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Basic Copywriting: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Basic copywriting is text that persuades.

Copywriting versus copyrighting: what's the difference? And more #WritingTips for basic copywriting with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

It’s essential for any organization. Copywriters use the written word to promote your cause, service, or product.

But good, basic copywriting doesn’t just “sell.” Anecdotes, verbal pictures, and facts conspire together to tell a story, educate, inspire – and more than anything else – produce an emotional response in the reader.

An emotional response moves the reader to give a gift or buy a product.

Q. Why is good copywriting so important?

Today’s not called “The Communication Age” for nothing. Engaging, basic copywriting is foundational to creating a following.

Whether you’re a 1-man operation, a small nonprofit, a mid-sized commercial or faith-based enterprise, or a multi-million international corporation, you must communicate well with your prospects, customers, and donors.

Print materials, online communications, and social media all require solid, persuasive writing.

Q. What kinds of pieces call for a copywriter?

Anything that’s needed to promote your cause or inform your constituency: appeal letters, taglines, websites, email campaigns, newsletters, flyers, television, radio, and telephone scripts, press releases, brochures, postcards, sales letters, social media posts, blogs, devotionals, lyrics, articles, booklets, lesson plans, job descriptions, case statements, grant applications … read more about the kinds of copywriting projects you'll write and the skills needed for each.

Q. Who’s who in the basic copywriting equation?

Copywriter: the person who puts together the textual content of a piece.

Designer or art director: the person who puts together the visual content (like layout and graphics) of the piece, using the text created by the copywriter.

Prospect or audience: the reader(s) to whom the copy is directed.

Q. What’s so unique about nonprofit copywriting?

Copywriters that specialize in working with nonprofits are equipped with a special magnet that pulls in gifts. (Just kidding.)

In all seriousness, nonprofit copywriters and commercial copywriters use similar persuasive writing techniques. A nonprofit copywriter focuses on the story of changed lives and why that organization’s work is an outstanding investment, thereby persuading readers to provide support. A commercial copywriter focuses on selling a product or service, which persuades readers to buy it.

Q. Who does the copywriting for an organization?

Large organizations hire in-house copywriters. Small to mid-size ones often outsource copywriting, either by using an advertising agency or by developing relationships with freelancers.

Q. Do small or mid-size organizations really need a copywriter?

One of the biggest mistakes smaller organizations make is thinking they don’t need help with communications. This mistake can take two forms.

  1. You think communications aren’t really that necessary.
  2. You think you can do it all yourself.

Uh, just one question. How many hats do you wear already? You may have gotten an A in your college creative writing class, but as a small business owner or nonprofit leader, do you have the time to create a multi-pronged communications plan, write all the content for each piece, learn how to use today’s ever-changing graphics manipulation programs to build

an engaging layout, obtain bids, post daily on your group’s social media sites, load up new website content each week, send out regular email campaigns, apply for grants and win them …

Didn’t think so.

Q. What’s the difference between “copywriting” and “copyrighting”?

Copywriting is the process of producing persuasive text.

Copyrighting is a legal process in which you protect something you have created – a book, article, piece of art, or logo, for instance. For more information on copyrighting your creation, consult the good people at the U.S. Copyright Office.

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