Copywriting 101: What Do Copywriters Do, Exactly?

Light blue typewriter from a bird's eye view.

Almost everyone knows how to read and write, right? Yet nearly every company in the world, from the biggest global enterprises to the smallest local startups, trusts and hires professional copywriters.

But what exactly do copywriters do, how do copywriters benefit your company, and how do you know if you should hire them?

These are great (and perfectly fair) questions — and we’re happy to answer them here. So keep reading.

What Is Copywriting?

“Copywriting is the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing.”


Copywriting is the process and discipline of wielding the written word to accomplish something. In business, that can mean anything from writing articles and case studies to creating ads, emails, or press releases.

But copywriting is not limited to marketing. Think about the training materials your company uses when onboarding new hires. Every single word of text in those documents was created by a copywriter. The same goes for sales phone scripts, television commercial voiceovers, social media posts — we engage with professional copywriting nearly every moment of every day.

Professional copywriters are more than just dictation machines, too. They are storytellers. They work with clients to distill 50-page brand guidelines into a one-line slogan that sells millions. They meet with your customers to understand your 5-year relationship, synthesize an hour-long conversation into the most important points, and produce a polished case study that your sales team can use to move mountains.

The fact is, 99 percent of interactions customers have with your brand are with the words created by copywriters. They are that important to your success.

Different Types of Copywriting

There are lots of different places and situations in which we interact with professional copywriting. But to make things simple, we can break most copywriting down into three (3) main categories.

Advertising Copywriting

Most of the copywriting you see in the wild falls into the category of marketing copywriting: advertising.

From paid search ads, to sponsored social media posts, to old-school TV commercials, this is the kind of snappy, punchy copywriting that even the most stubborn folks would agree, “Yeah, I couldn’t do that.”

What makes advertising copywriting so valuable — and so difficult — is its ability to take a whole whirlwind of critical information about your brand, products, events, SEO, etc., and condense it down into 30-second soundbites, single-paragraph posts, and two-word slogans. Brevity and clarity are the names of the game when it comes to advertising copy.

And advertising copy that gets it exactly right will immediately and directly drive revenue.

Sales Copywriting

Your salespeople are likely extremely good at what they do. Responding to objections, identifying solutions to match a customer’s needs: this is where sales teams really shine. But when those sales reps need an industry case study to share with a client, or an email drip campaign to engage their accounts, they turn to copywriters.

It’s not always that sales teams can’t write their own copy. They just frequently don’t have the time, bandwidth, or resources. Time not spent selling is time wasted, after all. In sales situations, copywriters will work with your teams to figure out their goals, what message(s) they’re trying to convey, and synthesize all that into clear, snappy, effective copy.

This is goal-oriented copywriting at its finest. And while frequently overlooked, good sales copywriting is a skill in and of itself — and one that builds the pipeline and accelerates deals and buyer journeys through your funnel.

Brand Development

Also known as thought leadership, brand development copywriting often takes the shape of long-form blogs and articles. When people are searching for topics related to your business — say, looking for fun new peanut butter & jelly sandwich recipes and you own a bread company — these blogs help drive traffic to your business and position you as a trusted expert in the field, one they can turn to for useful information.

In these scenarios, copywriters will work closely with subject matter experts (SMEs) to take complex, in-the-weeds industry knowledge and explain it in a way that your intended audience can understand.

The role of a copywriter in this type of writing is not only to create an entertaining, accurate, and highly informative blog post. It’s also to quickly get up to speed and synthesize deeply complex information and put it into plain, clear writing.

They say that if you truly understand a topic, you can explain it in a way that a five-year-old would comprehend. Good professional copywriters do this every single day in industries they’ve never worked in, day in and day out.  

What Is the Role of a Copywriter?

You may be asking yourself, do you really need to hire a copywriter?

It’s a fair question. And one we’ll answer with another question: do you really need to hire a pilot? Anyone can learn to be a pilot. There are training courses everywhere, and with enough time and enough money, you would eventually learn to fly. Sure, there would be some scary moments, and if you already owned an airline you would be hemorrhaging money while you learned. Plus, if you were also the CFO, or the chief engineer, or even the lead salesperson at the airline, you’d never find time to do both jobs well. And even if you trained for hundreds of hours, your flying would still be bumpier than a pilot with tens of thousands of hours at the controls.

That’s why you hire professional copywriters. Anyone can write, but not everyone can write well. You could learn to write eventually, but that’s never been the standard in business. Who can do the job best, fastest, and most reliably? Who can add value to your business without subtracting from other operations?

Put simply: who do you trust to tell your company’s story, right now?

The answer is copywriters. And that’s why copywriting is so important.

Jason Rogers

A graduate of the College of William & Mary and La Sorbonne, Jason has worked in content marketing all over the world, serving as Director of Digital Marketing for the Chinese Language Institute in Guilin, China. Based in Washington, D.C., Jason covers the National Hockey League as a credentialed reporter and television analyst; he has wordsmithed for high-visibility institutions and companies from the United States Congress to Google. He loves hockey, hip-hop, and original hyperbole.

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