How to be a great copywriter
Copywriting sells products and services by inspiring an audience to take action. We asked one copywriter what that is like.
Joe Emery is a freelance copywriter. As a copywriter, Joe describes his job as "I help businesses sell their product or service through words." The role of the copywriter is a classic example of rhetoric, which creates a compelling statement or argument to motivate an audience. I asked Joe about his role as a copywriter.
What's your background in copywriting? How did you get into this interesting career path?
I wasn't always a writer. I left school and got stuck in a job I hated: back office work in investment banking. It was basically glorified data input. I knew I wanted to write and use my creativity. Yet, once you're in a particular sector, people pigeonhole you. I just needed someone to give me a chance, as I knew I could do it. I was given that chance to prove myself through copywriting.
My role as Senior Copywriter at Virgin Media O2 was made redundant in August. The job market is challenging at the moment because of various external factors, so I decided to go freelance full-time.
What's the role of a copywriter?
Copywriting sells your product or service. It inspires your target audience to take action. Copywriting is the ad at the bus stop. It's the cardboard placards above train seats. Or it's online. It's the art of selling your idea, brand and ideology to your target market. Copywriting can be landing pages, adverts, email campaigns, social media content, plus animated video, TV and radio scripts and more.
Content writing educates and entertains your target audience. It builds trust, rapport and your brand. It's the art of subtly selling your idea, brand and ideology to your target market through storytelling. They'll be on board when you want to sell them something. Content writing can be thought-leadership articles and press releases that inform, educate and entertain.
What skills does someone need to be a good copywriter?
First and foremost, it's my job to sell. But good salespeople might not have a creative bone in their body, so it's also crucial that you're imaginative. My advice to anyone wanting to become a copywriter is to write, publish and repeat. Build a portfolio of work, even if it's a non-paid blog where you're talking about your favorite film or album. You need evidence to show your talent.
What's your process as a copywriter?
I've devised an interview process. That way, I can delve deep into the business's offers and how they improve people's lives. And it’s always about how your product/service can help people. It should never be about yourself or your emotions.
My process makes for unique content you won't find anywhere else. I don't know anything about brain surgery but sit me down with a brain surgeon for an hour, and I can write a meaningful guide on the topic. I like working with clients who trust me to advise on how their copy should look and feel.
You've worked on a lot of projects as a copywriter. Is there a project that stands out?
I'm most proud of my work for hospices because I enjoy helping people who need it. I've transformed a hospice's tone of voice. The change resulted in increased fundraising, funding, support and volunteering.
In my spare time, I run a fan club called For Bond Fans Only. I use it to raise money for Richard House Children's Hospice by interviewing people from the James Bond franchise. I recently met Dame Joanna Lumley at her home. She's so nice!