What is copywriting, and how did I get into it?

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February 6, 2022
Maddie Lemay

My transition into copywriting started when I got a call from the Wall Street Journal on a Tuesday afternoon.

“How soon can you get to Minneapolis?” the editor asked. There was unrest going on following the murder of George Floyd, and the Wall Street Journal needed someone to cover it.

“Twenty minutes,” I responded.

At the time, I was still working as a community journalist full-time. But frankly, I didn’t care.

When the Wall Street Journal calls, you don’t say no.

Here’s 21-year-old me with a New York Times birthday cake my friends made for me! For a while, I thought I’d continue to move up in the journalism world. Then I got a call from the Wall Street Journal.

And so started my transition into freelancing.

Even though I loved my full-time job and everyone I worked with, I felt the continued longing to be able to work for myself. And it was a necessary decision as much as it was a choice I’d wanted to make: as someone who deals with chronic migraine, I knew working a typical nine-to-five job for any employer would be difficult for me to pull off. When a migraine attack comes on at 1 p.m. and I’m on the clock, I can’t just call in sick every time.

So when the Wall Street Journal called me, I thought to myself: “If I can make money writing for the Wall Street Journal on my own time, can’t I make money writing for other businesses, and work for myself?”

A few weeks later, I put in my two-week notice and started freelance writing. I wrote blog posts for a big company Centerfield Media, and whenever the Wall Street Journal needed me for a story, I’d cover it.

Immediately, I realized I could make a living off doing something I truly loved — writing — and that there were businesses out there who needed help with their messaging, but either didn’t know they needed help, or didn’t know where to go to get it.

I got into copywriting, partially out of necessity (because I know I can’t work a typical nine-to-five job with the migraines I get), but also because I knew I wanted to work for myself and do what I love!

It made me remember something my dad has always told me, and it’s stuck with me to this day: “You can make money doing just about anything you love. You just have to start a business doing it.

And that’s exactly what I did. I built a website, and slowly, I’ve added more clients to my portfolio. Now, I feel more like I’m running a business and less like a freelancer. That’s how I got into this thing, in a nutshell.

It hasn’t been easy. I put in a lot of hours educating myself (reading books, listening to podcasts, grabbing coffee with experts) on how to write blog posts for businesses, how to write effective copy for websites, and how to be a successful “solopreneur” in general.

I still freelance for the Wall Street Journal when they need me, but most of the time, you can find me crafting words for new websites, writing emails for small businesses, or drafting blog posts.

What is copywriting?

If you’re anything like my family and friends, you might still be scratching your heads.

What is copywriting? How is it any different from “freelance writing?”

I totally get it. I didn’t have any idea what “copywriting” was before I got into it, either. Frankly, I dislike the term “copywriting” because I realize that anyone outside the industry doesn’t understand what the heck it means.

That’s why I prefer to call myself a storyteller for small businesses.

But, technically, I’m a copywriter.

Copywriting is any type of writing meant to compel readers to take some type of action, such as buying a product, subscribing to a service, clicking a link, scheduling a call, or donating to a cause.

For example: if I write the words (or the copy) for a chiropractor’s website, I’d be helping that chiropractor figure out who her target audience is, boil down her messaging, and come up with a plan for how to write her website in a way that’s going to create the least amount of confusion and the most amount of consultations.

So copywriting is not just writing a bunch of words… it’s more strategic. Most of my work actually doesn’t involve typing away on my laptop; it involves a lot of strategy, like narrowing down a business’ messaging from eight paragraphs to one or two sentences, until it speaks directly to the right audience.

What am I up to now, and what copywriting packages am I offering?  

Glad you asked! I’ve got some exciting changes taking place in JUST A FEW WEEKS! (Hint: it involves a NEW business name, a NEW service and a NEW website).

In the meantime, I’ve got a few slots open for website copy and blog posts:

I have one slot left for website copy starting in April, and two slots left for website copy in May! I’ll strategize with you, rewrite your entire website, and give you messaging that will feel more like you’re talking to your prospects around a campfire and less like a sales pitch. The nice part about it all: writing website copy is a great way to clean up your site and receive layout guidance without spending thousands of design dollars up front. (But if you want to redesign your website at the same time, I have a website design package for that)!

Starting in April, I also have two spaces open for ongoing monthly blog content. This is a great option for you if you’re struggling to consistently post to your website and need to find a way to generate more traction online.

Interested in one website copywriting services or want to know more about other services I offer? Book a zero-obligation call!

Your business’ story matters and it deserves to be shared.

Cheering you on,


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