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Copywriting

Copywriter: Sell your stories

Discover what a copywriter does and how you can become one.

The world is learning faster than ever before that a few words filling a screen can save a life, make someone smile or cry, and start a war.

There is power behind every pixel we create. I choose my words carefully. And I try to stay true to the stories I’m trying to tell.

In this article, I’m going to explore what a copywriter is to anyone wanting to become one. And hopefully, give a little more guidance to anyone hoping to hire someone.

If you’ve landed here with the hopes and dreams of becoming a copywriter to travel the world with your laptop as a “Digital Nomad” and “earn six figures”, then this may not be for you, my friend.

Great Minds Like a Think copywriting example
A perfect copywriting example from The Economist

Jump to: What is a copywriter | Copywriter salary | Become a copywriter

Content outline:

What is a copywriter?
What does a copywriter do?
What exactly does a copywriter do?
What is a copywriter’s salary?
Average copywriter salaries
How to become a copywriter?
How do you become a copywriter full-time?
Who is the best copywriter in the world?
Is copywriting a good career?


What is a copywriter?

A copywriter is a very creatively challenging job that requires you to put yourself in your reader’s shoes and write something that inspires them, helps them understand a message, and possibly convinces them to buy a product.

What does a copywriter do?

As a copywriter, your daily work will vary depending on what type of copywriter you become.

One day you might be working alongside a Creative Director at an advertising agency to come up with a tagline for a billboard campaign with little to no information or project brief.

Oatly billboard copywriting advert
A perfect copywriting example of a billboard campaign from Oatly.

The next you’re diving into the dark corners of the web until the early hours of the morning sourcing accurate info for a topic you sometimes have zero knowledge of.

The creative range is really quite spectacular, and you’ve got to be able to have the stomach to adapt and deliver excellent work every time.

What exactly does a copywriter do?

Every copywriter’s job is different and copywriting as a career is extremely challenging. Over the years the title evolved with the addition of the Internet.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to choose the type of work you do as a copywriter, then this part is up to you.

It’s a pretty amazing job to be in when you have so many options for your creative outlet. So it’s hard to explicitly say what a copywriter does, as you’re in the hot seat.

If you do want to become a copywriter for a company, it’s smart to clearly define what you’ll be doing on a day to day, and how you interact with the team.

There is so much overlap in the position, so it can get quite overwhelming if you haven’t clarified how you contribute as a professional writer.

As mentioned the role is so diverse that many professional copywriters that have been in the game for a hell of a long time can, will, and have done all of the below.

Below are the most common titles associated with copywriting:

Storytelling ⇒ Journalist/Content Writer
Text for your app ⇒ UX Writer/UX Copywriter
Adverts ⇒ Advertising/Creative Copywriter
Blog articles ⇒ Blogger/Marketing Copywriter/Content Marketer/Content Writer
SEO articles ⇒ SEO Copywriter/Marketing Copywriter/Content Marketer
Product descriptions ⇒ Ecommerce Copywriter
Website text ⇒ Digital Copywriter
Social media ads ⇒ Social Media Specialist/Content Marketer
Email newsletters ⇒ Marketing Copywriter/Content Marketer
Slideshows/Presentations ⇒ Marketing Copywriter
Press Releases ⇒ Marketing Copywriter
White Papers ⇒ Marketing Copywriter/Content Marketer
Videos ⇒ Producer/Content Producer/Scriptwriter

What is a copywriter’s salary?

The variables on salary for a copywriter are pretty insane. In most cases, like most jobs, you probably earn very little at the beginning. If at all anything.

You do have the heavy hitters of the world boasting super high figures as a freelancer. It’s hard to know what to believe, but from my experience, a full-time position when you’re starting out is very low pay.

I decided to explore what the Internet has to offer by way of salaries in three places with the title of “copywriter”. These are also the three places in the world that I’ve had personal professional copywriting experience in.

As mentioned above. What a copywriter actually does within each role and the accurate monetary value attached to each of these averages by their location is impossible to find out.

Average “copywriter” salaries
United KingdomUnited StatesThe Netherlands
£24,484$51,377€34,721
All averages according to Payscale.com (2020)

How to become a Copywriter

The moment you’re turning words into something that sells, you’re a copywriter.

This means, in my eyes, that pretty much everyone is a copywriter, and getting into copywriting is easy.

A job application is using words to sell you, as a service, to a person in a business.

You should look inward to find out what type of work you would like to focus on. There are no fast track solutions on how to start copywriting.

Becoming a copywriter takes time and a lot of hours wondering why you ever wanted to do it in the first place.

How do you become a copywriter full-time?

Your entry into the dark world of words for money being a copywriter will be different, obviously.

I’ll just explore a few ways you may find useful on how to get a copywriting job, depending on the type of copywriter you want to become.

Below I’ve made a sort of steps on how to become a copywriter and how to get copywriting experience.

AgencyIn-HouseFreelance
1Apply for an internship or get really, really fucking lucky.Start with the fundamentals and maybe hold off applying just yet.Start with the fundamentals and grab hold of any work you can, paid or unpaid.
2
Create a portfolio that scares other copywriters. And get really lucky.Build a solid portfolio and turn your CV and application letter into a golden ticket.Learn how to build a business.
3Work relentlessly. Live and breathe the advertising world.Upskill as much as you can and get as many types of copywriting projects under your belt.Business running smoothly. Learn a range of skills, and try all types of copywriting. 
4Don Draper owes you a beer.Make your words the brand.Specialise and find your corner.

Who is the best copywriter in the world?

One of the most impressive copywriters in the world is John Emory Powers. According to Wikipedia, Mr. Powers was the first-ever “full-time copywriter”.

A pioneer in the field, this dude fucking nailed it in the advertising world at the end of the 1800s. This baller was rocking out on $100 a day as a copywriter, which works out about $750,000 per annum in 2020 money.

Powers stood for truth in advertising at a time when honesty wasn’t a word used in the industry. This guy would literally tell the truth to sell.

At one point he was hired to write an ad for a clothing company that was about to go bankrupt. Johny reportedly decided to write: “We are bankrupt. This announcement will bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and buy tomorrow we shall have the money to meet them. If not we will go to the wall.

The ad worked, and the struggling company was saved from bankruptcy.

John Powers made advertising agencies look at copywriters differently. He raised the bar for the profession and his skills and talents shone through with his contemporaries not coming anywhere near his ability.

So much so that the first-ever national trade magazine for advertising penned Powers with this quote, “There were two kinds of advertising – Powers’ style and all the rest.

He used simple language, avoided exaggerations, limited headlines to a few words, and advocated the use of plain language in business and described “fine writing” as “offensive”.

These are the fundamentals of great copywriting, and John Powers earns at least a shoutout as the best copywriter in the world title.

Is copywriting a good career?

If you can write well and want to stretch your creativity to new levels, then copywriting is the perfect career for you. The fundamental skills applied in the copywriting world are so cross-functional.

Writing creeps into everything you do. From a Whatsapp message to an email to your boss to pretend you’re sick. Making it as a professional copywriter means you’re living the career aspirations of many writers – you get paid to write words.


Cliché end quote please

As with all cliché articles about writing, we’ll end with someone else’s work. Here is the legendary John Emory Powers again, and we’ll steal his advert for a necktie promotion, to sum up the career of a copywriter.

“They’re not as good as they look, but they’re good enough”

– John Emory Powers

Thanks for reading or scrolling mindlessly to the end. I hope this has given you a little more insight into the copywriting world. I’d love to hear your thoughts so please do comment below.

By JS

Copywriter based in Amsterdam.

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