Ever wondered what a copywriter actually does? If you said “writes things,” well, you’re in the ballpark – but you’re missing a lot of the nuance that makes copywriting different than writing essays or technical manuals or short stories or poems.
To help y’all understand what a copywriter does, and how varied the job can be, I tracked the copy I wrote during a particularly-packed Thursday at the Butler Branding office. What follows is my best recollection of the roughly nine hours I spent writing blog posts, Google ads, brochures, booklets, YouTube descriptions, social posts, and more – as well as unwinding between projects.
7:20 AM – I arrive at the Butler office, turn on the lights, and boot up my trusty Lenovo laptop. Digital Marketing Director Art Zaragoza works from home on Thursdays, so I expect to have our shared office to myself for the day. (Spoiler Alert: This does not end up being the case.)
Because I know I’m going to crank through a ton of wordstuffs today, I treat myself to a fancy Kuppa Joy pour over, made using the instructions some kind soul was generous enough to write up and print out for the office. The coffee provides the energy boost I was looking for, and I finish my morning ritual by checking my email and Asana inboxes.
Seeing no fires that need to be put out, I dive into the first task I’d planned to tackle today: Finishing up a fun blog post for Camarena Health.
7:50 AM – In early February, Camarena Health hosted their first Aspire to Inspire awards ceremony, honoring the organization’s teaching providers. These providers chose to add teaching to their already busy workloads and share their knowledge with students completing clinical rotations at Camarena Health. They are good people performing a great service (the Central Valley needs a lot more new healthcare providers, fast), so getting to hype them up a bit more is a treat.
We received pictures from the Feb. 8 event immediately after the fact, but because our main contact at Camarena Health caught the flu, we didn’t receive the draft write-up for this post until yesterday. To keep the post as timely as possible, I chose to prioritize editing the write-up (rearranging and condensing some info for better flow, adding in the list of award winners) and moving it into the shell I’d already created on Camarena Health’s website.
I’m about two-thirds of the way done with this, editing the conclusion I’ve added to the copy we received, when I’m surprised by some jostling at our main office door.
8:17 AM – Webmaster David Cruz strolls into the office at a time that is quite early for him, and I tease him about this fact. We also talk about David’s ongoing apartment search and the pranks we should pull on Art while he’s out of the office today.
While talking with David, I realize that I lucked into arranging the photos of Camarena Health’s Aspire to Inspire award winners in the correct order before receiving the write-up listing their names and awards. This will save me a modicum of time; David pretends to be excited for me. We use the extra time to create and attach funny labels to Art’s computer monitor and keyboard. Then, we continue about our respective days. David has an entire website to launch today, and I have many words left to write.
8:45 AM – Having edited the Aspire to Inspire post to my satisfaction, I send the draft to our contact at Camarena Health. Tomorrow, they’ll ask me to swap a new picture into the bottom of the post, before I share it on Facebook. Which is a pretty minor edit, so I consider this a job well done.
Feeling decent about my productivity, I move on to a larger project: Finalizing the copy and suggesting UX revisions for a “clickfunnel” style campaign we’re going to launch in March.
9:16 AM – At an agency as small and multi-disciplined as Butler, we all end up wearing many hats. And one of the many hats I wear (thanks to my years of software-related experience) is UX strategist.
In about three weeks, we’re going to start driving traffic to SocialMerlin.com. Specifically, we’re going to ask financial advisors to visit this landing page and provide us with their name, email, and phone number. However (as of this writing), our client has made it much too hard for financial advisors to provide us with this information. (Note that we’re not directly editing the client’s website on this project – sometimes, working with existing assets and outside teams is part of the job!)
Art and I are worried that, because Social Merlin’s landing page is not intuitive, any ads we point there won’t get good results. Which is why we’re creating some additional ad sets (Google call-only ads and Facebook click to call ads, which will get our client the phone calls he ultimately wants much more quickly) and writing up some recommendations the client can use to improve his landing page. Art and I could just spin up ads and watch financial advisors bounce off Social Merlin’s landing page, but neither of us would be satisfied with that. We don’t want to just do the job; we want to do it right.
Almost immediately after I finish writing up my UX recommendations, Butler CEO Sean Tambagahan calls and asks whether he can send them on to the client (Sean’s off-site, reviewing projects with Executive Assistant Desiree Jacinto). I tell him to do so, with the caveat that we’ll likely want to review the recommendations in person when the client visits us next week.
10:06 AM – Having finished my UX review and additional ad copy for Social Merlin, I turn my attention to drafting the first set of marketing content that we’ll release for Cigar Mas Fino. That website I mentioned David’s launching today? That’s CigarMasFino.com. With Cigar Mas Fino’s website soon to be live, I want to make sure we have our first month or so’s worth of content stacking and digital marketing materials ready to pull people there.
Using the three previously-approved videos that our video department created, I draft YouTube, social media, blog, email, and even text message content that we’ll use to put Cigar Mas Fino co-founder Chris Mortensen in front of not just his existing customers, but newbies wondering how to choose their first cigar. You can click this link after March 6 to see Cigar Mas Fino’s first video, as well as the copy I wrote to go alongside it.
Because I have to watch each video (three times, usually – once at regular speed to get the gist, once at 2x to cement things, and once at .5x to transcribe quotes) and reshape the content into various forms (as short as 160 characters for a text message, as long as 350 words for a blog post) this project actually takes me quite awhile. But eventually, I end up creating fifteen unique pieces of marketing content from these three videos. That’s no 64 pieces of content in one day, but it’s not bad.
1:28 PM – After a three and a half hour typing session, I need to give my hands and mind a break. So I chat with David and Desiree (who has arrived at the office) for a bit, and then I walk to the downtown Fresno library. My wife and I just finished watching the first season of The Terror (so good), and I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers (also very good), so I have some stuff to drop off.
The ten-minute walk does me a lot of good, but the twenty minutes I spend perusing the library’s shelves do me even better. I end up leaving with a copy of Chuck Wendig’s Zer0es, which I hope to start reading Friday night (provided I ever finish this darn blog post).
A snack lunch and another coffee later, I’m ready to get back to my keyboard. Which is good, because Lake Tahoe awaits.
2:00 PM – Sometimes, when a client asks for copy edits in the middle of a publication design project, Graphic Designer Chris Orozco will pull me in to help make sense of things. In this case, the team at Mid India Christian Mission wants to make some changes to the copy they’d provided for their Golf Event booklet. The revisions are written on a printed copy of the current booklet, which looks something like this:
The revisions are actually fairly easy to incorporate, after I understand what the event’s all about and take a look at the associated web page. Mid India wants us to play up the experiential aspect of staying and golfing at The Edgewood Tahoe Resort, as well as clarify some event logistics.
I’m in the middle of doing those things when the office phone rings and Desiree, who is currently on her own phone with another client, passes it to me.
2:25 PM – The phone call is a request from Clovis Christian Schools, a Butler client from before my time. Their owner is asking whether we can update the pricing info listed on their website. It takes a bit to sort out exactly when the update is needed by, but eventually we settle on “by the end of next week.” I tell the owner that seems feasible on our end, and to email David and Desiree with the info she’d like changed and a link to the page she’d like that info changed on.
Yup, copywriters even handle client calls! With the folks at Clovis Christian Schools pointed in the right direction, I get back to the remaining Mid India Golf Event edits.
3:04 PM – I finish the Golf Event booklet edits and, in Asana, link Chris to the Word doc I’ve created. Tomorrow, he’ll use that Word doc to update the booklet’s layout (I suggested making some of the Lake Tahoe and golf course pictures we were using bigger, in addition to adjusting the copy – pictures often sell an experience better than words).
It’s been a long day, and David’s now invaded my office, but I still have one more copywriting project in front of me. KYJO’s biggest event of the year is approaching, and I want to make sure we’re ready to begin our promotion cycle soon. So it’s time to start thinking about The B.I.G. Weekend.
4:35 PM – I spend about an hour and half updating the digital ads, press release, emails, brochures, and one-pagers we use to promote KYJO’s Big B.A.N.G. Weekend – which, this year, is transforming into The B.I.G. Weekend. We’re still settling on a new logo design and overall style for this year’s event, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start updating the materials we’ll use to promote it.
After copying last year’s text content into a new folder, I begin updating copy within the brochure KYJO uses to ask community leaders for their support. This year, our partners’ donations will go toward not just funding the weekend’s free youth football clinic and existing KYJO programs, but the construction of a new gym KYJO will use to promote mental and physical health. I need to incorporate that, and KYJO’s ongoing #FEARLESS campaign, into this year’s brochure.
To do so, I end up completely overhauling a section of the brochure, as well as updating the event’s date, name, sponsorship levels, and other info as needed. This takes awhile, and I get about fifteen minutes into updating last year’s press release before I decide that me of tomorrow would do a much better job of it. With my wrists cranky and my brain tapped out, I decide to pack it in for the day (that is, until I get home, where I write about comic books for like two hours).
Most of my Butler copywriting days aren’t quite so intense, but there’s currently a lot to get done! I hope you enjoyed this look at what a day in the life of a copywriter is like, and that you now have a better idea of what this job entails.
If you’re interested in reading a bit more about what copywriting within a marketing agency is like, I’d encourage you to check out the related posts I’ve written here and here. And if you’d like any of my teammates to tell you what their days are like, leave us a comment below or on our Facebook! With your support, I might be able to corral my team into writing their own Day in the Life posts …