As we began discussing last week in Part 1 of our series, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about copywriting. In an effort to dispel some of the confusion, we’ve come up with the top nine myths about copywriting—and we’re knocking ’em down, one by one.
Today, we’ll talk about what is and what isn’t copywriting, where the money is and why “working in your pajamas” might not be the best path. Let’s get started!
Myth 4. Copywriting is the same as article writing.
Noooo. No, no, no. There’s a tendency for many people outside of the marketing and ad industry (and sometimes in it) to call all writing “copywriting”. This is not the case; copywriting takes a very different skill set from other kinds of writing.
We’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating: Copy and content are two different things. Copywriting is writing that sells things, be they products, services, ideas or the impetus to take an action. The purpose of content and editorial writing, however, is to inform, entertain or inspire. Content and editorial writing do not directly sell anything.
Copywriting requires knowledge of how to incorporate benefits, features, calls to action, brand voice, strategy, concept and a number of other elements. Article writing requires skill too, of course, but it requires different skills. This is not to say, though, that content and editorial writers can’t become great copywriters. A good understanding of and appreciation for words is the basis of both and, with the right training and ample practice, a content writer could become an excellent copywriter.
Myth 5. All the money is in online sales letter writing.
Well, there certainly are a lot of websites out there that would like you to believe that this is the case, but it’s simply not. In the vast world of copywriting: writing emails, websites, banner ads, microsites, direct mail, sales letters, newspaper and magazine ads, radio and TV for agencies, large corporations, small businesses and non-profits, online sales letters are a very, very small share of the market.
Sure, I’m sure it’s possible to make plenty of money in online sales letter copywriting, but why limit yourself to such a niche market? Learn the skills that translate across all of the different copywriting arenas and then build up your portfolio in several so that you can be a boss’ or recruiter’s or client’s choice for any of them, not just one. There is plenty of money to be made in copywriting—but you’re almost certain to make less of it if you limit yourself.
Myth 6. You work in your pajamas.
This one kind of goes along with Myth 5: There are a ton of websites out there that want to sell you on living the dream of making seven figures writing online sales letters, sitting at home in your pajamas and working only a few hours per day. Sound too good to be true? Of course it is!
Now, don’t get me wrong: You can make money as a freelance copywriter, working from home and, if you choose, in your pajamas. However, you will make much, much more money if you are willing to put on a pair of pants and go into an office every once in a while.
Clients are looking for copywriters they can trust and that are easy to work with. That means that, if you’re going to be a freelancer, you have to be willing to meet with your clients when they want to meet with you. In real life. In real clothing.
On top of that, here’s a little hint: If you don’t want to be full-time with a company but you want to make even more money, you’ll be even better off as a contractor. That is, you aren’t on-staff, you get paid an excellent rate by the hour, and you (usually) work from that company’s office. Your hours may be flexible and you can end the contract whenever you like, but many more companies will prefer to work with someone who, at least at the outset, is willing to come into their office and work with their team in-person. Once they get to know you, you may be able to negotiate some days or some projects at home.
Also, by the way, working in your pajamas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It might be more comfortable than your standard garb and the hours might be more flexible, but working from home can be lonely. It can also make it very difficult to meet new people in the industry and to network. And guess where a lot of your work is going to come from? That’s right: Networking. The people you’ve met or worked with in the past who will refer you for new jobs in the future. Pajamas are great, but they’re not necessarily the uniform for big bucks.
Want to keep going? Read Part Three now!
In the meantime, it’s your turn! What myths have you heard? Or how have you set people straight? Let us know in the comments below!