A Little History Of The First Copywriter
The first ever known copywriter is John Emroy Power 1837 – 1919. During his time, he made millions for the department stores Lord & Taylor and Wanamaker.
By 1886 he worked as a freelancer, not by choice. He was described as an impudent man by John Wanamaker. Often has problems with his employers by being candid with his ads.
He pioneered the full-page ad in the form of a story or a play. The free trial that we consequently forget about and end up paying anyway after the free trial period expires. Genius!
By the late 1890s, he was earning $100 a day. Which in 2016 was estimated to be $700K.
Want to know the real power of copywriting? Power saved a struggling, almost bankrupt company with this ad.
“We are bankrupt. This announcement will bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and buy tomorrow we shall have the money to meet them. If not we will go to the wall.”
Who would have thought being honest can get lots of sales. More than enough to save a company drowning in debt.
So What Does A Copywriter Do?
First time I have heard of a copywriter I thought of someone who patents or trademarks. Well, now I know better. So don’t feel bad if you also thought the same.
Most people do not know what copywriters do unless they have dealt with them in the past.
I remember someone asking me what I do for a living, to which I replied, I am a copywriter. He nodded his head and asked how I got into trademarking and copyrighting?
I shook my head and explained that I am a copywriter with a W, not R. Then went onto do my elevator pitch.
“I write to build relationships with thousands of people while influencing them to act on my chosen goal. Just last week I helped a business tripled their sales on a single product.”
An elevator pitch is a brief, well-crafted sentence or sentences that intrigues. It should only last as long as an elevator ride, as short as 20 to 40 seconds, hence the name, elevator pitch.
So the next time someone asks what you do, instead of replying your job title you give them your elevator pitch.
A Copywriter’s Job Description
Just sitting here staring at my screen thinking the type of jobs I do as a copywriter. I have come to the conclusion that working for an advertising or marketing agency is the same as being a freelancer.
In any work setting as a copywriter, you need to create and write the creatives, research materials, collaborate with a team, presentation, revision.
Not only do you have to write the copy but also come up with the concept, ideas, to best approach the client’s needs.
As a copywriter, you need to think of clever ideas to develop, position your client’s brand, services or products.
What do you think of when you hear the words, just do it? You associate it with the brand Nike, of course you do.
Before Nike bombarded us with this tagline, it was a common statement to tell others, especially kids to do their homework, eat their vegetables or chores. “Clean your room, just do it!”
80% of the time, copywriting is all about research. You need materials to work with and get answers on how to’s, who, where, what.
Who is your audience? How to speak to that audience. Where are they hanging out? What are their needs, pains, desires?
I remember doing my first ever Fiverr gig, refurbished phones. Researching about refurbished phones is straight forward but knowing what the customer’s wants, needs or desires, how to talk to them took a while.
With me, I like to be thorough with my research. Some may take a few hours. I want to allocate a full day or two to dig deeper and be in the audience’s mindset.
Collaborate With A Team
In an Advertising or Marketing agency, you have a team of creative staff and managers to bounce ideas off with.
You can do the same as a freelancer. There are many online groups that share the same passion as you.
If you are like me, you can start or join a group where other professional copywriters discuss ideas. Within this group, there are others that love to critique your work.
I love those grammatically correct individuals that will point out every little mistake you make. Thank them for their work, feed their ego and make your money.
In an agency, you will be presenting ideas, concepts, to the team. Sometimes you will need to pitch to clients and deliver the final draft.
Online presentation is the best way to communicate with your client. I find traveling from A to B is a complete waste of time just to present your draft.
I can do this just by shooting my client an email or sharing my doc file. No traffic, no hassle, easy for both.
After the team has presented the deliverable to the client, one or two things will happen. One, your client is happy and print the final copy.
Two, the client is outraged and wants to scrap the whole idea. You just wasted both their time and yours.
This is why you should do your presentation online. We live in a Digital Age where you can see, hear and speak to people on the other side of the planet by using a communication protocol like Skype.
As you have gathered, not only are you just a writer but also a creative problem solver, a mind reader and a salesperson. You need to communicate well with the team, with the boss, pitch to the client, and most of all, solve their problems.