing a great hook is crucial to getting their attention. Make your hook engaging, relevant, and informative so people will want to read on.
When looking at any promotional message, the first thing on any reader’s mind is, "What's in it for me?"
People are inundated with marketing messaging all day, so successful copywriting relies on ensuring your audience knows exactly what they will be getting. They don't care about your product (the what); they care about the benefit they will get from buying your product (the why).
So, to write good copy, you need to focus more on the value of your solution than the features of your product or service itself.
Double down on your unique selling point and communicate the benefits your audience will get. Christine Johnson, a marketing strategist, put it perfectly:
No matter how compelling your copy is, it's useless without a call-to-action (CTA). A CTA explicitly and concisely directs your audience to take a specific action, whether buying your product, signing up for your email list, or downloading an e-book.
When you write a CTA, focus on one thing at a time. You should have one clear call-to-action to ensure there is no confusion on what to do next.
Don't be afraid to add your CTA at various points throughout your copy. Studies show that people forget information incredibly quickly if there is no repetition.
So, if you are writing copy for a sales email or a video script, repeat your CTA two to three times.
So far, we’ve discussed the skills you need to become a copywriter and the main elements of effective copy. Now, let’s go over how you can start learning copywriting today.
Without further ado, here are eight steps you should take to embark on your copywriting journey!
Don't take one copywriting certification program and start calling yourself a copywriter. Learn as much as you can from everywhere you can.
Attend seminars, sign up for courses, register for webinars, and buy programs. Read books on copywriting and advertising. Build as much knowledge as you can.
And whatever you do, don't give up on learning. Keep reading new material, listen to podcasts, and learn from experts in your field. The copywriting landscape is constantly evolving, so staying up to date as your career progresses is important.
Some certificates you can consider are:
Chantelle Marcelle, a marketing expert, shared her top ten courses on copywriting and marketing here:
When starting out as a copywriter, there are so many options to choose from.
Before anything else, you must determine whether you want to write content or copy. What’s the difference? Copy tends to be short-form, while content refers to longer pieces like blog posts or white papers.
Next, think about what you want to write. Do you want to write long-form sales pages? Social media posts? Marketing newsletters? Videos? Social media ads? Brochures?
How do you want to work? Do you want a full-time job as a copywriter or to work part-time with a company? Maybe you want to start your own freelance copywriting business?
Take some time to think about what a dream copywriting career would look like to you, and use this vision to determine which services you want to offer.
When I first started writing, I didn't realize you could select a niche and write for that industry. In truth, I was just happy to get work in any niche whatsoever. I said yes to all the work I was offered, and that was it.
It might be the same for you initially, but remember, the first few clients you work with set the foundation for the types of clients you will get in the future. After all, clients want to work with copywriters with experience in their particular niche.
However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't experiment first and see what you like to write about. You can change your niche later (although this can sometimes be difficult).
When selecting your niche, consider your life, academic or professional background, and interests. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of niches: You can write about pets, parenting, finance, real estate, mental health, or marketing. It all depends on what you are interested in and willing to learn.
Komal Ahuja, a freelance writer, shared tips on finding your niche on Twitter:
Without a portfolio, your clients won’t be able to find you or see what you can do.
Now that you have figured out what you offer and what industry you serve, it's time to showcase your talents.
Get on social media — make LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Build a copywriting portfolio.
When you reach out to prospective clients, the first thing they are going to do is check out your portfolio and social media accounts. If you have worked with anyone, get a testimonial and add it to your website and social media profiles.
Alice Lemée, a content writer, suggests starting with Medium if you are a new writer and expanding your portfolio.
You can follow a variety of copywriting resources and experts to expand your knowledge and find a professional community. Here are some of the top copywriting blogs to learn from:
There are so many good copywriting books out there, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start and which ones to read. Below are a few suggestions for some of the best copywriting books you can read when starting your copywriting journey.
Robert Cialdini is a notable psychology professor, and this book is a great guide to learning more about how humans are persuaded to take action.
Cialdini shares six principles that guide human behavior:
David Ogilvy is considered the father of advertising, and his book Ogilvy on Advertising is a foundational text on creating effective advertising. Although a bit dated, the examples mentioned in the book are great resources to help new copywriters learn how to write persuasive ads.
In the book, Ogilvy goes beyond advertising strategies to discuss how to grow an agency. With its high-quality breakdowns of top advertisements and behind-the-scenes explanations, it's an excellent book for copywriters interested in learning about the industry's history.
Considered the "go-to-guide" for business copywriting, Everybody Writes focuses on creating good content and building a profitable relationship with your customers.
It's a straightforward read covering topics like how to write better, grammar and rules, best practices for creating credible and trustworthy content, the fundamentals of 17 types of content, and the tools required to get the job done.
Many copywriters consider Breakthrough Advertising to be the Bible of copywriting. Schwartz focuses on how a copywriter's job is to assemble your audience's desires, problems, hopes, and dreams and present them.
Schwartz mentions the five stages of awareness in the book, which are:
This book discusses the hidden forces that guide human decisions and compel people to take action. With references to various studies and plenty of great examples, this is an excellent book for copywriters to learn about the psychology behind buying.
One concept that stood out to me in the book is “decoy pricing,” a strategy to guide potential customers to a specific product by sharing a cheaper option.
If you have never heard of a swipe file, it's time you jump on that trend.
A swipe file is a collection of copywriting and marketing examples — email subject lines, headlines, ad copy, banner ads, landing pages, and social media posts — that you can save and use for inspiration.
Any good copywriter has a swipe file where they have added thousands of examples that inspire and motivate them. Come across an email subject line you like? Put it in the swipe file. Social media post that catches your eye? Send it to the swipe file.
Next time you start a new project or find yourself with writer's block, check out your swipe file, get inspiration from all those brilliant examples, and start writing away.
Tina Donati, Content Marketing Lead at Alloy Automation, emphasizes the importance of having a swipe file — in fact, she says it's one of the best things you can do.
To become good at copywriting, you must keep honing your craft — practice writing headlines for your favorite brands and creating sales emails for businesses around you.
With constant practice, you’ll become a little better every day. You can also leverage copywriting frameworks to write compelling copy and practice different approaches.
To continue experimenting with different types of copy, check our AI writing capabilities and play around with dozens of variations the platform creates in less than 10 seconds. You can customize your results to improve them, take inspiration from the results Copy.ai generates, and expand on those ideas.
Learning a new skill can be hard work. But if you’re willing to put the work in, there is nothing that can stop you.
With all the above knowledge, you are well to becoming a copywriter. Don't forget to show your work to the world, get feedback, and keep practicing.
Experiment: Generate and customize headlines, sales copy, social media content, and more as you dive into your copywriting career.
Write 10x faster, engage your audience, & never struggle with the blank page again.