A copywriter is someone who creates written or spoken content for a living. They might write press releases, articles, or case studies for businesses or non-profits, or they might write marketing material (e.g., ad copy or social media posts) for others. A copywriter’s target audience is usually other writers, journalists, or marketers, so they often end up writing content for business publications or websites.
Like any other professional role, becoming a copywriter takes some time to learn the ropes and build up your portfolio. Here are some of the basics:
Studying The Craft
If you’re interested in becoming a copywriter, you’ll first need to study the craft and become an expert in language and literature. To do this, you can either gain experience by freelancing or finding a paid internship, or you can attend university and earn a formal education in journalism, marketing, or copy writing.
In addition to learning the theoretical and practical aspects of copywriting, you’ll need to develop your skills by putting them into practice. There are plenty of online resources, such as copywrite.com and copyblogger.com, that provide online tutorials, courses, and interactive writing tools that can help you get started.
Setting Up Shop
Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to start looking for work. You’ll need to set up shop and get to work pitching stories to publications and businesses. The first step is to register with the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) as a professional freelance copywriter. You can find the registration process and FAQs on their website.
Writing For The Web
The web is changing the game for content creators. Instead of relying on printed publications to find your audience, you can now target your online presence to attract individuals looking for the content you create. Your website acts as both your digital portfolio and contact form, so it’s a good place to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Create a profile for free on reputable social platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and make sure to connect your website to these platforms.
Make sure to set up automated email replies on your website’s contact form, so you can easily get in touch with clientele. When a potential customer (or donor, for non-profits and businesses) lands on your website, they’ll want to know what to expect from a communication standpoint, so you can guide them through the process.
After you’ve built up a small body of work, it’s time to enter the competitive world of freelance copywriting. This is largely because companies and organizations with a large marketing budget can now afford to outbid smaller clients for top-notch copywriters. As a copywriter, you’ll need to take on projects and pitches that vary in size and complexity. While this is a common way to gain experience, keep your guard up and be wary of over-saturating yourself with work. Learning to say no is an important skill as a copywriter, too.
To get started, create a simple sales pitch for a product or service that is designed to help writers. For example, a marketing company that provides content strategy and writing services to businesses could develop a pitch for a course or eBook that teaches people how to effectively write for the web. The idea is to develop a simple, straightforward pitch that includes specific details about the product or service being sold.
With so much information available online, businesses, brands, and individuals are turning to copywriters for assistance in getting their messages across to the public. Whether you’re a journalist, novelist, or blogger, if you can write, you can probably find a home as a freelance copywriter. Just remember to keep your rates reasonable while still generating enough revenue to make a living.