While chatting to someone at a recent networking event, I mentioned I did copywriting. The man I was speaking to responded that his wife was a teacher, and she was very thorough about checking her classroom resources for infringements or plagiarism. After a moment of confusion, I realised he was talking about the laws around copyright. It isn’t the first time I’ve come across this mistake. Copyright is about protecting intellectual property (e.g. books, music, media etc). Copywriting is used for marketing (and plagiarism is a big no-no for both).

Copywriting is any written content, called copy, used in marketing material. It can be a phrase, a few sentences or even just a couple of words (“Just do it” for Nike, or “Because you’re worth it” for L’oreal would be the work of very clever copywriters). Done well, it can define a brand.

Good copywriting can convert interest into a sale. It can persuade someone to click, sign up, or pay you a visit to make a purchase. At the very least it should make an impression, so people remember your business next time they are in the market for whatever it is you sell. “Copy” is generally quick and to the point. It is used for headlines and calls to action (CTA) with some short, sharp descriptive sentences in between. Think ads or posters, brochures and flyers, or slogans and taglines.

The tricks of the copywriting trade are tricks that can be learned. There are headline formulas, linking phrases, and tools you can use (e.g. the Hemingway Editor). But the real skill is understanding how to craft a message that resonates with a particular audience. Reaching teenagers needs a different tone and message than that used to reach their grandparents.

If you need something longer written, like an article, blog or website text, that is content writing. It is still marketing but instead, you are educating and building trust and confidence. Where copywriting gets right to the point in saying “buy me!”, content writing informs the reader. It can tell a story and entertain while promoting what you do and letting the reader know that you really know your stuff.

Content writing isn’t just for blogs either. It can be used for social media, presentations, workshop materials, e-books, video or podcast scripts and much more. Preparing a tender submission or a business awards entry also calls for a content writer.

The digital age we live and work in means effective written communication is more important than ever. Business owners often tell me they “just can’t do the writing”, but they don’t have to. There are people out there (like me!) who are skilled copy and content writers who enjoy finding just the right words to promote your business.

Find out how I can help you here.