Let’s start off with a base assumption. I will assume you have zero idea what copywriting is. I’ll assume you found out the term did not mean that small print explaining your rights and terms of agreement. Now, I will assume you came looking to find out what it really means and if it is something you can do yourself.
Assuming the assumptions are correct or near enough correct, let us get on with it. Also, I wish to stop saying “assumptions.”
What is Copywriting?
Essentially, copywriting is an umbrella term to mean any type of digital or print writing. That’s the shortest answer. It is also the most vague and overall, not very helpful.
Copywriting is a combination of two words, copy and writing.
Copy refers to words, not tracing or making duplicates. You see back in the olden days when everything was still black and white and we all wore gun holsters on our hips, books and newspapers were the only source for news, advertising and telling stories.
Then came along magazines and store brochures and other types of written communication items. The words those items contained are known as copy.
The copy editor was a person that would take the handwritten item and check it for typos, grammar mistakes and spelling errors. Then they would put the typeset keys in the tray so they could be inked and the words mass published. In other words, he would take the written words, and copy them over and over.
Now, of course, today we don’t copy the words like they used to, but the term stuck. If it is in print, it is called “copy.”
The other part of the word, obviously, is writing. Or writer. This should be pretty obvious, but again, my previous assumptions…
The words that were copied to the type set by the copy editor, had to be written. And who better to write the copy, than the copywriter?
We extrapolate the etymology in 2021 to now refer to the writer of any printed word, be it physical or digital. Newspapers and magazines still have copywriters, but so do websites, ad makers, blogs and pretty much everything else that is written.
The Copywriting Umbrella
I’m going to keep this brief (it is a “crash course” after all), but there are dozens of different types of copywriting and copywriters, out there.
The big ones (read: most popular) are:
- Advertising Copywriter. These are the guys and gals that make your ads. They give brands their slogans, ads some punch and they know how to attract and convert a viewer to a buyer. The show Mad Men was about advertising copywriters.
- Content Creator. These are the people that create things from nothing. They will whip up a web page, click funnel or email sequence in no time flat (give or take 5 days).
- Ghostwriter. These are the folk that hide behind the scenes. They don’t get credit for their words, no byline, just a bigger paycheck. They write blogs, articles, books and screenplays (and much more).
- Copywriter. The main copywriter today is the one that has the job of taking your words and making them better words. When your website isn’t converting sales, a copywriter will fix it. They create new content from what is already there, unlike a content creator.
- List Cultivator. These magic beings are the ones that turn your little newsletter into a powerhouse with tens of thousands of active subscribers. They work to establish and grow lists, and usually write the emails and content that is sent to those lists.
Copywriters create headlines, slogans, catchphrases, straplines and body copy for print advertising and leaflets. They write for web advertising, social media and mobile applications. Plus, they create scripts for radio jingles and TV commercials.
More often than not, you will find the vast majority of today’s copywriters in one (or more) of these 5 groups. There are specialized fields out there, too, but that is for another article.
What Education Does a Copywriter Need?
You will need at least 8 years of secondary schooling for a PhD, plus another 4 years minimum post grad training for specialty services… oh wait, that’s a doctor.
There are some college courses you can take to hone your craft. Creative writing, journalism, English literature and others. The beauty of it, though? You aren’t required to have any of it.
If you want to be a copywriter, you basically just say “I’m a copywriter.” And, POOF, like magic, you are ordained into the Brotherhood of the Mystical Wordsmiths. We have cookies.
There are no certificates, degrees or diplomas needed, ever. A lot of new copywriters feel they must have some sort of tangible proof. And for them, a whole slew of sites have cropped up, asking for your money to let you read through a few PDFs and then print out a certificate.
If you need that, then by all means, print away. You can leave a comment here on this blog and I’ll give you one to print out. I won’t even charge you.
The point is, if you can write decent enough, want to try it out and learn as you go, then do it.
There is nothing wrong with paying for training. You can hire a mentor to help you, schedule one on one calls with the pros to get help. You can buy a book or three, take a class on Udemy, or buy the Extra Draft Copywriting book.
But you don’t need it. If you are diligent enough, focused enough and have the time, everything in all of the above listings (and all the ones not listed) are found on the internet, for free. You just have to know what you don’t know to look for.
Now You Know What a Copywriter is
I told you it was brief. There will be more later this week, plus the daily writing prompts this week (June 1st to 6th) will all deal with various copywriting aspects.
If you have a talent for words, want to earn a little side income, or even quit the 9 to 5 and start working from home, copywriting is a great way to do so.
Can it be done, though?
Of course it can.
Speaking from experience, I have no formal training, decided one day I was going to be a copywriter and spent an entire weekend learning all I could about it. I read where I could start and within 4 months I could earn $1000. And by 6 months in I could be earning $3000 a month.
I made $1100 the first week.
If you want it, you can do it. And here at the Extra Draft, we will help you get there.