Copywriting is one of the most sought after jobs in marketing. It’s not just the potential remuneration that makes this career path so attractive — freelance copywriters generally have more freedom with their time, plus in many cases, they get to choose their clients too.
Interested in becoming a copywriter? Here are five key skills that you should master to make your profile stand out to clients and hiring managers.
- Quality output and impeccable time management
One of the biggest challenges that you’ll face as a professional writer is having to deliver high-quality content within specified deadlines. This can be easy enough if you have only one employer, but if you’re freelancing and you’re juggling multiple clients, things can quickly get complicated.
You’ll need to know how to manage your time accordingly and ensure that every piece of content you produce is topnotch. This means understanding how much workload you can afford to take on without feeling completely overwhelmed.
Some writing jobs require the copywriter to deliver more than 5,000 words per day for various projects and clients, so they have to finish each task quickly and jump to the next, over the course of the day.
Experienced copywriters have developed systems that allow them to quickly write articles without sacrificing quality. This is often a good place to start.
Of course, it might take a while to set up your own system but once you’ve got the ball rolling, it should get easier down the line. Over time, you should be able to take on more projects and deliver them within their respective deadlines.
- Writing flexibility and adapting your tone to meet client specifications
Whether you have just one employer or work with multiple clients, chances are they’ll have their own in-house style that dictates the tone and structure of their content. Employers want copywriters that can easily adapt to this style and be consistent with it when writing.
And it’s not just about in-house styles too. Different platforms have different writing styles that you must familiarize yourself with before you begin writing and posting content on them. For instance, the writing style you’d use for a social media post will be different from the one you’d use for a blog.
One proven way to become more flexible with your writing style is to try and write for different platforms. Magazines and online publications typically accept guest posts from readers, but they’ll only publish the article if it meets their writing style.
All you need to do is reach out to the editor of such outlets and pitch your idea of an article that you think will benefit their readers.
Keep in mind that not all publications pay for guest posts, but at the very least, you’ll learn how to properly adapt your writing styles and boost your writing portfolio. Plus, you get to become better at pitching ideas, which is an essential skill for content marketing.
- Ability to conduct in-depth research and transform briefs into useful content
Copywriting projects often begin with a brief, detailing important aspects such as word count, outline, and optimization requirements.
The ability to follow such briefs may seem like an underrated skill, but it is one of the most crucial things employers look for in a copywriter. In fact, many hiring managers will test this skill by providing applicants with a “sample brief” and asking them to produce content as outlined.
It’s equally important to know how to conduct proper research on any given topic. In some cases, the brief provided will not give a detailed outline of the main topics to cover in the article. It’s up to you to research and write something worth publishing.
You should also note that briefs tend to differ so it makes sense to get exposure to as many kinds of briefs as possible before going full time with your copywriting. For example, briefs for an ad copy will not be the same as that for a whitepaper.
- On-page SEO
Almost every form of copywriting involves posting the content on an online platform, whether it’s a website, social media account, forum, etc. As such, copywriters are expected to at least have a basic understanding of how online searches and optimization work.
That’s what on-page SEO is all about.
You need to know how to insert keywords naturally within the text, write meta titles and descriptions, and provide appropriate alt tags for any images used. You’ll also need to know how to employ H tags and structure the article to follow an easy to digest format.
There are several free resources available where you can learn more about SEO and effectively hone your skills. Typical interview questions for SEO copywriting roles include:
“How do you insert keywords naturally in an article?”
“How do you structure SEO friendly articles?”
“What is the role of copywriting in an SEO campaign?”
- Being able to gracefully accept feedback
What is perhaps the most difficult aspect of being a copywriter is having to deal with the subjectivity of people’s evaluation of your work.
You could write the perfect article in line with the brief provided, but the client may reject it or request a ton of revisions for trivial reasons. In such instances, it helps to remember to not take things too personally.
Take the feedback on the chin and resist the urge to lash out. Instead, strive to be better next time. More importantly don’t lose your enthusiasm for writing. Feedback, whether pleasant or harsh, comes with the job.
Some employers even make sure to ask how you would normally react to constructive criticism when interviewing you for the job. Be sure to focus your answer on how you would graciously accept said feedback.
The world has gone digital and there’s no shortage of copywriting opportunities everywhere. As you can see from the list above, most of the skills that employers look for in a copywriter are gained through experience and a certain level of resilience.
In any case, don’t be afraid to start small and keep working on these skills until they come naturally to you. If you feel you’re up for it, check through our available copywriting jobs to get started.