What Does a Copywriter Do Exactly?

What does a copywriter do exactly?

Step right up. Below is my “tell it to me like I’m ten” explanation.

Or if you prefer a video, here you go.

What does a copywriter do exactly?

Simply put, we provide the words that sell a product, a service, or a cause.

Let’s illustrate this with an example.

Your clock radio goes off at 6:07 AM, because that’s how you roll, and you hear a commercial for Dunkin. Yes, America runs on Dunkin. You get up out of bed, stumble to the kitchen, and flip on the TV. Yet another commercial is playing, this one for a car. You get ready for work, page through the latest issue of The Week, and pause on a full-page ad for a river cruise that follows Lewis and Clarke’s expedition along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and you think, “Damn. That would be cool.”

You get in the car, hop on the Mass Pike, and head to work. On the way in, you spot a billboard for the Museum of Science and think it would be good to bring your nieces and nephews there soon.

At work, you futz around online for a bit, checking Facebook, pausing on an ad for Olive & June nail polish. You resist the temptation, but you’re definitely intrigued, along with an ad you see for Lume Deodorant. (If you know, you know.) You check your personal email and see a Groupon with a great deal on a massage and you decide to get it as a gift for your bestie who’s turning 50 soon.

Come lunchtime, you and your coworkers decide you want Indian food, so you do some Googling and click on a new restaurant’s Google Business Profile. The pictures look delish, and the write-up sounds intriguing.

For work, one of your current tasks is researching background check companies so that you can make recommendations to your boss. You find three you really like, based on their websites, their blogs, and their reviews, so you hand that info over to your boss.

As you’re leaving work, you notice someone has tucked flyers under everyone’s windshield wipers in the parking lot. The flyer is advertising a nearby bar’s all-you-can-eat wings every Thursday night.

When you get home, you fetch the mail and notice a direct mailer for a new dentist’s office in town, which you file away as a possibility since your dentist is retiring at the end of the year. You also receive a packet from Mass Audubon and decide to make a donation because you’ve gotten REALLY into birding lately. (No judgment!)

Later that night, in bed, you’re scrolling through Insta and see another ad for Olive & June nail polish, and this time you click over, read the reviews, watch a video, and order. And then you do the same thing for Lume.

OK . . . all of that stuff . . . all of that is an example of copywriting at work.

The words in the radio and TV spots, the Groupon email, the highway billboard, the print ad in the magazine, the social media ads, even the flyer tucked under your windshield wiper . . .  Someone had to write those words.

Not all of the words were necessarily written by a professional writer. But all of the words still qualify as copywriting.

Because repeat after me, kids: Copywriting is writing that’s trying to sell a product, service, or a cause.

So what does a copywriter do exactly?

They wrote the words companies and organizations use to promote or sell their product, service, or cause.

Companies or organizations might hire them as employees. Or they might outsource to them.

Some copywriters, like me, are generalists. We work with a variety of companies, both b2b and b2c, and we write different types of content, like blog posts, websites, print and digital ads, social media posts, emails, a little bit of everything.

Other copywriters might specialize. For example, some might focus only on SEO copywriting. Others might be email copywriters or direct mail copywriters.

Again, what does a copywriter do exactly?

I’ve been working as a freelance copywriter for over twenty years and feel fairly confident I can represent . . .

We sit in our jammies or yoga pants (you know, the days we’re actually wearing pants), and we’ll write blog posts and white papers, landing pages and email campaigns, social media posts and more blogs.

We’ll think about strategy and develop editorial calendars.

We’ll participate in marketing meetings.

We’ll interview subject matter experts for the content we’re writing.

We’ll conduct research, including keyword research for website copy and blogs.

We’ll write.

And revise.

Write some more.


And did I mention writing, writing, and more writing?

We’ll drink coffee.

And Slack colleagues.

We’ll Zoom and Skype clients.

Occasionally we’ll send invoices and reconcile our checking accounts and pay taxes, because we’re running a business here.

And sometimes we’ll even take showers and do laundry.

And some of us have YouTube channels and put on makeup so we can do videos about what a copywriter does exactly.

Very meta.

Got a Question for the Copy Bitch?

That’s me! I’m the Copy Bitch. Contact me or visit my YouTube channel and leave a comment on one of my videos. I might make a blog post or video with the answer.