How to Get Started in Copywriting

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So you want to be a copywriter. Perhaps you've realized that you have a way with words when it comes to selling things or distributing ideas. Perhaps you're creative at heart, but your talent lies in the verbal. Or perhaps you've simply seen the oodles of copywriting jobs out there in the net stew. So, it's time to follow up and see about this copywriting career. How does it work, exactly?

Career Copywriter or Freelance Copywriter?

There are two career moves when it comes to copywriting. Writers can grab traditional jobs in an 8-5 workday office setting, either with an ad/creative agency or perhaps even directly with an outlet such as a magazine or newspaper. On the other hand, writers can strike out on their own, hanging out a shingle as a freelance copywriter. Those are two different roads. This article deals exclusively with becoming a career copywriter. If you're more interested in the freelance side of copywriting, be sure to read this article on freelance copywriting.

Intro to Career Copywriting

A career copywriter will generally begin with a Bachelor's degree in marketing. That's probably one of the most traditional routes. There are varieties, though. I've met plenty of successful copywriters who have had little education, or who got their start in journalism or even creative writing. The established path often includes some kind of internship, and then a directed job search. One major component of this job search will be the copywriter's portfolio, which is a physical or digital representation of projects/products that she's worked on.

Characteristics of a Copywriter

The characteristics needed to be a copywriter are similar, no matter what type of environment the writer works in. For example, copywriters must be easygoing personalities, as their work is very often criticized, changed, or scrapped. They must be willing to accept others ideas and edits. They must have a creative streak, especially verbally. Most of all, both kinds of copywriters must understand how to use and bend the language to capture sales and attention.

Specifics on the Role

A copywriter generally starts around the $30K mark ($30,000 USD) and can top out just about anywhere, depending on how far up the ladder one is willing to climb. Their days are spent in typical office fashion, with some meetings, some teamwork, and some isolated work. When one writes copy in office for a large ad agency or outlet, the work is very often coordinated campaigns (print) for medium to large companies with whom the ad agency has courted and established a relationship. However, that's not to say that a copywriter will not work on web-based campaigns or smaller campaigns.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Traditional Copywriting Career

Some advantages to career copywriting work versus freelance work are present. For example, ad agencies tend to attract much bigger clients (think name brands/household names) than a freelance copywriter will. In addition, the normal wear and tear of freelancing is a factor. Freelance copywriters have to both sell accounts and collect payments, in addition to doing the project work, as do all freelancers. Freelance copywriters are prone to the ebbs and flows of available work, as are all freelancers. One may lack health insurance. The work may be lonely. These are typical concerns of the freelance marketplace.

However, there are some similarities between freelance copywriters and in-office writers. In both cases, any kind of education isn't wasted in the copywriting market. The practice of writing is forced when one enrolls in a formal college program, but the same kind of education can be attained by on-the-job training.

Both kinds of copywriters get work using a portfolio approach, which is sharing past projects, ideas, and designs with potential employers and clients.

There you have it! Now you are armed with the right info to find your copywriting career path.