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Can I Be a Copywriter If I Hate Selling?

Informative Copy Can Be Just as Effective

sales copywriting

Not all sales copy has to be hard-sell. Instead, think about explaining to the customer how your product solves their problem.

Hi Susan,

I’m an experienced freelance writer in California. I’m always looking for ways to diversify my business. But I have one challenge I’m struggling to get past. I don’t like to do “writing that sells.”

In the past, I’ve written some marketing brochures and website content that are fairly hard-sell. I understand that those types of work require a real talent for persuasive writing, but I just don’t like thinking in terms of selling when I write.

My favorite types of work are articles and books, and I do other types of business writing to earn additional income, but if I’m offered a project for writing that is hard-sell, I turn it down because, as I said, I don’t like doing it, and I don’t think I do it well.

Unfortunately, my aversion to writing sales copy limits the work I do take on, and I can’t help but think that I’m also limiting my company’s growth and success. 

That said, I’d like to know if there is a place for a copywriter who only writes non-salesy copy? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, Susan. As your website illustrates, you have many years of experience in copywriting, and I’m sure you’ll be able to provide some good advice.

Thanks for offering to help!

Kerry G.


Hi Kerry,

Thank you for your thoughtful email. I’ll do my best to provide a useful response.

I understand you have a distaste for writing pushy sales copy. But not all sales copy has to be hard-sell, which appears to be what makes you uncomfortable. Find companies that “sell” via education. They need help writing informative content.

informative copywriting

Just like public speaking, if you’re informative or entertaining in your copy, you’ll keep your audience’s attention. 

Providing informative copy is  the approach I take on my own website. I offer tons of helpful how-to information about copywriting when my true objective is to sell my copywriting services. The informative approach has been extremely effective for me.

Another example. I do a lot of work for a Big Data company. I write brochures, web pages, blog posts and sell sheets for them that are not hard-sell. They seek to inform the reader first and sell second.

Most of their content starts with a problem or challenge and then explains how best to solve the problem. Yes, the solution involves the company’s products, but again, the tone is not hard-sell; it’s informative.

I’m not sure why but lots of people seem to think selling is sleazy and sales is a dirty word. I don’t feel that way.

Selling is only despicable if you’re telling lies. The stereotypical used-car-salesman approach comes to mind. But if you truly believe in the product or service you’re selling, and it can do what you claim it can, you’re offering people help, providing them with a resource that they need or want. What’s sleazy about that?

Marketing copywriting, or what you think of as sales copywriting, is just one kind of writing. If you can make a living writing books or magazine articles, and that’s the type of writing you love, go for it. But I do think your attitude about sales is holding you back from maximizing your success. You’re turning away opportunities when you have the skills and talent to take on those challenges and grow your business.

One quick story. Many years ago, as a college student, I traveled across Europe and stopped in many cities to do some sightseeing. When I was in Brussels, the city was hosting some type of U.N. summit. I got to meet 2 translators separately who were working at the summit.

One translator said of his job, “Ugh, this is so boring, translating all this diplomatic drivel. All I do each day is listen to speakers drone on while I try to keep up with the translation. It’s exhausting.”

The other translator, in a separate conversation, said to me, “I am so excited to be here. I love this work. I am helping diplomats make the world a better place. They are doing such important work. When I translate their words, I want to be sure I get their meaning exactly right. I feel like I am creating art, and there’s beauty in accuracy.”

Two guys, same job, different attitudes. Similarly, you think writing sales copy is sleazy and that you can’t be good at it. I think it’s exciting and challenging (in a fun way) to provide useful, actionable insights to people searching for a solution to their problem. And, best of all, I get paid to do it!

If you Google “sales isn’t sleazy” you’ll find plenty of articles that make similar points. This title caught my eye, “If Selling Makes You Feel Sleazy, You’re Doing It Wrong,” but there are many others. Maybe realign your thinking and you might find a new avenue to riches.


Susan Greene

(Proud-to-Be a) Sales Copywriter

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