How to Become a Copywriter

01

Learn the Basics of Copywriting

A copywriter crafts messages that engage, inform, and persuade. They write for catalogs, websites, brochures, and even compose emails.  Primarily, copywriters write content for the purpose of marketing or advertising, and to raise a brand’s awareness. But, copywriters do not just craft advertising copy. They also develop content that is aimed at educating their audience and demonstrating a company’s industry expertise. In addition to effective writing skills, copywriters must also be adept at researching, editing, proofreading, and sourcing images while also having a working knowledge of marketing and how content fits into the marketing process. 

The copywriting field allows individuals to take their creative talent and writing abilities and apply them to the profitable field of business. However, this career is not for everyone who likes to write. Unlike creative writing projects like books, poems, and short stories, copywriting often requires writers to take direction and work with other creative professionals such as graphic designers, producers, art directors, and marketing managers. This position may also require copywriters to work directly with clients. As a copywriter, you must be able to accept and incorporate criticism and be open to learning more about marketing concepts that may impact your work. Copywriters must also be able to solve creative problems, communicate, collaborate, and meet deadlines. 

Copywriters can work in a variety of environments, including as part of an in-house marketing team, with a full-service advertising firm, or as a freelance professional. Though a college degree is not a requirement, most successful copywriters have earned a four-year degree in a field such as English, Creative Writing, Professional Writing, Communications, Journalism, or Marketing. Some copywriters who work for niche brands may have a degree in an unrelated field with equivalent writing experience or courses in writing. Formal education can help individuals gain the necessary writing, grammar, research, and editing skills required to excel in this competitive field. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a growth rate of 10 percent from 2014 – 2024 for technical writers, which is faster than average for most career fields. The BLS also reports slower than average growth from 2014 – 2024 for all writers/authors. For the general category of writers/editors, which most copywriters fall under, the BLS expects about 7 percent growth with an average annual wage of about $80,000.

02

Learn Core Copywriting Methods and Concepts

Understanding Audience, Purpose, Format, & Technique Is Essential to Success

Before copywriters even begin to write, they need to identify who they are writing for. Ultimately, the audience will help determine the purpose of the piece, the format it will be delivered in, and the technique that will be used to write the piece of copy. Copywriters should take into account who the target audience is, what they find most important, where they are in the buyer’s journey, and what types of content they respond to best before they begin to strategize and write any piece of content. Market research helps reveal important characteristics of the audience that helps the copywriter create more engaging and effective content. 

Determining the purpose is another important part of crafting dynamic and effective marketing and advertising copy. Each piece of marketing copy needs to have a clearly defined purpose before the copywriter can begin brainstorming ideas and writing a first draft. Though the ultimate goal of marketing is to sell a product or service, not every piece of marketing copy is designed to convert leads into customers. Some pieces are written to inform, entertain, or persuade. The purpose of the piece of writing will vary depending on the audience and where the consumer is in the marketing funnel. For instance, those at the top of the funnel who are still in the research phase of making a purchasing decision may need more general, informational content, while those in the decision-making stage need more specific, persuasive content. It’s the copywriter’s job to help choose content topics, formats, and techniques based on the purpose of the piece. 

Format is another vital consideration in the copywriting process. While traditional marketing content was limited to television commercials, radio ads, billboards, newspaper ads, and mailers, digital marketing has opened up many new opportunities for copywriters to deliver targeted content in new formats. Blogging, email, social media, and PPC ads are just a few examples of popular and successful digital marketing formats that copywriters may need to create content for. The content format will ultimately impact the writing technique as best practices for topics, word count, and style vary across content formats. 

Copywriting technique is how the piece of content is created. Technique will vary across copywriters, and the technical approach may also vary with each piece of content, depending on the audience, purpose, and format of the writing. Storytelling is a popular and effective technique that many copywriters use to help establish a personal and emotional connection with the consumer. Effective technique is the key to successfully fulfilling the purpose of the content and achieving any specific content goals. 

Unlike in the past, and with the boom in digital content, good copywriters will have at least a general understanding of conversion rate and search engine optimization. It is also useful to know a little about web design and development, content marketing, and social media integration. They must have good team-working skills, organization skills, be proficient at proofreading, be able to produce unique and innovation ideas, and manage deadlines, while often working under stressful conditions.

03

Build a Strong Portfolio and Professional Network

A Strong Portfolio, Personal Brand, and Industry Connections Are Vital

Much like graphic artists, copywriters also need to develop a strong website and portfolio to showcase their written work. A thoughtfully-developed portfolio can help demonstrate your writing abilities and creative thinking to potential employees and clients, allowing them to determine if your style and experience is a good fit for the project. Whether you are looking for internship opportunities, applying for a job, or trying to land a freelance gig, you should have a website that highlights your portfolio and effectively and professionally demonstrates your writing skills and ability to think creatively to solve a brand’s biggest communication challenges. 

In today’s digital marketplace, it is also vital for copywriters to work on developing a brand, both online and off. A personal brand effectively communicates who you are as an individual and a professional in the field, while also demonstrating what sets you apart from other copywriters. 

Much like any other profession, copywriters also need to build their personal and professional network by connecting with individuals in the industry as well as other business professionals. Networking opens up a variety of opportunities for mentorship and professional growth, and it can be especially important for copywriters who work as freelancers or on a contract basis. 

Joining clubs, writing associations, entering writing contests, etc., are all things copywriters can do to increase their writing ability, gain industry contacts, and gain confidence. After all, it is not uncommon for copywriters to receive less than favorable feedback, even if their writing is spectacular. Not all writing fits all projects, and a copywriter will sometimes be urged to change the tone of a piece, re-write a certain portion of the content, or completely rewrite the entire piece to meet a client’s approval. Like in most art fields, copywriters must have a thick skin and be able to take criticism. In addition, all great copywriters must think creatively, have a good command of the English language (or another language) and grammar, an eye for detail, research skills, listening skills, and the ability to understand the viewpoints of others.

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