What a Copywriter Does

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what a copywriter does, this post will give you some insight…

You could start with the physical aspect. Copywriters write.

But there’s much more to it than that.

Before we can write, we have to know a few things. Such as WHOM we’re writing for.

That means having a client. So, unless we’re writing for our own products or to promote our services, we have to become good at the fine art of prospecting. We spend a lot of time on the phone, or sending out emails or direct mail to get people to hire us.

Once we have a client, there’s the act of negotiating a fee. Quote too high and you likely won’t get the client. Quote too low and you’ll end up working your butt off for minimum wage or less. Knowing what you’re worth is an important part of copywriting.

OK, now we’ve got the client, have a proper fee and it’s time to start writing, right?

Nope, not yet, grasshopper…

First research, then write.

Know your product. What are you selling? If it’s information, consume the product. (Read it, watch the video, listen to the audio, etc.) MORE THAN ONE TIME. The first time you go through an info product, you’ll only get surface details. Take notes. Ask yourself questions. Jot down your answers.

The second time through, you start to get a real understanding of the information. That’s when you can go back to your client and ask questions that confuse you.

While you’re doing this, you also need to be researching WHO consumes your client’s product. Discover your target market. Many times the client can help you with that – especially if they have previous sales and track their demographics. But it’s still up to you do dig deep into the client psyche and figure out what makes them tick.

So far, no writing – except for notes. Lots of notes.

I use Evernote to store all the notes, links, data, charts, and any other materials I come across. It keeps me organized and lets me quickly access my reference material when I need it. I find it easy to grab a link when I need to footnote my reference material.

By now you’ve spent a few hours working on the project and haven’t written a single word. You’ve got your information organized. While you’ve been doing your research, you start to formulate a couple directions you could take your promotion.

This is where I start my writing process.

I write headlines. LOTS of headlines. As many as 100. Usually at least 50.

I’ve narrowed down my ideas to just two. (Unless my research suggests that one is way more interesting to my market, then I’ll narrow it down to just one.)

I’ll take my two best compelling ideas and write what’s called a “lead.” That’s the headline and the first few paragraphs of the promotion.

I have all these headlines. I’ll choose what I believe is the strongest one and craft the lead.

I’ll do that again for the second “big idea.”

Now I have two leads. It’s time to get the client involved again.

I send them to the client for feedback. They usually have experience in their market and can provide insight and feedback. Once they choose one direction over the other, I start to put together the rest of the elements of the copy.

Within a short timeframe, the first draft goes to the client. Once again, we tweak until everything is good. At that point, the client has a sales letter they can test.

That’s a rough look at what a copywriter does – or at least what I do when writing copy for a client.

There’s more to the process. Thinking time. I read a lot. Not necessarily in the same niche I’m writing for because good ideas can come from anywhere. Magazines. Novels.

But the real key is to follow the process every day. Good copywriters don’t wait for the muse to hit. They don’t have writer’s block because they have done their research.

And good research leads to good writing.