Career Advice for Writers: How to Become a Copywriter

So, you're thinking of a career as a professional copywriter.

You're dreaming of a life where you're paid to be creative. Perhaps you're a marketing enthusiast, or maybe you'd just like to work from home in your pajamas. Regardless, one thing is abundantly clear to those of us "on the inside." Considering how to become a copywriter is a lot more sensible than you may think. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting strong job growth in this area, and studies find that companies are desperate for digital marketing talent. A exceptional career  and lifestyle is within reach, and we're here to tell you how to become a copywriter:

1. Use Your Education to Your Advantage

Do you need a 4-year degree? Well, that depends. As Ali Hale points out, “all that editors care about is your ability to write." Achieving a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism, and Marketing can certainly get you in the door at many organizations as an entry-level marketer. However, portfolio and references are also considered heavily in most hiring processes.

Perhaps most importantly, don't give up on wondering how to become a copywriter if you have a completely unrelated educational background. This area-specific expertise can actually help you land higher-paying clients with related businesses. Nurses could find work writing about health care or medical devices, and former chemists could become marketers for pharmaceutical companies. The real trick is knowing what your expertise is and how to sell it.

2. Dive into Online Learning

The world of marketing and advertising has changed drastically over the last decade due to the internet and mobile technology. Even if you studied copywriting in school best practices and techniques have likely changed significantly. Here are a few resources we recommend to update your expertise:

3. Know Marketing and Business

Rarely are today's copywriters hired to operate in a purely creative capacity. With few exceptions, considering how to become a copywriter should include self-driven education in inbound marketing and business principles. Most likely, your role will require you to help organizations achieve their sales and revenue goals with exceptional copy. Several of the best-respected resources include:

4. Build a Portfolio

It's hard to land your first copywriting job without a portfolio. If you've never worked as a content marketer before, how can potential employers or clients know your worth? Make it a priority to create a portfolio of relevant writing samples. Sample blog articles or whitepapers will take you a lot further than your college term papers!

I recommend acquiring a personal website via Wordpress, and using this as a platform to display writing samples that reflect the work you'd like to be doing professionally. Consider how to become a copywriter isn't easy, but building a portfolio is worth your time!

5. Become an Online Force

Be honest. Would you hire someone to promote your brand who has zero online presence or expertise? Probably not. That's why it's personal to have a vibrant and visible online presence. John Jantsch refers to this as "personal brand authority." You'll gain the ability to be perceived as an expert, and paid accordingly.

There are some differences, but building a personal brand isn't all that different than branding for business. It's about telling your story consistently across platforms, and building genuine relationships.

For more information, we recommend our blog on Brand Storytelling and Narrative!

6. Network Like Crazy

Network

You've got a few options for turning your copywriting career into profit. You could apply for jobs at organizations or agencies. You could write for an online content service. Or you could break out on your own and maintain a personal client portfolio. Many successful copywriters even do a blend of all of these options. There are benefits and negative factors around each of these choices, but one thing is clear. You've got to network online and at in-person events. Networking can help you:

  • Gain employment and clients
  • Win prestigious guest blogging opportunities
  • Build crucial professional connections
  • Earn guest speaking opportunities at conferences

Are you considering how to become a copywriter? What sort of writing career do you see yourself in?