Is Copywriting An Art or A Science?

By Melissa Brown, MD

Copywriting–is it an art or a science?

Can you learn copywriting or is this a skill that great copywriters are born with?

There’s a raging debate online about whether copywriting is an art or science. And does it really matter? I believe copywriting actually combines the two. Sometimes you lean more heavily on one and other times, the other.

You need them both–art and science– in order to really hone the craft of copywriting.

Definition of copywriting

For the sake of clarity, let’s define copywriting.

Wikipedia defines copywriting as ‘the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy or sales copy, is content written with the aim to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.’

There’s more about the difference between copy and content in this post here.

Love it or hate it?

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of in-between when it comes to copywriting. That’s because you either love it or hate it.

Those in the hate camp seem to fear it. They claim to not be ‘good’ at it. And faced with a blank sales page, they experience classic stress reactions–dry mouth, sweaty palms, and brain fog.

One of the study goals I’ve set for the current year is to explore the art and science of copywriting. I want to understand everything there is to know about this skill. I’ve invested in several courses, completed a few of those so far, and connected with some people I think have outstanding copywriting ability. I’ve invested my time in books, blogs, and picking the brains of good copywriters.

As much as folks fear and dread copywriting, this skill is definitely something anyone can learn. Like pretty much anything online, with the desire and enough time, attention, and the proper teachers/mentors/role models, you can learn how to do great copywriting.

With the desire and enough time, attention, and the proper teachers/mentors/role models, you can learn how to create great copywriting. You don't have to born with this ability. Click To Tweet

The science of copywriting.

Copywriting borrows the best from different scientific disciplines. Knowledge of the science of psychology becomes very useful in copywriting–remember, the goal of copywriting is to persuade someone to take action.

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and human behavior. There are 4 primary goals in the discipline of psychology:  to describe, explain, predict, and change behavior. Understanding how people think in general and how the mind works are both extremely important to understanding how behavior can be predicted and possibly changed. To be persuaded. Not manipulated.

Additionally, knowing how to do scientific research will help you create the best copy. Confidently knowing your audience–who you’re talking to, how they think, what they want, and what’s holding them back from getting what they want–are all mandatory in creating compelling copy.

The way you’re best able to understand your audience is to do research and find out.

There’s no room for guessing with copywriting.

If you want to get the answers to your questions, go directly to your audience and ask them. Then use their answers–their exact words and their colorful descriptions in your copywriting.

Combine those descriptions with the science of psychology and you have a winning combination to persuade someone to take action that will help them achieve their desires and goals.

The art of copywriting.

How is the art of copywriting manifested? You can see this art in the choice and combinations of the written words.

Words create stories, hope, stimulate desire, and persuade the reader to continue reading and to ultimately take the desired action. Like a painter who uses paintbrushes and color to paint a picture, a copywriter tells a story (or paints a picture) with their words. The reader takes in the words and creates a picture in their mind.

The reader can imagine a world in which some type of challenge they have is now gone. They can imagine what life would be like with this solution. And since they’ve been searching for a solution to this challenge, they’re compelled to do what the words ask and take the desired action.

This choice and combination of words is the art of copywriting.

What’s your opinion?

To wrap it up, I would love to know what you think. Love it or hate copywriting?

And what’s your opinion on this raging copywriting debate? Art or science?

Leave a comment and let me know your feelings on this topic. There’s no right or wrong here. We’ve all got beautiful opinions and I would love to have you add your voice in the comments below.

Here’s mine: I believe that science can combine with artistic wordsmithing to create beautiful stories that compel and persuade. That, to me, is beautiful copywriting.

This blog post may contain recommendations for products, services, and events. In some cases, the links provided are affiliate links. That means that if you click on the link and then buy a product at the site recommended, you won't pay a penny more and the author may earn compensation as a thank you. You can be assured that any of the promoted products have personally been used by or researched by the author for you and found to be high quality before being recommended. 

About the author

Dr. Melissa Brown's career journey has always had an element of teaching. After retirement from clinical pediatric practice, Dr. Brown has taught and mentored as a healthy lifestyle coach, author, and speaker. She currently teaches solopreneurs and coaches how to stop being the world's best-kept secret. Her mission is to help you: Create great content. Impact people. Change the world.

  • You really have done your research. I have never done any copywriting but I like how you explain that it’s both an art and science. great blog post.

  • I think it is so cool that you are researching this. As a longtime copywriter/content creator/storyteller, I think it is both an art and a science. The art is in the storytelling and the science is researching your audience and what they are looking for. And you are absolutely right, it is more than the product or service you are selling – it is all about how people’s lives will change for the better because they found this thing for themselves. I have lots of books about this topic if you need suggestions! PM me if you’d like.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Elisa. I might just take you up on the offer about the book ideas–I’m determined to learn as much as possible on this subject this year. Thank you!

  • Great read! It has been many years since I have done any copywriting for advertising. What I did do wasn’t a full-time gig, but I enjoyed having an opportunity to experiment with the ads that I had to create.

    • Thanks for your comment, Angie. The more I learn about copywriting, I’m never going to be able to look at an ad the same way again. Always analyzing and wondering why they did this or didn’t do that. 😉

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