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Writing

How to Become a Copywriter: 4 Tips for Starting a Copywriting Career

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Feb 14, 2020 • 4 min read

Ever wonder who comes up with the hilarious ads you see during the Super Bowl, or who writes the blog posts that teach you how to cook or fix your car? Most likely, it’s copywriters. If you’re good with the written word and could see yourself working in the marketing industry, copywriting might be the job for you.

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What Is a Copywriter?

A copywriter is a person whose job is to craft engaging text—or“copy”—to advertise or market specific brands, products, services, or lifestyles. There are generally two types of copywriters:

  • In-house copywriters: If you’re an in-house copywriter, you work for one business, whether that’s a single brand or an advertising agency that works for several brands at the same time. It’s usually a full-time job at an office, where you do copywriting work all day, report to a creative director or art director, and bring home a consistent paycheck.
  • Freelance copywriters: A freelancer is their own boss, which means you run your own copywriting business, pitching your freelance writing skills to different places on a contract basis. Freelance copywriting can range from part-time to full-time, and the pay is far less reliable because you have to find, manage, and invoice your own clients yourself.

What Does a Copywriter Do?

Good copywriters are the backbone of successful content marketing. They write sales copy for marketing materials that keep the reader’s attention, communicate the benefits of a product or service, and hopefully convince the reader or viewer to act. There are many types of copywriting, and copywriters will often find themselves doing a variety of things, such as:

  • Coming up with creative ad concepts
  • Working on public relations campaigns
  • Proofreading long texts
  • Making sales pitches to prospective clients
  • Editing the work of other writers
  • Crafting targeted digital marketing campaigns
  • Writing blog posts
  • Creating copy for landing pages and website pages
  • Writing text that will appear on billboards
  • Writing video scripts
  • Writing sales letters, white papers, and direct mail
  • Summarizing case studies
  • Crafting press releases
  • Creating social media posts
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How to Become a Copywriter

The career path to becoming a copywriter isn’t rigid—there are plenty of ways to start out and build your resume. Here are a few different things you can do to get started now to make it easier to get a job copywriting:

  1. Study advertising, communications, or copywriting in school. Even if you don’t plan on getting a formal education in copywriting, a simple writing class or copywriting course in high school or college can teach you a lot about what great copy looks like. A copywriting course should teach you how to develop your writing style, how to understand the mechanics of the English language, and how to recognize the cultural implications of every word.
  2. Start small. Even if you don’t have a single copywriting job under your belt, don’t give up hope. It’s common for small businesses or local business owners to hire freelance writers with little experience. Taking a couple of these beginner copywriting jobs can help get you the experience you need—not to mention build up a contact list of potential clients for the future.
  3. Build your copywriting portfolio. If you’re a copywriter trying to get a job in advertising, your portfolio is the ultimate opportunity to show off how you write. Think of it as your sales page, where you advertise your copywriting services to potential customers. In your writing samples, be expressive. Have a personality. Make sure you use proper grammar and spell-check your work. Show that you’re capable of writing headlines and that you can create compelling copy that will capture even the most disinterested customer’s attention. If you don’t have any examples of writing that you’ve done for paying clients, get creative: Start your own blog or assign yourself some copy prompts for fun to fill out your portfolio or even impress a specific business.
  4. Learn and keep up with SEO trends. The main challenge in marketing is getting ads and content seen by the right people. This is why search engine optimization (SEO) is important. SEO is a strategic approach to creating content that makes it more searchable online—which means more likely to show up above other competitor pages when a relevant word is searched. SEO rules are always changing, and they can include using keywords, word counts, specific content formats, and more, so learning how to write for SEO and keeping up with current trends will make you more marketable to businesses. But remember that SEO isn’t everything—if you want to win a reader, you’ll still have to write compelling copy.

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