Careers for Creatives: Copywriting

Isabella Baldoni, Fundraising Co-Manager and Fiction and Drama Panelist 

There is one question that plagues English majors, writers, or anyone who displays even a spark of creative proclivity, one question that berates them at every family gathering, reunion with old friends, or encounter with a STEM major.

How are you going to get a job after you graduate?

Ah, yes. The elusive concept of future plans. Non-creatives often have an image in their head of the expired aspiring author, living with eight other failed authors in a studio loft, and they delicately ask seemingly rude and intrusive questions about your future plans out of pure concern. They wonder what, in such a data-driven world, you could possibly do with a creative mindset/useless liberal arts degree.

Well, I encourage you to tell them, with a smug smile and flipped middle finger, that demand for the creative type is actually on the rise. Positions looking for skilled writers pay as much (or more) than those your jerk engineering roommate will be looking for, and result in higher job satisfaction. There are tons of them out there for those who know where to look, and I’m here to tell you about one of them: copywriting.

What It Is

Copywriters are one half of the essential creative team in charge of designing promotional content (TV ads, social media content, etc). They work with an art director, usually in an ad agency, to to create every aspect of a campaign;from the script of a commercial, to the wording of a website, every letter needs to be chosen thoughtfully for maximum impact. Good copy is the glue that holds all marketing efforts together, and ad agencies need excellent writers to make it happen. As a copywriter, you’ll deal in words and ideas,take a basic concept and present it a hundred different ways just to see what clicks.

What It’s Like

Copywriters’ main tool of the trade is their laptop, so you could make a career out of copywriting anywhere.

You could be a copywriter on the moon if you really needed to be.

However, while freelance copywriting is cool, most will freelance as a side gig while they pull a 9 to 5 at a marketing firm or ad agency. In an agency setting, you’ll be paired up with an art director who you’ll work with to conceptualize every detail of a potential campaign. Your days will be spent working with your partner in crime poring over the English language, making key decisions that can change the face of a brand. At the height of your career, you’ll be working on high-profile campaigns generating the next big idea, seeing your words on billboards and in commercials. Working at prolific ad agencies will have you surrounded with some of the most creative people you’ll ever meet, and life will be as fast-paced as it gets. Expect to make around $60,000 a year (not including all of the awesome perks that come with #agencylife).

“You could be a copywriter on the moon if you really needed to be.”

How To Get It

Not gonna lie,creative positions (like copywriting) are some of the most difficult to get in the advertising world. You’ll be competing against some of the best minds in the industry for even entry-level jobs and internships, so job hunting as a copywriter is not for the faint of heart. Start by developing a killer portfolio;try freelancing on minor projects to start, or take a portfolio building class to work on mock projects for high-profile clients. Agencies expect to see a portfolio with every application, so this part is key. Once you’ve served as part of the creative team for some projects, build a website to showcase them. This is the easy part,there are tons of website builders out there that can make you a stunning website on the cheap. The only thing left to do once your portfolio is set is to apply for internships and jobs.The wait here can be tough, but if your portfolio is strong, it won’t be long before you’ve landed a sweet job at a top agency.
Deciding what to do with your creative spark after graduation can be a long, winding journey; but contrary to popular belief, there are tons of options to consider when you’re English-inclined. Copywriting is only one of many paths you can take, but can be incredibly rewarding if it’s your calling. Interested in making a career out of it? Try building your portfolio through pro-bono work or freelance projects.

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