Direct Response Copywriting: The Ultimate Guide

So, you’ve heard all of these great things about direct response copywriting, and it’s starting to sound really, really appealing.

Or, maybe you’re a business owner and you’ve been told you need to focus on direct response campaigns and you know you need a direct response copywriter––but you don’t really know what that is.

Today, I’m going to cover EVERYTHING you need to know about direct response copywriting: what is is, what a direct response copywriter does, how much money you can make as a direct response copywriter, examples of direct response copywriting, and frequently asked questions about direct response copywriting. Plus, we’ll even look at some of the best direct response copywriters in the world.

So, let’s get into it!

Copywriting: a Brief Breakdown

Before we get into what a direct response copywriter is, does, and how to get started as a direct response copywriter, let’s first go over some of the basics.

What Does Copywriting Mean In Marketing?

The simplest definition of copywriting are words written for business purposes. Copywriting is used in brand identity, communications, and marketing materials, and creates a cohesive “voice” for the brand.

In marketing, copywriting is writing the words that are meant to lead to a sale. 

What Does Copywriting Involve?

Copywriting is more than just writing. A copywriter spends a great deal of time researching their client, researching competitors, researching industry trends, editing, A/B testing, and working with designers and other members of the marketing team.

And this is all besides writing!

In fact, most copywriters spend LESS time writing and MORE time working on other tasks associated with their job.

Who Uses Copywriters?

In short, every business on the planet.

Yes, seriously. Every business on earth relies on copywriting to varying degrees–even businesses that have a predominantly offline presence.

A business uses copywriters for:

  • Advertisements, both print and online
  • Brochures
  • Taglines
  • Emails
  • Direct mail campaigns
  • Web copy
  • Product descriptions
  • Product labeling
  • Social media

And more! Anything a business needs written, a copywriter can do.

Copywriting Role: What Is A Copywriter Responsible For?

Besides working as a part of a larger marketing team and creating content for a business’s needs, a copywriter is responsible for maintaining the brand’s voice and tone, ensuring cohesion across all messaging, and adapting and changing messaging to any shifts in customer demographics.

Now that you have a good idea of what a copywriter is, let’s move on to direct response copywriting, specifically.

What is Direct Response Copywriting?

Direct response copywriting is writing with the purpose of influencing an immediate response, such as making a purchase, downloading a lead magnet, or subscribing to an email newsletter.

If your copy has a call to action, you’re writing direct response copy.

Types Of Direct Response Copywriting

Sales pages, email campaigns, landing pages, advertising copy, and even social media copy radio ads can be direct response copywriting.

How Much Do Direct Response Copywriters Make?

In 2022, the average salary for a direct response copywriter in 2022 is $65,310.

Direct response copywriting salaries vary by location, with some positions making upwards of $80,000.

Let’s take a look at the top five cities for direct response copywriting in terms of salary:

LocationMonthly SalaryYearly Salary
New York, NY$6,462.$77,553
San Mateo, CA$6,333$75,997
Juneau, AK$6,161$73,928
Boston, MA$6157$73,880
Berkeley, CA$6,091$73,880
*salary data for direct response copywriters are averages taken from ZipRecruiter.

Keep in mind that these are averages, and that a direct response copywriter salary is different from starting a copywriting business and setting your own rates.

Direct Response Copywriting Examples

Visual learner? Let’s take a look at these direct response copywriting examples. I’ll break down each one of these examples and why they work.

Direct Response Copywriting Example #1: Opt-in Pop-Up

This pop-up form is simple, yet effective. This copy shows the benefit (learning to write killer social media captions), social proof (join over 12k business owners), and has an “agreement” call to action. The next step the audience takes when reading this copy is to claim their free download.

Direct Response Copywriting Example #2: Instagram Ad

This instagram ad, although longer than the opt-in form, is still considered short-form copy. And even though it’s short, this Instagram ad is almost like a mini-sales page. Notice how it captures attention with the first line, walks the audience through their pain points, and then delivers the solution. Then, the ad finishes with a specific call to action–to download the lead magnet.

Direct Response Copywriting Example #3: Email Copy

I’m including this example because an email copywriter will often spend a lot of time writing nurture sequences and not as much time writing sales emails. This email is straight to the heart and straight to the point, using both negative and positive future pacing to show the subscriber why the offer is MUST-HAVE.

Then, closes with a clinching call to action.

At this point in the sequence, the subscriber has typically been nurtured and the know, like, and trust has been built.

PS: Notice the shift in tone and the use of urgency (but not false scarcity!).

What is the Difference Between Direct Response Copywriting and Other Types of Writing?

The goal of direct response copywriting is to get an immediate response once the audience is finished reading the copy. Other types of business writing, while the goal is to make a sale, don’t necessarily have the underlying urgency. 

Let’s compare direct response copywriting with a couple of other types of writing.

Direct Response Copywriting vs. Brand Copywriting

Direct response copywriting is all about making the sale RIGHT NOW, while brand copywriting is more about creating a brand experience. Brand copywriting includes taglines or advertisements that influence the emotion surrounding a brand. Then, when the audience decides that they want to feel that specific emotion, they turn to that brand.

A great example of brand copywriting is the Starbucks “That first sip feeling,” tagline. 

And, if you’ve been following my blog, my podcast, or any of my social media channels you know how obsessed I am with the copy on the Starbucks cup. In fact, I wrote an entire blog about why it’s the most perfect piece of copy ever written.

Direct Response Copywriting vs. Content Writing

The difference between direct response copywriting and content writing is that direct response copywriting is intended for a ready-to-buy audience, whereas blogging is meant to “warm up” the audience. 

Content writing is meant to educate, entertain, or inform the audience, positioning a brand as an authority in a niche and builds trust and credibility so that when the audience is ready to buy, they turn to who they trust.

Direct Response Copywriting vs. Conversion Copywriting

Ok, this is where it gets a little tricky. 

Conversion copywriting is a form of direct response copywriting, but there are key nuances. Conversion copywriting focuses on the user journey as a whole, from the UX of the website to the functionality of the funnel. 

Direct response copywriters typically write the copy for businesses that already have these elements in place.

How To Get Into Direct Response Copywriting

So, you want to become a direct response copywriter. Awesome. Here’s how you can get started.

Where To Learn Direct Response Copywriting

YouTube

You can learn everything on YouTube. Direct response copywriting is no exception. Subscribing to copywriting YouTube channels or just doing a basic search for “direct response copywriting” videos will give you a goldmine of information.

Podcasts

If you’re an audio-centric learner, copywriting podcasts are where it’s at. You can learn copywriting anywhere: the shower, driving, at the gym––anytime you have a few minutes where you can put on your headphones and tune in, you can learn copywriting.

Copywriting Books

If you’re new and just learning copywriting, copywriting books are a great place to start. You get to learn copywriting secrets directly from copywriters themselves, which is absolutely the best source. 

If you don’t know what copywriting books to start with, I’ve put together a must-read list of copywriting books that will help you become a rockstar copywriter.

Copywriting Courses

If you want to jump right into things with detailed instruction, you can take a copywriting course.  Before you pay big bucks, though, look for course reviews and vet the instructors. You want to learn direct response copywriting from someone who’s been in the game for a while, not someone who’s still learning how to play.

Marketing Courses

When someone asks me how to learn copywriting fast, one of the things I tell them is to not just study copywriting––study the art and science of marketing as a whole. Understanding consumer psychology and behavior as well as branding and design will make you a rockstar copywriter.

Copywriting Coaches & Mentors

If you want to dive in head first and launch your copywriting career as quickly (and as powerfully) as possible, a copywriting coach or mentor can help expedite the process. Working directly with someone who can guide you step-by-step through learning copywriting skills, developing your portfolio, and starting and managing your copywriting business can fast-track your success.

How To Find Direct Response Copywriting Clients

So, you’ve honed your copywriting skills and you’re ready to land your first (or next!) client.

Let’s look at some popular places to get direct response copywriting clients.

LinkedIn

What better place to land clients as a B2B service provider than a business social media website? 

LinkedIn is a great place to find direct response copywriting clients, because, like I mentioned in the beginning of this article, every business in the world needs copywriting.

To use LinkedIn to find copywriting clients, you need to first make sure that your profile is optimized and shows potential clients that you’re a professional, and that working with you is a good investment.

Tips for copywriters for networking on LinkedIn:

  • Use a clear, professional headshot where users can see your face.
  • Fill out the entirety of your profile, including any copywriting courses you’ve taken and any projects you’ve worked on.
  • Utilize the article feature! Writing LinkedIn articles about your niche shows potential clients that you know what you’re talking about, and gives them a look at your writing style and abilities.
  • Ditch the cold DMs. Interact first. Like and comment on your potential clients’ posts. This shows that you’re interested in what they do and are familiar with their business, rather than just blindly diving into their inbox and asking for work. Making them aware of you before sending a DM makes it clear you’ve put some thought into working with them.

Remember, LinkedIn is a business social networking site. It’s ok to splash some of your personality into it (and you should), but don’t treat it like your personal Instagram account.

Instagram

Instagram is a great place to find direct response copywriting clients, especially if you want to work with small businesses, startups, or solopreneurs. 

Plus, Instagram is a great place to showcase your personal brand so that your potential clients really know what you’re about.

Tips for copywriters for networking on Instagram:

  • Treat your bio like direct response copy. Highlight the benefits of working with you and end it with a strong call to action.
  • Use the link feature! The link feature can take your clients directly to the next step you want them to take, like booking a call with you.
  • Educate, inform, and entertain. Show your potential clients that you’re an expert in your niche by creating content that reflects it.
  • Use your highlights section. Feature your social proof, copywriting information, and how to work with you.

Google Local Businesses

Local businesses love working with other local businesses.

Search for local companies that you’d like to work with and give them a call (calling first lets them know there’s a real person putting in the effort to work with them, and not just a spam robot sending out mass marketing emails). 

Then, follow up with an email with more information.

You can even go and visit these businesses in person.

If you can’t get someone on the phone and email is your only option, make sure your cold pitches are airtight, and make sure you’re not making any of these cold pitching mistakes copywriters sometimes make.

Freelancer Platforms

Freelance platforms can be hit or miss, but if you do it right, you can HIT every single time. So many freelance platforms are filled with less-than-ideal talent looking for a quick way to make money online, so if you can show potential clients that you have the chops, you’ll scale the ranks quickly.

Tips for copywriters for finding clients on freelancer sites:

  • Fill out your entire profile. Include a picture of yourself, so that clients can see that you’re a real person and not a scammer or a bot.
  • Include your portfolio. Most freelancer sites have a section where you can upload or link to some of your best work. Use this!
  • Don’t overwhelm potential clients with your profile. Remember, these are decision-makers. Keep it concise and keep it about your client.

And, big tip here: don’t take the work outside of the platform! Freelancer sites have these rules in place for a reason. Keeping the work inside of the platform protects you from getting ripped off.

Generate Your Own Leads!

One of the best ways to get direct response copywriting clients is to write your own direct response copy for your ads!

Not only does this get you in front of the right people, but it shows potential clients that your direct response copy WORKS. If they work with you because they were compelled by your copy, they’ll know that you can write copy that brings THEM business.

And that, in itself, is a huge selling point.

Frequently Asked Questions About Direct Response Copywriting

So now that we’ve knocked out all of the big stuff, like the meaning of direct response copywriting, how much a direct response copywriter makes, direct response copywriting examples, and how to become a direct response copywriter and get clients, let’s move on to some frequently asked questions.

Is an ad copywriter a direct response copywriter?

Yes! An ad copywriter creates copy that is meant to influence the audience to take action. If you’re writing copy for Instagram ads, Google ads, Facebook ads, or print ads––and the purpose of the copy is to get an immediate response––you’re writing direct response copy.

Is my website direct response copywriting?

Yes and no. It depends on what the purpose of your website pages are. Your homepage may be brand copy, but your sales pages are direct response copy.

What kind of copywriting course should I take to be a direct response copywriter?

The large majority of copywriting courses will teach you the skills you need to captivate an audience and convert them into customers. If you’re new to copywriting, take a copywriting course for beginners or begin by focusing on a specific area. You can take an email copywriting course, an ad copywriting course, or a sales page copywriting course to learn how to write direct response copy.

Is direct response copywriting in demand?

Absolutely. Direct response copywriting plays a huge role in how well a business performs. Businesses who invest in direct response copywriting see higher conversions and more revenue than those who don’t.

Is direct response copywriting a good career?

If you like to use both sides of your brain, if you have a love for consumer psychology, and if you’re a good writer, direct response copywriting is a great career choice.

But, if you don’t work well under pressure, don’t like deadlines, and aren’t self-motivated, you might want to think about another career path.

Famous Direct Response Copywriters

Some of the best copywriters in the world are direct response copywriters. If you’re looking to take inspiration from some of history’s most famous copywriters, start with these:

David Oglivy

If you’re a new copywriter and you haven’t heard of David Oglivy, set aside as much time as you can to look into his work.

Considered the “Father of Advertising,” Oglivy  worked on campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world, including Dove and Rolls-Royce.

Oglivy is known for his emphasis on headlines and being intimately familiar with how the customer’s psychology and emotions work together.

Claude Hopkins

If you learn anything from Claude Hopkins, it should be this:

You don’t need to create the desire in your audience, you need to tap into the desire that’s already there.

Hopkins’ book “Scientific Advertising” is one of the most popular copywriting books of all time, and even though it was written decades ago, the psychological information is still pertinent.

Eugene Schwartz

So, if you don’t know this about me, I have a screen printed pillow sitting on my couch with a picture of Eugene Schwartz on one side, and one of his famous quotes on the other: “Copy is not written, it is assembled,”

Schwartz is recognized as one of the best copywriters in the world, and is known for writing copy that leaves the audience remembering the product and not the copy itself. As in, if the copy is the biggest takeaway from your ad, and the audience didn’t buy the product, your copy isn’t effective.

Helen Landsowne Resor

It’s hard to decide whether to call Advertising Hall of Fame inductee Helen Landsowne Resor famous or infamous.

Known for her evocative copy, Resor introduced sex into advertising, and was the first woman to spearhead a nationwide ad campaign. 

In the early 1900s, this obviously made huge waves.

Hey! I Heard You Wanted to Be a Direct Response Copywriter.

Hi! If we haven’t officially met, I’m Liz. I’m a copywriter, content writer, copywriting coach, mentor, and copywriting course creator (oh, and the owner of a badass copywriting agency called Amplihigher). 

And I help new copywriters just like you learn the necessary skills to become direct response copywriters. 

Through my courses, resources, and tools, you’ll learn everything you need to launch, grow, and scale your own copywriting business. 

Plus, I even have a copywriting podcast and copywriting YouTube channel if you’re a more aural or visual learner.

If you’re looking for the best way to become a high-paid direct response copywriter, start here!

Here’s what I’ve got in store for you:

  • Courses to help you hone specific skills
  • Kits to get you started creating awesome copy
  • Tools to help you streamline your copywriting process
  • Templates to help you jumpstart your business and GROW

Oh, and an ever-growing library of FREE resources that will help you start developing your core copywriting skills.

So…

If you want to be a direct response copywriter…

You’re in a good place.

And…

If you EVER have any questions, you can connect with me here by leaving a comment below or by sending me a DM on Instagram at @letstalkcopy.

Congratulations on your new career as a direct response copywriter.

You’re gonna LOVE it.

-Liz

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