- What’s a Copywriter?
- What Does a Copywriter Do?
- Where Do Copywriters Work?
- What Are the Requirements to Become a Copywriter?
- Which Skills Do Copywriters Need?
- What Is the Typical Copywriter Career Path?
- How Much Do Copywriters Earn?
- What Is the Job Outlook for Copywriters?
- What Are Some Common Copywriter Interview Questions?
If you have a way with words and a knack for persuading people to act, then a copywriting career could be a smart choice. In this role, you typically work in marketing or advertising, and you have responsibilities ranging from research to writing and beyond. So what’s a copywriter job and what does a copywriter do all day? Find out what a copywriting job involves and learn how to pursue this career path.
What’s a Copywriter?
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A copywriter creates marketing and advertising messages for use on websites, in digital formats, and in printed materials. Some specialize in writing for certain types of media, while others excel at short- or long-form copy. Copywriters can work for organizations, where they typically land in the marketing department, or they can work independently for a variety of clients.
What Does a Copywriter Do?
It’s easy to assume that copywriters spend their days writing copy. However, when it comes to typical responsibilities for a copywriter, what they do ranges from research and writing to collaboration and optimization. Standard copywriter duties include the following.
For most copywriters, each project begins with a creative brief and a lengthy research session. First, you have to read through the creative brief to understand what your boss or client wants to accomplish.
Then the research begins. Depending on the project, you might review website analytics to understand user behavior, interview customers to evaluate their purchasing decisions, or review testimonials to gauge the target market’s likes and dislikes.
Then copywriters evaluate their research and draw conclusions. They use their findings to shape the message they convey and the tone they use.
In addition to research, writing is a major responsibility for copywriters. Whether you’re developing copy for digital or print use, you use the creative brief and your research to complete the task. Some of the most common types of copy that you might produce in this role include:
- Webpages, including homepages, sales pages, or blog articles.
- Product descriptions or brand taglines.
- Printed or video sales letters.
- Email marketing or social media captions.
Many copywriters have to follow specific guidelines every time they produce copy. For example, they might have to incorporate keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes or meet strict length requirements or word counts.
Collaborating With Colleagues
Copywriters rarely work alone. Instead, they typically work closely with marketing, public relations (PR), sales, advertising, and editing colleagues. Some also work closely with company executives, or clients, who may be business owners.
As a copywriter, you often have to brainstorm or meet with colleagues to develop creative briefs and share ideas. If your projects include other types of media, such as videos or illustrations, you may need to collaborate with designers or photographers to complete the job successfully.
Analyzing and Optimizing
When undertaking a project, copywriters typically strive to reach ambitious goals. For webpages and blog articles, key performance indicators (KPIs) might include a certain number of views or new subscribers over a certain period of time. For sales pages or letters, KPIs usually focus on sales numbers, number of orders, new customers, or customer retention.
As a copywriter, you generally track the results from your campaigns closely, and you may make adjustments to improve outcomes. Some copywriters create split tests, which allow them to experiment with multiple versions of copy to see which performs best. When they have enough data to determine a winner, they can complete the campaign by running the optimized version.
Where Do Copywriters Work?
Most copywriters work in an office setting, where they rely on a computer to do their research and writing. Although many copywriters work in traditional offices alongside colleagues, others work from home or other remote locations. No matter where you work, however, you generally need a computer and an internet connection.
While many copywriters work standard business hours, such as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., others work more flexible hours. In this position, your clients or the urgency of your projects may require you to work during the evenings, on weekends, or at other unusual hours.
For copywriters, the biggest career decision is often determining where to work and what type of career path to carve out. Most choose one of three equally viable options.
When you take a job as an in-house copywriter, you work for a single company. You typically work in the marketing or advertising department, and your copywriting centers on advertising the products and services that your organization offers. In addition to working at their desks, in-house copywriters may also have to attend regular meetings with advertising, sales, and marketing colleagues.
One of the biggest benefits of in-house roles is that they let you hone your expertise and become an authority on a single industry. For example, some copywriters pursue in-house roles for organizations in the health care or financial industry.
A potential downside of choosing an in-house path is that you may be less qualified for copywriting roles in other industries. You may find it difficult to move between industries over the course of your career. To mitigate this potential risk, copywriters who go in-house often strive to specialize in the most rewarding or lucrative industries.
Copywriters can also work for marketing and advertising agencies. In this type of role, you work for a number of different clients or brands that your agency represents. Although you might still specialize in one or two industries as an agency copywriter, your experience is naturally more varied due to the larger number of clients.
If you choose the agency route, you can typically expect a faster-paced work environment. To meet client needs, you may have to work overtime or during nonstandard business hours, especially during busy periods.
Many copywriters increasingly choose to become self-employed, allowing them to work with their choice of clients independently. Many self-employed copywriters opt to specialize in a small number of industries so they can establish their authority and build a strong client roster.
Although this option allows copywriters to build a business and work on their own terms, it requires a much longer task list. So what do copywriters do when they work on a contract basis? Most self-employed copywriters effectively become an agency of one, handling everything from seeking out new clients to researching and writing to marketing their businesses.
What Are the Requirements to Become a Copywriter?
Most copywriter jobs aren’t entry-level positions. To get this job, you usually have to meet education, certification, and portfolio requirements.
Most companies and agencies require copywriters to have at least a bachelor’s degree. The most common areas of study include:
- Communications: As a communications major, you learn how to process information and convey it clearly in writing. You also master the art of creating consistent messaging. Most communications majors take classes on research methods, written and spoken communication, and mass communication strategies.
- Marketing: If you study marketing, you learn about key concepts that copywriters need to know, such as consumer behavior and branding. Most marketing majors complete classes on marketing research, messaging, and strategies.
- Journalism: As a journalism major, you generally become an expert in researching ideas and telling stories. Most journalism majors take classes on the media, reporting and article writing, and digital production.
- English: When you study English, you typically build excellent writing and communication skills. English majors usually take classes about literary criticism, language theory, and creative writing.
If you’re applying for a senior role or a more competitive position, having a master’s degree can help you stand out as a stronger candidate. Some of the most common graduate degrees for copywriters include:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA): If you earn an MBA with a concentration in marketing, you can advance your business, marketing, and writing skills. Most MBA in marketing programs include graduate-level courses like digital marketing, strategy development, as well as research and analysis.
- Master of Science in Communications (MSC): With an MSC, you can master corporate communications and improve your writing and strategy skills. Most MSC programs include courses on leadership communications, corporate branding, and strategic communications.
Certifications and Training
In many cases, a bachelor’s degree is enough to qualify you for a copywriter job. However, if you want to enhance your qualifications or if you want to prepare for a more specialized job, then getting a certification or completing a training course can be a smart idea. These organizations offer some of the most popular options for copywriters:
- American Marketing Association: This industry organization partners with the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) to offer a dual Professional Certified Marketer and DMI certification. With this credential, you can demonstrate your mastery of persuasion, marketing strategy, and digital platforms.
- American Writers & Artists Inc.: This organization offers both entry-level and advanced options: The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting and The Masters Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. Both can help you be considered an A-level copywriter with superior skills.
- Blackford Centre for Copywriting: Considered one of the top copywriting organizations, the Blackford Center offers a certification upon completion of a self-paced course. You can also get practical experience with real clients and personalized career advice.
Unless you’re applying for a junior copywriter job, employers may request to see examples of your work before hiring you. If you already have professional experience, then you can share examples of webpages or sales letters you’ve written, along with the results from the campaign.
However, if you have minimal copywriting work experience or if you have to keep your work confidential, you can spare what’s known as spec work. Essentially, you can give yourself arbitrary assignments and produce work samples to showcase in your portfolio.
Which Skills Do Copywriters Need?
To excel in a copywriter role, you need both technical and soft skills. Here are some of the most common skills copywriter job descriptions request:
- Communication: Virtually everything that copywriters do centers on strong communication. In this role, you have to be able to write clearly and convey messages effectively. Depending on your role, you may need to specialize in digital or print communication. You also have to be able to communicate verbally so you can collaborate with coworkers or serve clients.
- Creativity: Even though copywriters often have relatively straightforward messages to express, they have to do so in original ways. In this position, you have to be able to approach old ideas in new ways and use your creativity to develop compelling copy.
- Persuasion: As a copywriter, you’re tasked with creating copy that urges readers to take actions, such as subscribing to a list or making a purchase. You need to know the psychology of persuasion and understand how to apply these principles in an effective way.
- Research: For most copywriters, research and analysis are just as important as writing. In this role, you need strong research skills and you need to know how to evaluate, interpret, and act on your findings.
- SEO: Understanding the basics of SEO is crucial for copywriters. You should know how to perform keyword research and how to incorporate keywords into your copy successfully.
What Is the Typical Copywriter Career Path?
To become a full-fledged copywriter, you usually need at least a year or two of entry-level experience. Most aspiring copywriters work in roles like these first:
- Junior Copywriter: Many agencies and organizations with larger marketing departments hire junior copywriters to support their more advanced colleagues. In this junior role, you can expect to do keyword research, customer interviews, and other support tasks. You may also have a chance to write promotional copy for smaller campaigns, giving you a chance to gain direct experience before applying for a more senior role.
- Marketing Assistant: In some cases, copywriters do general marketing work before focusing on writing. Those who work as marketing assistants learn about branding and messaging and get hands-on experience with various marketing platforms.
- Journalist: In other cases, copywriters gain experience as writers before shifting into marketing. Many copywriters work as journalists, where they get practical experience with researching ideas, interviewing people, and writing short- and long-form pieces.
After you’ve worked as a copywriter for a few years, you might be ready for the next challenge. Many experienced copywriters go on to apply for these advanced roles:
- Copy Chief: As a copy chief, you’re tasked with managing a team of copywriters or copyeditors. In this position, you delegate assignments, proofread and edit copy, and produce your own material. This role usually reports to the managing editor.
- Managing Editor: As a managing editor, you’re responsible for planning and overseeing a company’s publishing operations. Whether you specialize in digital or print publishing, you can expect to collaborate closely with the Editor-in-Chief, manage a team of writers and editors, and evaluate materials for quality and efficacy.
- Creative Director: If you work as a creative director, you oversee all creative aspects for a company’s marketing department. In this role, you’re responsible for developing and executing a creative vision as well as supervising a team of copywriters and designers.
How Much Do Copywriters Earn?
The average copywriter salary in the United States is $59,660 per year, according to Indeed. However, annual earnings can vary significantly depending on your seniority level and your location. For example, Indeed reports that copywriters in San Francisco, California, earn nearly $99,000 per year, while those in Charlotte, North Carolina, make nearly $86,000 per year. In contrast, copywriters working in locations like Salt Lake City, Utah, and Brisbane, California, generally earn less than the national average.
To maximize your earning potential as a copywriter, consider looking for positions in cities where average wages tend to be higher. Some organizations allow copywriters to work remotely, which may mean that you can live anywhere while earning an impressive salary.
Whether you land a job in San Francisco or Brisbane, you can expect your copywriter salary to come with a number of standard benefits. For example, most copywriters get health, vision, and dental insurance as well as gym memberships to help you stay healthy. Many companies also offer retirement fund contributions to help you save for the future as well as parental leave and commuter assistance.
Some employers let in-house copywriters keep flexible schedules, allowing them to work outside of normal business hours. Select organizations even provide food to make the workday more enjoyable.
What Is the Job Outlook for Copywriters?
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t provide statistics specifically for copywriters. However, the BLS does project that the job market for writers in general will decrease by 2% between 2019 and 2029. Much of this decline relates to the large-scale downsizing that many news and print media outlets have experienced in recent years.
Fortunately, the agency anticipates that employment of media and communication workers will grow by 3% during this time frame. That means copywriters can expect moderate growth for the next decade. Those who specialize in copywriting for digital outlets like websites and social media are likely to encounter the greatest number of opportunities in the future.
Because the job market for copywriters is expected to grow at a slower rate than average, competition in this field is likely to be high. You can stand out as a strong candidate by gaining more experience as a copywriter and earning some of the optional credentials.
What Are Some Common Copywriter Interview Questions?
The application process for most copywriter jobs usually includes at least one round of interviews. Read through some common copywriter interview questions and formulate answers to prepare for your next meeting with a hiring manager:
- What is copywriting work? When hiring managers raise this question, they’re asking some version of the common questions “What is a copywriter job?” and “What does a copywriter do in marketing?” Essentially, they want to confirm that you understand the wide range of responsibilities the role involves. Mention a few main copywriter duties and explain how this role fits into the marketing and advertising department.
- Can you describe your research process? Because research is nearly as important as writing for many copywriters, interviewers often want to make sure you have sufficient experience in this area. Give a basic overview of the approach you usually take to convey your methods and expertise.
- How do you know when a copywriting campaign is successful? Interviewers often inquire about success metrics because they want reassurance that you know how to use KPIs and reporting to demonstrate outcomes. Discuss how you work with colleagues to set goals, measure results, and optimize your strategy based on the outcomes.
- What’s your approach to time management and task prioritization? Copywriters often have multiple projects to work on simultaneously, so interviewers want to know whether you can manage several tasks while still meeting deadlines. Explain how you keep your work schedule organized and how you determine which tasks or projects to prioritize.
- What’s more important for copywriters, clarity or creativity? For experienced copywriters, clarity versus creativity is an ongoing dilemma, so a potential employer may want to know how you decide. Explain when you would choose one approach over another, and mention any projects you’ve worked on that have informed your preference.
- Do you have any management experience? If you’re applying for a senior copywriter position or if there are opportunities for advancement, the hiring team may want to consider your management experience. Be prepared to discuss any leadership roles as well as your preferred management style.
Whether you love writing or you aspire to become a copy chief, getting a copywriting job can be a great choice. Working as a copywriter can open the door to a myriad of exciting opportunities and a rewarding career.