What is a copywriter? 5 writing roles explored and explained

What is a COPYWRITER? 5 writing roles explored and explained

Writing and marketing are two disciplines with languages all of their own. Where the two overlap things can get bewildering. Are you unsure of the difference between copywriting and copyright, or copy editing and editing? You’re not alone. This article is for you. Read on for a better grasp of five oft-confused job roles (and one red herring).

Uses words to inspire action
Copy describes the words found in advertisements, brochures and other marketing communications. Copywriters are the people who write these words. Copywriting isn’t just writing – it’s writing persuasively so that the reader is prompted to take specific action. In my role as copywriter for Practical Action, much of my writing has the aim of encourage donations. When I’m writing for Food and Drink Guides, my advertorial reviews persuade the reader to visit a particular restaurant. Copywriting is writing with purpose.

Is something completely different…
It’s not surprising that people get confused between copywriting and copyright. The two words sound the same, but they are completely different things. Copyright is the legal right to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material. Once you’ve got your head around that it’s easy to remember the difference – copywriting is a type of writing, while copyright is a type of right. There’s no such thing as a copyrighter.

Uses words to strengthen a brand
Where copywriting has a specific goal in mind, content writing has a broader and less defined goal. Content writing is generally focused on building and maintaining a brand and encouraging the reader to engage with it. Blog posts, podcasts, social media posts and infographics all fall within the content writer’s remit. They are discrete pieces of work that have value in their own right.

Polishes words until they shine

National newspapers use dozens of copy editors. These writers go through an article and make sure that the language flows well and is easy to read. They fact-check it, correct spelling and grammar and improve sentence structure. They maintain consistency by amending the article so that it conforms to the publication’s style guide. As Food and Drink Editor for Great Central magazine, I copy edited the work of other authors. Judging how much needs to change, without losing the individual voice of the author, is a valuable skill.

Puts the right words in the right places
Most people are familiar with the image of the traditional newspaper editor. They choose which stories to cover and coordinate the work of journalists and photographers. This was another aspect of my role as Great Central’s Food and Drink Editor. A similar role is that of content editor. This person takes a similar overview of an organisation’s marketing output. They decide which subjects to cover, what the format will be and which communications channels to use.

Writes to generate web traffic
Many of the skills needed to write for the web are universal. This is becoming more true as search engine ranking algorithms get more sophisticated. It’s no longer possible to ‘trick’ Google with reams of keywords hidden in metadata. Instead, it’s quality, well-written web content that comes out tops. There are still some specific techniques that apply to writing for the web though. I’ll explore some of these in a later post.

There’s a lot of crossover between writing roles. In my own career, I’ve worked both in-house and freelance. In each case, my activities have usually combined elements of two or more of the roles I’ve outlined in this post. This variety is one of the things that makes working in this industry endlessly challenging and rewarding.

Posted in Copywriting