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What is copywriting?

— Welcome to — What Is Copywriting?: AWAI's Essential Introduction to the Copywriting Industry

Are you new to the world of copywriting?

Welcome aboard!

Whether you’re considering copywriting as your next career, or as a side gig for extra income, What Is Copywriting?: AWAI's Essential Introduction to the Copywriting Industry will answer all your questions about the copywriting industry. It will also take you through everything involved in becoming a successful copywriter.

Why should you listen to us?

We’ve been the leading publisher of copywriting training programs since 1997, with thousands of writers throughout the world crediting our programs for having changed their lives for the better.

We all feel very fortunate to be part of this amazing industry, and we’re excited to tell you about the wealth of copywriting opportunities available today.

Ready to get started?

What Is Copywriting?

Copywriting is the process of writing persuasive marketing and promotional materials that motivate people to take some form of action, such as make a purchase, click on a link, donate to a cause, or schedule a consultation.

These materials can include written promotions that are published in print or online. They can also include materials that are spoken, such as scripts used for videos or commercials.

The text in these materials is known as “copy,” hence the name “copywriting.”

You may not realize it, but copywriting is everywhere.

In fact, if you just start by looking in your mailbox, you’ll find some obvious examples of copywriting. Promotions for local restaurants, catalogs, fundraising letters from charitable organizations, or sales letters for various products and services are all forms of copywriting.

Four snippets from direct-mail packages as examples of copywriting

But the world of copywriting extends far beyond printed materials.

Much of what you read online is also copywriting, including most webpages, any free reports you sign up for, and even the emails you receive after signing up.

Take the example below from Stitch Fix, a website that specializes in helping people find a fashion style that’s appropriate for them. The site also sells clothing for a range of different styles.

Screenshot of webpage showing different calls to action

You can see the page has been written and designed to prompt you to take action in a variety of ways. You’re asked to “Read More,” “Get Started,” or “Follow Us” on social media. You can also “Ask a Stylist” for fashion advice.

These are simple prompts we see on websites on a daily basis, and they’re all forms of persuasive copywriting.

What you hear can also be copywriting in action.

Television commercials, product reviews on YouTube, and even short “how-to” videos on using a product are all examples of spoken copywriting.

We’ll get into much more detail on the different types of copywriting in Chapter 2, but this gives you an idea of the many ways that copywriting touches all our lives.

(NOTE: Copywriting should not be confused with the word “copyright.” Copyright refers to the exclusive legal right to reproduce or sell someone’s work, such as books, music, or artistic items. The purpose of a copyright is to protect that original material and prevent its illegal use. Copyright is designated with the symbol ©.)

What Is a Copywriter?

A copywriter is a professional writer responsible for writing the text, or copy, used in marketing and promotional materials.

You may have heard various myths about writers, like the suggestion that writers are born with talent, and that you can’t “learn” how to write.

Or perhaps you’ve heard the opposite, that there’s no skill involved in writing and anyone can do it.

When it comes to copywriting, both of these myths are untrue.

Copywriters are professionals who have learned and practiced their craft. None of us were born knowing how to write excellent copy, but it’s definitely a skill that nearly anyone can learn with a bit of persistence.

Perhaps due to the myths about writers, copywriting has remained a somewhat exclusive profession that not many people go into.

But this actually works to your advantage as a copywriter because it means that well-trained copywriters are hard to find.

That’s the fundamental reason why AWAI was created over two decades ago — to train more professional copywriters in order to meet the growing needs of the industry.

The exclusivity of copywriters also keeps their value high.

We’ll take a closer look at how much copywriters make in Chapter 4, including the highest-paying areas you may want to target.

We’ll also get into the day-to-day job description of a copywriter in Chapter 3, as well as the qualifications you need to become one.

Spoiler alert: you don’t need a train of letters behind your name to become a high-paid copywriter!

You can be up and running quickly and with very little investment.

And have we mentioned the benefits of being a copywriter? Take it from the thousands of members at AWAI — there’s no life like it.

The biggest complaint we hear from our members is “Why didn’t I do this sooner?!”

Who Uses Copywriters?

Copywriting is at the core of nearly every business.

Without copywriters, businesses wouldn’t be able to share their messages with potential customers to expand their markets, or with current customers to keep them engaged.

This includes websites, non-profit organizations, service providers, as well as brick-and-mortar retailers.

They all need and use copywriters.

Take Apple Inc. as an example. If you browse through their website, you’ll find descriptions of their products, like this one for the MacBook Air:

Screenshot of a product description with link to the product film highlighted

Product descriptions like these are written by copywriters, but you can also see there’s a link to a product video at the bottom of the page.

Guess who wrote the script for that video? You guessed it — a copywriter.

And if you scroll down the page, you’ll see this description for a special security chip included in the laptop:

Screenshot of a a laptop security chip descriptin with link to the white paper highlighted

The description is followed by a link to view a white paper about the chip. A white paper is a document that goes into detail about a specific product or topic, and white papers are also written by copywriters.

The fact that Apple has included videos, white papers, detailed product descriptions, and other materials like these shows they use copywriters quite heavily.

Like Apple Inc., other Fortune 500 companies also use copywriters extensively. They have substantial marketing budgets, and a portion of those budgets will go directly to copywriters.

That said, you don’t have to work for Fortune 500 companies if that’s not for you.

Many other types of companies, both big and small, also use copywriters, such as:

  • Financial institutions and investment firms
  • Medical supply and pharmaceutical companies
  • Food manufacturers
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Local service providers, such as car mechanics and hair salons
  • Fitness, personal improvement, and other types of coaches
  • Dentists, medical doctors, and other healthcare providers
  • Self-help authors and speakers
  • Producers of supplements and other complimentary health products

And this is only a small sampling of the types of business who need your services as a professional copywriter.

No matter what your personal interests and background, you’ll almost certainly find a perfect match for your skills somewhere in the copywriting industry.

What’s the Difference Between Copywriting and Content Writing?

You may read or hear some sources that suggest copywriting and content writing are different things.

There’s a grain of truth to this, but we’ll explain where this distinction starts to break down.

As a general rule of thumb, copywriting refers to writing marketing and promotional materials. Content writing, on the other hand, refers to writing informational or editorial pages on websites, such as blog posts, article pages, or product pages.

This is an accurate description of what each term means.

But some definitions suggest that content writing is purely informational and has no element of persuasion, which means it is not copywriting.

At AWAI, we disagree with this distinction.

Essentially all webpages will include some form of persuasion or call to action.

This is particularly evident on a product page with a clear “Buy Now!” button at the bottom.

But even an article page uses subtle calls to action, usually in the form of links to additional resources, or suggestions for other pages you can visit on the site.

These are all elements of persuasion.

So, it’s inaccurate to suggest that content writing is distinct from copywriting.

We feel that content writing is simply another type of copywriting.

And like any good copywriting, content writing aims to engage the reader and make them take some form of action, even if it’s just staying on a website to read another page.

Is Copywriting a Growing Industry?

In short, yes.

Copywriting as we know it today has been studied and recognized as an essential part of marketing for decades.

But the history of copywriting goes back even farther. No doubt, vendors on the streets of ancient Rome would have needed to use persuasion as they bartered with potential customers.

And can you guess when this ad for Van Camp’s Boston Baked Pork and Beans first ran?

Copy of Van Camp’s pork and beans ad from 1897

By modern standards, it’s a pretty good ad. It has eye-catching graphics, an enticing description of the product, and even a contest to engage readers.

It would be easy to assume this ad first ran in the 1970s, or even 1980s. It was actually first featured in The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1897.

The point we’re trying to make is that copywriting has been around for a long time, and it’s not going anywhere.

Businesses have always needed to reach potential customers and effectively communicate what they can offer them.

This is even more important in our modern information age. Today, people are constantly receiving more and more competing messages throughout all forms of media.

“Without good copywriters, we don’t have a business.” — Julia Guth, The Oxford Club

Every business needs a way to stand out from the noise, which is why many of them invest heavily in marketing and copywriting.

The following statistics show how copywriting, both in print and online, is an integral part of most modern businesses:

  • Traditional direct-mail packages, which are sent directly to people’s homes, are currently used by 56% of companies in the U.S.
  • 81% of these companies plan to maintain or increase usage of direct mail in the next year.
  • In the digital realm, 90% of all organizations use online content marketing.
  • 70% of businesses are actively investing in content marketing, and 53% expect their 2020 content marketing budget to be higher than it was in 2019.
  • Nearly 67% of businesses rely on outside help to create their online content. In other words, they hire external copywriters.

Robert Half International recently reported, “Demand for skilled copywriters is rising as more companies require compelling content for Web-based initiatives and print advertising. 60% of advertising and marketing executives who plan to hire new employees said they’ll be adding copywriters.”

The future looks bright for copywriting — and those of us lucky enough to be part of the industry.

Now, let’s briefly compare this to other industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of the 808 occupations they track, 190 of those occupations are predicted to decline over the next eight years.

That means job losses will be seen in nearly 25%, or one quarter, of all professions throughout the U.S.! This includes professionals across all walks of life, such as car mechanics, chief executives, electronics engineers, pharmacists, and farmworkers.

Even a profession like computer programming, which requires the minimum of a bachelor’s degree for entry, is expected to see a 7% decline by 2028, with 17,900 jobs being lost.

Many AWAI members have been caught in the turmoil and uncertainty of what they thought were stable jobs. After going through layoffs, downsizing, and cutbacks in their previous professions, they found their way into copywriting and have never looked back.

Copywriting is a sought-after skill that businesses need to survive. This is why copywriting is a growing industry that pays well and has a nearly bottomless amount of work.

As long as you put in the effort to learn the craft of copywriting, you’ll always be in demand and able to enjoy the high income and stability that come with being a copywriter.

About What Is Copywriting?: AWAI’s Essential Introduction to the Copywriting Industry

We wrote this guide for anyone who’s considering becoming a professional copywriter.

What Is Copywriting?: AWAI’s Essential Introduction to the Copywriting Industry will cover everything you need to know to decide whether or not copywriting is the right career choice for you.

Remember, you don’t need to be a great writer or have any background in marketing to succeed as a copywriter.

But you do need the motivation and determination to learn the basics of copywriting and how to market yourself as a copywriter.

That’s where this guide comes in.

What You’ll Learn

What Is Copywriting?: AWAI’s Essential Introduction to the Copywriting Industry has six chapters. Each chapter will take you through a specific aspect of the copywriting industry, as well as the different types of work and income you can expect as a copywriter.

The chapters are organized in a logical progression to build on each other, but you can read them in whatever order you like.

If you have any questions while you’re going through this guide, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to provide any further information and help you explore your options as a potential copywriter.

And if you decide to take the leap to become a professional copywriter, let us know right away.

We would love to get to know you!

CHAPTER 1 — The Basics of Copywriting

The basics of copywriting

All forms of copywriting share certain basic principles you’ll need to know as a copywriter.

This chapter will take you through these copywriting fundamentals and give you an idea of what sets copywriting apart from other forms of writing.

The basics of copywriting are fairly straight forward and easy to learn, but taking the time to master them is an essential step to becoming a professional copywriter.

CHAPTER 2 — Types of Copywriting

Types of copywriting

Copywriting is used by nearly all businesses throughout the world, and it comes in many different forms.

This chapter takes a closer look at the main types of copywriting, the types of businesses that use them, as well as some core industries that hire a lot of copywriters.

The various types of copywriting include a range of print and online materials, so you’ll get a good idea of what projects you might want to specialize in as a copywriter.

CHAPTER 3 — What’s the Job Description of a Copywriter?

What is the Job Description of a Copywriter?

This chapter answers the common question: what exactly does a copywriter do?

You’ll get to know the day-to-day life of a copywriter, which, in our opinion, is pretty awesome. You’ll also find out what kinds of jobs are available for copywriters, where they can work, and other professional roles they can play.

CHAPTER 4 — How Much Do Copywriters Make?

How much do copywriters make?

Your income as a copywriter can vary, depending on how you approach your copywriting career.

This chapter will detail common copywriter salaries, as well as how to set and maximize your fees as a freelancer.

It will also cover the areas of copywriting that tend to pay the most.

CHAPTER 5 — 7 tips on How to Become a Professional Copywriter

tips on how to become a professional copywriter

Becoming a full-fledged copywriter can seem like a daunting task.

But it doesn’t have to be.

In this chapter, you’ll discover a host of practical tips for shortening your learning curve and getting up and running as a professional copywriter as quickly as possible.

CHAPTER 6 — 5 Ways to Find Copywriting Jobs

Ways to find copywriting jobs

You’ve done all the background work to set yourself up as a copywriter. Now what?

This chapter gives you an inside look at how to find the highest paying and most rewarding copywriting jobs in the industry. A vast number of opportunities are waiting for you, as long as you know where, and how, to look.