Learn What a Copywriter Does and How to Become One
Interning with an ad agency might be the best way to get started
You're creative, witty, and good at pumping out well-written stories under a tight deadline, so it's no surprise that your friends in advertising keep telling you that you should leave your day job as a blogger to become a copywriter. Sounds great, but there's one problem—you're not quite sure what a copywriter does or how to go about becoming one. The first step is to learn about the job description. Then, if you feel like you are a good fit, you can go about finding opportunities to break into the business.
What a Copywriter Does
At advertising agencies, a copywriter is known as a “creative” because she makes up the slogans or copy that drive ad campaigns. Bud Light's "This Bud’s for You," BMW's "The Ultimate Driving Machine," and Nike's "Just Do It" are examples of famous ad phrases that are the work of a copywriter somewhere. The job may not be in the spotlight or very glamorous, and it's rare for work to become a household phrase, but the role is an important one that makes a large impact on the image and reputation of a company or brand.
How to Become a Copywriter
Getting a job as a copywriter is tougher than getting a job in other fields of advertising because you need a portfolio of work, known as a book in the ad world, to get in the door. To get a book together, your best bet is to start with an internship.
Your book is a collection of ads you’ve worked on, and you can’t work on any ads until you get some work at an advertising agency. To get an internship at an ad agency you need to be diligent in searching online for openings. You also can contact creative directors who run the creative departments at ad agencies.
If you don’t want to get an internship or can’t afford to work for zero to minimal wages for a long period of time, you can create spec ads on your own. Because copywriters work in various fields—print, TV, radio, and online—your spec work will have to mimic the kinds of ads you’re interested in creating. If you want to work online, you should be creating banner ads and online campaigns.
Although you might be able to land work by creating spec ads, hiring managers prefer to see work you’ve done while interning at an agency. Also, while you don’t need a graduate degree to become a copywriter, hiring managers do prefer to see that you’ve earned an undergraduate degree.
Skills You Need for the Job
Copywriting is all about creativity, so you really need to have a talent for the work. While some people might learn on the job, this kind of work is best for people who can craft stories with images and words and think outside of the box. It’s stories that often sell products, and the slogans and images simply tell the stories. Getting an internship in the creative department of an agency also is a good way to figure out whether you have the talent to be a copywriter.