The changing face of copywriting

Advertising - the copywriter's bread and butterAdvertising used to be the copywriter’s bread and butter.  Quite recently, I read an article which said it still is, and that surprised me.

In our experience, today’s freelance copywriter is much more likely to earn their crust writing website copy and other online content than working on advertising campaigns.

The internet and a recession has resulted in a decline in traditional advertising.  Even the smallest business can compete online in a huge international arena.  All they need is a website and a little internet marketing savvy. Compare that to advertising costs and it’s a no-brainer.

In the days before Google and SEO (search engine optimisation), companies had to rely on mediums like advertising and direct mail to sell their wares.  Today’s businesses, from micros to multi-nationals, optimise their websites, invest in Pay-per-Click campaigns, and promote themselves on social media sites.

I once had the pleasure of meeting a copywriter who worked for one of London’s most prestigious advertising agencies.  She recalled with nostalgia the posh, boozy expense account lunches, and her work on high profile TV advertising campaigns.  Like many other advertising copywriters, she took the plunge and went freelance as agency budgets and staffing levels were cut. Life as a freelancer was a far cry from her glitzy days in that 1980s advertising agency.

Compared to the cost of a well-optimised website, print, radio and TV advertising is prohibitive and well beyond the reach of many businesses.  Advertising budgets have suffered in the economic climate, as companies look for more affordable ways to market themselves.  Of course, there is still work for advertising copywriters, but bread and butter it is not.

Today’s copywriters need technical skills as much as they need a way with words or a catchy turn of phrase, if they are to earn a crust.  With every business vying for that coveted top of Google spot, the copywriter who can blog and write effective SEO copy is much more likely to bring home the bacon … to sandwich neatly between their bread and butter.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy


Picture credit: 123RF

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