Articles - 25th October 2019

The skills to sell yourself as a copywriter

Words by Steff Green
Illustration by Jon McCormack

When you’re talking up your copywriting skills at a networking event or pitching your talents to a new client, what do you say? How do you present copywriting as a valuable asset to a business and show that you’ve got the chops?

We copywriters might be able to sell hair care products to Patrick Stewart, but we can sometimes be terrible at selling ourselves. We don’t know how to label and showcase our skills. That stops now. Here’s how to talk up your copywriting prowess.


Relevant professional experience

You may be thinking, “how can I show off my skills when I don’t have a degree in copywriting?”  While there are copywriting courses you can take to improve your skills, writing copy isn’t exactly a typical university subject. 

The truth is, you don’t need a degree to be an exceptional copywriter. Most copywriters hone their craft by writing every day and studying great copy. Instead of worrying about your lack of qualifications, focus on building a solid portfolio of work – if you can demonstrate to potential clients how your copy can bring them more customers, close more sales, or raise their profile, then you’ll land the job.

So don’t worry about not having a ‘proper’ copywriting degree. If you have a relevant qualification, you should talk about it and how it makes you a better writer. A background in business or marketing shows you understand the essential concepts of your client’s workflows and customer lifecycles. A professional field such as medicine or software engineering can allow you to specialize and present yourself as an expert to businesses that serve that market. 


Skilled at different types of copy

As a copywriter, you’ll usually be required to flip from one type of writing to the next. Clients will have a range of different requirements. The key to selling yourself as a copywriter is to demonstrate your abilities in the following:

  • Web copy: short, snappy sentences, easily scannable and giving the most important information upfront. Web copy such as website pages, blog posts, and e-commerce sites also need to be optimized for voice and text search.
  • Brand awareness copy: This might be thought-pieces, pamphlets, posters, emails, adverts, social posts, or other types of copy aimed at making a market aware your client exists. This type of copy is often highly creative – it makes prospects stop in their tracks, desperate to find out more.
  • Direct sales copy: landing pages, mailouts, emails, and other sales tools that ask for a sale. Your client will spend a lot of time tweaking sales copy to improve conversions, so you’ll have to present multiple options for testing. 
  • Editorial copy: This is writing for a magazine or publication. Primarily, it needs to tell a story – your editorial will have people at its heart (whether it’s a customer or someone within the company) and the skills of interviewing and writing an engaging story are essential. 
  • Customer experience copy: This is copy designed to improve the experience of or to gain additional information from your client’s current customers – for example, social media, surveys, and emails. It has to be friendly and clear, and ask the right questions at the right time.

Other types of copywriting you may be skilled at creating include: event copy (programmes, workshop descriptions, keynotes), ghostwriting, annual reports, curriculum writing, downloadable informational content (ebooks, webinars, infographics), grant writing, manuals, business plans, and white papers.

Understand the tech

As well as working knowledge of the different types of copy, you also need to understand the technology that supports and enables them. You’ll probably be uploading your own copy, so your working knowledge of email, website, markdown, programming languages, and social media platforms are skills worthy of highlighting.

But remember, the writing comes first. It’s the core of what you do. In a great article on writing a CV as a copywriter for the Guardian, Martin Calladine – head of copy at Story Worldwide – exclaims, “While technology gives anyone the ability to write a blog, it doesn’t give them the ability to do it well.”


Other essential skills

Great copywriters use a variety of soft-skills to craft award-winning prose and one-click conversions, including:

  • Research skills, to create informed and factual content.
  • Excellent spelling and grammar, to create high-quality copy.
  • A curiosity about the world, so you reflect different experiences and worldviews in your work.
  • The ability to listen and to ask questions, so you can draw out nuggets of gold from interviews.

Check out the Writer’s Bureau website for a detailed breakdown of the soft-skills that make a great copywriter.


If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Now that you know you have the skills to be a world-class copywriter, it’s time to make sure your clients know it, too. The best way to showcase your talents is with an online portfolio website, where you can gather examples of different types of copy and list your qualifications in one place. 

Don’t forget to ask for testimonials from happy clients. A page of glowing reviews says more about you as a writer than all the degrees in the world. 

As a copywriter, your skills are in hot demand. Don’t sell yourself short – know what you do well and make sure your clients know it, too.


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If this sounds like you, head over to our Virtual Office and send us your best work via an UnderPinned Portfolio. We want to hear from you!

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