Are you considering a copywriting career? Copywriters are more in demand than ever before. With the growth of the internet, and content marketing in particular, there has never been a better time to get into the industry.
I’ve been writing copy online for more than a decade now. A lot has changed, but the principles remain the same. Like many who ask me about starting a career in copywriting, I am a journalism graduate. A love of words (whether that’s through journalism, creative writing or elsewhere) is a great starting point for becoming a copywriter, but there is still a gap that has to be bridged before you can confidently settle into your new copywriting career.
What Are The Key Skills A Copywriter Needs?
As the name suggests, writing is the biggest component of the job. A good handle on spelling and grammar is useful (or at least an understanding of why your spellchecker is making certain suggestions), but mostly you need to be able to grab a reader’s interest and communicate often complicated bits of information to them in an easily understandable way.
On top of that, a good understanding of SEO goes a long way. There are lots of factors to search engine optimisation, so start by learning about on-page ranking factors: things like keyword research and a good use of headings.
From an editor’s point of view, simple things like sticking to deadlines and communicating clearly about a task go a long, long way. Good work from a reliable writer is always preferable great work from someone who regularly misses deadlines.
Online Copywriting Courses
Depending on your background, you may want to study a bit before you begin applying for work and starting your copywriting career.
Whether you have a background in writing or not, there’s always something to learn. There are plenty of online courses and communities available to help you get started.
Many copywriters choose to work as freelancers, which can be a lonely road to go down, however, there are online groups where freelancers gather to discuss work and bounce ideas off each other. Connecting with other people in your line of work or by finding a co-working space can be a huge help in your career.
How To Get Started In Copywriting
Most job ads ask for experience, which makes it hard to find work when you’re new to the industry.
The first thing to consider is setting up your own blog. You can do this with WordPress — it’s the most common CMS you’ll come across, so it’s useful to have experience of that too. Starting your own blog gives you a chance to write regularly and put all your new learnings into practice. When you find a job that you’d be interested in, it’s a useful way to show your style and that you are dedicated to getting into the career.
When you’re trying to build up a portfolio, it’s good to have multiple sites and examples to show off. To build up your portfolio, it can be tempting to offer free or cheap work to friends and relatives. There are pros and cons to this. It does help you get experience and it can give you some useful testimonials, but copywriting is an industry that’s very much exploited, so try not to give away your skills too much. If you are going to offer your services at a discount, try to do so either for a one-off project or for a short trial period with the clear intention that after a set time you will be charging more.
From there, it’s normally about getting out there. Networking (both in person and on sites like LinkedIn), applying for jobs and approaching content marketing agencies about freelance work can all help to land you work. Whether you start as a freelancer or try to get experience through an agency is up to you. One often leads to the other, so don’t feel like you need to just make one decision and stick to it.
For me, networking was key. I spent several years in different agencies and I highly recommend that approach. I learnt a lot, met some great people and years later I’m still getting work from them as both parties have moved on to new ventures. Without that network, I would have struggled a lot.
To find out more copywriting tips, check out these articles:
- How Website Content Helps With SEO
- How User Generated Content Improves SEO, Traffic And Sales
- Writing longer content that ranks
- How to Win At Content Marketing in 2020
- How to Reuse Content (And Save Time and Get More Traffic)
- Here’s How an eBook Helps Achieve Content Goals
Oliver originally studied journalism but quickly made the switch over to digital marketing. He has worked for SEO and content marketing agencies before becoming a full-time freelancer and setting up his own business.