Creative Copywriting: What it is and How You Can Nail It

Sometimes you don’t just want to write copy. 

You want to write copy that causes a double-take.

Copy that results in “OMG.”

Copy that really sticks to your ribs.

Creative copywriting goes a step beyond hitting those pain points and completely magnetizes a brand, leaving them to not just want what you’re selling, but to have your clever quips ingrained into their psyches for the rest of their lives.

Let’s take a look at what creative copywriting is, what a creative copywriter does, how to write creative copy, and even look at some examples of creative copywriting that have stood the test of time.

Creative Copywriting: What is It?

Creative copywriting defined: Creative copywriting is the art and science of writing words that attach a concept to a product or service in an interesting way. 

This style of copywriting can be funny, serious, blase, or shocking––but the one thing all styles of creative copywriting have in common is that they get into the audience’s head.

What Does a Creative Copywriter Do?

A creative copywriter writes headlines, taglines, advertisements, sales pages, and any other marketing materials that further the commercial initiatives of a brand. Creative copywriters work with brand developers, marketing departments, advertising agencies, PR firms, and other entities that create public-facing content. 

Creative copywriters study the brand’s guidelines, objectives, sentiment analysis, demographic information, and current strategies to create magnetized messaging that helps create awareness, generate revenue, and shape a brand’s legacy.

Is Copywriting a Creative Career?

Copywriting is absolutely a creative career––but it’s not only a creative career. Creative copywriting requires both left-and-right brain thinking. Analytical thinking, creative thinking, consumer psychology, and an understanding of user experience all play a role in the day-to-day goings on of a creative copywriter.

But, at the core of creative copywriting is absolutely creative thinking. 

How can you make time stop––and the scroll stop?

How can you tie together humanity and commerce?

How can you identify with people you’ve never met and inspire them to take an action, make a chance, or complete a purchase?

If these challenges appeal to you, congratulations. You’re a creative copywriter in the making.

How Can I Be a Creative Copywriter?

Turning heads with words sounds like a dream come true, right? Let’s talk about how you can learn to write creative copy.

Learning How to Learn Creative Copywriting

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Learn Copywriting Basics

You can’t jump in the deep end if you can’t swim. I mean you could…but you know what will happen. 

If you want to get GOOD––and I mean REALLY good––at creative copywriting, you first need to understand the basics of copywriting. 

  • What copywriting is and what it isn’t.
  • What goes into a compelling headline and a show-stopping call to action. 
  • How to use future pacing.
  • How to create urgency the RIGHT WAY.

And how to get into the core of someone’s head and pull out exactly what they’re thinking, why, and what you can do to shift that thinking.

Taking a copywriting course for beginners is a great way to lay the foundation so you can build your creative copywriting empire.

Create a Swipe File

A swipe file isn’t stealing and regurgitation, no matter what it sounds like. Instead, a copywriting swipe file is a collection of copy examples that you really like and would like to emulate its effects.

Pay attention to every ad you see. Every email. Every billboard, headline, call to action, and sales page. Keep track of each one, why it caught your attention, how it kept your attention, and whether or not it moved you to DO something.

Keep all of these examples in a file and refer to them when you need inspiration. 

Practice Your Skills 

You know those skills you learned and that copywriting swipe file you created?

Put them together and put them to work.

Take your swipe file and rewrite the copy you like. Put a spin on it. Give it a different perspective. Turn funny creative copy into somber creative copy. Take creative ads and write them for a different product or different audience. 

Practice your skills until your brain writes copy on autopilot for every product you see. 

Pay Attention to Human Emotion

This one is key. Human emotion, over everything, is what drives a purchase decision. Pay attention to what products appeal to what emotions, and what the pain and pleasure points are associated with common problems.

For example, let’s look at some everyday problems, pain points and pleasure points for some products and services.

Product/ServiceProblem SolvedPain PointPleasure Point
Chocolate and Vanilla Twist cone for a local ice cream shopChoosing Chocolate or VanillaKids having meltdowns not knowing which to chooseHappy kids, less parental anxiety
Adult Only Night at the local waterparkPlanning boring dates, keeping everything onlinePotential relationships staying stuck behind a screen, not knowing how to take the conversation from dating apps to an actual dateGetting the first date
Dog Training for Aggressive DogsNo more reactive bitingLove the dog, but worried that the dog will hurt someoneA well trained dog that doesn’t bite
Affordable new homesCustom family homes built for half the priceWant to move into a new home but not spending any time there or with family because it’s too expensiveAbility to build a new home for a growing family and enjoy watching them grow up in it

This is one of my favorite copywriting exercises, and one that I recommend to new copywriters all the time.

Now, let’s take it a step further and use this copywriting exercise with some creative copywriting techniques.

Creative Copywriting Techniques

There aren’t any “standard” techniques that all creative copywriting follows, but I’ll break down a few fun ones that I call the Double Take, the Double Entendre, the Word Slide, and the Smash & Grab. 

We’ll use the examples from the exercise above and write creative copy for a headline and tagline for each one.

Double Take

The “double take” creative copywriting technique makes your audience look twice––and then think twice. To use the “Double Take” technique, you can go for shock value, cross out words, or use humor. 

For example, let’s take the chocolate and vanilla ice cream twist cone for a local ice cream shop. 

DON’T Get it Twisted.

Now the only meltdown will be yours when they let it drip all over the car.

This copy addresses the pain point without actually mentioning it, and uses a play on words with the word “twisted.”

Double (or Triple) Entendres

A double (or triple) entendre is a phrase that has more than one meaning, and one of the meanings is usually a little risque. 

Take this example for a water park hosting an “adults only” night:

Slide in More Than Just the DMs.

This creative copywriting addresses a common issue in online dating (just keeping it to the DMs and never getting to “real life”) and uses humor to entice an audience who might be a little bit rowdy (you know, the kind who will spend money on drinks at adults only night).

Word Slides

“I Love My Dog Bit the Kid Next Door.”

I love word slides. It starts with one idea and ends with another, shifting perspectives. This specific example is written for a dog trainer specializing in behavioral issues. 

Creative Copywriting Tips

If You Have to Explain It, It Doesn’t Work

Less is More

Avoid Cliches (Unless it’s Part of the Joke)

Go Bold

Creative Copywriting [Examples] 

Want to see creative copy in action? Take a look at these 5 examples of creative copy pulled straight out of my personal swipe file.

1. ANYTHING on the BarkBox Website (but Especially Their Product Descriptions)

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know how amused I am with basically ANYTHING on the BarkBox site

Seriously. BarkBox, if you’re reading this, I love you.

This product copy in the image above is a hilarious example of creative copywriting. The double entendres. The metaphors. The pop-culture references. That closing sentence that speaks to their ideal audience–people who spoil their pets (and I am guilty as charged. I have a dog in my lap on the couch as I’m writing this). 

2. This L’Oreal Ad NOT for Their Target Market…But it Also Is

Can I just say L’Oreal smashed it out of the park with this one? 

L’Oreal’s target audience isn’t the stereotypical male; but this ad is absolutely for just that audience––and the end result of this ad IMPACTS their target audience. WIN-WIN for L’Oreal on this marketing campaign.

 At first glance, it looks like the ad is trying to sell men 15% more lipstick, but when you look closer, you see a statistic about the profitability of female leadership, adding credibility to the ad.

And because the overwhelming majority of people in decision-making positions are men, hopefully this ad actually grabbed their attention.

3. This Volkswagon Ad

Volkwagon had some pretty good ads (excuse me while I go research their copywriters for the rest of the day). 

But this one is one of my favorites.

It uses subtle humor and pushes two central ideas: that you’ll be driving your Volkswagen so much you’ll run it out of gas, and that it’s a lightweight car.

4. This SONY Ad

So this SONY ad might only be understood by SONY’S target audience,and that’s perfect. This ad uses humor, a pop culture reference, and appeals to the senses. 

4. This Ad Featuring the Most Iconic Duo of All Time

Ok, who doesn’t love the Martha-Snoop Dogg friendship, first of all…

This is a great example of creative copywriting that has a double meaning, is a little bit risque, and makes the audience think. 

Creative Copywriting Jobs: What to Know & How to Find One

So, you’re sold ont he idea of becoming a creative copywriter. Let’s talk about what you should know and how you can find gigs.

How Much Does a Creative Copywriter Get Paid?

How much a creative copywriter gets paid depends on several factors:

  • Whether or not you’re a freelancer or work in-house somewhere
  • How many years of experience you have
  • Your skill level
  • What your portfolio looks like.

Creative copywriters can make anywhere from $50k to multiple six-figures per year. If you’re a freelance copywriter, you have more control over your income, as you are the one who sets your prices. 

How Do You Find a Creative Copywriting Job?

Creative copywriting jobs can be found virtually anywhere any other type of job is posted. Job sites like ZipRecruiter or Indeed will often have job listings for creative copywriters for both freelance gigs and full-time options. 

Other ways to find jobs as a creative copywriter include networking sites (including LinkedIn), social media, and even in person networking groups.

The best way to find a creative copywriting job, of course, is to have your prospects come to YOU. You can do this with a mixture of building your personal brand as a copywriter, search optimizing your website, and content marketing.

Is Being a Creative Copywriter a Good Job?

It depends on what you consider  a “good job.” If you’re both creative and analytical, have a way with words, and want to get paid to create thought-provoking content for brands, then yes, creative copywriting is a good job.

What Niches Need Creative Copywriters?

Virtually every niche on the planet needs a creative copywriter. Think about it: every business in the world relies on copywriting to some extent. However, creative copywriter is more in-demand in some niches than others, primarily those that serve a younger audience who is nearly immune to advertisements.

Frequently Asked Questions About Creative Copywriting

More questions on creative copywriting? Let’s go!

Creative Writing vs. Copywriting: What’s the Difference?

While both creative and both forms of writing, creative writing focuses on more fiction, poetry, or other entertainment-centered writing while copywriting is meant for business purposes.

Copywriting vs. Creative Copywriting: Key Differences

This is where the waters get a bit murky. Creative copywriting and “regular” copywriting both require you to be creative, but copywriting is more focused on driving home the pain points while creative copywriting focuses on driving the point home in an interesting, thought-provoking, out-of-the-box fashion.

Where Can I Find Copywriting Courses?

One great thing about copywriting is that you don’t need a fancy four-year degree to start your career. You can take copywriting courses online, learn copywriting from YouTube, copywriting podcasts, copywriting books, and from other copywriters.

How Do I Know My Copywriting is Creative?

If your copy makes someone double take, think twice, or have an emotional reaction (followed by an “Ohhhhhhhh” moment), you’ve very likely got some creative copy on your hands.

However, if your copy is confusing, dull, and doesn’t elicit any kind of reaction from your audience, you have work to do.

Can Creative Copywriting Be Funny?

Absolutely. Some of the best examples of creative copywriting are funny, and funny copy is usually the most memorable.

 Just see that Snoop and Martha ad above!

Copywriting For Creatives: Your Dream Job

Creative copywriting means using both sides of your brain to tell a story––no matter how long or short––that puts a concept into words and elicits an emotional response from an audience.

If that sounds like a dream come true, then creative copywriting is going to totally be your jam.

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