The success of your marketing and video script rests in the hands of the writer. You have a choice: hire a scriptwriter or a copywriter.
Both write high-converting material, so both know how to write a video script that will convert like crazy…right?
Marketing video scripts are just words on paper, right?
I think not (and neither does your conversion rate). In this episode, I ask, and answer, a top burning question: what’s the difference between a scriptwriter and a copywriter (so you know who to entrust your scriptwriting to)?
Read the Transcript
This is the making of a video script marketer in my journey through the wild west of marketing videos. I, Ame, ask every possible question I can think of about scripting producing, editing, and promoting videos.
Thanks for joining me today. In this episode, my burning question of the day is related to the difference between a script writer and a copywriter.
When I first got started in video, I knew nothing about scriptwriting. I knew nothing about copywriting. In fact, I didn’t actually know anything about video production either.
So for someone who had absolutely no background in really any of the things I was about to do, I’m not really sure why I got into it.
I’m firmly under the impression that if you’re willing to put in the time, you can learn just about anything and Hey, we all start somewhere. Right.
And this was my starting point. Um, actually someone suggested that I start making like explainer videos because there was a demand for them and I could provide the service.
Getting comfortable with video on Vyond
I wasn’t making anything super sophisticated. I was making animated videos in a platform called GoAnimate, which is now called Vyond.
The whole selling point of Vyond is that anyone can make an animated video without having a background in animation. Um, And when I got started, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with video. Obviously, like I mentioned, I didn’t have a background in anything related to video. So, this was just an easy place for me to start.
At one point I did consider, you know, learning to do custom animation videos. I learned Adobe After Effects, but it’s very, very time-consuming and my interests are more in the scriptwriting than the animation part. But anyway, I digress. So, making Vyond videos, that began my journey into learning about video production, copywriting, and scriptwriting.
Every video marketer starts somewhere
But for the majority of the time that I was doing this, I started in 2018, I would say I floundered through my experience. And I’m very grateful to all of the people who took a chance on me because when I looked at my videos at the time, I was like, yeah, these are all right.
Now, when I look at them, I cringe a little bit inside, but, that’s, you know, that’s a sign of progress, right? That’s what I tell myself anyway. And that’s what I’m going with. I was making videos with kind of a whole package approach. Um, cause someone told me this was a good idea and it was, I just didn’t quite realize what I was getting myself into. I would write the video scripts, produce the videos and I would do the voiceovers. That’s actually a lot of things to kind of take on. And for a while, I wasn’t really digging deeply into any of those areas.
So, I feel like I had a very surface-level knowledge about marketing videos. And my education in them was very much DIY. I would read blog posts. Watch other videos, try to figure out what was good about them. And then, you know, just take feedback from my clients and. Keep going from there.
It was actually last year I joined a freelance writing group. And in that group, I met another scriptwriter who has since become my mentor. Actually, before joining this group, I’d never really met another freelance scriptwriter.
Part of this was because I didn’t really know where to look for them. And I wasn’t, I wasn’t trying particularly hard to kind of match up with other freelancers.
Also much to my embarrassment, I did not believe in the power of LinkedIn. I had a profile, but I just wasn’t using it. I thought it was kind of like a glorified Facebook and I just thought it was kind of a waste of time. I have since learned the error of my ways. And I see why it’s such a valuable tool and platform. I don’t think I really started using LinkedIn until last year. And suddenly it was like, wow, there are so many other people who are doing freelance work, freelance copywriting, and, you know, even script writers, people specializing in video. Um, Freelancing groups. They’re great. Love them. Anyway going back to my mentor, he has a very strong background in film and copywriting.
Thanks to him, I was able to figure out what I was doing wrong. Um, Actually I wrote a blog post detailing, the very harsh truths I had to face once I started working with him. And you know, that was important for my development because. Like I said, I kind of came into this with no idea what I was doing and I didn’t know where to look because I just didn’t know. And you don’t know what you don’t know. So he was able to point me in the right direction. And then that’s when I was able to really start diving into the elements I needed in order to write a good marketing video script. And this is also where I kind of learned why the person writing the script needs to have an understanding of both. Kind of screenplay writing and copywriting. Um, so yeah, going back to the question of the day, what’s the difference between a script writer and a copywriter?
Scriptwriter vs Copywriter: Who Does What?
Scriptwriters are actually more often thought of as screenplay writers and they come very much from kind of this film background.
So they have a very strong education in visual communication. Copywriters on the other hand, come from the other side where their strength is in words and communicating a verbal message. What you need to have in a video is both.
Because the video is something that you watch and listen to, or, you know, the verbal message, it might not be voiced, you know, it could be text, but at the end of the day, it’s a verbal and visual message combined. And people who write screenplays have an understanding of how to combine both of those copywriters, understand how to write a verbal message that’s going to convert or, you know, get people to take whatever action you want them to.
The Key to a High-Converting Video Script
A scriptwriter for marketing videos has to combine both of those. And that’s a lot to do, because again, you have to have an understanding of copywriting principles, how to tell a compelling verbal message. That’s going to prompt people to action, but then you also have to do it in a way that people are going to be receptive to in video format. My mentor actually said script writing or screenplay writing was one of the hardest things to master. He was quoting can’t remember who it was. He was quoting someone and I 100% agree with this. You know, the videos that I was writing before. Um, as I mentioned, I kind of cringe when I, I look at them now and that’s because I know why they were so painfully average. I didn’t have enough experience or practice with crafting. A verbal message. And I also didn’t have enough understanding of, of copywriting.
In order to write a compelling video script now, I’ve really had to dive into both sides of this. Now on the copywriting side, I have also noticed that people when they’re looking for anything related to marketing, they will go to a copywriter, or they’ll go to a video ad agency, an animator or videographer, which makes sense. You know, a copywriter is probably written your website or they, you know, have written your newsletters and it’s clear that they know how to write a strong verbal message or, you know, good copywriters can write strong verbal messages. A screenplay writer. You know, you’re not going to go to someone who writes movies to make your marketing video script.
And because you’re trying to make a video. It makes sense that you will go to whoever is producing the video.
A lot of the ad agencies out there, they, they offer the full package. You know, you get someone who will. Write your script, produce the video, edit it all in one. And then you don’t really have to think about piecing together, different freelancers to do things or doing certain parts by yourself.
The Biggest Difference Between Scriptwriting and Copywriting
But I digress going back to copywriting, there is a difference between writing video copy and writing copy for everything else. And that difference is the visual message. I keep talking about this visual message you might be wondering what, what does that mean in a video script? Um, most, most scripts if you’ve ever looked at. The script itself you have like kind of the movie format, which is the master scene, where you have everything on one page, um, scene descriptions, headings, dialogue.
And for a lot of like more informative video shorter videos and definitely marketing videos, they use kind of this A/V script format that has two to three columns. One column is for the visuals ones for the audio. And then sometimes you’ll have a third column for like the images you want to put in.
Uh, like I would use that kind of script if I were doing a tutorial video and needed to put in screenshots or something. So I could, so it’s easy to see what’s being referenced. The visual column in a video script should contain things like the scene heading, uh, that tells you like where the visuals are taking place, a scene description of what’s going on and character descriptions.
In the past, when I was writing videos, I would write the narration first and then I would fumble my way through the visuals. Um, and I kind of would just choose things that were pretty obvious. For example, if I was talking about saving time and money, I would, and I bet you’ll never guess this. I would have some sort of visual related to time and money. Shocker. I know. Um, I definitely defaulted towards I guess clarity. Uh, there are no questions I think about what the visual was supposed to represent, but it was almost a bit too obvious, that I think people probably didn’t engage with my earlier videos as much as they do with my later ones. Learning how to write good visuals has definitely required me to look more into the screenplay writing side of things.
I really want to be a good script writer. So I took it upon myself to start learning about video production, and that kind of side of things. Also. Storytelling has been really important. And then I’ve also been learning a lot more about copywriting. Because I’ve, I’ve kind of been studying both simultaneously. I can definitely see where there’s a big difference between writing video copy, and every other type of copy. And it really just does come down to you, how you craft. And move along your visual message.
Show (Don’t Tell) in a Video Script
When I write other types of copy, like for websites, I still think about the visuals and the layout and things like that, but I’m not having to tell a story through through that way. Well, I mean, I guess I kind of move the story along with the layout, but I’m not having to think of what visual will reinforce this idea or how can I, you know, show instead of telling this. You know that concept right there. The show doesn’t tell is a really big thing in screenplay writing. Um, whenever I talked to my mentor, he’s like, well, how can you show this instead of telling it? I mean, you can use words and in a lot of cases you should use words, but the idea is to not tell everything through the narration.
From my own experience, working with my mentor. I would write a lot of things and then kind of throw in very specific visuals to match like specific words. And my mentor was trying to teach me, um, He likes to use the phrase abstracts in the track. Specifics. I can’t remember this. He tells me this all the time. Uh, abstracts in the track. Concrete in the visuals. Um, that’s not, that’s not the same, but basically that’s the idea behind it.
You have kind of these abstract concepts. In your narration and then you try to show them. In the visuals. So something like saving. Time, um, you can’t literally show someone saving time. I do wonder what that would look like maybe putting time in like a bank, or I like to think of it like a superhero just coming in, saving the day, saving time. Bad joke. I know. Okay. Moving on. Um, yeah. Or things like effective communication or, you know, Feeling confident Like these are all abstract things. So, when you’re trying to write them into a video script, you have to use some kind of visual to really show that. Feeling confident. What does that look like? Um, you know, it depends on the context, but you know, it might be someone.
Looking happy, or it might be someone walking into a situation that like previously they were afraid to go into or like so many things that just, you know, it really depends on what the video’s about. And again, what story you’re trying to tell through this.
Alrighty. So let me go ahead and summarize the main difference between a script writer and a copywriter is the writing of the visual message. Copywriters deal with words, they write really good words. They don’t write a lot of visuals. Screenplay writers coming from a film background are very heavy on the visuals. Less so much on the copywriting persuasive language.
And someone writing a marketing video script needs to pull from both disciplines. They need to have the very persuasive, compelling verbal message that a copywriter would write while also taking principles from film and crafting that strong visual message that compliments and reinforces the verbal message. And then if you can do that, you are going to have one stellar video.
Thanks for listening to the making of a video marketer and my burning question of the day. Next time we’ll be looking at script elements. If you have any of your own burning video questions, go ahead and let me know and please subscribe. Happy trails.