The fundamental task of a copywriter doesn’t change too much depending on the format – it is simply to use words to invoke the reader to do the next thing. That next thing may be to click on a link, to pick up the phone and make a call, totype in an email address, to buy the product or just to read the next paragraph – its a simple task to define but is a bit harder to carry out (but then, as a copywriter I would say that wouldn’t I!)
As for the future? Well carrying out this task on different platforms and in different ways will be key, and there are a number of important things a copywriter may be expected to know:
1) SEO – long and short form copy (and when to choose) Search engines are placing increasing importance and emphasis on websites with plenty of unique content and copywriters need to be able to write volumes of content that is attractive both to search engines and people. But the links and social shares to that content are important too, and that means promotion.
Now, whether or not the copywriter is actually tasked with that promotion – building a hierarchy of messages is important. Essentially you need to make sure there are good headlines that can work (or be easily adapted to work) as tweets, interesting topics to share on Facebook, questions to ask or answer on Quora etc. You can’t control how your content is shared and discussed any more, but keep your messaging clear and targeted on different platforms and you can build the audience you want.
2) Content marketing is more than copy Content marketing is a huge part of getting your message out, and it is a big field that copywriters need to get their head around. But it is important to remember that it is more than just copy. Infographics, videos, podcasts, images and other formats of content are key (in fact they may be absolutely vital depending on the industry imagine a t-shirt company trying to make sales without any images). When creating a content strategy for a client it is important to know what sort of content will be expected by their audience and build that in.
3) Google Authority and being a brand As well as helping brands tell their story, some copywriters (particularly freelancers) need to be a brand themselves. This will help get more work, but also will help the clients as they can become associated with someone with clout in a particular field.
Google’s Authority update basically links a Google+ accountto articles on the web that author can verify they have written. Once done, the G+ image appears next to the article when it is found in search engine results and links to the profile. Get your face in front of people next to well-written articles and online copy, and have it linked to an active G+ profile, and you can build a brand associated with that topic.
That’s just one aspect of building a brand of course, there’s much, much more to it!
4) Publishing online – learn the basics These days, a copywriter creating online material is sometimes expected to publish that content too. This means learning how content management systems work, howto structure links well on the web (hints: ‘click here’ as a link does little for SEO but multiple identical links for a key phrase also isn’t the way to go – mix it up and always think of the reader) and perhaps some basic html. Remember that people can end up at a web page from anywhere (it can be emailed to them, shared on social media, found in a search engine etc.) so a nod to proper navigation should be made on every page.
5) Consider the audience – consider the format Ultimately we need to write for our audience, and there has never been a better time to find out what they need (apologies for the shameless self-promotion here but this is very relevant to the topic: Howto find and learn from your audience online). We need copy that refers to problems the same way that they do, that explains that we share their values and that tells them a story they’ll find interesting.
Then we need to get it in front of them in the right way. Find out the platforms they use and optimise our content for them in some way. But consider actual, real habits here – many people read email on their phones for example; so don’t send them some huge message they need to scroll through forever and if you link to a site then make sure it is mobile-optimised too! Likewise, if selling B2B products aimed at mid-level executives based in offices, don’t use sales messages that link to a bright, sparkling page and a video that plays automatically blasting noise. People will close the page immediately in case they get told off! Consider the audience and consider the format every time.