What’s A Copywriter? (And Do YOU Need One?)

Your guide to what a copywriter is, what they do, and how to identify if and when to hire one.

The complete guide to what is a copywriter, copywriter duties, copywriting types, and how you'll know it's time to hire a copywriter ASAP

What’s a copywriter?

Thank you for asking this excellent question! ?

Copywriters are wordsmiths; creative minds with a wide vocabulary and an enviable grasp of spelling and grammar. But they aren’t just skilled at the written word—they also have solid understanding of consumer psychology and how it all relates to buyer behavior. They’re deliberate about word choice, they know which buttons to press to get results. All this to say: The best copywriters write effective marketing, sales, educational, and promotional text that helps a business grow.

What is “copy” in marketing?

Speaking of, all that text is called “copy”. It covers the write-ups on websites and landing pages; email campaigns; sales letters; catalogues, flyers, and brochures; packaging and packaging inserts; digital and print advertisements; in-app copy; UX micro-copy; and beyond.

Niche copywriters vs general copywriters

While we’re on the topic of copywriters and what they do, it’s worth knowing the difference between niche and general copywriters.

A niche copywriter is someone who writes for one industry/market only. For example: SaaS copywriting.

A generalist, on the other hand, is adept at all copywriting types and can write for any and all industries as well as all channels, whether print or digital, as a project requires. For example: A general copywriter can write for health & wellness but be equally at home writing about real estate; they can write SEO copy but also packaging or in-app copy.

Can a copywriter be both?

I’d say it depends on the copywriter. What’s their background? What interests them? How much are they willing to work? And are they up for a good challenge every now and then?

In my case, I’m a generalist at heart but I’m also a niche copywriter. Here’s what I mean: I’m capable, comfortable, and happy to write for (almost) any industry.

(Hey, drop me a line if you need a copywriter! ??)

At the same time, it can’t be denied that I’ve acquired extra expertise over the years—through regular exposure or because they’re fields close to my heart—writing copy for specific industries. For example: Hospitality, pet products and services, F&B, and health and wellness.

Should you hire a niche copywriter?

Most of the time, you’ll be in capable hands with a generalist. But there are occasions where having someone who has a deep understanding of your field—the market you serve and the terms you use on a daily basis—will come in handy.

For instance, if you’re in a heavily-regulated industry (like pharma) or need someone with a specific background to accurately write about certain topics (like neurological diseases), then you’ll probably want to hire a niche copywriter.

For example: A medical copywriter to write health articles or summarize the latest studies in a way that the average reader will understand and can benefit from.

What does a copywriter do?

The duties of a traditional copywriter include content ideation (this is normally done together with you), outlining, writing, and editing. The modern copywriter goes further with the addition of brand storytelling and brand strategy into the whole copywriting process. As for the scope of a copywriter’s services, you’ll have to ask the freelancer you’re engaging with. Inclusions can vary greatly, so choose your content writing partner wisely.

Image by storyset on Freepik

What are the different types of copywriting?

At some point during your search for the right copywriter, you’ll definitely come across different branches of copywriting. And if you’re new to the world of copywriting, all these options can have you scratching your head in confusion. Is there that big a difference? Below, I’ve summarized the most common types of copywriting and what that category of writing typically includes.

☑️ B2C copywriting

Business-to-consumer copywriting is any type of copy a business creates for their consumers. It covers a wide range of content for distribution on multiple channels, and requires extensive copywriting skills.

To be more precise, B2C copywriters need to build expertise around direct response copywriting, conversion copywriting, and content writing (more on these styles below) among others to do their jobs properly.

Examples of B2C copywriting: Website copywriting, product description writing, writing marketing emails, and content writing for blogs and miscellaneous social channels.

☑️ B2B copywriting

In simplest terms, business-to-business copywriting is writing sales and marketing materials for a business audience. Think about a shopping cart manufacturer whose customers are other businesses like supermarkets, department stores, and airports—not people like you or me in a personal capacity.

B2B copy takes the B2B sales journey into consideration. It’s a lengthy one that can involve multiple decision makers, and more complex sales and marketing materials compared to B2C.

B2B writing examples include web copy; sales brochures and presentations; white papers & case studies; email sequences; video, podcast, and webinar scripts; trade show collateral; and more.

☑️ Direct response copywriting

Direct response copywriting is focused on getting an immediate response from readers. Also, it’s often linked to sales targets. No matter your business’s size or industry, chances are, you’ll eventually need a direct response copywriter—it’s the written equivalent of the role of a salesman.

Examples of direct response copy include sales emails, pay-per-click ads, advertorials, landing pages, fundraising letters, and catalogues.

☑️ Conversion copywriting

How is conversion copy different from direct response?

First, conversion copy is primarily for digital platforms. It’s writing for the web. Second, the goal of conversion copy is to get your readers to take action. In other words, you’re moving people from one stage of the buyer journey to the next. It goes beyond getting people to make a purchase. Conversion copywriting covers other actions like convincing a visitor to sign up for your newsletter, join your rewards program, download an e-book, or request a call back from your sales rep.

☑️ Technical copywriting

Technical copywriting has to do with developing documentation intended to guide, instruct, or explain something. You tend to find this in industries like engineering, manufacturing, heavy machinery, and IT.

Basically, technical copywriting would include things like product and reference guides; user manuals; specs and data sheets; memos and reports; and business proposals.

As you can imagine, technical copywriters are often subject matter experts within a specialized field.

☑️ Social media copywriting

Writing copy for social media is all about crafting brand-aligned messages for a company’s social channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s creative, promotional, and focused on engagement. Social media copy includes writing captions; short and long posts; and coming up with relevant hashtags.

☑️ SEO copywriting

SEO copywriting is writing for the internet with the goal of making your pages easily discoverable online for relevant search terms. (SEO stands for search engine optimization.) And let me tell you, writing SEO copy sounds so much easier than it actually is!

Here’s why: Search engine optimization copywriters aren’t just skilled writers; they also have to master keyword research, understand search intent, and be up-to-date with the ins-and-outs of what helps a page rank. And that’s not all because when it comes to writing content and copy for SEO, the job never ends. It requires frequent touch-ups and adjustments over the content’s lifetime.

Tip: No decent SEO copywriter will ever guarantee a first page ranking because, when it comes to SEO and copywriting, there are simply no guarantees.

☑️ Content writing

Content writing refers to the process of planning, writing, editing, publishing, and then revising (on an ongoing basis) digital content as part of a brand’s online marketing efforts.

Like writing copy for social media, content writing is creative, insightful, educational, and promotional; it has to attract, engage, motivate, and even convert readers. It includes writing blog posts, video or podcast scripts, e-books, and broadcast emails (like newsletters).

Image by storyset on Freepik

Looking for concrete signs that you need a copywriter? Keep reading.

With all that said and done, the big question is: Do YOU need a copywriter? Well, if you’ve made it this far, chances are you have a pretty good hunch that it’s time to bring a (human) copywriter—not AI—on board. But if you’re still on the fence, use the following questions to guide you.

? Is writing your forte?

Raise your hand if:

  • Coming up with brilliant ideas doesn’t come naturally to you. Most of the time, you don’t know what to write or where to even begin.
  • You frequently find yourself in a frustrating cycle of typing something up only to delete it moments later. You know what you want to write, but you just can’t seem to find the right words or piece it all together cohesively.
  • You’ve previously published content that you weren’t 100% confident about or even all that happy with. But you went ahead anyway because it’s better to have something than nothing.

If you’re often staring at a blank screen (cursor blinking away as if it’s mocking you), forcing yourself to write something (anything), or publishing subpar materials (for the sake of knocking another item off your to-do list), then YES, it’s high time to hire a copywriter.

Do you need a regular supply of fresh content?

Business moves at a fast pace and that means you’re in constant need of new sales and marketing content. Things like email campaigns and blog posts. Sometimes, you even need it all urgently.

But how do you write high-quality copy if you’re a time-starved solopreneur, a family-run business with all hands (already) on deck, or a small organization short of manpower?

How do you focus on writing when you’re interrupted by phone calls, following up on the status of orders, or have meetings scattered throughout the day?

Where does writing copy fit into such a schedule?

Answer: It doesn’t. Or, if you do find time for it, it’s not going to be the best quality. The fact is, great copy takes time and concentration.

So, if you find yourself flitting from one task to another, and all those other must-dos take priority over writing, then you’re NOT in the position to be crafting brand-critical copy. Hire a freelance copywriter instead.

Do you want to stand out?

If you’re just like everybody else, then customers can take their business anywhere else, too. Right? That’s why the last thing you want is to come across as generic. You want to be engaging.

Let’s take a quick moment to honestly evaluate what you’ve written.

Does it sound “basic”, like you’ve heard it all before? Could you swap your text with that of your competitors’ and no one would know the difference?

Yikes! If you don’t have an identifiable brand voice, no storytelling, and no pull factor that makes you stand out in a sea of similar options, get a copywriter—stat!

Do you want text that resonates with your audience?

Have you ever wondered what kind of first impression you’re making? How your text lands with those outside your industry? If you’re actually connecting with those most likely to buy from you?

You’re not alone.

The truth is, writing your own copy isn’t as easy as it may seem—you’re simply too close to your brand to see the forest for the trees. You craft copy that suits you, not those you want to buy from you. (That’s a big problem.)

After all, it can be a real challenge to separate yourself from your business; put yourself in your customers’ shoes; take complex ideas that are matter-of-fact to you and simplify them for ordinary customers; and package your brand in a way that appeals to those you’re targeting, not the developers behind it.

Enter an independent copywriter. She brings some much-needed bird’s-eye view that allows you to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right people.

Do you want to hit the ground running?

Rather than dwell on the cost of outsourcing content and copywriting to a freelancer, ponder this: What’s the real cost of mediocre copy?

I’ll give you a hint: Missed opportunities. Lost sales. By the way, that’s on top of the precious time you’ve already dedicated to doing everything on your own.

Forgettable copy, badly written copy, or copy that simply doesn’t capture interest or attention = a waste of time. And time is money. (So if you think about it, hiring a copywriter can save you big bucks in the long run!)

That aside, hiring a copywriter frees you up to focus on other revenue-boosting, customer-facing tasks that also need your undivided attention. In short, well begun is half done and that’s precisely what you get with a professional copywriter on your team.

Still undecided about hiring a copywriter? Head on over here for more information, more insight, and more tips on working with a copywriter. Or click here if you’d like to discuss your next copywriting project with me. I can’t wait to hear from you!