Essential skills to be a first-class copywriter

Copywriting offers individuals an excellent opportunity to work either for themselves or in organisations. People can copywrite from any place in the world, provided they have a good internet connection through which they can find work, research content and deliver their written work. It can also provide opportunities for flexible working, as writing can be done at any time of the day or night, allowing people to boost their income through taking on additional copywriting jobs. This makes it a highly attractive career option for many. Yet becoming a first-class copywriter can be challenging without certain essential skills. Here are the ten most important.

Skill 1: Entrepreneurial — great copywriters that strike out on their own are effectively running their own business, and need to take an entrepreneurial approach to this activity so they can find work. This means getting out there and selling services offered. One great place for the entrepreneurial copywriter to start is Upwork, which offers hundreds of copywriting jobs for clients all over the world each week.

Skill 2: Find a Niche and Becoming an Expert — while copywriters can write across a range of subjects, many of the best find it most effective to identify a niche and become known for expertise in that particular area. Copywriters can specialise in a wide range of areas, and each of these may require honing slightly different skills, or developing different types of knowledge. For example, a legal copywriter will need different knowledge and competencies than one writing advertisements for the television or radio.

Skill 3: Research — good copywriters are, by their very nature, good researchers. Even when a copywriter has a niche, it will often be necessary to research to find up-to-date statistics and supporting evidence to write compelling copy. First class copywriters have fine-tuned these skills and can quickly and efficiently gain access to the information they need, either online or through the use of their personal network.

Skill 4: Know the Audience — expert copywriters understand that they need to know the audience to engage them in the message they are conveying with their writing. Depending on the audience, the tone of the article will need to differ, as will the language used, and the simplicity or otherwise of the content. Copywriters that know their audience are aware of factors such as demographics targeted and can use this to tailor the key messages accordingly.

Skill 5: Basic Psychology — as well as knowing the audience, first class copywriters understand the psychology behind what motivates a person to take action. A lot of copywriting is focused on making sales, as an ultimate goal. This means that writing a powerful call to action is essential, so that the text delivers what it is required to. Understanding how people think and what will prompt them to take action, and writing according to that is a critical skill.

Skill 6: Spinning a Yarn — the best copywriters know that writing copy is all about being able to tell a great story. In many cases this story will revolve around why the reader should buy the product; and the story. The story told should have a factual basis, but ultimately the most captivating copy written work is comprised of a convincing story that encourages the reader to do what the writer wants.

Skill 7: Can take Criticism — copywriters get a lot of criticism. Sometimes this will be constructive and sometimes not. This is just part of the package of being a copywriter. The best copywriters see this criticism as an opportunity to learn — even if the learning is not to work with a particular client again!

Skill 8: Keep it Clear of Clutter — great copywriters do not bulk out their work with excess words. In good copywriting every word has a role to play, and there is no waffle. Knowing how to edit your work is an essential component in becoming a first-class copywriter so that every sentence offers value to the overall message.

Skill 9: Time Management — first class copywriters are usually in great demand. This means they will be working on various copywriting projects at the same time. Being a first-class copywriter therefore requires good planning and organising of tasks through effective time management. Meeting copywriting deadlines is critical. Failing to deliver on time can lead to loss of good reputation and difficulty in securing repeat work which every good copywriter knows is disastrous for business.

Skill 10: Spelling and Grammar — first class copywriters know that spelling and grammar are of paramount importance in great copywritten work. Poor spelling and grammar are extremely off-putting to the reader (who may be the client!) and unprofessional. Microsoft Word offers a very good spell and grammar check, but even this cannot be completely relied on. Nothing beats a proper read through and, for the best chances of spotting mistakes, reading your work through aloud.


· Have you seen improvements to your ability since you’ve adopted new skills and/or disciplines recently?

· What challenges did you face when starting your career in copywriting?

· What advice would you give to someone looking to improve their copywriting skills?


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Chris Hall, Marketing Recruitment / Group Social Media and Marketing

James Gray Associates Ltd, Marketing, Payroll, HR & Reward Specialist Recruiters

Email: Twitter: @JGA_Marketing Tel: 01727 800 377

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