So you want to be a copywriter. The question is, what kind?
What do you mean, Christa? A copywriter is a copywriter … right?
Well, not quite. When it comes to copywriting, there are two main paths: content and conversion. There’s also a third path, brand copywriting, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to limit the discussion to content and conversion since those are the two most outward-facing.
Although both content and conversion copy fall under the umbrella of copywriting, there are some pretty big differences between them. Let me give you an illustration that shows what I mean and why it’s important for businesses to have both.
This morning I’m headed outside to feed the critters on our funny farm. I stop at the closet and pull out my old barn jacket. It’s perfect for chilly fall mornings and durable enough to handle climbing fences and fending off goats. It’s definitely my go-to for day-to-day life around the farm.
Last weekend I had a photoshoot for my new website. We had some outdoor photos planned, so before I left the house to meet the photographer, I again stopped at the closet to grab a coat. This time, though, I didn’t reach for the old barn jacket. I reached for the dressy, red tweed peacoat. It’s consistent with my brand colors and makes an attractive, professional statement.
Were they both coats? Yes.
Did they both accomplish the same purpose? No.
They would not have performed as well had I swapped them and used the red tweed for chores and the barn jacket for the photoshoot. I needed both coats, but for different reasons, just like a business needs both content and conversion copy, but for different reasons.
What is Content Copy?
Content copy can be compared to the old barn jacket, and I mean that in the best possible way. Content copy is absolutely vital to a business’s day-to-day branding and online presence. Content copy includes pieces like:
- Website copy
- Social media profiles
- Video descriptions
- Engagement posts.
Anything that is perennial and present online that helps inform and educate the public about the business can be considered content copy. Entertaining content that nurtures and educates the target audience can also be considered content copy as long as it’s not asking the audience to take action, which leads us to …
What is Conversion Copy?
Conversion copy (also referred to as sales copy or direct response copy) can be compared to the red tweed jacket. It has a very specific purpose – to get the target audience to perform an action.
Conversion copy isn’t only about sales, it’s about any action that leads to a sale too. The action might be to watch a video, opt in to an email list, sign up for a webinar or make a purchase. You’ll see conversion copy in:
- Email retargeting sequences
- Ad copy
- Sales funnels
- Organic social media posts
- Messenger chat bot sequences
- SMS text sequences
Content and conversion copy are both words written about a business, but like the coats, they serve very different purposes. It’s no surprise then that content and conversion copywriting require a different set of skills.
Benefits of Being a Sales Copywriter
Although brand, content and conversion copy all have an important role to play in a business, I’m a sales conversion copywriter through and through. Besides my own blog articles (like this one), direct response copy is the only kind of copy I write.
Although I love writing of all kinds and have even been known to write short stories and song lyrics, I knew conversion copywriting was the right career fit for me for several reasons:
- I love the challenge. Can I get something to convert better, faster, cheaper? It’s like a game to me. I love the competitive nature of sales and finding new angles and new ways to get target audiences to engage and convert is so rewarding to me.
- I like project-based contracts. Some people love working on a retainer basis, writing for the same clients over long periods of time. I have a lot of repeat and ongoing clients, but the individual projects themselves are very specific and targeted to a single goal. I enjoy working on projects that have a set beginning and end. Something in my personality really likes the feeling of accomplishment that tying up a campaign brings. Project-based work also allows me to work with new, exciting businesses often, and that’s really fun for me.
- I’m an empath. That means that I instinctively can put myself in other people’s shoes, and I enjoy finding ways to connect people with offers that can help them and improve their lives. I find it so rewarding to play a part in meeting people’s needs, even if it’s by proxy.
- The pay is better. Let’s be honest, pay factors in on this one. In my experience, sales copywriting pays much better than content copywriting. When you can help a client generate opt-ins, sales, and ROI, you can charge high-ticket prices and it’s worth it to clients.
- It’s an in-demand skill. As long as people sell things, sales conversion copywriters will be needed. My services were in even higher demand after COVID-19 started, and it hasn’t slowed down since. If you can write sales copy, you will never go hungry.
Challenges of Being a Sales Copywriter
Does that mean sales copywriting is easy? No way! There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to writing high-level sales copy that converts, including tons of research, sales psychology, data analysis, strategy and even mindset work. It’s also more high-pressure than content copywriting, and you have to be careful to set reasonable expectations with your clients.
I can’t tell you how many copywriters I talk to who say, “I could never be a sales copywriter. It’s too much pressure. I just don’t think I’m cut out for it.”
On the other side of the coin, I also can’t tell you how many clients I’ve written for who have said, “I hired a copywriter before, and the copy didn’t do very well. Is it my offer? Is it the copy? I’m not sure how to tell.”
Both situations are tough ones, but they’re not unsurmountable. First, how to write sales conversion copy is a skill that can be learned. With the right training and resources, a copywriter can hone their sales conversion writing skills and start getting consistent results for their clients.
Second, with the right questions in hand, business owners and entrepreneurs can identify high-level copywriters on the discovery call and avoid the pain of paying for copy that doesn’t convert.
More from Christa Nichols
I’m on a mission to help both copywriters and business owners by training a new breed of high-level sales copywriters. Written Results Academy, my online training platform for sales copywriters is launching soon. Want to be the first to know when doors open? Join the waitlist now at https://www.christanichols.com/waitlist.