Education

So You Want To Be A Copywriter

Maybe you’ve got a man crush on Don Draper from Mad Men. Or you’re head over heels with Peggy and just want to BE her (even though you’d rather dress like Joan). Maybe you make up headlines and slogans in your spare time, trying to outdo the pros.
Somewhere, somehow, the copywriting bug bit you. Can you become a professional copywriter? Sure. But it’s not all three-martini lunches and high-flying meetings. Copywriters can make top dollar, but that’s because it takes some major skills.
Copywriting is harder than it looks. Cheap online content writers flood web forums with promises of 500 words for 5 dollars – and similar cut-throat rates. A 500-word sales letter by a top quality copywriter could easily be invoiced for thousands of dollars. They can charge these high rates because their work sells!
In an agency, copywriters enjoy top-of-the-heap salaries, often earning about twice as much as the graphic designers. Look at the names of all the big advertising companies. More often than not, they bear the name of a copywriter. Leo Burnett. David Ogilvy. Charles Saatchi. Bill Bernbach (he’s the B in DDB).
Types of Copywriters
Some copywriters specialize in particular industries:
Medical copywriting – Marketing materials for doctors, hospitals, clinics. You may be promoting the services of an entire hospital or department as a whole, or you may be selling specific surgeries, procedures or treatments. You may also be selling medical equipment to hospitals and clinics, rather than writing materials aimed directly at consumers
Pharmaceutical copywriting – This lucrative niche requires very specialized skills and knowledge of local regulations. Pharmaceutical copywriters are in high demand and rewarded handsomely for their work.
Financial copywriting – Another big-money market for copywriters. You’ve got to have a solid grasp on investing and finance and what makes investors tick. If you can master this, prepare to rake in the gold.
Hospitality and travel copywriting – A focus on hotels, resorts, spas and other travel products. Hospitality copywriters often get to visit plush hotels and exciting destinations. It’s a jet set lifestyle, and while the pay is not usually as high as the other three specialties listed above, you get to see the world while your client foots the bill.
Aside from industry specializations, many copywriters specialize in one particular kind of copywriting. Each copywriting medium requires a different skillset. That is, copy that works in a brochure, is not the same as copy that works on the web, which are both different from successful copy for a direct marketing email.
A few of the major specialties:
Advertising copywriting – Crafting headlines that will cha-ching cha-ching from magazine pages and billboards or television commercial scripts that will leave the catchphrase being repeated at bars and dinner tables across the country.
SEO (search engine optimized) copywriting – Sculpting online content that will reign supreme at the top of the search engine results. SEO copywriting requires more technical knowledge than most forms of copywriting but is one of the fastest growing subfields in the industry.
DM (direct marketing) copywriting – Hard sell. DM copywriters create mailers like sales letters or e-blasts that must capture attention, sell the audience on the details and then seal the deal with a strong call-to-action.
How Do You Become a Copywriter?
Many copywriters enter the field with a degree in a relevant area such as Advertising or Marketing. They may work as a freelance copywriter or hold a full-time position in an agency, progressing from Junior Copywriter to Senior Copywriter and further up the corporate ladder to positions such as Creative Director.

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