8 roles you didn’t know your copywriter played

Have you ever wondered how much a copywriter costs? Indeed, have you ever thought about what the copywriter role entails? Shows like Mad Men do us great justice and also a disservice – yes, we come up with genius ads like ‘Lemon’, but we do a whole lot more, too.

Take it from the copywriting team at Katie Lingo.

1. Translator

This one we mean figuratively and literally*. You might have been delivering cutting-edge productivity solutions since the dawn of time. Your average Joe has no idea what that means. The translator copywriter role is perhaps one of the most important: conveying your message to the masses.

Perhaps you work in a highly tech-driven, initialism-laden industry. But your stakeholders aren’t always as au fait with the lingo. A copywriter needs to distinguish the PPI from the STIs and explain them without condescending your audience.

Why? Because anybody could be reading this. You might be presenting a business case to an investor. Maybe a work experience student’s looking up your employer brand. Our job is to translate the jargon (keep it simple, stupid) and maintain your tone of voice.

*And yes, in some cases, we are translators. Cue nightmares of trawling through German PowerPoints and coming up with a translation for ‘Gesundheitsbesserwisser’.

2. Project Manager

One of the most frustrating parts of content strategy is coming up with a million ideas – and executing sweet FA. Maybe you’re more inspired than Michelangelo. Maybe you’re as animated as Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Either way, whether we’ve absorbed or created the ideas, we help you organise them. There are particular transferable skills for web development projects, for example. I recall taking a local charity through the arduous content creation, upload and even design process. (If design counts as moving things around in WordPress.)

Sometimes, we need someone to push the button – turn ideas into tasks, assign roles and apply timescales. And if your copywriter is keen, they might throw on the project manager hat, too.

copywriter role customer

Always happy to be a restaurant customer.

3. Customer

A real copywriter goes beyond the market research. They become your customer. Sound cheesy? In the past I have convinced myself to buy henna shampoo, CBD oil and sex toys. Wild night that was.

But this is about the whole funnel. In July 2023, Katie Lingo welcomed its first work experience student, Lana. One of Lana’s tasks was to perform keyword research and come up with FAQs for a patio cleaner. Keen to give her ‘on-the-job’ experience, I marched Lana down to The Range and looked up competitor cleaners – even going as far as to Google whether or not they were pet-friendly.

“See?” I told her. “This is what search engine optimisation actually is! This brand can answer my question straight away. This is what customers are doing.” Boom. Digital marketing in the wild.

4. Mediator

Show me somebody who likes tracked changes and I’ll show you a liar. Whether you’re a Word fanatic (me – don’t throw tomatoes) or a Google Doc jock (you’re insane), edits are not fun. Every copywriter understands that edits are a necessity. Approval by committee is not.

When several people are involved in the copy-editing process, it eventually becomes a warzone in the margins. Person A says X. Person B says Y. Copywriter wonders whose advice to take while trying to calm down a Wetherspoons brawl in the comments.

Copywriters are fair people. We’ll always try to compromise or determine who the organ grinder really is. Let’s just keep it clean and out of the tracked changes.

5. Editor/All-Round Fixer-Upper

You might argue that being an editor is part of the copywriter role. But this has evolved so much nowadays – particularly since that C-word came along and ruined everything. ChatGPT, Jasper, Elon’s latest puppet…they’re all capable of producing copy. They’re also capable of producing soulless, factually inaccurate crap.

So, first and foremost, we might be clearing up after the machines. We might also be tidying up ‘amends’ that have crammed an extra 50 words into a sentence. Or mixed up e-commerce and eCommerce. Or generally make no sense.

TL;DR – we’re Winston Wolf. We solve problems.

6. Administrator

Perhaps more of a freelancer role than a copywriter role per se, there’s a lot going on behind the words. Like when we have to amend invoices because internal systems have changed, or when we have to navigate new project management software. Oh Elon, hear our prayer: please buy out Notion, Clickup, Slack, Asana and Google Docs. It would make our lives easier.

There’s also a lot of client-facing work to do. Need to interview somebody for a case study? No problem. We’ll put on our virtual assistant hats and send out Zoom invitations faster than you can say Dogecoin.

7. Therapist

Copywriters are great communicators. That makes us great listeners. And goodness knows everybody needs an impartial ear when they’re gagging for a good rant.

In my experience, this happens most often with agencies. Goalposts may be moved or clients might give them unrealistic deadlines. Enter your trusty copywriter and therapist, who’s here to rescue you when the going gets tough (within reason). They’ll roll their eyes with you and promise you it’s Friday soon. Cheaper than therapy, right?

8. Friend

Yes, you’re vomming. I’m vomming. We’re all vomming. But if you’ve got a good relationship with your copywriter, there’s a Randy Newman song in there somewhere.

Maybe you have a good bitch with weekly catch-up calls. Maybe they come to your parties. Maybe you even follow them on Insta. (I definitely have clients who do all three of these, and for the last one…I am sorry.)

The industry angle

In June 2023, we were thrilled to sponsor and see the results of the ProCopywriters Survey. It gave rise to some eye-opening findings about copywriters, including:

  • 51% of us get frustrated with multiple stakeholders giving mixed messages (see point 3)
  • 32% of us find it hard when clients have unadventurous attitudes to work (see point 2)
  • 26% of us offer training and 10% offer project management (see whole article – many hats).

What copywriter role have we missed?

So, in true copywriter style, I’m going to make this one about you. If you’ve ever worked with one of us, I’d love to hear how else we’ve helped you. Maybe we’ve raised funds for your charity or run a marathon for you. (Anyone? No?)

Whatever hat your copywriter wears, it’s all about that oft-cited marketing concept: adding value. The survey tells us that the average day rate is now £433 – so if you ever need a breakdown of costs, you’ll find the value above.

Must go now; lots of things to do. I’m a friend first, copywriter second. Probably entertainer third.

copywriter role
Katie Lingo
by Katie Lingo
2nd August 2023