5 traits of a successful digital copywriter

Jan 15, 2016 by
5 traits of a successful digital copywriter

If you’re deciding whether to outsource your content work or to bring a full-time copywriter to your company, choosing the right person can be a daunting task.

The way that your web copy reflects your brand image is incredibly important to you, so it’s crucial that you select someone who is able to take your instructions on board and execute effectively. In addition to having a superb writing portfolio with an abundance of positive testimonials, there are certain traits to look out for which differentiate excellent copywriters from the mediocre (or even terrible) ones.

1 – Knows how to listen

In order to write effectively for a particular client, it’s crucial to listen to what that client’s requirements are in terms of brand image, tone of voice, target audience and so forth. A copywriter should always ask questions in order to determine what style of writing will be most appropriate. If the copywriter doesn’t take an active interest in the business itself, their work is unlikely to reflect the brand with integrity.

2 – Handles criticism well

Even if the writer has taken the time to understand the business and is ticking all the boxes in terms of the client’s specifications, mistakes are still inevitable. A great copywriter doesn’t take criticism personally, instead they learn from their mistakes and recalibrate with every assignment, strengthening the worker-client relationship and producing better copy the longer you work with them.

Professional copywriter Dave Harland advocates being empathetic to a business owner’s requirements, even if the criticisms are frustrating.

“If you’re writing for a business owner whose livelihood depends on the success of what you’re working on, it’s even more important to see things from their perspective. And when they think a word, sentence or idea doesn’t quite fit, they’re being picky because it directly affects them financially. So show a little empathy even when you want to scream.”

Copywriting is a key part of content creation

Copywriting is a key part of content creation

3 – Chooses words wisely

While any copywriter should have an expansive vocabulary, determining which words to use depending on the context is what separates good and great copywriters. It’s all well and good being able to flaunt your vocabulary, but it’s often much more effective to write in plain English. Thus, a great copywriter should be able to cut his or her ego out of the equation and write in a style which is most appropriate for the target audience. Learning to write in simple terms can actually be more challenging than writing more colourful, complex styles of copy.

4 – Loves reading

If a copywriter doesn’t have a passion for reading which extends beyond his or her profession, this is a definite red flag. In order to write inspiring copy, it’s important also to be inspired by writing in its many forms, including literature, blog posts, short stories, poems and so forth. Because writers are often introverts, it’s expected that a great copywriter also spends a significant amount of time in solitude consuming the work of other writers, and therefore sharpening their own craft as a result.

5 – Understands digital copy

Although a copywriter might feel completely at home with a book in front of the fireplace in rustic seclusion, in order to be successful in this profession it’s important to understand the ins and outs of copywriting in the digital era. Adequate knowledge of SEO is important when crafting copy, and an understanding of how to use WordPress (or another CMS) is also essential if the copywriter is uploading and publishing his or her work for this business. A copywriter should also be versed in writing for different online mediums. For instance, infographic content should be very succinct and crafted to support the design, whereas blog content should be longer yet also digestible and broken up with catchy subheadings. A copywriter may also need to be experienced in social media in order to promote the content effectively.