What makes a good copywriter? Throughout my career as a professional writer and my personal life as a voracious reader, I have found that there are six main writerly attributes, the sum of which tends to add up to compelling copy in any format:
Quite simply, at the core, a good writer does one thing and does it well: they take you along with them. That isn’t to say that a good writer is always able to persuade you to agree with their stance on any given matter, but they will be successful in persuading you to keep reading, and in my opinion, this is paramount. Well-written copy grabs you from the first paragraph, and doesn’t let go until the last word has been absorbed. In this world of fast, unlimited information, being able to grab and hold readers’ attention comes first, and everything else comes second.
This one is obvious but worth stating – style and actual love of writing on the part of the copywriter are the charismatic trademarks immediately felt by readers. Even with copywriting where the writer doesn’t receive byline credit for their work, good writers project through their assemblage of words as an interested presence that takes pride in storytelling and delivering any message with flair and genuine interest. They’ll sound well-researched but not sterile, and highly knowledgeable but still human.
This is another one that goes without saying, but to be specific, a good copywriter possesses the creativity to inspire an emotional connection between reader and subject matter, able to present themselves as benevolent authorities on whatever it is they’re writing about, creating a bond of trust. If the subject matter is boring, a good writer knows that it’s still no excuse for turning out boring copy. If it is worth writing about and worth reading, then there is always an angle in there that could be manipulated with some crafty word play to generate interest.
A writer’s curiosity is immediately apparent and, if they are good, it is immediately contagious, too. Whether as long-form content or quick and pithy copy, their alignment with, or at the very least, curiosity for the brand, product, or movement they’ve partnered with is written all over it. They need to be interested enough to do their due diligence when writing on new topics, and be able to present it in a way that transfers this curiosity over to the reader.
Good copywriting is telling enough of the story to get the message across, but knowing when brevity is a better route to take in a specific situation. Readers like to know that the writer respects their time and isn’t just droning on for the sake of a higher word count. Good copywriters and are adept at presenting the most efficient way for the reader to arrive at a place of being properly informed.
A good writer knows when to accept a bit of healthy, constructive criticism, and when to push back on criticisms they’ve received. If a client or editor feels like they have to tiptoe around a writer’s ego, productivity and project morale go down the tubes – as a copywriter, the name of the game is ‘collaboration’, and the work isn’t finished until both client and writer are in agreement that it is.
On the flipside of this, though, a good writer knows when the client is right, and also when they should push back a little bit to defend their work and their reasoning because after all, they are the professional. It’s all about maintaining an open mind while remembering your role as a copywriter is to reflect what the client wants to see reflected, using your unique skill set to communicate on their behalf the message that they’re just shy of the right words for.
There are many other factors that make good copywriters like attention to grammar, a grasp for punctuation, and the ability to meet deadlines, but I’ll close this off with just one last writerly attribute: good writers are consummate readers.
Since reading today is such a constant exercise in sifting, good writers are just people who love to read and therefore naturally have a better grasp on what’s junking up the airways, and what the world still has room for.
Got any other C’s of good copywriter? Tell us in the comments below!
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