You’re reading this post because you want to know if there is a demand for copywriters. If you are a freelancer, digital nomad, or just someone who has a knack for writing—and you want to make use of your talent—here’s what you need to know.
Copywriters turn ideas into words and write texts for a variety of purposes, from slogans on billboards and copy for Facebook ads all the way to content for corporate websites and review posts on niche blogs.
The copywriting profession came about in the late 19th century when John Emory Powers, the world’s first full-time copywriter, was hired by the department stores Lord & Taylor and Wanamaker’s to write sales copy for their products.
Demand for copywriters boomed during the “Mad Men era” of the 1960s and 1970s, when—thanks to the rise of radio and television—advertising became one of the fastest-growing industries in America, and every self-respecting brand had to keep churning out witty ads.
A lot of things have changed since, and advertising isn’t the business it once used to be. Today, the term “copywriter” is used as much for the people coming up with slogans as it is for the writers creating content for websites, blogs, books, and owner’s manuals.
But one thing’s for sure: if you’re good at writing and know how to make a name for yourself, there’s still pretty good demand for copywriting out there, despite the competition and risk.
Are Copywriting Services Sought For?
One of the ways to tell if copywriters’ services are in high demand is to look at the trends on the platforms where clients look for them. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that we’ll start with Google.
The challenge you and I have at hand here is in weeding out the signal from the noise.
For example, if we look at the trends for the term “copywriting,” it will include not only data generated by the clients looking for copywriting services but also the copywriters offering them (and possibly those who are considering copywriting as a career or side gig).
So how are we going to tackle this?
By looking into how often people search for “copywriting services,” which should give us data that’s helpful enough, even if imprecise.
A quick check for “copywriting services” at Google Trends, a tool that reveals how often a term is searched on Google (relative to the search engine’s total search volume over a period of time), reveals the following:
Clearly, copywriting services fell out of favor between 2005 and 2018. Then something happened—I’m not sure what—and search volumes for the term have kept growing ever since, till it reached record levels in November 2020.
Lately, the Internet became the go-to channel for engaging with audiences and selling goods or services. Hence, it’s not a wonder that a growing number of individuals and organizations have been looking up “copywriting services.”
I don’t know when that trend will reverse. And if anyone tells you that they do, they’re either lying or deceiving themselves. One thing’s for sure: more Google users are looking for copywriting services.
Marketing-savvy copywriters or agencies can (and should) benefit from that. If you want to be one of them, I whole a whole post on the best ways to find copywriting clients.
But keep in mind that there’s also growing competition:
As companies lay off an increasing number of people and a fair share of them turn into the gig economy like Instacart, Uber, or Fiverr, many see freelancing as an alternative to delivering groceries and climbing the shaky corporate ladder.
For those who’ve majored in English literature or can haven’t—but can nevertheless write—freelance copywriting seems like a natural choice. But don’t expect to start winning projects as soon as you hit the “sign up” button on marketplaces like Upwork; copywriting is not an easy or get-rich-quick field (no matter what some people will tell you).
Will Copywriters Be in Demand in the Future?
This is a tougher question to answer, and I’ve never been that good at telling the future. So take everything you read in the following few paragraphs with a generous grain of salt.
As I wrote in “Will AI Replace Copywriters,” the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence have led to the emergence of a new wave of copywriting tools out there. But unlike the tools that you and I are used to using, like Google Docs or Grammarly, which help us format and proofread our texts, these generate it for (or, should I say, instead of) us!
Take Conversion.ai, by far the most popular and arguably the best AI-powered copy generation tool out there. Not only is it capable of spewing out well-written meta titles and descriptions that will get you to click on a search result, but it’s also able to co-write long-form texts with you.
Think I’m exaggerating?
Let’s check out what Jarvis, the algorithm behind Conversion.ai, had to say on the topic:
We’re at a point in time where technological advancements are being made every day. It’s not just the way we do business, it has also found its way into the writing industry. As a result, there is a good chance that copywriters will be replaced by AI or other forms of automation technology.
There are many tools out there that can generate content for you with just a few clicks of a button! If you’re interested in generating content for a blog post, you can find many of them that will generate it for you.
You simply provide them with keywords and a topic and they’ll do all of the heavy lifting. Certain tools are even designed specifically to target specific topics, like AI or machine learning.Jarvis
Yes, the text above was written by a robot.
While Conversion.ai and its peers like Market Muse and Writesonic are far from perfect, they’re quickly catching up. In a few years, I bet that most of these tools will be capable of generating coherent texts at least as good as those of human copywriters.
So mid- to long-term demand for copywriting services will most probably shrink as more and more in-house marketers and creative agencies substitute their copywriting colleagues with AI-powered apps.
And it’s not a question of “if;” it’s rather a question of “when exactly” and “by how much.”
What You Can Do About This
If you’re already a copywriter and you’re wondering whether or not you’ll be out of a job in a few years, the long answer short is probably not, as long as you’re smart about your personal brand and skillset.
Those of you in this for the long run need to create a game plan.
Start with the low-hanging fruit, like bolstering up your profile. Look at those of the best freelance copywriters on Upwork, for example, and try to identify what sets their profiles apart from yours.
How are their profiles different from yours? Do they have more professional-looking photos? Charge higher rates? Introduce themselves in a more compelling way?
The goal is to compare your profile objectively to those of your competitors—and come up with a few quick and easy ways to make a few changes that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Think of this as a short-term fix that can help you get a few more clients per month (and maybe at a higher rate). But there’s more that you can do.
Can you develop expertise in one particular field of copywriting and niche down your services so well, that you’re using your skills to solve an expensive problem for clients who are willing to pay higher rates?
Perhaps you’re good at writing resumés in a way that gets people hired? Stop selling generic and per-hour copywriting services and present yourself as the go-to person when someone needs their CV to catch the eyes of the recruiters and win their dream job!
You get the idea. Approach your work and your services like a business. Find the intersection between the outcomes you’re best at delivering with your writing, and package them in a way where you’re not giving away your time per hour; you’re delivering real outcomes.
Yes, copywriters are in demand, especially in recent years. But don’t take it as a guarantee for success. Competition from newcomers has been growing, and so has the thread of redundancy by automation.