Everything you need to know about becoming a copywriter

Though visual content has been taking over as a hot commodity over the years, copywriting and legible content are still incredibly necessary. It communicates a message — whether waxing poetic or succinct and to the point — and draws people to it.

Copywriters are and have been highly sought after for a reason. We’ve got the details on how to get into this particular line of work.

What is a copywriter?

Copywriting covers a large umbrella of work. According to the American Writers & Artists Institute, copywriting is writing persuasive copy. Most of the time, this is to lead consumers in a specific direction.

Copywriters are the people who craft the words that lead a consumer to click, watch, buy, read, and love content or a brand. Their skill develops with time, and their focus – including designated writing tasks – changes depending on the project or client.

What does a copywriter do?

A copywriter has the task of generating phrases, words, thoughts, scripts, and other material that accompanies advertising visuals and physical products. Their ability to understand the client and research the world around the product or brand is key to the success of the work that is produced.

For example, a marketing copywriter is someone who writes solely for marketing purposes. A digital marketing copywriter is employed for their ability to write short-form digital content, and their role largely serves social media account spaces.

Sometimes, digital marketing encompasses blogs and email material as well. In fact, the majority of what you read online can be considered examples of copywriting.

How do you become a copywriter?

As is addressed in an essay published by George State University, writers are often spoken about as though they were born with a quill and ink in their hand or a typewriter on their lap. The fact of the matter is, you can be born with proficiencies that lend themselves to your writing, but it takes continued practice and the intentional application of skills and vocabulary to master the art. Experiencing life – and having a unique lens to do it through – also adds to the flavor and expanse of a copywriter’s skill set.

The good news about becoming a copywriter is that formal education and certifications are largely not required to get work. Of course, having a bachelor’s degree in a related field – like English, creative writing, journalism, communication studies, and psychology – will indicate to potential employers that you have learned the basics of the trade and probably have an approach when it comes to different writing styles and projects. Many businesses and corporations will require a degree of some kind for hire. Hiring managers will look for portfolios including additional certificates, master’s degrees, and bylines to fill more senior positions. If you want to get a leg up in this career field, engage in these experiences early for chances at higher compensation.

Having mentors in the writing space is integral to a writer’s ability to develop empathy and be able to write for specific audiences and causes. Whether you’re approaching copywriting through schooling or outside work experience, be sure to find the people whose work inspires you. If they’re accessible, reach out with questions. Writers are storytellers and giving them space to share their story, experience, or advice provides a connection they thrive off of.

You can approach copywriting at a corporate level, in-house at a small business or boutique marketing firm, or on a freelance basis. Many entrepreneurs and business owners end up getting copywriting work into their portfolio without even meaning it and developing writing as a skill is actually important to an array of career fields. (It’s even a bit of a pandemic-proof skill.)

What skills do you need to become a copywriter?

Becoming a copywriter is pretty straightforward. Aside from extensive knowledge of the language you are copywriting in (in this case, English), you will also need the ability to pay close attention to detail and be a stickler for grammar, write with some level of proficiency, and possess the capability to think on your toes, more or less. According to The Writers Bureau, an extensive vocabulary and empathy — or the ability to put yourself in other peoples’ shoes or to understand other points of view than just your own — are key.

Copywriters are also highly flexible in their work environment. Even copywriters hired for just one facet of one area of the company must operate out of a creative and ever-pivoting space. For example, the person who drafts button copy for Facebook has to keep SEO phrases and trending options in mind, while making sure the word or sentence is attractive enough to click on. With algorithm changes in digital marketing, trend differences in every industry that change almost by the minute, and an ever-evolving list of consumers to cater to, copywriting demands a flexibility that you might not otherwise be privy to.

What is the average salary for a copywriter?

The average base salary for a copywriter in the United States sits at $59,749. Though this is a promising statistic, this particular career field can be highly subjective. Like any other art, some people will love your writing and some people will not. Because of this, the income rate for a copywriter varies greatly. Evaluate and stand firm with your worth going into every potential client or hiring situation.

What is the typical career path for a copywriter?

Copywriters do not tend to have streamlined career paths. However, if you are to approach it from the start, there is typically a degree of some sort involved. Then, they work as a full-time entry-level copywriter with a company. Often, this gets them to mid-level status, and then hopefully they become a managing member of the copywriting team, an editor, or a creative director. Many copywriters work with clients and pursue bylines on the side of full-time work to boost their portfolio and their own unique brand. A good number of corporate copywriters go on to do consulting work, write books, and have their own columns.

Here are some fun ways to boost your personal brand with copywriting, and some of the highest paying copywriting openings available now.