When I tell people I’m a copywriter, more often than not his or her response is a blank stare. Occasionally someone will respond, “So, you deal with copyright issues?” This always makes me smile, but of course the answer is “no.” Or someone will respond, “So, you write for magazines?” Again, the answer is “no,” although that’s a bit closer to the mark.
A copywriter, simply put, is someone who is paid to write marketing, advertising and/or fundraising copy (“copy” is just another word for, well, words). Think of everything you’ve seen today – the back of the box of cereal, the websites you’ve visited (and all the online ads that follow you around the internet), the flyer that got shoved under your door, the ads in your morning newspaper, the billboards and bus shelter ads you drove by, the cheesy ad on the radio, the “junk mail” in your mailbox (and your inbox). Words, words everywhere – and someone gets paid to write them all. That someone would be me (except for the cheesy radio ads – a woman’s gotta have some
standards), or people like me.
As I mentioned above, copywriters are often confused with freelance writers, but the two jobs are quite different (although they can usually be done by the same person). A freelance writer writes articles for magazines and newspapers, of both the print and online variety. A freelance writer’s job is (usually) to inform. A copywriter’s job is to sell – a product, a brand or a cause. A freelance writer gets a by-line (“written by Joe Freelancer”). A copywriter is anonymous – do you have any idea who wrote the copy on Nike.com or in the annual report of your favourite charity? Usually, a copywriter is paid more than a freelancer (unless you’re a freelance writer for Vanity Fair or Cosmo) because there is none of the glory of seeing your name in print.
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