In a way, you can think of copywriting as an umbrella term for those of us capable of turning a boring idea into engaging, meaningful messages. Ads, brochures, emails, blogs, websites, social media — these are just delivery systems. Today’s successful copywriter is a jack-of-all-trades scribe that is unafraid of tasks, diligent with research, and subtly persuasive at the same time.
Good copywriters hail from diverse backgrounds in communications, marketing, creative writing, business—and many other fields. But regardless of backgrounds and previous job titles, there are a handful of traits that successful copywriters share.
Copywriters who create content for diverse industries through multiple media are naturally curious. Other than knowing how to write and about what’s new in the world of marketing, they have to understand their clients’ goals, branding, and readers.
The successful copywriter is always learning and never afraid to tackle an off-the-wall project. Don’t have a clue about industrial design trends and mutual funds? Research it. Unsure how to growth hack social media? Figure it out.
2. Consistency & Speed
The best copywriters are able to turn out great work that speaks to the right audience and reaches the business’ goals—no matter who their client is. The work might vary depending on the project, topic, and delivery system, but it’s always consistently top quality.
At the same time, though, copywriters are always under deadline. They’ve got to make sure that their work is qualitatively consistent, but they’ve also got to turn it in when it’s due.
Good copywriters are even better readers. Why? Because learning how messages are portrayed via various formats is essential. By reading and writing long enough, you’ll start to develop a taste for what works, what doesn’t, and how to approach new projects.
This “taste” is synonymous with self-criticism. Often, copywriters are the only authority in their company on grammar, format, and other aspects of marketing. To avoid making major mistakes, they have to monitor themselves and know whether or not their content is as good as it can be.
A copywriter should be jealous of great copy. Did you stumble across a boring article but found yourself sucked into 5,000 words on manufacturing methods? Wow. Wouldn’t it be great to write copy that well?
A sense of jealousy is a prominent trait for all writers. While the same goes for most industries, jealousy can be a prime motivator for copywriters to do better and grow their talent.
5. Thick-Skinned Fortitude
The written word is as criticized as anything, especially when your writing is your career. The touchy novelist will slink away at a rude (though justified) comment, but the copywriter endures.
No matter how perfect a piece is, you’ll still have critics. A boss may not understand the difference between “promotional” and “entertaining,” not to mention grammar. The thick-skinned attribute comes into play when you’re authoritative enough to back your own words. Copywriters who aren’t able to do this won’t be copywriters for long. You can (and often should) incorporate good feedback, but you also need to be able to explain and stand up for what you’ve written.
6. Seriously Funny Style
There are times when copywriters need to be serious and others when they have to make readers laugh. This is a broad spectrum, and more a note on “style” than anything.
Different projects and clients call for different styles. Are you able to turn off your marketing-talk for 10 minutes and write a humorous blurb? Can you take out your personality completely and deliver a serious, point-by-point topic? Great copywriters can.
Copywriters work under deadline. Often, I’m balancing a dozen projects at once and have to prioritize churning work out and retain my pace. This is a skill copywriters learn over time but by far is the most important.
Want to be a better copywriter? Here are more tips:
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