Tuesday, 27 August 2013

State of Copywriting circa 2013

Hello everyone,

We all know that what we read and what we see around us all relates to marketing. Whether it's reading the newspaper, skimming through a magazine or gawking at a billboard, we are all exposed to marketing media. Apart from the pictures and colours embedded into the media, an equally powerful element of any marketing communication is the wording - that is, the copy of the content. Those people (like myself) who specialize in creating unique and compelling copy are by profession called copywriters. However, today most of us are no longer entirely dependent on physical forms of communication like we once were. With the internet and Web 2.0 at our doorstep, convenience and customization matter more to us than authority and reputation.

Copywriting wordcloud
With the continued onslaught of digital technology seeping into our lives, it's no surprise that since 2010, internet news sources have overtaken traditional print newspapers in terms of news consumption. That means more than 50% of all Americans and Britons rely on online sources like RSS feeds, news aggregators (News Republic, News 360) and social media postings (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and blog sites) to keep updated on local and international events. The situation is obviously even more tilted in favour of online content three years past.

What does that mean for the copywriting industry? It means quite a lot of things. Namely:

  • Online copy is fast replacing traditional print copy. This has been driven by technological advances, the increasing saturation of internet usage as well as greater environmental and 'green' initiatives to cut down on paper consumption and production.
  • More and more attention is being devoted to social media outlets both major and minor. Nowadays, it seems that every other company has a Facebook page, a Twitter account or a LinkedIn company profile to broadcast company and industry related news and events. Obviously, it's copywriters who are responsible for creating such promotional content.
  • Extensive use of audiovisuals. You can't turn a newspaper ad into a 3-D graphic or start making the ad talk to you (at least not yet). But it's definitely possible online. Besides the actual copy for an ad or article, companies and individuals alike are more inclined to apply more elements into their content to attract more visitors and customers. It's common practice nowadays to see images, videos and links being attached with an article or ad simply to catch more of your attention and interest.
  • Greater use of online marketing tools and terms. As an online copywriter, you need to be familiar with a host of terminology that at first, can seem a bit bewildering. Buzzwords like affiliate programs, AdSense, Analytics, backlinks, indexing, keyword density, link farms, meta tags, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine review pages (SERPs) and Wordpress are commonly used among those 'in the know.' However, it doesn't take a genius to get the hang of it and can easily be grasped over time.

Well I've outlined just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how modern copywriting is transforming in the face of technological and social upheaval. The future is one that will be increasingly dependent on digital forms of content - whether it be news, messages (think of email and SMSs), work (digital memos and software) and play (online & mobile games). It's no use trying to resist the changing dynamics - rather, we should try to adapt and take advantage of the changing conditions to reap the plentiful opportunities that abound for not only for digital copywriters but for any freelancer interested in doing work online.

For my next article, I will be discussing some useful tips and strategies that aspiring copywriters can apply in order to be more successful online.