What does a copywriter do and how do you know if they’re a good one or bad?

What does a copywriter actually do?

Have you ever used a copywriter in your business? Do you even hand-on-heart know exactly what one is?

If you don’t know, and you run a business, you probably don’t want to hold your hand up and admit you’re not entirely sure what a copywriter does.

But you’re not alone. One of the most common questions I, and other copywriters, get asked is, “What does a copywriter actually do?”

So here is my quick explanation for you, then you can decide if it’s something you or your business needs!

A Copywriter is…

The Oxford English Dictionary describes the term copywriter as ‘a person who writes advertisements or publicity material’.

That is factually correct. A copywriter writes copy (words). But being a copywriter is so much more than that.

A Copywriter does…

Copywriting within the marketing world is generally understood as ‘writing that is designed to persuade and to sell’. Again, pretty close. It’s true, that is the desired outcome from any copywriting. Selling is the bread and butter of the business world, so it makes sense there should be a focus on the writing used to achieve that.

But that still doesn’t say what a copywriter does to persuade and sell.

To persuade people to buy, the job of the copywriter is not just to be a good writer.

In fact, that is not a requirement at all. It obviously makes sense to be able to speak the language you are writing in, or know how to string words together, but that alone doesn’t make an actual copywriter.

A copywriter needs…

  1. To understand the language needed to persuade someone to buy.

That language isn’t a secret language you need to study at university for three years to grasp. Nor is it a language spoken elsewhere in the World and you need to immerse yourself there for six months to learn it. No, the copywriting language needed is more subtle than that.

Persuasive language is focusing on the benefits, not just the features, of what you are selling. Showing someone that they need to buy from you to make their life better.

Everyone is fundamentally greedy and selfish. They need to know if they buy from you, what’s in it for them? How will their lives be improved? A good copywriter can take that focus and drive it home.

Everyone has a pain point. It will differ for everyone. For example, a busy working mum might splash out a week’s wages on a robotic vacuum cleaner, because she saves 2 hours every week on the housework, that means 104 hours extra every year to spend more time with her kids. Or, she will save $X amount over a year in saved cleaner wages, that’s $X to pay for a holiday sooner.

  1. To know the ideal buyer for that product

A copywriter will know their audience too. There’s no point trying to sell a robotic vacuum by discussing its power ratio, gunmetal grey paint job, or the fact Anthony Joshua uses one. Only a man would care about those features (features-not benefits) and a man would not be a robotic vacuum seller’s target audience!

You might say, “but what if the man was buying the robotic vacuum for his wife?” Yes, but let’s face it. He’s probably had some hefty hints from his overworked and busy wife!

I bought myself a vacuum cleaner once. I had been without one for weeks after the last one gave up the ghost, and I really thought the hints I was dropping would do their job.

But, no.

After a few weeks I couldn’t take it anymore and bought myself one. I was carrying the rather large box down the street to my car and a passer-by actually said, “ah, did he buy you a vacuum cleaner as a present?”

I don’t know who that passer-by was, or why they thought a man had bought the vacuum cleaner, but they were obviously not a copywriter! A man is not a buyer of vacuum cleaners, ladies!

And yes, that was probably around about the time I made the decision to become a copywriter, and to learn the art of persuasion!

In fact, to sell more of the robotic vacuums, the makers should think like a busy, overworked housewife. Can it wash the floors as it vacuums? Can it spray a pleasant smell out to mask the burnt dinner smell? Can it have a basket on top and double as a playpen for the toddler?? Now, there’s a product that would sell itself!

  1. To understand the psychology of the human brain

“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”

Seth Godin – Author and Entrepreneur

It’s not enough just to list what is good about a product, and hope that is enough to attract buyers. A good copywriter will weave stories, anecdotes, and a bit of magic into their copy.

Take our robotic vacuum.

  • It’s Porsche-colour grey, 5-horse power, and powerful enough to pick up mud and dirt. Not going to sell. Remember, the ideal buyer is a woman and she will be as interested in those features as she is in a T20 cricket score.
  • It vacuums up mud and dirt, gets into all the corners, recharges itself. Better, someone who has money to spare might go out and grab one, but what about all the busy mums who have to count every cent of the housekeeping?
  • Never find yourself picking peas off the floor again after your toddler’s teatime. Don’t add to your over-worked back pain by having to move furniture to vacuum around it. Come home after a busy day at work to a house that is clean, tidy, and simply relaxing.

Isn’t a self-cleaning house a little bit of magic right there?? That last description would have mums everywhere rushing out to grab one quicker than you could say, “beans for tea again”!

And I don’t even own a robotic vacuum

But I want one, now.

We buy things we want, not need. And a copywriter’s job is to persuade people they really, really want something, even if they didn’t know they needed it!

So, a copywriter writes to persuade and sell, and needs to know the language to use, who the ideal buyer is, and the psyche of a buyer.

Maybe the question should be what makes a good copywriter, rather than what does a copywriter do?

I hope this has helped to clear up what a copywriter is, does, and whether you actually need one for your business. I hope you can see the value in a copywriter now, and maybe have a look through your business copy to see where it could be improved using the points in this blog.

If you want to learn more about my services, or more about how a copywriter can help your business, you’re welcome to follow me on social media.




I’d love to see you there!

And please tell me if this article helped you, or if you have any further questions.

Now, to Google robotic vacuums!

Love, Sarah

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