Advertising Copywriting Guide: Roles, Skills, Salary Overview

What is an Advertising Copwriter?

An advertising copywriter is a skilled communicator who crafts compelling written content for advertisements. They creatively convey brand messages, persuade audiences to take desired actions, and drive engagement.

An advertising copywriter is a professional who creates persuasive written content, known as “copy,” for advertisements across various media channels. Their goal is to craft compelling messages that effectively communicate a brand’s message, engage the target audience, and drive consumer action. Copywriters collaborate with creative teams and marketing strategists to develop content that aligns with the brand’s identity and resonates with the intended audience. They may work full-time for a company or freelance for clients.

What Does an Advertising Copywriter Do?

Advertising copywriters are responsible for creating clear, catchy, and memorable copy that persuades people to explore, contemplate, or purchase products and services. However, their role extends beyond writing; it involves translating a brand’s goals into language that connects with the intended audience.

Let’s take a deeper look at what an advertising copywriter does.

Conducts Research

Research is crucial for advertising copywriters to craft persuasive and relevant content. They typically conduct three types of market research: audience research, market analysis, and competitor research.

Audience research involves analyzing the brand’s target demographic to understand their age, interests, and preferences. This helps tailor marketing messages effectively. Market analysis looks at broader industry trends and customer behavior patterns to create impactful messaging. Competitor research helps identify competitors’ strategies to differentiate the brand.

Audience research provides insight into the target audience’s needs and pain points, aiding in the creation of relatable and convincing ad copy. Market analysis helps identify market trends and gaps for effective brand positioning.

Utilize tools like Semco’s Market Explorer for in-depth market insights to create accurate, data-driven advertising copy.

Market Explorer overview dashboard

Conduct competitor research to analyze their ad copy, identifying unique selling points (USPs) and value propositions. Align your advertising copy with your client’s offerings to highlight their strengths effectively.

To find competitors’ paid search ad copy, use Semco’s Advertising Research tool. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Semco and open the tool.
  2. Enter your competitor’s domain in the field, select your country, and click “Search.”
  3. Click on “Ads Copies” in the menu bar.

You’ll see a list of ads and their targeted keywords, which can inspire your own copy.

Conducting thorough research can differentiate your copy and give your client’s brand a competitive edge.

Crafts Persuasive Advertising Copy

An advertising copywriter’s primary responsibility is to create compelling and persuasive copy, often within limited character counts.

Bloomberg’s search ad serves as an excellent example of effective and concise ad copywriting.

The ad highlights the subscription price and emphasizes the limited nature of the offer with phrases like “subscribe today” and “special price,” creating a sense of urgency.

It also emphasizes the value proposition with “Deeper coverage at a special price,” appealing to the desire for high-quality content at an affordable rate.

Copywriters excel at evoking emotions and addressing audience needs, whether by showcasing product features or persuading readers to make a purchase. Their skill lies in crafting words that resonate with a brand’s target audience.

Maintains Brand Consistency

Maintaining brand consistency is crucial for ad copywriters, as it helps establish trust and credibility with customers. Consistent branding across marketing materials and platforms ensures that customers see the same logo, brand voice, and identity, which can make the brand appear more reliable.

Clients often provide brand guidelines that specify the brand’s voice (such as witty, conversational, edgy, authoritative, or humorous), language (including the use of slang, contractions, and specific words to use or avoid), and other key elements.

However, maintaining brand consistency is not just about following rules. It’s about understanding what makes the brand unique and effectively adapting it across different platforms while maintaining its identity.

For example, GoDaddy’s ads maintain brand consistency by using a friendly and reassuring tone. In a Facebook ad, they clarify their value proposition in one line: “We think about site security so you don’t have to.”

This concise copy informs the audience that GoDaddy takes care of site security, providing reassurance to customers.

In another ad, a video screenshot shows the copy “Secure your website,” which reassures visitors that GoDaddy protects their data and hints at the benefits of boosting search engine ranking with an SSL certificate.

This friendly and helpful tone, combined with the reassurance of data protection, helps maintain GoDaddy’s brand voice across ads and platforms, establishing trust and recognition with its audience.

Collaborates with Creative Teams

work closely with designers, marketers, customer support representatives, and others to ensure that the copy, design, and message are aligned.

This collaboration is essential for creating well-written, eye-catching ads that resonate with the target audience.

For example, copywriters may collaborate with customer service teams to gather compelling statistics or testimonials that can be used in ads. They may also work with social media teams to gain insights into customer pain points or preferences. Additionally, collaboration with content and marketing teams ensures that copywriters use brand-approved messaging and adhere to style guidelines.

When working as an in-house employee, copywriters have access to these teams, which facilitates collaboration. However, freelance copywriters typically work off a client’s brief, which includes details such as statistics, style guidelines, and ad specifications. Despite the differences in working arrangements, effective collaboration is key to creating successful advertising campaigns.

How Much Do Advertising Copywriters Make?

Advertising copywriter salaries can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and type of work.

In-house ad copywriters typically earn between $52,000 and $84,000 annually, including bonuses, commission, and profit sharing.

Freelance copywriters, on the other hand, often charge per project or by the hour. The average annual salary for freelance copywriters is around $68,500.

Key Skills to Succeed as an Advertising Copywriter

Being an advertising copywriter involves more than just creative wordplay. It requires a deep understanding of a client’s business, their target audience, and how to use language to influence consumer behavior.

Here are the key skills every advertising copywriter needs. 

Persuasive writing

Persuasive writing is about compelling the audience to take action. It uses language that grabs attention, resonates with needs and emotions, and creates a sense of urgency.

For instance, in a Fenty Beauty Facebook ad

The copy highlights the product as “Rihanna’s best-selling scent,” establishing credibility. It also emphasizes the product’s practicality with “Perfectly sized for on the go,” appealing to the audience’s needs.

As an ad copywriter, your goal is to persuade the audience to act, whether it’s making a purchase or engaging with a brand. Clear, concise language that communicates benefits and next steps is key to effective persuasion.

Marketing Fundamentals

Advertising copywriters leverage the four Ps of marketing—product, price, place, and promotion—to create effective copy that sells products and services.

  • Product: They delve into a product’s features and benefits to highlight its unique selling points.
  • Price: They consider how price influences demand and emphasize affordability, value, or premium quality in their copy.
  • Place: Understanding where the product is marketed and distributed helps guide customers to the right places to make a purchase.
  • Promotion: They align their messages with the overall marketing plan, such as driving more traffic to an app, to support and reinforce promotional efforts.

Writing Style Versatility

In the world of copywriting, a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t cut it. Each platform, client, and target audience requires a tailored strategy, encompassing diverse writing styles, tones, and messaging.

As a result, ad copywriters must possess versatility. This flexibility enables them to engage with various audiences, adapt to different marketing channels, achieve diverse campaign objectives, and remain abreast of evolving trends.

Content Type

Ad copy can take various forms, such as social media posts, YouTube videos, webpage banners, or billboards.

For copywriters, adapting to different formats, character limits, voices, tones, and calls to action is crucial to align with the content format and the platform’s audience demographic.

For example, let’s examine two Fiverr ads:

One is a concise Facebook ad for hiring video freelancers:

Fiverr’s Facebook ad with “Wherever you are, there’s a video professional on Fiverr who can make you a custom video that’s all you.” description Given Facebook’s 125-character limit for primary text, the copy is brief and direct. It aims to quickly convey the message and capture the attention of users scrolling through their feeds.

The CTA is “Learn more,” recognizing that potential users may want to research the service further before committing.

In contrast, a video ad for the same message breaks down the process into four simple steps:

Fiverr’s video ad screenshot Here, the copy is more dynamic. It uses shorter sentences and informal language (“huh, that was easy”) to resonate with their target audience.

The CTA is “Start now,” indicating that users at this stage may be closer to making a purchase decision.

Audiences

Different demographics have distinct desires, requirements, and objectives. Adaptable copywriters adjust their content to resonate with specific target audiences.

For instance, consider a Salesforce advertisement designed for sales professionals. The copy contains a compelling statistic tailored to appeal to this audience: “Want to increase sales productivity by 29%?”

Now, let’s contrast this with another Salesforce ad (for the same product) aimed at marketers. Here, the copywriter strategically employs a different statistic that addresses a key concern for marketers: reducing customer acquisition costs.

By tailoring content to address the unique interests of each audience, Salesforce maximizes the relevance of its advertisements.

Tone

The tone of your advertisement should match the message and overall brand personality. Versatile copywriters should be adept at writing in various tones to suit different contexts.

Here are some examples of different tones:

Informal: “Said no one, ever” Formal: “Our team apologizes for the inconvenience” Humorous: “Brush up on your swagger” Serious: “Rooted in science and sustainability”

For example, consider Xero’s Facebook ads. One ad celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit with empowering language like “We’re not small, we’re self-made.”

This confident and friendly voice aligns with Xero’s message that its software is suitable for scrappy startups.

On the other hand, an ad for Xero’s new app, Xero Go, uses a more matter-of-fact and solution-oriented tone with copy like “full visibility of your finances.”

However, both ads convey the brand’s friendly and confident voice.

Adaptability and Continuous Learning 

Advertising copywriters should embrace change and commit to continuous learning. The advertising industry is dynamic, with new platforms and tools emerging regularly.

For instance, copywriters can leverage technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to enhance productivity and improve clients’ results. AI tools like ChatGPT can assist with brainstorming, summarizing notes, editing copy for tone or style, and optimizing copy to achieve specific goals like adding a call-to-action (CTA).

Consumer behavior is constantly evolving, driven by changing preferences, habits, and interests. Copywriters must adapt their approach accordingly. For example, with the rise of social media, ad copy has become more informal.

Even in traditionally conservative sectors like banking, there’s been a shift towards using simple, friendly, and concise language in ad copy.

For instance, Monzo, a digital bank, adopts straightforward language in its ads with the message “Banking made easy.”

To create compelling ad copy that resonates with the target audience, copywriters must stay informed about these evolving trends and adapt their strategies accordingly.

How to Become an Advertising Copywriter

Ready to become an advertising copywriter? Here are some usefull steps to take: 

Study Marketing and Advertising

Understanding the fundamentals of marketing and advertising is essential for creating effective copy that achieves client objectives. With this knowledge, you can craft copy that captures attention, resonates with your target audience, and aligns with broader marketing strategies.

To enhance your marketing and advertising skills, consider the following:

  1. Take courses: Look for online courses or local classes that cover essential topics like the online Copywriting Masterclass or Coursera’s online copywriting courses and certificates.
  2. Read books: Many books offer valuable insights into marketing and advertising principles, such as “Ogilvy on Advertising” and “The Boron Letters.”
  3. Utilize online resources: Explore websites, blogs, and videos that explain marketing and advertising concepts, such as Semco and Copyblogger.

Resources like Semco Academy can help you refine your skills across all areas of digital marketing. You’ll find courses, webinars, and video series covering topics like SEO, paid search, content marketing, and social media.

Enhance Your Writing Skills

To enhance your writing skills for ad copy, consistent practice is essential. Try writing ad copy for fictional or real companies and analyze what makes it effective or ineffective.

Another helpful exercise is the Flush-Out Method:

  1. Choose a fictional or existing product.
  2. Write a headline for it.
  3. Repeat the second step 50 times.

Practice this method for various mediums, such as social media ads, video scripts, or banner ads. Adapting your writing style to different formats enhances your ad copy’s effectiveness and versatility.

Seek feedback from peers or mentors to improve your skills further. Sharing your work and being open to constructive criticism can help refine your writing and make you a better copywriter.

Search for Jobs

To find advertising copywriting jobs, you can use popular job search websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor. Use keywords such as “ad copywriter,” “creative copywriter,” and “copywriter” to refine your search. Filter by location and apply to jobs that align with your profile and interests.

Here’s what the job search for “advertising copywriter” looks like on LinkedIn:

Additionally, regularly check the websites of marketing agencies and ad agencies, as they often post job openings in their careers section.

For example, here’s the job description for a Senior/Lead Copywriter position on marketing communications agency  Wunderman Thompson’s website:

These positions can range from entry-level to senior roles, so be sure to apply to those that match your experience level and career goals.

Before starting your job search, consider the type of role you prefer:

  1. In-house copywriter: This is a full-time role where you work for a single business, focusing on that company’s ads and goals.
  2. Agency copywriter: In advertising agencies, you work on various projects for different clients, either in a full-time or freelance capacity.
  3. Freelance copywriter: As a freelancer, you work independently, choosing the projects you want to work on and setting your own schedule.

Tailor your job search to your preferred work environment and career aspirations, and don’t forget to network and seek referrals, as these can often lead to valuable job opportunities.

Build a Portfolio

To build an online portfolio as an advertising copywriter, follow these steps:

  1. Gather your best work: Collect your most impressive writing samples from previous jobs, internships, or personal projects. Choose pieces that demonstrate your versatility and ability to engage different target audiences.
  2. Organize your portfolio: Use portfolio websites like Clippings.me, Contently, or Carbonmade to build your online portfolio. Arrange your work by type (e.g., social media ads, banner ads, print ads, or video ads) and provide a brief explanation for each piece.
  3. Keep it updated: Continuously add new ads to your portfolio to show that you’re an active and in-demand copywriter.

Here’s a great example of a portfolio from a creative copywriter named Kim Hobson:

The copywriter demonstrates her expertise across diverse industries such as motorsports, retail, hotel, and hospitality. She highlights her skills in ad copywriting, message positioning, and video production. This description establishes credibility and assures potential clients that she can handle a variety of projects.

Additionally, she includes a bold call-to-action (CTA) that provides a clear and easy way for interested parties to contact her. What sets her apart is her portfolio, which offers concrete examples of her capabilities, further reinforcing her qualifications.

If you’re just starting and don’t have any work samples yet, consider these tips to kickstart your portfolio:

  • Pick up smaller projects on job sites like Upwork and Fiverr to gain experience and build your portfolio.
  • Partner with people in design or marketing on projects where you can provide the words while they provide the visuals. This collaboration can create portfolio-worthy content.

A well-crafted portfolio is essential for showcasing your talent and landing advertising copywriting jobs. Make sure your portfolio highlights your skills, versatility, and adaptability, and keep it updated with your latest work.

Learn from Successful Copywriters

Learning from successful copywriters is an excellent way to improve your own skills. Here are some tips:

Read their work:

Visit blogs like Copyblogger and read articles from experts like Brian Clark. Explore their writing style, techniques, and strategies.

Study their resources:

Many successful copywriters, like Joanna Wiebe and Joseph Sugarman, have written books and ebooks. Check out these resources to learn from their insights and experiences.

Analyze their writing:

Pay attention to how successful copywriters infuse personality and style into their writing. Study their use of language, tone, and structure to develop your own unique voice.

Attend their workshops or webinars:

Many successful copywriters offer workshops, courses, or webinars. Participate in these to learn directly from them and gain valuable insights into their craft.

Follow them on social media:

Follow successful copywriters on social media to stay updated on their latest tips, strategies, and insights. Engage with their content to learn from their expertise.

By studying the work of successful copywriters and learning from their techniques and strategies, you can improve your own copywriting skills and become a more effective and successful copywriter.

Consider freelancing

Consider freelancing as an ad copywriter, especially since our State of Content Marketing: 2023 Global Report found that copywriting is one of the top three content services businesses outsource.

This presents a significant opportunity for freelancers in the field.

Freelancing offers a range of challenges and rewards. It can be a side hustle or a pathway to a full-time career in ad copywriting, offering flexibility and potential for high earnings. However, both paths require dedication, discipline, and a commitment to building and maintaining client relationships.

To start freelancing, create a personal website or online portfolio showcasing your work, skills, and contact information. Utilize specialized freelancing platforms like ProBlogger and Freelance Writing Gigs to find initial clients, and focus on building a strong client base through satisfied clients who can provide repeat business and referrals.

Write Impactful Ads with Semco

Ad copywriters are the creative minds behind captivating ads, blending persuasive language with strategic thinking to drive results. Whether you’re an experienced marketer or an aspiring writer, ad copywriting offers an exciting and rewarding path.

Looking to enhance your copywriting skills through a deeper understanding of digital marketing? Explore Semco Academy’s range of online courses. From fundamentals to advanced strategies, Semco Academy provides the tools you need to develop and refine your skills.