Call yourself a copywriter?


Confused monster

For a recent survey, professional copywriters were asked what title they use to describe themselves.

The top answer was copywriter. Perhaps this is an obvious conclusion, but we live in complicated times. In 30 years, the internet has, arguably – and in league with the likes of LinkedIn and various recruitment platforms – created a monster of convolution around job titles.

Other names copywriters call themselves include content writer, creative, content designer and content strategist. The word ‘content’ is in vogue because it’s vague and modern, and easy to hide behind if ‘copywriter’ holds too much weight. By weight, I mean there may well be old-fashioned connotations of being a stuffy prescriptivist who slaps hands for crimes against apostrophes. Who wants one of those in the office? It’s surely much nicer to have bright, cheery millennials who “let language evolve”.

It may be a case of the word ‘copywriter’ being largely (and sadly) misunderstood. If referring to oneself as a content designer gets more clients, then why not? But being a copywriter may provide clients who like the gravitas that comes with it. Yes, we’re possibly underpaid and misunderstood, but there’s a romance to the copywriter that other creative professions seldom enjoy. A wicker chair and a typewriter isn’t quite what I mean, but a prominent cog in the wheel of corporate marketing is.

More responses in the survey include brand writer, UX writer, ghostwriter, brand language consultant and editor. I’m sure I’m all of these, but I believe copywriter best sums me up. Do potential clients think the same? Perhaps not, which is why it’s important to have at least a rudimentary understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO), so one might be discovered regardless.

How we identify ourselves as professionals is as important as the work we do. It’s our calling card. It’s what we write on our marketing materials. Yet, I don’t believe it’s a science, and I wouldn’t side with those who try to convince me it is. It’s a punt. My advice would be to find a title that closely matches what you do and what your specific skill is. If you’re an SEO expert, that’s your title. If you specialise as a ghostwriter, why call yourself anything other than that? If you’re a UX writer, stick with it. I can do all of these things, so I don’t limit opportunities by being so specific. Copywriter works for me.

In fact, I also produce podcasts. I try to separate these two disciplines, even though they often overlap. My website says I produce business-focused content, with a subheading that says “copywriting and podcast production”. If you are more than one thing, spell it out and see how it works. Language isn’t the only thing that evolves.