Top five skills of a freelance copywriter

Top five skills of a freelance copywriter

Copywriting is a brilliant profession. We’re in the business of words, after all. And the English language has so many glorious words to choose from. Like panacea. And voluptuous. And some less glorious. Like moist. And sputum. 

And with all these words to choose from, the first skill of a freelance copywriter is:

 1 – Choose the right words to engage a specific audience

Words elicit different reactions from different people. ‘Free hot dogs’ appeals more to carnivores than vegans. ‘Free vegan hot dogs’, well, you get the idea. On a more emotive level, understanding your audiences’ motivations helps you to strike a tone that speaks directly to them.

2 – Don’t write until you’re bursting

Not for the loo, of course. Although writing on a full bladder isn’t good either.  I’m referring to bursting with material. It may not be a skill but it takes discipline to put off writing until you have all the information you need. I never start the first draft until I know the product or service enough to present it. The overall structure and tone will work better if you edit down rather than add chunks later on. That brings us to:

3 – Ask the right questions to get the information you need

All clients are different. Some send well-written, detailed briefs while others literally don’t know what a brief is. I always send a briefing form to help clients think about their business. Then I’ll arrange to Skype or meet them for a coffee. They’ll often talk passionately about the business and I’ll get useful material, direct from the source. I try to keep it informal (nobody wants to be interviewed) and always record the conversation (with the client’s permission, of course).

4 – Write in a human voice

Writing in a specific tone of voice is the only way to pull on the heart strings (or purse strings) of your audience. Many companies forget about this. They talk about how amazing they are instead of what they can do for their customers. It’s the copywriter’s job to communicate ‘what’s in it’ for the audience in a tone they can relate to.

When you’ve written the first draft and feel confident you’ve nailed it, stop congratulating yourself and…

5 – Revisit three times before clicking send

I always revisit my work a few times before clicking send, usually after some exercise, guitar strumming or a good night’s sleep. Fresh eyes will pick up on the little mistakes and tweaks to improve clarity and flow. The number of times is deadline dependent…but three works for me.


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