How to Become an Advertising Copywriter

copywriterAdvertising copywriters develop content that you see in brochures, ads, flyers, logos, and now on websites, television, web apps, and media sites. They write ad copy, jingles, taglines, slogans, and sensational headlines featured in television commercials, magazines, and other mediums of advertising.So, if you can translate your creativity in words and are good at impressing people with your well-written stories, you should consider a copywriting career. Since the advertising world is fast-paced and ever-evolving, you will have to produce copies under strict deadlines. You could be a freelancer and work with a variety of marketing and advertising firms or work full time for just one company.

If you are on this page, it must be because you have already given the career a thought. So, without much ado, let us share the steps to become an advertising copywriter.

What is the Work of a Copy Writer

Copywriters are creative experts in the Advertising world. Know why? Do you remember the taglines, “Neighbours Envy, Owners Pride” (Onida), “No One Can Eat Just One” (Lays) and Nike’s “Just Do It”? They are excellent and famous. Well, they are created by a few creative copywriters. Unlike another advertising career, the work of copywriters is not meant for the spotlight. It is not very glamorous either. But copywriters are well paid and their role can make a huge impact on the brand image and reputation.

So, while your name may not be on the lips of every member of a household, but your work will definitely influence them to use the product.

Unlike a decade ago, getting a job as a copywriter is tough because the advertising industry has evolved and demands only best. However, if your work is great and you have more ideas to flaunt, many doors will open for you.

Steps to Become a Copywriter

Step 1: Career Guideline – Earn the Degree

Although it is not important to havea degree to get a job or excel at copywriting, a degree in communication will take you up the ladder faster. You should have a great command over the English language and gain basic knowledge in marketing and advertising field. Being creative is not just enough. You should know how to use creativity in writing. So, along with good English command, you should be also good in vocabulary, grammar, and typography. If you live in a country where multiple languages are spoken, such as India, refining a regional language or mother tongue could help you a great deal to earn a job as a Hindi, Russian, Chinese, Tamil, or Bengali copywriter.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in communication, do an internship in an advertising agency. Today most companies ask for work experience, in the form of copywriting samples. So, an internship will give you a chance to show your work along with your resume.

Skills required for an aspiring copywriter to gain rapid work recognition and success include creativity (ofcourse), a passion for writing, working under strict deadlines, and a never-give-up attitude. If the first few rejections do not hit you hard, you will have a promising career in copywriting.

Step 2: Gain Experience and Create a Portfolio

Like we mentioned earlier, you will need experience and a portfolio. With everything going digital, you do not need to have a hard portfolio. An online portfolio would do. So, first gain experience through internship and then use the internet to create your online work profile. WordPress, Squarespace, and many other sites are there that will make your efforts easy.

Use their free (or paid) templates meant for advertising copywriting and write blogs, posts, articles, ads for popular brands or anything creative, like songs or poems. You can also build your own website through an affordable web designing company.

Copywriting work is completely done on the computer. So, you must purchase a basic computer or laptop and other supplies.

Step 3: Develop Your Samples

You need samples to show off your talent to prospective employers. If you don’t have any sample ready, you could try speculative advertising or Spec ads. Spec ads are an excellent way to explore industries and show your clients how you would write for them. Spec ads basicallymean finding something around you and writing an ad about it. It is like commercial modeling in print. You could write an ad on something you already have.

You would want to write something for different mediums, such as print, television, and digital, and for different industry niches, such as fashion, food, gadgets etc. You need to diversify your creativity.

Make sure you update your online portfolio frequently to keep it fresh. Add something new each week. You can also tailor your site based on client’s requirement. For instance, you can create different sections for different niches. It will be easier for clients to go through your profile.

Step 4: Set Your Copywriting Rates

This is going to be difficult, especially if you are a freelance copywriter. It is important to set the rates at the beginning itself. Freelancers usually charge by the hour, by the project, or a combination of both. Your rates will greatly influence your work. So, spend a lot of time. You need to consider a lot of factors while finalizing your price, including your lifestyle, your expenses, your experience, the genre you want to expertise, the current market demand, and your language. You have to fix a price and stick to it at least for a very long time. Clients usually don’t prefer freelancers who change rates frequently.

In the beginning, you may not be able to negotiate and will probably work according to the client’s schedule. So, learn quickly and explore your creativity.

However, make sure you research the market to find out what other copywriters charge and what they are being paid. Based on their price, fix yours.

Step 5:  Find Work

If you are looking for full-time opportunities, get in touch with an HR consultancy and find work through them. You can also look up the net and note down the best advertising agencies in your location, and contact their HR directly. You can either call them, or send them a mail with a brief introduction, or do both.

If you are looking for freelance work, LinkedIn, Freelance, and other popular freelance job sites should be good options to find work. You will find many reputed companies posting their requirements on such sites to find suitable candidates.The more you search, the better will be your results. Mailing clients directly will give you an added advantage than randomly applying for work.

Once you have found suitable projects, create a freelance contract. Most companies send over their agreement or contract for work. If that is the case, read letter by letter to understand the terms and conditions of the company. Do not sign it unless you are sure that the contract suits your purpose of joining the company.

Few tips or ways to get more clients to include:

  • Do something other than Copywriting, such as blog writing and website content creating.
  • Become popular in a specific niche. Do not say,‘I can write everything’. Do not be a jack-of-all-trades. Rather be a master in one. Specific niche will make it easier to gain credibility and recognition.
  • Get small-time gigs. Don’t always resort to big offers and making big money. Fiverr, Craigslist and UpWork will give you many leads, from small to medium size. You can make quick money out of them.
  • Post in Facebook groups and share your links there. You could also use Twitter, Instagram etc. with relevant hashtags.

Step 6: Advance Your Skills

After obtaining a position with an advertising and branding company, or gaining quite a few projects, you should start advancing in your career. Make your portfolio stronger, increase your knowledge base about the niche and join a professional organization, such as the AmericanMarketing Association or American Association of Advertising Agencies. These organizations encourage members with the latest news, job boards, and networking opportunities with industry leaders. They also host events, seminars, and webinars. To enhance your knowledge, try to read copywriting books. Some of the books you can give a try are “This Book Will Teach You How To Write Better”and “Advertising Secrets of the Written Word” by Joseph Sugarman. 

To review, you will probably need a bachelor’s degree in communication and advertising, refine your language and skills required for a copywriter, go creative, build a portfolio, and find a job with patience and persistence. That is all you need to excel in the career. Building connection with other copywriters and experts is also very important to secure work through referrals. Through your association, you will also get to learn a lot about the field. Feel free to ask questions in the comments. We shall answer them.