What is a copywriter?
Copywriters create compelling copy for various materials — signage, emails, social media, print, digital, and more — to promote and advertise goods and services. They also collaborate with art directors, graphic designers, digital strategists, and more to help conceive and execute new creative concepts for marketing and advertising campaigns.
Copywriters often work in-house as part of a company’s creative team at an advertising agency, serving various clients in various industries. Besides having excellent writing and communications skills, copywriters should know how to multitask several projects simultaneously and be great collaborators. They should also be able to speak to and defend the creative decisions behind their work and receive and implement feedback.
The ideal candidate for a copywriting role will be self-motivated to learn the latest tools and trends in their profession. Copywriters must also be competent researchers and problem solvers, always looking for fresh ways to connect with the consumer.
Duties and responsibilities
The primary responsibilities of a copywriter involve creating engaging and persuasive content for various mediums, including websites, advertisements, brochures, social media, and email campaigns. They work closely with clients or in-house marketing teams to understand the target audience, brand voice, and objectives. They then develop compelling messages that effectively communicate the brand’s value proposition, drive sales, and increase brand awareness.
Copywriters are responsible for researching, writing, editing, and proofreading content to ensure it is accurate, well-structured, and error-free. They may also be involved in developing content strategies, brainstorming creative concepts, and collaborating with graphic designers, web developers, and other team members to create visually appealing and impactful marketing materials.
In addition to creating content, copywriters must stay up-to-date with industry trends, consumer behavior, and best practices in marketing, advertising, and search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure their work remains relevant and practical.
Copywriters can work in various settings, including advertising agencies, in-house marketing departments, or as freelancers. They typically work in office environments, but remote work opportunities are increasingly common, allowing copywriters to work from home or elsewhere.
Collaboration with other team members, such as graphic designers, marketing managers, and account executives, is a regular part of a copywriter’s work environment. Many copywriters will also freelance, allowing more flexibility in their hours and environment.
Typical work hours
Copywriters generally work full-time, with their work hours often adhering to the standard 40-hour workweek. However, due to project deadlines and the role’s demands, they may occasionally work early mornings, evenings, or weekends to complete assignments or meet client expectations. Freelance copywriters have more flexibility in setting their work hours but may also need to accommodate client schedules and deadlines.
How to become a copywriter
In order to become a copywriter, you will need a combination of education, training, and experience. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:
Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree (optional)
While a bachelor’s degree is only sometimes required to become a copywriter, having one in a relevant field such as English, journalism, communications, or marketing can be beneficial. These programs can provide a foundation in writing, grammar, and storytelling and exposure to various writing styles and formats.
Step 2: Develop strong writing skills
Copywriters must have excellent writing skills, including grammar, punctuation, and style. To develop these skills, practice writing regularly, take writing courses or workshops, and read widely to expose yourself to different writing styles. It’s also essential to familiarize yourself with copywriting principles, such as writing persuasive headlines, creating a strong call-to-action, and understanding target audiences.
Step 3: Build a diverse portfolio
A strong portfolio is essential to showcase your writing skills and versatility as a copywriter. Create a collection of your best writing samples in various formats, such as blog posts, articles, social media content, and advertising copy. If you’re just starting, consider writing spec ads (samples for non-existent products) or offering your services to non-profits or small businesses to gain experience.
Step 4: Gain experience in different industries
Copywriters often work in various industries, so gaining experience in different fields can be beneficial. This may involve writing about different topics, working in-house for a company, or freelancing for multiple clients. By diversifying your experience, you demonstrate adaptability and the ability to write for different audiences.
Step 5: Take courses specific to copywriting
Some incredible online courses are available for copywriting and specific aspects of the job. Continuing your education will boost your career prospects and update you on the latest strategies. Here are a few recommendations:
- Coursera offers a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization course. You’ll learn to complete a competitive analysis on a website and analyze data to see which content performs the best. It also covers collaboration with influencers to boost content.
- Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content is a course that covers all the information you need to make something go viral. Learn the key ideas behind viral marketing. Boost your influence and use the power of social networks to spread information and get your content in front of more people.
- Take The Complete Copywriting Course: Write to Sell Like a Pro from Udemy. This course covers all the basics of writing and creating compelling content. You’ll get a sales psychology to help you grow a profitable business and some of the best hacks and secrets from successful copywriters.
Step 6: Consider specializing in a niche or pursuing advanced education
As your career progresses, you may specialize in a specific niche, such as healthcare, technology, or finance. This specialization can help you stand out as an expert and command higher rates for your work. Additionally, you may consider pursuing advanced education, such as a master’s degree in marketing or communications, or obtaining professional certification, such as the American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.
How much do copywriters make?
There are many variables that go into determining how much a copywriter makes, from company size to experience to education just to name a few. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top-paying places of employment and specific industries for copywriters are (shown in annual mean salary):
- Advertising, public relations, and related services: $77,570
- Software publishers: $75,450
- Motion picture and video industries: $73,860
- Radio and television broadcasting: $63,960
- Management of companies and enterprises: $63,940
The top-paying states for copywriters to work in are (shown in annual mean salary):
- California: $86,420
- New York: $80,300
- District of Columbia: $77,770
- Massachusetts: $75,160
- Washington: $74,880
The average national salary for a copywriter is:
Types of copywriters
The field of copywriting offers a diverse range of specializations, allowing you to align your career with your specific interests and skill sets. This section will delve into various types of copywriters, highlighting their unique roles and areas of expertise.
Advertising copywriters create compelling and persuasive content for various advertising campaigns, including print ads, television commercials, radio spots, and online banner ads. They work closely with creative directors, art directors, and other team members to develop powerful messaging that resonates with the target audience.
Content copywriters focus on producing engaging and informative content for websites, blogs, social media platforms, and other digital channels. Their work typically includes articles, blog posts, social media updates, and email newsletters. Content copywriters often collaborate with marketing teams to ensure their writing aligns with a company’s brand voice and objectives.
Technical copywriters specialize in creating content for technical products, services, or industries. They possess a strong understanding of complex topics and are skilled at simplifying technical concepts and jargon for a broader audience. Technical copywriters may create user manuals, product descriptions, white papers, or technical articles.
SEO (search engine optimization) copywriters craft content designed to rank well on search engines, driving organic traffic to websites and other digital platforms. They strategically integrate keywords and phrases into their writing while also focusing on creating high-quality, user-friendly content that appeals to readers.
Direct response copywriter
Direct response copywriters create content to elicit immediate action from the reader, such as purchasing, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting more information. They often work on sales letters, email campaigns, landing pages, and other marketing materials that require persuasive and action-oriented writing.
Social media copywriter
Social media copywriters specialize in writing for various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They create engaging and shareable content, from catchy headlines and captions to longer-form posts, while adhering to each platform’s unique character limits, style, and best practices.
Scriptwriter (copywriter for video)
In copywriting, scriptwriters are responsible for creating compelling scripts for video content. This can include promotional videos, explainer videos, product demonstrations, or educational content. They work closely with video producers and directors to ensure their writing effectively conveys the desired message and tone.
Top skills for copywriters
The top skills for a copywriter include excellent writing skills, creativity, attention to detail, research skills, time management, and the ability to work with deadlines.
As a copywriter, you will create written content for various mediums such as websites, social media, and print. Therefore, having excellent writing skills is crucial. You should write clearly, concisely, and engagingly to capture the target audience’s attention and effectively communicate the desired message.
Creativity is another essential skill for a copywriter. To stand out from the competition and keep the target audience engaged, you should develop new ideas and approaches to content creation.
Attention to detail is critical in copywriting to ensure the content is error-free, factually accurate, and grammatically correct. You should meticulously edit and proofread your work to meet the desired quality standards.
Research skills are also crucial for a copywriter to create accurate, relevant, and informative content. You must be able to research different topics and use the information you gather to construct engaging content.
Time management is another critical skill for a copywriter. Meeting deadlines and delivering high-quality work consistently requires effective time management.
Finally, the ability to work with deadlines is vital in copywriting. Prioritizing tasks and managing your time are crucial in delivering work within agreed-upon deadlines.
Looking for a new job?
Browse our national database of copywriter job openings and apply today
The career path of a copywriter typically involves several years of work experience in marketing, advertising, or a related field. Aspiring copywriters usually have a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, marketing, or a related field, although some employers may accept candidates with equivalent work experience.
Entry-level positions in marketing or advertising may include roles such as marketing coordinator or advertising assistant. Aspiring copywriters can gain experience and develop their skills in these roles before advancing to more senior positions, such as copywriter or senior copywriter. In these roles, they are responsible for developing creative and compelling copy for various marketing and advertising campaigns, such as website content, social media posts, print ads, and email newsletters.
With further experience and demonstrated leadership skills, copywriters can progress into management positions, such as creative director or chief marketing officer, overseeing multiple copywriting teams and managing the organization’s overall marketing and advertising strategy.
Similar job titles
Position trends and outlook
As the lines between social and traditional media disappear, copywriters will continue to master new forms of communication. Curating user-generated content, and writing the supporting social media campaign copy, will become as associated with copywriting as crafting snappy ad headlines.
The copywriter profession is influenced by various trends and factors, such as changes in consumer behavior and advancements in technology, specifically artificial intelligence. These trends impact the job outlook and market dynamics for copywriters.
Changes in consumer behavior are an essential factor in the copywriter profession. As consumers become more focused on personalization, authenticity, and social responsibility, the demand for copywriting strategies that cater to these preferences may increase. Copywriters must adapt to changes in consumer behavior and develop compelling messaging that resonates with target audiences.
The importance of technology is also a key trend in the copywriting profession. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence and natural language processing, have transformed how copywriters create content. Copywriters must be able to stay current with these technologies and continuously develop their skills to remain competitive in the job market and provide effective content solutions.
Employment projections for copywriters
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for writers and authors, which includes copywriters, is projected to decline by 2% from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations. This decline is attributed to the increasing use of technology to automate content creation and outsourcing content creation to freelancers and international writers.
To succeed in this evolving field, copywriters should stay current with consumer behavior and technology changes, adapt to the market’s changing needs, and continuously develop their writing, messaging, diversity, and inclusion skills. Building a solid network of industry professionals and collaborating with other businesses can also be crucial for success in the competitive copywriting industry.
Copywriter career tips
Develop a strong writing portfolio
Building a solid writing portfolio is critical for copywriters. This includes writing samples demonstrating your skills in different types of copywriting, such as website copy, social media posts, email marketing, and advertising copy. A strong writing portfolio can help you showcase your skills to potential clients or employers.
Stay informed about marketing trends and best practices
Staying up-to-date with marketing trends and best practices is essential to succeed as a copywriter. This includes staying informed about new advertising platforms, social media algorithms, and search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Additionally, participating in continuing education and professional development programs can help you stay current with marketing trends and best practices.
Develop a professional network
Networking is essential for copywriters. Joining professional associations and attending networking events can help you expand your professional network and stay informed about marketing trends and best practices. Here are some professional associations and networks to consider:
- American Writers and Artists Inc. (AWAI)
- Advertising Association
- Content Marketing Association (CMA)
- Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
- Freelancers Union
To succeed as a copywriter, learning and improving your skills is essential. This includes seeking mentorship opportunities, participating in continuing education and professional development programs, and staying informed about marketing trends and best practices. Additionally, seeking feedback from clients and colleagues can help identify areas for improvement and promote continuous learning.
Where the jobs are
- New York
- Publishing and media
- Financial services
What are some effective strategies for researching and understanding a target audience as a copywriter?
Practical strategies for researching and understanding a target audience as a copywriter include conducting surveys, focus groups, and interviews and analyzing data and trends related to the target audience’s demographics, behaviors, and preferences. Additionally, researching and analyzing competitor content and strategies can inform and refine content that effectively engages and resonates with the target audience.
How important are creativity and originality for a copywriter?
Creativity and originality are essential for a copywriter, as they enable copywriters to develop content that stands out from the competition and effectively engages and resonates with the target audience. Additionally, copywriters must communicate complex ideas and messages clearly, concisely, and compellingly.
What are some common challenges that copywriters face in their roles?
Copywriters face challenges that include managing tight deadlines and multiple projects simultaneously, staying up-to-date with evolving marketing trends and best practices, and creating content that effectively communicates the desired message and resonates with the target audience. Additionally, copywriters may need to work closely with other creative professionals and stakeholders to develop content that effectively meets organizational goals and objectives.
How important is collaboration with designers and other creative professionals for a copywriter?
Collaboration with designers and other creative professionals is vital for a copywriter. It enables them to develop content that effectively communicates the desired message and is visually appealing and engaging. Additionally, effective collaboration can help to identify potential areas for improvement or optimization and support the development of cohesive and impactful marketing strategies.
What are some effective strategies for managing writer’s block as a copywriter?
Helpful strategies for managing writer’s block as a copywriter include taking breaks when necessary, engaging in creative activities such as reading or brainstorming, and seeking inspiration from other sources such as competitor content or industry trends. Additionally, establishing a routine and setting achievable goals can maintain momentum and minimize the risk of writer’s block.
How important are adaptability and flexibility for a copywriter?
Adaptability and flexibility are essential for a copywriter, as the marketing landscape and audience preferences can change quickly and frequently. Copywriters must adapt to changing trends and preferences and the needs and feedback of stakeholders and team members. Additionally, staying up-to-date with new technologies and platforms can help to ensure that content is effectively optimized for the target audience and channels.
How can a copywriter create compelling headlines and calls to action?
Practical strategies for writing compelling headlines and calls to action as a copywriter include using clear and concise language, focusing on the benefits or value proposition of the product or service, and using action-oriented language that encourages the reader to take a specific action. Additionally, using emotional language and appealing to the reader’s emotions and desires can help to increase engagement and response rates. It’s also essential to test different headlines and calls to action to identify which are most effective in driving conversions and achieving marketing goals. Copywriters may use A/B testing, focus groups, or other research methods to evaluate the effectiveness of different headlines and call to action.
Do copywriters need to know SEO?
It is not necessary for copywriters to be experts in SEO, but understanding SEO principles can help them create more effective and impactful content. In order to improve the visibility and relevancy of their content in search engine results, copywriters need to be familiar with keyword research, on-page optimization, meta descriptions, and alt tags.
How do I find freelance copywriting work?
Finding freelance copywriting work can be done in several ways. You can use freelance job platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr. Employers can post job opportunities on these platforms, and you can create a profile to apply for jobs that match your skills and experience. Furthermore, job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn feature freelance copywriting jobs. There are also niche-specific websites that can help you find employment related to your field, such as Mediabistro, which is geared towards media and publishing, or Contena, which focuses on writing and blogging.