The Qualities Of A Good Copywriter

Copywriters’ qualities are as diverse as the universe of copywriters that are available to organisations. Different backgrounds and experiences mean that every copywriter offers a unique set of qualities and capabilities. But look closer and you’ll see that several key qualities are found in all good professional copywriters:
• Writing ability – it’s fundamental to being a good copywriter
• Curiosity and a wide range of interests
• Ability to relate to audience requirements
• Discernment -ability to make sense of a mass of information
• Integrity
Writing ability – of course it’s the mark of a good copywriter
There are those who suggest that writing ability isn’t one of the qualities of a good copywriter. I don’t agree. More than 25 years as a marketing manager, tech writer, PR writer and copywriter has proven to me beyond doubt that a good copywriter must have good writing skills. Anything else is like trusting an airline pilot who isn’t a good flyer; a website designer who can’t design; or a doctor without good medical and patient relationship skills. Good copywriters have to be able to write well. That some good writers wouldn’t make good copywriters is true. But in my experience, all good copywriters are also good with the pen or word processor.
Curiosity counts
While some copywriters specialise in a very narrow range of subject matter, others, including this writer, write for a wide range of sectors and business types. Today it’s a Gloucestershire helicopter company; tomorrow, a global car manufacturer. Next week, SEO copy for beauty treatments; next month, technical copywriting for an engineering business. In each case, ‘getting inside’ a business, understanding what makes it different from its competitors and why it is the business it is takes curiosity, and lots of it. Good copywriters are ceaselessly fascinated by what people and businesses do, and how different types of writing can make communication more effective. Yes! Curiosity counts!
Empathy: the vital ability to relate to audience requirements
Good copywriters quickly understand what makes their audience tick, how certain words, voice and tone will engage a website or brochure reader – and how others won’t. Without this ability to empathise and relate to what a reader is seeking, there’s little point to copywriting.
The ability to choose between what’s relevant and what’s not
As copywriters, we’re often faced by a mass of source material: marketing plans; interviews; marketing collateral; research results and so on. Our task is to make sense of this plethora of information, condense it into nuggets of communication gold that will strike a chord with anyone from a corporate CEO to a disaffected teenager, and use it appropriately. That’s discernment as it applies to copywriting: good copywriters have it in spades.
Last, but most certainly not least, comes integrity. Good copywriters know instinctively how to treat clients and suppliers fairly; how to give best possible advice rather than just making a quick buck, and how to build long-term relationships based on such integrity.
Writing ability, curiosity, empathy, discernment and integrity: it’s a powerful cocktail of qualities that, in this writer’s opinion, combines to make a good (make that ‘great’) copywriter that businesses can count on for the long run. If you are starting out in copywriting, make sure you’ve got the mix right.
And if you’re seeking an in-house or freelance copywriter? You know what to look for at that vital first meeting.

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