Think Twice Before Becoming a Copywriter

For a Copywriter, It Can Be All Work and Very Little Reward

The Unsung Hero
••• The Unsung Hero. Getty Images

If you’re contemplating a career change, or just starting out, and have your heart set on being a copywriter, you need to be prepared for what lies ahead. Despite the creative title, a copywriter's job is not always that glamorous, or creative. Not to dissuade you, but consider the following before you take the plunge. 

Copywriters Do a Lot of Research

In a traditional copywriter/art director team, the burden is on the writer to do the research about the product or service. You need to be a highly detail-oriented person to hold this position. There is a good reason for this; when it comes to writing about the product or company, the copywriter needs to know everything possible, down to the minutest detail. 

It is the job of the art director to know enough to help with the conceptual part and to ensure that the layouts, video spots, and other visual elements are spot-on. Consequently, you will spend many late nights and early mornings reading and researching while the designers and art directors are involved in the fun, creative process. 

The Job Doesn't Come With Perks

There are perks to every job, and one of the biggest in advertising and marketing is the travel. When a shoot is being scheduled, there is often a fair amount of travel to interesting or exotic locations. The problem is; the client, art director, designer, and account services team will naturally have to go along, but you won’t. The role of a copywriter is considered surplus to requirements.

This may be hard to swallow if you came up with the big idea and wrote the script. Unfortunately, it costs a more to send another person, and that money could go to things like craft food services, or flight upgrades to business or first class.

Your role will be to stay put at the agency writing something, or generating the next big idea. In a sense, copywriters are like Cinderella. They never get to go to the ball​ or bask in Belize with the art director.

Your Opinion May Not Be Valued

Once you've created an incredible campaign idea and written scripts and headlines that will result in the product selling out on Amazon, don't be surprised if the client completely rewrites your carefully-crafted copy. The client can’t come up with the copy from scratch, but they have the right to edit it to oblivion, so don't get wedded to the words—or your creative visual ideas. The art director, producer, and director may have changed up your visual ideas as well.

Prepare to Be Edited 

There’s a reason the phrase everyone’s a copywriter is so popular in the agency world. From a junior client to a junior account executive, your words are very easy to change. It’s just a case of deleting the ones you spent hours sweating over and replacing them with “better words” that people came up with while chatting at the water cooler. 

You need to be prepared for the fact that your words will be changed, and your job is to accept that and not argue the point or you risk being labeled difficult or a diva.

You're Not the Architect of Your Work

If you're just starting out it's hard to not be excited about coming up with a killer idea that made it past the rounds of client cuts, and it’s time to get the ad made and sell some products—and perhaps win an industry award or two. The reality is, as the writer (who touched the project first) you'll almost never get the chance to see your idea through completion. Unless, of course, you’re writing copy that goes straight to a blog, or email account. Otherwise, there are a lot of steps (and people) between what you do, and what the consumer sees.

This is the life of a copywriter. A lot of the hard work, very little of the glory. If all of this does not sound appealing to you (and you have any kind of artistic skill) consider becoming an art director instead. You can still come up with awesome ideas, but the satisfying perks (like Belize) will be there.