Introduction to Copywriting

online copywriting can be lucrative and fun

There can be little doubt about it; good copywriting is an art, and like most arts it can only be learnt over time and perfected with much practice. The secret to writing great copy, it would seem, is in understanding how to communicate a clearly identified message in a voice that is audience appropriate and convincing.

A good copywriter will, therefore, be able to move between narrative voices with relative ease, and between diverse audiences, in order to achieve the communicative aims of the project at hand. Given the fact that the creative conceptual work driving the “argument” of the project is frequently left to the devices of the copywriter, it is also important for an aspiring copywriter to have an imagination to equal his or her literary skills.

In many advertising agencies, however, this conceptual aspect of copywriting is a collaborative act involving the copywriter (in this capacity as a conceptual artist) and the art director. Good team dynamics is therefore an essential ingredient in the mix that goes to the creation of advertisements that persuade people to purchase one object instead of another.

In the case of longer brochure types of communications, adept writing ability comes to the fore and can be seen to supersede the conceptual aspect of copywriting. The copywriter, in the latter context, is very much an author as opposed to the developer of a line of argument (the concept) which drives the overall thematic content of the communique.

Simply put, the task of the copywriter is twofold: the first issue that needs to be addressed is the conceptual side of the communique; the second part of the process is translating the conceptual work into a script that adequately conveys the important information of the project without losing the thematic drive of the conceptual work.

This is contrary to the popular belief held by the general public that copywriting is exclusively, as is suggested by the title, a task of writing convincing texts. Instead, its dual nature demands the use of imagination as well as linguistic skill in realising the salient aspects of the imaginative argument conceived prior to the commencement of the planning and production stages of the respective project.

Online copywriting is very similar to copywriting in the various other media, and there is no special secret principle that applies that somehow makes it different to traditional media. In practice, though, one has to bear in mind that consumers are bombarded with information, especially on the internet, and that the time given to convey a message is limited to just a few seconds if your text is a banner ad or an ad for YouTube or SEM. Website content gives one more room for linguistic manoeuvres, but essential points are best conveyed in a succinct and in a “to the point” manner. Readers will appreciate your candour, and you are more likely to hold their attention when information is pertinent and relevant.

One last point to remember when writing for websites is the use of targeted keywords: search engines index words on a website and try to return pages with useful information in search engine results. In other words, use keywords in your text that search users may use when looking for a site such as the one you are writing for.