Advertising Copywriter Guide: Role, Skills, and Salary Explained

Semrush Team

Dec 06, 202314 min read
Advertising Copywriter

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What Is an Advertising Copywriter?

An advertising copywriter is a professional responsible for creating persuasive and compelling written content, known as “copy,” for various advertising and promotional materials. This includes creating copy for social media, search engine, print, and TV ads.

The primary goal?

To craft copy that effectively communicates a brand’s message, engages the target audience, and ultimately drives consumer action.

These professionals work closely with creative teams, art directors, and marketing strategists to develop content that aligns with the brand’s identity and resonates with the intended audience. 

Advertising copywriters may work full- or part-time for a company or obtain their own clients as a freelancer. 

What Does an Advertising Copywriter Do?

Advertising copywriters craft clear, catchy, and memorable copy that convinces people to investigate, consider, or buy products and services.

But their role goes beyond writing. It’s about translating a brand’s objectives into words that resonate with the target audience.

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

Conducts Research

Research gives advertising copywriters the insight they need to create persuasive, relevant, and effective advertising copy. 

Advertising copywriters typically conduct or review three types of market research

  • Audience research: An in-depth analysis of the brand’s target demographic, exploring factors such as age, interests, and preferences to better tailor marketing messaging 
  • Market analysis: Looking at market demographics along with broader industry trends, developments, and customer behavior patterns to create impactful messaging 
  • Competitor research: Examining competitors’ content strategies to determine strengths and weaknesses, and drafting ad copy that differentiates the brand

Audience research helps ad copywriters get a deeper understanding of the target audience. The process answers questions like “What does our audience want?” and “What are our target market’s pain points?” 

This helps writers create relatable and convincing ad copy. 

The next step is market analysis. This involves keeping an eye on market trends and identifying gaps to position the brand effectively.

You can use Semrush’s Market Explorer tool to access in-depth market insights that’ll allow you to write more accurate, data-driven advertising copy.

Market Explorer overview dashboard

For competitor research, you’ll want to analyze other companies’ ad copy. This will help you figure out the unique selling point (USP) and value proposition for the client or company you’re writing ad copy for. 

For example, you may find your client offers the highest-quality version of a specific product. So, your advertising copy should reflect that.

You can find competitors’ paid search ad copy using Semrush’s Advertising Research tool. 

Here’s how: 

Navigate to Semrush and open the tool. Enter your competitor’s domain in the field, select your country, and click “Search.” 

Next, click “Ads Copies” in the menu bar.

"Ads Copies" highlighted in the Advertising Research tool's menu

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

"Ads Copies" tab for "booking.com" in Advertising Research tool

Conducting thorough research can differentiate your copy from others in the niche and can give your client’s brand a competitive edge. 

Crafts Persuasive Advertising Copy

An ad copywriter’s main job is to write engaging and persuasive copy—often with a limited character count. 

Bloomberg’s search ad is a good example of effective and concise ad copywriting:

Bloomberg’s search ad with the copy highlighted

The ad states the subscription price and emphasizes the limited nature of the offer by using words like “subscribe today” and “special price.” This creates a sense of urgency.

It also highlights the value people will get with “Deeper coverage at a special price,” tapping into the desire for quality content at an affordable rate.

Advertising copywriters have a knack for capturing emotions and addressing the audience’s needs. Whether it’s showcasing product features or convincing someone to make a purchase, they know how to write words that foster connections with a brand’s target audience. 

Maintains Brand Consistency

Ad copywriters play a vital role in keeping brand identity and voice consistent across marketing materials and platforms.

Consistency inspires trust. When customers see the same logo, brand voice, and identity across marketing channels, it makes the brand seem more credible.

To maintain this consistency, clients will ask ad copywriters to follow brand guidelines. 

These guidelines specify the brandvoice (witty, conversational, edgy, authoritative, humorous), language (slang, contractions, words to use or avoid), and more.

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

Take these two GoDaddy ads, for example.

One is a Facebook ad that clarifies the service’s value proposition in one line: We think about site security so you don’t have to.

GoDaddy's Facebook ad with "We think about site security so you don’t have to." copy

The concise ad copy informs the audience that GoDaddy takes care of site security, relieving customers of that worry. It provides this information in a friendly and reassuring manner so customers feel at ease.

The other is a video ad:

GoDaddy's video ad screenshot with "Secure your website" copy

The copy assures visitors 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. 

This helps establish trust and recognition with its audience.

Further reading: How to Define Your Brand’s Tone of Voice (+Template)

Collaborates with Creative Teams

Ad copywriters typically collaborate with designers, marketers, support reps, and more to create effective and engaging advertising campaigns. Strategically working together ensures copy, design, and message alignment. 

Copywriters and designers team up to create well-written, eye-catching ads, like this one from a Nike campaign:

An ad from Nike campaign featuring a girl on a skate with "who said woman was not meant to fly." copy

Ad copywriters may collaborate with various teams for the following reasons:

  • Customer service: This team can provide compelling statistics or testimonials for copywriters to use in ads
  • Social media teams: Copywriters can get insights into customer pain points or preferences from the social team
  • Content/marketing teams: Working with the content teams ensures copywriters use brand-approved messaging and adhere to style guidelines
  • Graphic designers: Copywriters may work closely with designers to ensure their words flow well with the design 

As an in-house employee, an advertising copywriter will have access to these teams. 

However, a freelance copywriter will normally work off a client’s brief, which will typically include some of the above details, such as statistics, style guidelines, and ad specifications. 

How Much Do Advertising Copywriters Make?

Advertising copywriter salaries can vary depending on their years of experience, location, and work type.

In-house ad copywriters can make anywhere from $52,000 to $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 salary for freelance copywriters is $68,500 annually

Key Skills to Succeed as an Advertising Copywriter

Being an advertising copywriter entails more than just creative wordplay. You must understand a client’s business and audience and how to use words to influence consumer behavior. 

Here are the key skills every advertising copywriter needs. 

Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing compels the audience to take action. 

Here’s an example of a Fenty Beauty Facebook ad that does this well:

Fenty Beauty's Facebook ad

The copy gets straight to the point by letting you know it’s “Rihanna’s best-selling scent.” This is a strategic move to inspire credibility and trustworthiness. 

The ad also includes a key product detail: “Perfectly sized for on the go.” This feature speaks to what the audience wants and needs, highlighting that the product is practical and convenient.

As an ad copywriter, your primary goal is to persuade the audience to take an action. This could be making a purchase, clicking a link, or engaging with a brand.

Persuasive writing uses words that grab the reader’s attention and resonate with their needs, desires, and emotions.

It’s a style of writing that makes the reader feel a sense of urgency. Like they have to act right away.

Being persuasive also means being clear and concise. This way, the reader fully understands the benefits of the product or service and the next steps required.

Marketing Fundamentals

Ad copywriters sell products and services. But it takes more than words to sell; it takes strategy. 

And the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion are the foundation of any successful strategy.

An infographic by Semrush explaining the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion

Here’s how advertising copywriters can use the four Ps to create effective copy: 

  • Product: Dig into a product’s features and benefits to highlight what makes it special
  • Price: Consider how price impacts demand, and create copy that emphasizes affordability, value, or premium quality
  • Place: Understand where the product is marketed and distributed so you can guide customers to the right places to make a purchase
  • Promotion: Align messages with the overall marketing plan (e.g., drive more traffic to the app) to support and reinforce promotional efforts

Writing Style Versatility

When creating copy, one size doesn’t fit all. Different platforms, clients, and target audiences need different approaches, including writing styles, tone, and messaging.

Because of this, ad copywriters must be versatile. This will allow copywriters to connect with a variety of audiences, adapt to different marketing platforms, meet different campaign goals, and stay up-to-date with changing trends. 

Content Type

Ad copy can appear as a social media post, YouTube video, webpage banner, or billboard. 

Copywriters must adapt to character count, voice, tone, and the call to action to match the content format and the platform’s audience demographic.

Let’s look at two Fiverr ads as examples.

One is a 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

As Facebook limits the primary text of ads to 125 characters, the copy is short and to the point. It delivers the message quickly and aims to grab the attention of users scrolling through their feeds. 

The CTA here is “Learn more,” as Fiverr realizes potential users will want to research the service before committing.

On the other hand, a video ad for the same message breaks down the process into four one-line steps:

Fiverr's video ad screenshot

Here, the copy is punchier. It breaks up the script into smaller chunks with informal language (“huh, that was easy”) to relate to their target audience. 

The CTA in this case is “Start now,” as Fiverr believes users at this stage will be closer to making a purchase.

Audiences

Different audiences have different wants, needs, and goals. Versatile copywriters tweak their writing to connect with individual target markets.

For example, here’s a Salesforce ad aimed at sales professionals. 

The copy includes a compelling statistic that is likely to resonate with them: “Want to increase sales productivity by 29%?” 

Salesforce' video ad screenshot with “Want to increase sales productivity by 29%?” copy

Let’s compare it to another Salesforce ad (for the same product) targeted at marketers. 

In this case, the ad copywriter strategically uses another statistic. This one addresses a key concern that resonates with marketers: reducing customer acquisition costs.

Salesforce' video ad screenshot with “Want to save 27% on customer acquisition costs?” copy

By targeting each audience’s specific interests, Salesforce maximizes its ads’ relevance.

Tone

The tone of your ad copy should align with the message and overall brand personality. And versatile copywriters should be able to write in a variety of tones.

Some examples of different tones include the following:

  • 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, let’s look at accounting platform Xero’s Facebook ads. One ad celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit using empowering language like “We’re not small, we’re self-made.”

Xero’s Facebook ad with “We’re not small, we’re self-made.” copy

The confident, friendly voice aligns with Xero’s message that its software is suitable for scrappy startups. On the other hand, this ad focuses on Xero’s new app, Xero Go:

Xero’s add for a new app, Xero G

Since Xero is promoting a product, ad copy like “full visibility of your finances” has a more matter-of-fact and solution-oriented tone. However, both ads convey the brand’s friendly, confident voice. 

Adaptability and Continuous Learning 

Advertising copywriters should be open to change and continuous learning. The advertising industry is always evolving, with new platforms and tools appearing regularly.

For example, advertising copywriters can use technological developments, like artificial intelligence (AI), to improve productivity and clients’ results. 

Copywriters can use the AI chatbot ChatGPT for brainstorming and time-intensive tasks like summarizing pages of notes and key takeaways. 

ChatGPT can also edit your copy’s tone or style (e.g., make it more friendly and concise) or improve your copy to reach a goal (e.g., add a CTA).

However, as with technological innovations, consumer behavior is always changing. And as people’s preferences, habits, and interests shift, copywriters must also adapt their ad copy. 

For example, with the growth of social media, ad copy has become more informal over the years.

Even traditional industries like banking have modernized and dropped the jargon to make their ad copy simple, friendly, and concise. 

For example, Monzo is a digital bank that uses simple language in its ads: 

Monzo's ad with "Banking made easy" copy

Copywriters must stay up to date on shifting trends to create relevant ad copy that connects with their target audience.

How to Become an Advertising Copywriter

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

Study Marketing and Advertising

Understanding the principles of marketing and advertising will help you create effective copy that meets client objectives. 

With this knowledge, you can craft ad copy that grabs attention, speaks directly to your target audience, and aligns with broader marketing goals.

Here’s how you can brush up on your marketing and advertising skills: 

Resources like those found on Semrush Academy will help you hone skills across all areas of digital marketing.

You’ll find courses, webinars, and video series covering SEO, paid search, content marketing, and social media.

New and upcoming courses and webinars page on Semrush Academy

Develop Writing Skills

As with any skill, practice is key. Write ad copy for fictional or actual companies and analyze what makes it effective or not. 

Another copywriting exercise you can try is the Flush-Out Method:

  • Pick a fake or existing product
  • Write a headline for it
  • Repeat the second step 50 times

Practice the Flush-Out Method for different mediums, whether it’s a snappy social media ad, a friendly video script, or a visually captivating banner ad. 

Being able to adapt your writing to different formats is a valuable skill that can make your ad copy more effective and versatile.

And don’t be shy about asking for feedback. 

Share your work with peers or mentors, and be open to constructive criticism. This can help you fine-tune your skills and become a better writer.

Apply for Jobs

To find advertising copywriting jobs, use popular job search websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor

Use keywords like “ad copywriter,” “creative copywriter,” and “copywriter.” Filter by location and apply to jobs that match your profile and interests.

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

A job search for “advertising copywriter” on LinkedIn

Keep an eye on the websites of marketing agencies and ad agencies. Most of them 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:

A job description for a Senior/Lead Copywriter position

Before you start your job search, consider whether you want to start your own freelancing business or work for an agency/company: 

  • In-house copywriter: A full-time role where you work for a single business and focus on that company’s ads and goals
  • Agency copywriter: In advertising agencies, you work on different projects for various clients in a full-time or freelance capacity
  • Freelance copywriter: As a freelancer, you work independently with the freedom to choose the projects you want

Build a Portfolio

A well-crafted portfolio helps you highlight your talent and land advertising copywriting jobs. It’s your chance to show potential employers what you can do.

Whether it’s a witty or formal tone or various industries, your samples should reflect your versatility, adaptability, and/or speciality. 

How do you build an online portfolio?

  • Gather your best work: Start by collecting your most impressive writing samples. These can be from previous jobs, internships, or personal projects. Choose pieces that showcase your versatility and ability to engage different target audiences.
  • Organize your portfolio: Use portfolio websites like Clippings.me, Contently, and Carbonmade to build your online portfolio. Arrange your work by type (like social media ads, banner ads, print ads, or video ads) and explain each piece briefly.
  • Keep it updated: As you create new ads, add them to your portfolio. Fresh work shows you’re an active (and in-demand) copywriter.

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

Kim Hobson's copywriting portfolio

The copywriter showcases her experience in a variety of industries (e.g., motorsports, retail, hotel, and hospitality) and lays out her skills (e.g., ad copywriting, message positioning, and video). 

The description builds credibility and reassures potential clients she’s equipped to handle different projects.

She also provides a clear and easy way for interested parties to get in touch through a bold CTA. 

The best part? She backs it all up with a portfolio of her work, giving concrete examples of her capabilities.

A section with previous work examples in Kim Hobson's copywriting portfolio

But what if you’re just starting and don’t have any work samples yet?

Kickstart your portfolio by picking up smaller projects on job sites like Upwork and Fiverr.

If you know people in design or marketing, offer to partner with them on projects. You bring the words; they bring the visuals. This teamwork can create portfolio-worthy content.

Learn from Successful Copywriters

The best way to learn from the pros is to read their work. 

For example, Copyblogger founder Brian Clark has an entire blog dedicated to his teachings.

Brian Clark's blog on copywriting

Visit the site to read his articles and those from his knowledgeable team.

Copyblogger has also released various ebooks, such as Copywriting 101 How to Craft Compelling Copy:

“Copywriting 101 How to Craft Compelling Copy” ebook

When you read the work of successful copywriters, like Joanna Wiebe, the founder of Copyhackers, or Joseph Sugarman, known as the “pioneer of advertising,” you’ll see how they’ve turned ordinary words into extraordinary messages. 

This will spark your creativity.

Each copywriter has a unique voice. Analyze how professionals infuse personality and style into their writing and let it guide you into developing your own style.

Consider Freelancing

Our State of Content Marketing: 2023 Global Report found copywriting is one of the top three content services businesses outsource.

Answers to "Which content services do you outsource?" from State of Content Marketing report

This highlights a significant opportunity for aspiring ad copywriters to explore freelancing.

Freelancing offers both challenges and rewards. 

You can keep it as a side hustle. Or it can be a stepping stone to a successful full-time career path in ad copywriting, offering flexibility and the potential to earn well. 

Both routes require dedication, discipline, and a commitment to building and maintaining client relationships.

To kickstart your freelancing journey, create a personal website or online portfolio showcasing your work, skills, and contact information. 

Use specialized freelancing platforms for writers like ProBlogger and Freelance Writing Gigs to find initial clients. 

And focus on building a strong client base. Satisfied clients can provide repeat business and referrals.

Write Impactful Ads with Semrush

Ad copywriters are the brains behind captivating ads. 

Whether you’re an experienced marketer or an aspiring writer, ad copywriting presents an exciting and fulfilling path for those who love the power of persuasive words combined with strategic thinking.

Want to learn more about digital marketing to improve your copywriting skills? 

Check out Semrush Academy. You’ll find a range of online digital marketing courses to develop and hone your skills. 

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