What Kind of Writing is Considered Copywriting?

White cover magazine and blank screen phone, flat lay tabletop
TARIK KIZILKAYA / Getty Images

What exactly IS copywriting? I've seen so many freelance writing job ads that ask for a copywriter, but these projects are so vastly different. Are they all really "copywriting"? What is copywriting, defined?

Copywriting is any writing that offers a product or service for sale. I've defined it very quickly in the glossary here. Also, I have a wonderful guest article here about the difference between "copywrite" and "copyright." However, to expound and clarify a little, and to answer your question, I'd like to break apart the different kinds of copywriting.

Types of Copywriting

First of all, copywriting most obviously means ad copy, like ads you see in magazines, on billboards, in newspapers, and even text you see on TV. One offshoot of magazine ad copy that I've personally written is the advertorial, an ad that looks somewhat like editorial work, or like a part of the magazine or an article in the newspaper.

Another kind of copywriting is direct response copywriting. In its physical, print form, you'll recognize that as the advertisements that end up in your mailbox. They are mailed directly to you in the hope that you'll make a direct purchase in response to them.

Another kind of copywriting occurs in marketing collateral. This can be things like newsletters and brochures. These are publications that often endeavor to sell you something, but it may be a softer sell. It may be couched in useful information, or "About Us" type of content.

Speaking of "About Us," the last kind of copywriting is also one of the most prevalent today: copy for the web.

Many, many websites (perhaps even a majority of them) are selling us something, right? So all that text is a kind of copywriting.

Web copy can take many different forms. It could be that three-phrase Google ads box that you see in the margins of many websites, or it could be something much longer, such as an ebook, or a series of articles that are keyworded and search engine optimized.

Obviously, copywriting offers a wide range of different forms for writers, making it one of the most approachable and abundant outlets for freelancers. Interested? Learn how to become a freelance copywriter here.​