Copywriting Skills: Definition, Examples and Development

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As a copywriter, you're responsible for producing written materials for a firm, to raise awareness about a particular issue. Usually, the topics you write about depend on your employer's needs and the communication channels you're writing for, such as advertising copy, online guides and press releases. Once you understand what copywriting skills are, you can build your own through varied means, such as enrolling in a course or applying for related roles. In this article, we define copywriting skills, provide examples of effective skills copywriters employ and offer advice on how to improve them.

What are copywriting skills?

Copywriting skills are a set of abilities that a content writer employs to be more productive at work. These attributes might stem from your general personality or something you try to learn as part of an effort to progress your career. Either way, you may consider these skills as markers of past career success, which you can add to by working on yourself.

You can hone your personal copywriting expertise to suit your favoured market. For example, if you predominantly produce advertising materials, you might prioritise good communication and creativity over other skills. Conversely, when producing content on career advice, you might emphasise attention to detail, to ensure the reader remains informed about the issue at hand.

Related: Q&A: What Does a Copywriter Do and How Do You Become One?

Examples of essential skills for copywriters

To succeed as a copywriter, it's important to take note of all relevant skills on your CV. By proving that you're a capable copywriter, you can boost your attractiveness to prospective employers. The following lists details a series of skills you might wish to build upon:

1. Clarity and conciseness

As a copywriter, you're responsible for making the overall message of an article easy to understand. Thus, it's important that you make it simple to read so that readers can follow your descriptions without frustration. Try to avoid overusing certain punctuation, such as commas or semicolons. Rather, you may break up long sentences into shorter ones or use bullet points instead. By taking this approach, you can make the key facts and figures more apparent. This way, you might find it easier to persuade readers to take the action you propose.

Use simple words and phrases, rather than more niche and technical ones wherever possible. For example, when discussing the length of an object, you may use words like long or short, rather than lengthy or minuscule. The first two words better reflect language someone might use in their everyday life. This makes a message more widely accessible.

2. Time management

As a copywriter, you may find the turnover period between receiving and completing new duties to be quite short. To resolve this issue, it's important that you learn to plan out activities well in advance. Consider creating a work timetable that allocates more time for your most urgent tasks. By formally scheduling your work life, you might find it easier to avoid unnecessary multitasking. As you focus on your professional priorities, you can increase your own productivity and limit distractions.

As you become more productive at work, you can gain more control over your personal life. This considered, you might be able to start working part-time, devoting more time to your own interests without any financial consequences. Alternatively, you might take on more work, boosting your income as a result. Either way, you might reduce your stress levels long-term, as problems with finances and work-life balance reduce.

Related: 10 Effective Time Management Skills and Their Benefits

3. Attention to detail

As a copywriter, you can minimise errors in your work by regularly reviewing what you've written. By following this approach, you can ensure that everything you publish meets a high professional and literary standard. Resultantly, you might find it easier to convince readers to follow your advice, with the appropriate use of spelling and grammar lending greater credibility to the argument you've made.

As you avoid such mistakes over time, you can begin to build up a professional reputation as a competent and hardworking copywriter. You might then find it easier to convince prospective clients to trust you with more complex projects. These projects can be more financially lucrative, boosting your overall earning potential in the long term.

4. Good communication

Whatever project you're working on, it's important to communicate with your client or manager regularly. By doing so, you can establish mutual trust and a positive working relationship. You might then find it easier to convey any concerns you have regarding a project's specifications, such as its length or timescale. You might then receive useful feedback about your own work. This may raise the productivity of the whole workplace, as you quickly resolve problems rather than allowing them to fester.

By being assertive at work, you can bolster your general confidence. You may then find it easier to remain resilient during stressful situations, such as when managing deadlines or a high workload. As a result, you might feel more motivated to pursue a promotion, and thus boost your income.

Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

5. Creativity

It's important to think creatively, especially when developing solutions to meet the specifications of different design briefs. To help you become more creative, consider building a technical understanding of the client and its industry. For example, when marketing a product, you might study your client's previous advertising campaigns. You can then identify any useful concepts to build on or past failures to avoid. Conversely, when working on a university's marketing campaign, you might consider its founding ethics, such as scholarly freedom and career opportunity. Either way, by understanding your client's background, you can develop better ideas to promote it.

Related: Conceptual Skills: Definition, Types and Steps to Develop Them

How to improve your skills as a copywriter

You might wish to improve your skills as a copywriter, to increase your attractiveness to potential employers. The following section lists a few useful ways of developing these skills:

1. Enrol in a copywriting course

Firstly, you might wish to enrol in a short course studying the basic principles of copywriting. These courses offer professional training and assessments, and you can often study them online or in person. Upon completion, you receive a formal certification. You can include this achievement in your CV when applying for related jobs.

This considered, there are several copywriting-related courses you could enrol in in Hong Kong. The City University of Hong Kong offers a single-term Copywriting and Editing course, open to all residents regardless of prior education. Through this course, you can develop the necessary skills to produce persuasive and well-structured materials for relevant industries, such as advertising, sales and the press. You can learn how to edit your written work with precision.

2. Practise in your free time

After completing your course, you might wish to produce practice articles in your free time. By doing this, you can ensure that the skills and knowledge you accrued while studying remain fresh in your mind. You can prove to employers that you're committed to your self-development goals and advancing in your career, making it more likely that they might employ you.

3. Start from the bottom

You might wish to set up an online profile on a freelance writing website. Here you can bid for tasks, offering your services in return for a suitable fee. If successful, you can then agree on a timetable with your client during which you complete the task. If the client feels satisfied with your work, you might secure further employment or earn a written reference.

It's important that you're patient when bidding for freelance copywriting tasks. With the Internet making it easier to apply for such roles, this industry has become rather competitive. Therefore, it's useful to gain relevant qualifications and experience first, so that you establish a professional profile that potential clients may find attractive. Over time, you can gain more work as you expand your professional network among leaders in the industry.

Related: Part-Time vs. Full-Time Jobs: Definitions and Differences

4. Apply for full-time jobs

Having completed the previous three steps, you may start to apply for full-time copywriting positions. As an entry-level professional, you're often mentored by a senior copywriter. Under their guidance, you might produce marketing materials for many client institutions, such as multinational firms, governments and universities.

Over time, you might establish a professional reputation as a hardworking and disciplined copywriter. You can then begin to apply for more senior positions, increasing your long-term opportunities and earning potential.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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