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So, What Is Copywriting? I'll Give You 3 Guesses…

Updated: May 1, 2023

And don’t say “words that sell”

The Flintstones

What is copywriting?

No, it’s not something new, it just sounds new and fancy.

You might be familiar with David Ogilvy and Leo Burnett, but have you ever heard of John Emory Powers? Born in New York in 1837, he was the first full-time copywriter (as far as we know) and he worked for American department stores, Lord & Taylor and Wanamaker's, before becoming a freelancer in 1886.

Yes, you read that right - he became a freelance copywriter in 1886 - talk about being a pioneer…

So even though copywriting might have not existed in Wilma’s time, it does go way back… in fact, it probably existed during her time too, just not in the modern sense of the word…

At some point, she must have written Fred a note that persuaded him to do something.

And I don’t mean the typical “take out garbage” post-it. That’s not copywriting, that’s just an order - or a loving request.

Before you jump the gun...

copywriting doesn't mean making someone do something or buy something. Especially if they’re not interested in it (on any level).

You might enjoy the winter holidays but you’re not going to buy a Christmas tree in July no matter how well it's sold to you.

Copywriting is actually a universally beneficial skill because it helps you in so many different situations: from writing a convincing email for your boss asking for extra budget on a project or a headline that attracts the attention of that tall, dark and handsome potential client (here’s looking at you, kid), to writing a tailored message that might potentially drive a sale.

But it’s not just that… is my point.

So, what are the main types of copywriting?

Landing page and website copywriting that doesn’t just present your company or some once-in-a-lifetime deal

Whenever I open a website and see a “Welcome to [name of company]” message, I want to scratch my eyes. What a wasted opportunity for a catchy text that will connect with the readers and leave them wanting more.

That’s what you want out of a website and that’s what good web copywriting is all about.

In fact, landing page and website copywriting are among the most popular projects for copywriters everywhere. In a way, it’s one of the best opportunities to shine in front of a client because the success of a website is easier to measure than other projects. You can see where people click, how long they’re on a page and how fast they bounce off it.

Ad copywriting, from ads to social media paid content

Ads are annoying. We’re just annoyed with them. And truthfully so because we’re wired to be reluctant to a sales pitch. You see the little “sponsored” mark and you’re automatically rejecting the idea of that ad and psychologically rolling your eyes at it.

What I’ve seen is that companies don’t really hire copywriters for ad copy, they hire ads specialists who also do the writing. Some are good, others even dismiss the content and write anything because “the image is what counts”. Kill me now…

The potential is there, companies just lack the comparison between a professional copywriter and an ad specialist writing the copy.

Email copywriting that helps get that potential client through the sales funnel

This is something you see a lot: you want a checklist off of someone’s website and you leave your email. You get an email with the pdf, a short bio of the author and a brief reminder that they specialize in X. Interesting… you might think… but not for now.

A week passes by and you get a second one that speaks of the importance of one of the points on the checklist… which that guy coincidentally sells... hmmm interesting again but is this the right time to hire this guy?

And since the guy knows you open his emails and interact with them, he eventually offers you a deal you can’t say no to.

Trickery? No, a deal where both parties win.

Ok, there are way more types of copywriting but these 3 are very good examples of where good copywriting can make a difference.

Where it can actually have a very high impact but…

That’s just me thinking out loud...


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