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Copywriting has helped millions of people earn a living since the advent and growth of advertising in the 1950’s. In the early days, all you needed was a decent education, a good mastery of the English language and the ability to weave words into beautiful sentences that could tell a story.

However, the growth of the internet over the last few decades has revolutionized copywriting forcing writers to learn a myriad of skills that allow them to stand out in the digital space and keep readers engaged. 

Quality Writing Skills

At the heart of copywriting jobs is the ability to write well. This includes an in-depth understanding of grammar rules, punctuation and proper spelling. As you advance as a copywriter, you will need to grow your vocabulary and learn different writing styles used across the globe. 

In your writing, you need to pay attention to headlines, the readability of your work, the flow of your copy, the transitions you make from one idea to the next and the complexity of your content. 

Working as a copywriter in the digital era means that you need to understand different audiences and tailor your writing to their needs. For example, a young, millennial audience may forgive the use of slang while a more mature audience may expect you to stick to traditional grammar rules. 

Every language has a strict set of rules you must follow; work on mastering these rules. 

Quality writing is about learning your audience and working to continuously tailor your content to the reader. 

Research Skills

A majority of copywriting jobs in the market require you to do extensive research before submitting your work. 

Since most or all of your research is online, you need to sharpen your research skills to ensure you use reliable resources and reduce the amount of time you spend preparing the copy.

One way to improve your research skills is to become internet savvy, which is a skill you can learn and improve over time. 

You need to know the different authorities in your specific field and also learn some basics to help you identify authoritative sources versus commentary that may not have a factual basis. 

Additionally, you need a basic understanding of search engines and how you can use keywords to find the right sources quickly. 

Digital Marketing Skills

Today, good copywriting goes beyond storytelling; you need to understand how the digital space works and how to use it to your advantage. 

Digital skills cover a myriad of topics that you must master over time to become a better writer and get better clients. For example, over 90 percent of online readers find content through search engines; understanding search engine optimization and the role of keywords and titles in helping you improve the ranking of your articles can help you succeed. 

Another important skill is an understanding of the role of different social media platforms in content creation and how you can leverage them to improve your readership. 

Mastering platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is crucial to helping you reach different readers and appeal to new audiences. 

The digital landscape changes on a regular basis, thus you should find a way to stay updated and keep referencing new resources to understand updates made on different search engines or on social media platforms. 

Marketing Skills

Copywriting jobs today revolve around marketing; you need to understand the marketing industry and how it is changing by the day. 

While working as a freelancer, most of the work you get will be geared towards supporting marketing departments. 

Your role as a copywriter is to find the balance between keeping a reader engaged while also convincing them to make a purchase.  

Admittedly, a different copy will target readers at different stages of the buying process. It is your role to understand the reader’s motivation and guide them along the buying journey without coming off as pushy or desperate for a sale. 

Learn the marketing languages and the techniques marketing and sales teams use to engage and convince people to make a purchase. 

Business Skills

Since a majority of the copywriting jobs available today are on a freelance basis, you need business skills to survive the market. 

You must work to develop skills to help you source for quality jobs, manage your clients and work load, send invoices, follow up on payments and manage your taxes among other business expenses. 

While these may not sound as glamorous as getting your work published by a major magazine or website, they are crucial to maintaining your sanity, which in return helps you focus on producing quality work consistently. 

The business skills you need for freelance copywriting will change over time; however, you should dedicate a percentage of your time to ensure things run smoothly.

Creative and Critical Thinking Skills

Your role as a copywriter is to find facts and craft them into a logical and emotive story that adds value to your audience.

In the writing process, you will come across a horde of facts and stories that have the potential to improve your copy. However, you must analyze all the information critically, choose what you need to prioritize and add your own creative twist to make it interesting for the reader.

Reading a wide variety of sources can help you improve your creative skills. While you’ll spend most of your time focusing on a specific type of content, create time to read fictional articles and books to open up your mind to new ideas and perspectives. 

Find inspiration in nature or in other media and use it to make your work a little more interesting. 

Storytelling 

Good copy focuses on capturing the audiences’ attention; people need to find the story in your copy. Readers love stories and will keep coming back to you for more if you can deliver quality stories consistently. 

Every time you have a crucial piece of information to share, think of big, juicy stories you can use to help you drive the point home. 

The audience will love it and reward it by sharing your content within their networks, which is a strong marker for success in the online copywriting space. 

Empathy for People

Strong persuasive skills will ensure you always have copywriting jobs to keep you busy.

Persuasion in your writing begins with a deep interest and understanding of how people think, act and make decisions. If you are looking to create copy that makes an impact, it needs to persuade people to take a specific action.

People make emotional decisions and you need to appeal to the right emotions to persuade them to follow through with your call-to-action. For instance, if you are selling toys to parents, don’t focus on the quality of the toys, interest them on the impact the toys will have on their children; the simple act of painting a picture of a happy child can compel parents to make a purchase immediately. 

Start studying people and notice the little things that affect them and the effect they have on them; it will make you a better writer. 

Get Started Now

Now that you have a basic understanding of some of the skills you need to qualify for quality copywriting jobs, you need to get started immediately. Start with the little you know and learn along the way; most of these skills can only be perfected if you work consistently.

Gradually, you will come across people and resources to help you master the freelance and writing aspects of the job. In the meantime, you can get started on resources such as Small Revolution, which has a wealth of knowledge and useful resources to help you succeed as a copywriter.

Photo by katemangostar / CC BY

Katrina McKinnon
Author

I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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