Discover our guide on how to become a copywriter and get started pursuing your dream career today!
Being a copywriter can be a lucrative and creatively rewarding career where you earn money from writing. The demand for high-quality content writing is ever-increasing, and copywriting is becoming a popular and financially rewarding career choice. Junior copywriters can earn, on average, $40,000 – $50,000 per year, with senior copywriters earning over $70,000 per year.
If you’re new to the field of copywriting, it can be helpful to research and delve into what a copywriter actually does. Essentially, a copywriter is responsible for creating written content to promote a product, service, or brand. This content can include writing for website landing pages, social media posts, blog posts, product descriptions, advertisements, and more!
A skilled copywriter creates content that engages the reader and persuades them to make a purchase or sign up for a service. If you’re new to this discipline, this article explains what does a copywriter do.
- What is Copywriting?
- Types of Copywriting
- Average Salary
- Copywriter skills
- Examples of Great Copywriting
- How To Become a Copywriter
- Step 1. Read Great Copywriting Books
- Step 2. Take a Copywriting Course
- Step 3. Hone Your Writing Skills
- Step 4. Study Grammar
- Step 5. Learn the Basics of SEO and A/B Testing
- Step 6. Pick a Niche
- Step 7. Build a Swipe File
- Step 8. Set Up a Copywriting Website
- Step 9. Browse Freelancing Platforms
- Step 10. Apply for Jobs
- Step 11. Work for an Agency
- Step 12. Work as an In-house Copywriter
- Step 13. Take on a Few Clients at A Discount
- Step 14. Build Your Reputation with Reviews
- Step 15. Increase Your Rates
What is Copywriting?
If you’re considering a copywriting career, you’ll need to grasp the basic concepts of what it is. Copywriting is the act of creating sales or marketing material that influences the audience to make a purchase. Copy refers to the words on the page, so copywriting creates the words that make the product sell.
Copywriting can be a full-time or part-time job, with many copywriters choosing to work freelance rather than working for one employer. Freelance copywriters have the freedom to pick and choose their work projects, but they also have to hustle for clients, pitch services, and seek work on freelancing platforms like UpWork or Fiverr. You might also be interested in our explainer on how to live a creative life.
Types of Copywriting
There are different ways that copywriters can work, whether freelance or employed, and they can provide valuable services to their clients. Here are the three main types of copywriters:
Marketing agency copywriters will be employed by a marketing agency that works with multiple clients. This can be a great way for copywriters to find work without pitching to clients themselves. Agency work is a great way to begin a career in copywriting because it will take the pressure off trying to find clients if you’re starting out.
With agency work, copywriters will be expected to work full-time and often have a high workload and challenging projects to keep up with. Although marketing agency work is a fantastic way to gain experience and a guaranteed income, the copywriter will not be free to pick and choose the clients they want to work with.
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Corporate copywriters will have excellent job stability because they are employed within a company. This kind of copywriting often involves working within the marketing department of a corporate company. It will require the copywriter to work on advertising campaigns, social media posts, website landing page copywriting, and more. Typically, these positions are more consistent with assignments and require less creativity and flexibility in terms of work.
Freelance copywriters are self-employed and find work through platforms like UpWork and Fiverr or pitch services directly to potential clients. They can also use social media such as LinkedIn and Instagram to promote their services and find potential clients.
Working as a freelance copywriter gives you loads of flexibility to work on your own schedule, pick clients that suit your skills and interests, and there is an opportunity to earn high amounts of money. Although finding clients when starting as a freelance copywriter can be challenging, the benefits of sticking with it and building a client base over time can be immense.
Copywriter salaries vary depending on employment and experience. For example, a freelance copywriter starting out with only a few clients will earn much less than a full-time corporate copywriter. However, once a freelance copywriter has built a great reputation, sourced multiple high-value clients, and increased their income streams, they can earn much more than a corporate copywriter.
According to Indeed.com, a full-time copywriter’s salary ranges from $37,504 to $89,003. However, some salaries range from $14,000 to $114,00 per year, so it’s clear that experience makes a huge difference to earnings. With an average salary of $51,691 for a full-time employed copywriter, this is a lucrative career that takes hard work and commitment to the craft.
Knowing how to write is the base skill for copywriting. You don’t need to be a master of writing to begin your copywriting career, but having some basic knowledge of grammar, syntax, and crafting brand messaging will benefit you.
It can be a great idea to try some online writing classes to upskill before you start copywriting as a career. You can practice by creating a portfolio of mock articles, social media captions, or advertising messaging, which can also come in handy when you start pitching to clients.
Attention to detail is essential for copywriting – you need to be able to think clearly and hone in on each word. Sometimes the key to great copywriting is using as few words as possible to get a message across, which requires great attention to detail when choosing each word.
When writing long-form pieces of copy such as blog posts, attention to detail can also mean having an eye for facts. Ensuring that all the information is accurate and that sources are shown correctly when necessary is essential for a successful blog submission.
It’s also important to have the ability to look for typos, formatting mistakes, and more. When submitting a piece of work, the client will appreciate the attention to detail and, at the same time, will notice if a piece is rushed and full of mistakes.
Networking is a key skill for becoming a successful copywriter. Not only does networking open up career opportunities and client building, but it also allows you to connect with other copywriters to share experiences and learn from each other. If you’re considering starting your own copywriting business, networking is a great way to get a head start on building a network of copywriting clients.
Whether you’re working as a freelance writer, content writer, or in advertising – creativity is the key to success as a copywriter. Clients look for good copywriters who can think outside the box and bring a unique perspective to their writing. This is particularly useful for ad campaigns, landing page writing, and social media. If you can think creatively and pitch concepts that will engage consumers in your client’s product or service, you’ll become a valuable resource and bring irreplaceable skills to the table.
Proofreading is a vital skill that will help you become a successful copywriter. No matter the type of copy you’re creating, if it’s submitted to the client with typos, spelling mistakes, or grammatical errors, it can be hard to win back the client’s trust. Downloading a grammar checker such as Grammarly can be a great way to improve your proofreading skills and enhance your copy before submitting it.
Examples of Great Copywriting
Oatly is one of the most quirky and creative brands flooding the marketing world with their tongue-in-cheek humor. Most recently, Oatly launched a marketing campaign to promote their “Spam by Oatly” newsletter.
It’s a hilariously to-the-point and self-deprecating piece of copywriting that informs the audience of exactly what they’re going to get while relating to the consumer on a personal level. The simplistic nature of this copywriting, “Spam,” is a great example of how copywriting can be complex, creative, and simple.
Landing page copywriting is a popular kind of copywriting that generates regular income for many freelance writers. The concept of landing pages is to instantly show users what they can get from the website, who the company is, and why they should use the services.
A great example of landing page copywriting is Wix. When clicking on their website, you’ll be welcomed by the phrase “The Leader in Website Creation – Start Now.”.” This clear statement tells the reader exactly what Wix does, conveys the confident and helpful tone of the brand, and encourages the user to begin creating their own website today.
Social media is one of the most important ways for brands to connect with their audience. Copywriters can work with brands to write social media post captions for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. One great example of social media post copywriting is Starbucks’ Instagram. A recent caption states, “All your cinnamon, caramel, and creamy cold foam wishes come true. ✨🤩 The new Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew.”
This caption is relatable, cute, friendly, and speaks directly to the audience without sounding overly sales-y. Starbucks is an established brand that doesn’t need to boast of generating sales. The goal is to build and maintain positive relationships with its customers. Take a look at the language used and feel the tone of the caption – this is what great copywriting is all about.
How To Become a Copywriter
Now you know the basics of copywriting, here’s a step-by-step guide to getting you started on your new career path. Check out our tips for good copywriting and take the first step to becoming a professional skilled copywriter.
Step 1. Read Great Copywriting Books
As a new copywriter, reading books is a great way to develop your skills and learn from experts. Unlike other kinds of writing, like creative fiction, copywriting isn’t taught in typical writing classes. So, it’s up to copywriters to find resources and seek advice from experts that will grow their skills.
There are many great copywriting books on the market that you can read to learn from top-tier copywriters. These books often contain popular copywriting formulae and advice for novices. If you’re a new copywriter, start with Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy is another good choice.
Step 2. Take a Copywriting Course
If you still want to take an online writing course, the American Writer and Artist’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting is a good choice. The course includes interactive ebooks (PDFs), interviews, and short audio and video lessons. It covers everything from finding clients and determining what rates to charge. The course heavily emphasizes long-form sales letters, although lessons apply to other formats too.
Step 3. Hone Your Writing Skills
A copywriter always strives to improve their ability to communicate the benefits of a product or service through the written word. Copywriting is a talent, and finding your style is essential before beginning to write professionally. Whether you are writing long-form or short-form copy, knowing your audience and practicing catering to different clients is essential.
One benefit of pursuing a copywriting career is that you don’t need formal education before beginning. Many clients value experience and portfolios above degrees and qualifications. This means you can become a professional copywriter through content writing, freelance writing, and different copywriting work. Hone your skills by picking up freelance work where possible, and practice, practice, practice!
Alongside great writing books, read popular psychology books so you can master the art of persuasive writing. Start with Influence by Robert Caldini and Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. You can also listen to podcasts to upskill your writing. Try Become A Writer Today to learn about writing, creative career progression, and business mindset!
Step 4. Study Grammar
A good writer studies the fundamentals of grammar by reading grammar books. That way, they better understand when to follow or break a grammar rule. Excellent copywriting requires excellent grammar and attention to detail. A misplaced comma or incorrect use of “there,” “their,” or “they’re” can completely ruin a great piece of writing.
Nailing the basic grammar rules and proofreading your work before submitting it is essential when providing copywriting services to clients. Check any white papers, applications, tests, and pieces for grammar errors and typos, and use a good grammar checker, like Hemingway Editor.
Step 5. Learn the Basics of SEO and A/B Testing
As a copywriter, it’s essential to have some basic knowledge of search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is the practice of using keywords and structure to rank a piece of writing, such as a blog post, at the top of the search results page on Google.
More highly paid copywriters understand Google Analytics and how to run practical A/B tests on their copy and on behalf of clients. These are technical skills outside the written word but worth acquiring if you intend to write copy online. CXL offers several recommended courses in Google Analytics and SEO.
They’re also comfortable working with other professionals in different disciplines like design and SEO. Even if you’re not a designer, speaking the language of design is still important as it complements compelling copy. You might also be interested in our guide on how to become a technical writer.
Step 6. Pick a Niche
If you’re starting as a freelance copywriter, pitch for copywriting jobs across industries so you can gain more experience. This approach will help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses. It’s a good idea to become a specific type of copywriter. Examples include:
- An E-commerce copywriter
- An email copywriter
- A sales page copywriter
- A direct mail copywriter
Senior and highly-paid copywriters also focus on one industry or niche. This way, they only have to keep up with trends within one industry rather than many. And they can acquire referrals more easily. Examples of profitable niches include:
- B2B Technology
- Personal development
- Food & Drink
- Beauty & Skincare
- Travel & Tourism
Step 7. Build a Swipe File
Effective copywriters study what works. They often save clippings of excellent copy into a swipe file and refer to proven copywriting formulae. In other words, they only write a sales page or product description from scratch each time. Create your swipe file using tools like Evernote, Dropbox, Google Sheets, or a dedicated email account. Add items like:
- Sales letters and pages you like that convert
- Effective product descriptions
- Email funnels and sequences
- Hero banners and headlines
- Direct email
Your chosen industry and format determine what goes into this swipe file. As a copywriter, I regularly saved sales pages, product descriptions, and popular headline formats from my client’s competitors.
Step 8. Set Up a Copywriting Website
Setting up a website is relatively easy these days. Add your website to Google My Business and explain your services on the homepage. Provide potential clients with a way of contacting you. That way, you’re more likely to attract inquiries from interested local businesses. When you acquire testimonials, add them to your site too.
If you have the time and inclination, you could also go one step further and write SEO-optimized articles related to copywriting and publish case studies about your work. This type of content should perform well on social media, too, increasing your website traffic. Consider your personal branding, too – do you talk about copywriting consistently across your social media channels? Is your headshot clear and professional?
Step 9. Browse Freelancing Platforms
There are many freelancing platforms that copywriters can use to find work. Freelancing is a great option for aspiring copywriters looking to build their portfolio before applying to jobs or for working with a more flexible schedule than the typical corporate job. Some of the best freelancing sites include UpWork, Fiverr, Contently, LinkedIn, and Writer Access.
Utilizing freelancing sites is a great way to line up work as a copywriter, as you can apply to any job listed on the job board. Often, clients reach out to freelancers to request writing which is an excellent way to build a portfolio, up your income, and create good client relationships.
Freelancing is also a great way to increase your monthly income as a copywriter. Whether you’re employed in the copywriting industry, or a different profession, copywriting as a side hustle can be very rewarding both financially and creatively.
Step 10. Apply for Jobs
After completing the necessary steps to become a copywriter, such as learning the craft and honing your talents, it’s time to apply for jobs. One of the most common ways to find job openings is by searching online job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. These job boards allow you to search for copywriting jobs based on job title, working hours, location, and industry.
However, if you enjoyed freelancing while gaining experience, it’s more than adequate to continue a career in copywriting without applying for a job. Copywriters can earn a full-time salary while freelancing, but it isn’t for everyone due to the uncertainty and additional administrative tasks such as applying for copywriting gigs.
Networking with industry professionals is a great way to learn about job opportunities. Attend conferences, workshops, and other events to meet other copywriters and potential employers. Joining an online networking community is a great way to connect and scout out potential opportunities for work.
Step 11. Work for an Agency
Content marketing agencies regularly employ copywriters to produce their clients’ articles, ebooks, and guides. Although these jobs typically don’t pay well and involve long hours, they’re a great way of gaining experience rapidly. Working with an agency also means you’ll spend a lot of time in the company of other writers and an editor. Feedback from these people will improve your copywriting skills rapidly.
Step 12. Work as an In-house Copywriter
After gaining a few years of experience or enough testimonials, consider applying for a copywriting job at a bigger company. It’ll pay more and offer some job security. You’ll also work with other professionals, like an art director or a product marketer.
These vacancies usually appear on traditional writing jobs websites and services like Flexjobs. Employers sometimes give these roles different terms, like content strategist or content writer. Although, you probably have enough skills to do both.
Step 13. Take on a Few Clients at A Discount
A copywriting portfolio is an excellent way of attracting jobs from high-paying clients. If you’re an aspiring copywriter without a portfolio, you don’t necessarily have to write for free. Instead, find potential clients online who need a better-written copy on their website.
Critique this copy and send over suggestions or a writing sample. Propose fixing these issues for a modest fee and a testimonial. Even if they don’t reply, this process will help you study the market and overcome what most writers fear: rejection.
Step 14. Build Your Reputation with Reviews
Gaining a reputation as a copywriter will solidify your position in the industry and increase your likelihood of success. A great way to do this is by asking clients for reviews, which you can publish on your website or social media. Many copywriters choose to share their projects and reviews on LinkedIn to generate conversation and encourage new opportunities.
Step 15. Increase Your Rates
Once you’ve built your experience and developed a strong portfolio of work or gathered essential work experience, it’s time to consider raising your rates or asking for a raise. Whether you are employed or freelancing, it’s important to ensure that your pay compensates you for your skills and value.
For freelancers, you can begin increasing your rates whenever you feel ready. It’s important to do this gradually and communicate the change with clients in advance so that they are aware of the timeline. Don’t feel pressured to raise rates drastically – choose a price that feels good for you but is also fair for the client.
Be prepared to negotiate. This is a very common technique used when freelancing, where the client and freelancer come to a mutual agreement on a new price that works for them both. It’s important to set your rates based on your value as a copywriter, and it’s always okay to walk away from clients not willing to pay a fair price.
For employed copywriters, as you gain experience and knowledge in your workplace, your value increases as an employee. Recognizing your value and asking for a raise when appropriate is important. There are many great self-help books that can boost your confidence before asking for a raise. Remember to always ask for what you’re worth, this can drastically improve your job satisfaction.
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