Copywriting: The Career All Writers Should Consider
If you like to write creatively, then copywriting could be the role for you. You could write copy for a range of companies or you can do it in-house for one particular company. Best of all, you can be paid for your writing – and isn’t that the dream for any aspiring writer?
What is copywriting?
Take a gander at this Ralph Lauren page. You see the text describing this polo? It’s the “perfect shirt for transitional days or when you want a comfortable layer underneath sweaters or jackets.” This is an example of copy.
More specifically this is advertising copy, designed to encourage you to purchase a product. Advertising copy such as product descriptions is what’s known as short-form copy.
Long-form copy is closer to what you see in newspapers like The Huffington Post or The Guardian. These are great examples of journalistic copy. And journalism is a great way to get into writing copy, but more on that later.
You know what else is copy? Blog articles, including articles published by the graduate recruitment agency Inspiring Interns… Geddit?
Why should I do copywriting?
Do you like to write? Is writing a passion for you? If so, copywriting might allow you to turn that passion into a job.
It’s a great role if you feel you’re a creative with lots to offer. More, copywriting is the perfect challenge for creative writers looking to slim down their style. Just look at this copy written for John Lewis. A whole product description was written in 184 words and this is generous. Sometimes you get less than 50 words. Or even shorter.
How do I get started?
Do you already blog? Great. You’ve made a start. You can take those skills and hunt around for other websites or companies that have a blog. For the students reading (and I’m guessing that’s most of you) Loud Mag and UK University Search are great options.
But don’t think that your only option is writing about student news. The great thing about copywriting is that there are countless different companies selling countless different products who could all require your copywriting services. I’m talking about companies as diverse as health and lifestyle brands, male styling guides and travel agencies.
You join any one of these companies in an entry level position, which is just the first rung on a very tall career ladder. You could start off as an assistant or intern and finish as a manager. If you can spot the right opportunities and write enticing copy that convinces people to buy, then you could be flying up that ladder.
Freelance or not?
How companies employ copywriters varies a lot. Some of them employ their writers in-house, while others outsource it to freelancers. There are benefits to doing both. As a freelancer, you can work in the comfort of your own home and to your own schedule, as long as you always meet the deadlines.
And you won’t be a starving artist either. Freelancers can be paid a lot for their copy. Yuno Juno advertises a daily rate of £298 and Allena Tapia of the Balance gives a nice breakdown of freelance copywriting rates. True, it’s in dollars, but it does give a comprehensive overview of how much you could earn and just how many different ways you can write copy.
Of course, as a freelancer, there’s no guarantee that you’ll always find work, especially if you’re not an established writer yet. This is one benefit of copywriting in-house for a specific company. You will have regular work and you’re more likely to be paid. But a more optimistic way of looking at it is that every piece of copy you have published can be added to your portfolio.
Advice for aspiring copywriters
Make sure your SPaG is up to scratch. You need to know how to spell. You need to know when to use commas and when to use semicolons and don’t even think about ending sentences with prepositions. If you confuse your and you’re, or where and were and we’re, then don’t expect anyone to take your copy seriously.
Write for your target audience. If you don’t know who your target audience is then find out. Do some research into what they like to read and how they like to be spoken to. If you’re writing for students, informal language and pop culture references will work well. If you’re writing B2B, keep things professional.
Stick to the company’s tone of voice. Every company would have their copy written in a ‘house style’, designed to appeal to their particular audience. For example, some companies may require your copy to be light-hearted, positive and aspirational.
Copywriting is a great way of beginning your writing career and a brilliant way of gaining skills, experience and contacts, as well as keeping you busy – at least until you get that novel published!
James is a graduate of English Literature from Newcastle University. Across his life, he’s written silly stories about talking birds and cats, teenage angst-ridden poetry and has almost finished his first novel. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him imagining scenarios that will never happen. See his writing on www.jameslintonblog.blogspot.co.uk and https://jameslintonwriting.wordpress.com