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The 6 Essential Skills for a Copywriter

As a copywriter you are paid for what you do.

Therefore, your livelihood depends on mastering these 6 essentials skills to:

  • Differentiate yourself, and
  • Succeed.
Read on or use the table of contents to ‘jump’ to a specific section in the post.

Table of Contents

1. Excellent Writing 

Good grammar, punctuation, and spelling, is a must.

But you don’t need to be a ‘master’ with easy access to spell-checkers and copy editors.

Proofreading of all work is compulsory for best results, and this ultimate guide by Hallam outlines the process.

Tip: Read your writing out loud to capture errors and determine how good your writing is.

To become an excellent writer, you need to master these skills:

  • Incorporate research into content that adds value
  • Create clear and concise content that is easy to read
  • Simplify complex topics
  • Use the correct style
  • Choose vocabulary to best suit specific context
  • Capture attention with introduction
  • Craft a compelling conclusion
  • Know when enough is enough
  • Accept feedback and incorporate revisions
  • Attention to detail.

Takeaway: When you master these skills, you develop your creative thinking and problem solving skills. Also, important skills, to become an excellent writer.

2. Powerful Headlines

Nothing is more important than writing attention grabbing headlines.

It gives the target audience the chance to:

  • Connect with the copy
  • Decide.

Therefore, great content must be complemented with a great headline, or else nobody will read it.

Because as John Caples once said: “If the headline is poor, the copy will not be read. And copy that is not read does not sell goods.”

Caples crafted one of the most famous advertising headlines in 1926: “They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano but When I Started to Play!”

Check out these useful links for practical help in crafting powerful headlines:

3. Familiarity with WordPress

WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world.

Therefore, you should learn how to upload content with it.

A basic understanding of HTML is a bonus, as it allows easy customisation of content.

Familiarity of other popular platforms is not essential, as you learn while you do.

And that means ‘hands on’ use of the CMS to understand how to fulfill all your content needs.

Tip: An online tutorial could fast track your success with a CMS you’re not familiar with.

4. SEO Knowledge

A high-level SEO knowledge is what you need.

Because writing great content is the first page of the game.

The second is ensuring that content is found.

And user experience should be at the heart of your SEO knowledge, because when you focus on creating the best content for the user, you will solve most SEO problems.

And you do this by:

  • Writing for humans first
  • Optimising for Google second.

 Neil Patel, in this awesome post, states you need to consider that a ‘best practice’, and:

  • Target your customers
  • Solve their specific problems with well-crafted content.

Tip: Check out the most comprehensive guide to SEO copywriting online, by Brian Dean.

Takeaway: SEO knowledge gives you a competitive advantage, by making you more employable. And of course, you can build your own brand better, with this knowledge.

5. Image Software Know-How

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Therefore, having the skills to customise images, will:

  • Give you greater control
  • Create better content.

And at the very least, this should be the ability to:

  • Crop images
  • Resize them.

Adobe Photoshop is your baseline, but various free toolscan also help you make picture perfect creative content.

Takeaway: Image software skills means you are less reliant on others, who (despite their best efforts), may not have the same content vision as yours.

6. Marketing Awareness

A copywriter must always ‘think’ and ‘act’ like a marketer.

You are in the marketing industry after all.

‘Marketing awareness’ is about knowing:

  •  Your role
  • Where your role fits within marketing. 

Because such awareness allows creation of better marketing-focused content that will maximise return on investment for any client.

Such content must sell the benefits (not the features), and this is outlined in this great post from Starttech Ventures.

Note: You should also be aware of the 3 golden keys to success in copywriting as the foundation of success.

Bonus Skills

CommunicationAt the core of everything you do from:

  • Winning clients
  • Working with clients
  • Ensuring client satisfaction.

Communication in copywriting is everything.

Listening And active listening is the skill you need to master.

This is listening with the intent to understand.

Because if you don’t understand, your copy will suck.

Probing in copywriting: 12 ultimate tips is a useful post, that tells you how to:

  • Assess all problems 
  • Provide the best solutions  
  • Succeed in copywriting. 

Self-PromotionWebsite or not, you will constantly need to sell yourself to:

  • Win new clients
  • Build relationships.

It’s just part of the game, and the key is to stay organised, because as you gain experience, self-promotion becomes easier with:

  • A larger work portfolio 
  • Stronger client base 
  • Better exposure. 

And just remember in copywriting: self-promotion never stops!


As quoted by author Tony Buzan“Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill.”

So if you’re a copywriter right now with a skills gap, and want to become successful: Embrace learning, by turning your weaknesses into strengths, to master the 6 essential copywriter skills, that will give you a competitive edge in a crowded industry.

Over to You…

Do you agree with The 6 Essential Skills for a Copywriter? Or is there something missing, or you would like to add?? Would love to hear from you in the comments – any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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