“There is nothing to writing,” Ernest Hemingway once said. “All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Though he probably would’ve baulked at the mere suggestion, Ernest would have made a very good copywriter – that quote is a great tagline. No one’s going to buy what he’s selling, but it definitely sticks in your head.
So if Hemingway himself can potentially do both, what’s the difference between writing and copywriting? And how can you make sure you’re hiring the right type of writer for your needs? Let’s find out.
What Is Copywriting?
We all know what writing is. You pick up a pen or sit down at a keyboard and get to it. But what about copywriting? Is it literally copying writing, like you’ve misbehaved at school and been made to write out lines? Well, no.
The “copy” in copywriting doesn’t refer to imitating something; it’s referring to the material a writer produces. Copy is written content designed to be marketed. It’s writing that’s selling somebody something. Occasionally it can be subtle, but more often than not it’s very easy to spot copywriting when you know what you’re looking for.
How Is Copywriting Different From Writing?
Copywriting and “regular” writing differ in their intent. A piece of writing could be designed to entertain, to inspire, to inform, to move. Copywriting can also aim for all that, but its primary goal is to sell (this can be a product, a service or even an idea or concept). Copywriters have to keep that in mind at all times, making sure they represent the brand or product as effectively as possible.
Copywriting often employs bold, emotional and persuasive language (at least the good stuff does), humour and wit where required, and even shades of self-awareness or satire. Again, it all depends on what exactly you’re selling and the values of that brand or product. It’s also critical to know who you’re selling to!
Online Copywriting Vs. Traditional Copywriting
Copywriting has been around for centuries. The first printed material is said to have been produced in 1477, and true to form, it was promoting the sale of a prayer book. People always have something to sell and always try to utilise the best tools to do it. These days, that means the internet.
Online copywriters are more focused on short, impactful writing that packs a punch and gets the message across immediately. People have short attention spans on the internet. The trick is to hook them in as quickly as possible with your headline or subheading.
Why You Need A Copywriter
Strong copywriting is essential for your site. Although it is different to writing, not just anyone can do it. Creating dynamic copy that represents your brand and gets customers through the (digital) door is an art unto itself.
Copywriters are also great for blogs, as they can get keywords into your copy organically while making your content more engaging overall, enhancing SEO and keeping readers interested. However, if you do feel the tug of the scribe and want to test your writing chops, the blog is the place to do it. As long as you keep your posts consistent, you can type away to your heart’s content.
But don’t be a “writer” on your main site. Work with a copywriter and sell yourself the way you deserve. (See, there’s a tagline right there!)