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Copywriting is the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.
Copywriters help create billboards, brochures, catalogs, jingle lyrics, magazine and newspaper advertisements, sales letters and other direct mail, scripts for television or radio commercials, taglines, white papers and other marketing communications.
They are generally known as website content writers if their work appears mostly on the Internet. A content writer helps create online advertisements, web pages, email newsletters, blog posts and social media.
Cross discipline copywriters who look at the wider context of their work are called digital copywriters. The distinction is that these individuals consider the mechanics of the user journey, the external links that are included in the copy for search engine optimisation and are highly focussed towards creating online sales and dealing with technical issues such as bounce rate.
- Advertising agencies usually employ copywriters as part of a creative team in which they are partnered with art directors. The copywriter writes text or script for an advertisement, based largely on information obtained from the client. The art director is responsible for visual aspects of the advertisement and, particularly in the case of print work, may oversee production. Either member of the team can come up with the overall idea (typically referred to as the concept) and the process of collaboration often improves the work.
- Copywriting agencies combine copywriting with a range of editorial and associated services that may include positioning and messaging consulting, social media, search engine optimization, developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading, fact checking, layout and design. The clients are usually large corporations.
Copywriters also work in-house for retail chains, book publishers or other big firms which advertise frequently. They can also be employed to write advertorials for newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and cable providers.
Copywriters are similar to technical writers and the careers may overlap. Broadly speaking, however, technical writing is dedicated to informing readers rather than persuading them. For example, a copywriter writes an advertisement to sell a car, while a technical writer writes the operator's manual explaining how to use it.
John Emory Powers (1837-1919) was the world's first full-time copywriter. Other famous copywriters who worked in advertising throughout their careers include William Bernbach, Leo Burnett, Robert Collier, Claude C. Hopkins, David Ogilvy and Lester Wunderman.
Many creative artists worked as copywriters before becoming famous, including:
- Eric Ambler
- J.G. Ballard
- David "Lil Dicky" Burd
- William S. Burroughs
- Peter Carey
- Don DeLillo
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Terry Gilliam
- Alec Guinness
- Dashiell Hammett
- Joseph Heller
- Russell Hoban
- John Hughes
- Shigesato Itoi
- Lawrence Kasdan
- Philip Kerr
- Elmore Leonard
- Vladimir Mayakovsky
- Ogden Nash
- Bob Newhart
- Alan Parker
- James Patterson
- Salman Rushdie
- Dorothy L. Sayers
- Murray Walker
- Fay Weldon
In book publishing, flap copy or jacket flap copy is the summary of a book which appears on the inside of a hardcover dust jacket; back cover copy is similar text, usually briefer, on the outside back cover; and catalog copy is a summary written for a publisher's catalog.
The Internet has expanded the range of copywriting opportunities to include landing pages and other web content, online advertisements, emails, blogs, social media and other forms of electronic communications.
The Internet has brought new opportunities for copywriters to learn their craft, do research and view others' work. Clients, copywriters and art directors can more readily find each other, making freelancing a viable job option.
Search engine optimization
Web copy may include among its objectives the achievement of higher rankings in search engines. Known as "organic" search engine optimization (SEO), this involves the strategic placement and repetition of keywords and keyword phrases on web pages, writing in a manner that human readers would consider normal.
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