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How to become a Copywriter

Published: Thursday 27th May 2021

Freelance copywriter happily uses her laptop

Are you interested in a copywriter career? Copywriting opportunities have become increasingly popular and apply to a variety of roles in the marketing and advertising industry. There has been a sharp rise in freelance copywriters with many writers seeking a broader range of opportunities. This also allows them the option to pick and choose their projects. As a copywriter you will have to research, write, edit, and proofread all levels of copy for online and offline business materials. You might not be a novelist but you still need to tell a story with the words you write and capture the audience’s attention with expertly structured messaging.

If you’re employed as a copywriter at a company on a full time contract you might also be involved in the implementation of SEO strategies, social media and PR and outreach. This can be one advantage of working for a business instead of yourself and you can develop a wider set of skills as an all-round marketing professional.

The average copywriter salary in the US is over $50,000 per year. But before you start training to be a copywriter it’s important to note that the salary can largely depend on the hours you’re prepared to put in as a freelancer. Some of the best copywriters can earn $10,000 a month if they take on every project going. But you also have the option to be flexible and work as much as you choose, which makes it a pretty cool job if you’re at home with kids or work another job on the side.

The secrets of a good copywriter career

Man with a copywriter career working on his laptop

Having a natural writing talent is going to help you land jobs for sure. But you’re never going to get the stage where someone reads your work unless you can capture their attention and get your outreach spot on. Firstly, make sure your LinkedIn account is up to date and you’re active on a daily basis. Connect with other copywriters, marketing professionals and look out for any potential jobs. Create a blog or website to showcase your work online and allow people to find you organically too.

It can take a lot of time and effort before you secure your first contract or copywriting job. So once you’ve succeeded in your outreach and got an employer’s attention you need to sell yourself. Something that will help you is thorough research into the brand and audience. Use the website and social media channels to identify the company’s tone of voice and any specific language they use. Then apply that to your writing and tailor everything towards the target audience. This way, when you send through what is essentially an audition piece, the company knows you understand them and have done your research.

Anyone can write copy on ‘dog food’ for example. But a copywriter will write 10 unique pieces for 10 different dog food companies because the brand matters. Understanding the brand voice and applying it seamlessly with your content will help you land more jobs and companies tend to be loyal to freelancers they know can do a good job.

Qualifications that can help

Lots of copywriters are self-taught or will simply use online courses to hone their writing skills. Which is why the market is becoming quite oversaturated. People are realising they don’t need to graduate college or be an author to write effective copy. However if you’re looking to seal a job at the very top of the profession or freelance for some of the world’s biggest companies then a professional qualification in journalism, marketing, creative writing or English language will help you stand out.

Online courses often provide certificates that you can share, be sure to put these in your online portfolio. Most employers probably won’t know what it means or the work you did to achieve it but it does show that you’re dedicated to learning and improving. You can take a look at some of the course providers on Zoek and see if they have a course that would benefit you.

Your work will speak for itself

Content is King written on wooden blocks

When you complete your first few big projects, share on LinkedIn any success stories or marketing that uses your copy. Some copywriters get to a point where they get freelance gigs based on their reputation alone. Word travels fast in the creative industry. Every time you’re involved in a successful marketing project, competitors and partners for that brand will possibly be looking at you to help them.

Another tip, don’t devalue yourself by getting sucked into bidding for projects. The truth is someone will always be willing to undercut you. So don’t lower your prices or the salary you want. Stick to it fiercely and let your work and writing skills earn you the job. If a company picks someone else because they’re willing to work for $500 less then let them make that mistake. Chances are they’ll come back to you when they realise the value of a good copywriter who knows their worth.

Copywriter career growth

Copywriter makes notes on his latest freelance copywriting project

You might be wondering, is copywriting a good career? Well, copywriting is an important part of any business’s marketing. This means you will likely always have a doorway into a copywriting role or other marketing roles if you wanted. There is also opportunities for copywriters to use their writing skills to write novels or educational materials. You could even teach a class at a local college or online with an additional qualification. However, the most common form of progression from a copywriter career is trading in a 9-5 job to start working freelance. It can be tough, especially in the beginning. But the rewards of succeeding can be financially beneficial and offer a better work-life balance compared to full-time employment.

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