5 of the best copywriting certificate programs - Copify

5 of the best copywriting certificate programs

So you want to be a copywriter. You dream of writing the next big slogan that will stand the test of time. Or perhaps you’re convinced you’re a well of untapped creative talent?

While it’s great to have aspirations, do you have experience? Without many published words to your name, it can be difficult to pique the interest of many a hiring manager. That’s where a copywriting certification can help add backbone to your passion and skill for writing.

Do I need to take a copywriting certificate program?

The great news is that consulting firm McKinsey recently cited content creation as one of the most in-demand skills. In fact, the report suggests that demand for digital marketing professionals such as copywriters is actually outstripping supply. That means now is a great time to get into copywriting.

However, when searching for a freelance writer, those just starting out soon discover it’s hard to get noticed. That’s because there are already plenty of established freelance content writers out there, and once a client finds one they’re happy with, they often choose to stick with them.

At the same time as there are always new copywriters, however, there are always new businesses being created who need fresh, inspired and well-written content. The reality is you need to build up your portfolio and your profile in order to sustain a living salary from copywriting. But you also need to know how and where to look for clients. A copywriting course can help with all these aspects of freelancing and give your application the edge, should you choose to apply for in-house writing positions.

What will I learn on a copywriting program?

A copywriting program will introduce you to a range of aspects of content creation, including:

  • Web content
  • Blogging
  • Ad content
  • Advertorials
  • Press releases
  • Writing headlines
  • Brochure and flyer content
  • Social media content

 

5 of the best copywriting certificate programs
Esther Vargas (Flickr)

You’ll also learn industry specifics such as:

  • Copywriting and publishing terminology
  • Legal aspects
  • How to establish a freelance copywriting career

The best copywriting certificate programs

If you’ve decided you want to bolster your passion for writing with a qualification, we’ve reviewed some of the best online copywriting certification programs. This is what we found:

1. Blackford Centre for Copywriting

This comprehensive accredited course from the Blackford Centre for Copywriting is one of the most renowned online copywriting certificate programs. Containing 21 modules, you’ll study everything from writing copy for the web, pamphlets, and brochures to writing content for social media and newsletters, as well as press releases. You’ll also gain insight into the technical side of being a copywriter, such as how to manage your finances, find online and offline clients, and set up your website. It’s flexible too, so you can complete it in your own time.

The great thing about this program is that it is kept up to date, helping copywriting students get to grips with the rising influence of Google and SEO, including a module on writing pay-per-click ads that convert. The end of each module will feature either an optional, self-assessed or tutor-market assignment to keep your progress on track. Learning materials are vast and comprise written text, 6 hours of videos, free books and a host of other support and guidance.

There’s also the option to lower the cost of the course by choosing an online-only version as opposed to receiving printed materials. Blackford promises you to earn the cost of your course within 90 days of completing or you’re entitled to your money back. (If you’re wondering about the catch, you would have to return all materials and give up your certification.)

Cost: £698/$1166 (£578/$1046 online only materials)*

2. American Writers & Artists Inc

Billing itself as ‘The world’s most popular copywriting course’, it’s hard to turn down the titular promise of the AWAI’s ‘Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting’ course. This course aims to teach you the trade secrets of writing lucrative copy, particularly the art of crafting persuasive ad letters, and will help you establish yourself as a practicing copywriter.

You’ll build up a portfolio throughout the course and your work will be assessed by the program’s Board of Copy Advisors, comprising some of the most influential and successful content marketers in the US. In fact, this is often known as the Michael Masterson copywriting course since the hugely successful and talented copywriter is one of its principal authors.

Another interesting aspect of the AWAI program is that each year every writer on the program can take the ‘$10,000 challenge’ to win a contract worth $10,000. It also comes with a 100% money-back guarantee if you change your mind.

Cost: $497*

3. The Writer’s Bureau

If you’re brand-new to copywriting, this copywriting course from The Writer’s Bureau is a good introduction. You’ll learn in your own time from home, like the other online courses, and you’ll also benefit from a 15-day free trial. That means if this course isn’t for you, there’s no obligation to buy.

Expect to gain the opportunity to write all kinds of content, from writing sales letters to advertisement copy for radio, TV, online and print, as well as PR copy. You’ll get your assignments marked by a personal tutor and will even be entitled to a refund if you don’t get your grade within a fixed time.

Cost: Contact The Writer’s Bureau for details

4. Success Works

If you work as a copywriter and wish to up your game with a focus on B2B and/or SEO content, Success Works could be for you. Begun over 17 years ago, Success Works was the original agency to specialize in SEO. They are also the founders of the first SEO Copywriting Certification program, established way back in 2010, and have since added the B2B SEO Copywriting Certification and Turn Content Into Cash programs to their offering.

The course is available online and is self-directed over three months, focusing on honing your skill writing for the web and social media. Modules look at keyword research, writing copy that converts, and measuring your success. Materials include videos, exercises, and workbooks as well as training calls with the founder and SEO experts twice each month.

What’s more, the course has endorsements from huge companies and organizations such as Marriott Hotels, AWAI, and Dow Jones, and according to their website, 96.6% of their graduates would recommend it to a friend.

Cost: SEO Copywriting Certification program $995/$390 per month (over three months)

5. Copyblogger Authority

Copyblogger was established in 2006 and is now known as Rainmaker. It’s a content marketing company offering free educational eBooks through the My Copyblogger section of their website. However, they also offer the Authority program for members, which is a great way to learn advanced content marketing from a professional company that uses its marketing techniques every day.

Authority is not a traditional study route and is more geared towards those who know the basics of copywriting and are perhaps already working in digital marketing or own a small business. It will help freelance copywriters looking to go pro, however, by providing the resources and insights to learn quality content marketing strategies.

There are tutorial sessions, Q&As, a forum and training events – plus, they regularly introduce new features for members to keep your skills fresh. While Copyblogger Authority is a membership program, for an additional cost you can become a Copyblogger Certified Content Marketer (for which coursework will be required). You can also take a 30-day trial with no obligation.

Cost: Membership $595 per year/$55 per month*

Is a copywriting certificate program worth it?

Most copywriting certificate programs incur a cost of some kind, whether that’s for the materials or the end exam/certificate. You must also factor in the costs to you in terms of the time taken to study the learning materials, complete assignments and practice your skill.

5 of the best copywriting certificate programs
Pictures of Money (Flickr)

Nevertheless, for many, it’s the ideal way to set them apart from other new copywriters who may have a passion for writing but lack the industry knowledge. Copywriting programs might also provide other perks, such as offering students and graduates writing opportunities, allowing access to a community of other copywriters and professionals, and granting discounts on learning materials or resources you might need, such as accounting software and web design packages to help you get started.

Many find a copywriting certificate program to be a great way to advance their skills, but others are happy to spend more time working their way up through offering discounted or free content and taking local or voluntary jobs to earn their stripes. Therefore, it’s up to you to weigh up whether a copywriting certificate would benefit your career.

Become a copywriter today

Whether you do or don’t choose to study a copywriting course, you’ll want to gain writing experience to help you establish a career in copywriting. Luckily, Copify can help you cut your teeth in a notoriously competitive industry. Find out how to become a copywriter the easy way today.

*Prices correct at time of publishing

 

Image credit: CollegeDegrees360, ‘Student’

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How to write the perfect copywriting brief

How to create the perfect copywriting brief template

Do you have a blog post, homepage content or a series of product descriptions you need writing? Before your freelance writer can put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard – you’re going to need to create a brief. Thankfully, we’ve put together some simple tips on how to write the perfect copywriting brief.

What is a good copywriting brief?

In a nutshell, a good brief tells your writer everything they need to know about:

• Your company
• Your product or service
• Your audience and how you talk to them
• What you need producing

Signs of a good copywriting brief are:

• Lots of detail
• Examples, such as links to your website or product photos
• The agreement of certain contractual aspects

The benefits of a good copywriting brief

Some freelance writers charge by the hour, others by each round of amends, so it saves you money (and time) if you can get your finished piece spot on the first time around. That’s where the perfect copywriting brief comes in.

As copywriter Emma Cownley states, “Even if not all the information ends up in the final piece, the more we know, the better our creative response will be.”

How to write the perfect copywriting brief template
Ken Teegardin (www.seniorliving.org)

In essence: when your writer knows exactly what you want to communicate to your reader, they’re well equipped to provide you with the content that engages, informs and above all converts.

Ultimately, according to Forbes, “the test of a good creative brief: if the editor, client, or company leader looks at the finished piece and says, ‘This is exactly what we wanted!’ the creative brief is a smashing success.”

Tips and template for a perfect copywriting brief

If you came here looking for a copywriting brief template, you’re in luck. Below we speed through what to include in your freelance writing brief:

Project detail

Type of content

First things first, tell the writer what you want to be written. Is it an article, a blog post, a piece of web content, or a bunch of product or category page descriptions for your e-commerce site?

Length

You may have a strict 500-word limit or be willing to let a copywriter run with it. Always state whether this will impact payment.

Subject

Now, what is it about? Perhaps the subject is fashion if you need to promote your new range of womenswear, or health if you want to add insight to a medical surgery blog. If you need a piece of content to pitch higher than general readership, mention if you’d prefer a copywriter with industry-specific knowledge.

Project context

Is this part of a larger project – have you already produced similar content in-house or using other writers? Your writer won’t know, so state how this copywriting job fits into your overall content marketing campaign and provide examples where necessary. Also, don’t forget to tell them where this piece of content will appear.

Company information

Getting your company ethos and tone of voice right comes down to the writer understanding as much as they can about you. Let them know if you’re a start-up, if you’re rebranding in a particular area or if you have a niche. How do you communicate with your customers? Are you humorous, personal and friendly, or professional and formal?

Audience

Any information you can supply about your customer demographic will help. This includes data you’ve pulled or customer profiles you might have produced as part of your business or marketing plan.

Call to action

Don’t forget the reason you want a piece of content written! Should the call to action be to link to your contact page, push customers towards taking advantage of an offer, or sign up to your newsletter?

Keywords

In the age of Google, search engine optimisation (SEO) can be the difference between making it onto page one and being lost to the recesses of the internet. Let the writer know what search terms (including any localisation or variables) you want to be included, such as ‘plumbers in Croydon’.

How to write the perfect copywriting brief template
Global Panorama (Flickr)

Images

Be aware, not all freelance copywriters offer a service for providing images of other multimedia content. Include details about what kind of image as well as quality, size and orientation you’re looking for.

The task

Here you can flesh out your concept. If you want a writer to plug a certain event, you need to provide them with the information or links to sources that can help them. Got a specific layout you want? Provide a style guide for them to follow.

Additional information

This is where you can get really specific. Any phrases you think sound awful and really don’t want your copywriter to use? Mention them here. You could also detail required formatting such as HTML, or the number of words or characters in a section (relevant if you need a meta description writing or have limited space). What about where you wish keywords to appear and keyword density? Should they include any external links?

Contractual agreements

Fee

This is the bit most copywriters are interested in: how much does this project pay? They will also want to know how they will be paid and when.

Deadline

State the time frame you need the work to be delivered by. You also need to agree with the copywriter what the situation will be regarding amends. Will you be entitled to any ‘free’ edits? Will you pay more per amend?

Signing off

All contracts need to be signed off. Include the following at the end of your brief:

• Date of writing the brief
• Name and signature of hiring company/client
• Name and signature of copywriter
• Date of agreement

How to write the perfect copywriting brief template
Perzon SEO (https://perzonseo.com/)

Who will supply the brief?

If you’re approaching a freelance copywriter, you may find they already have a copywriting brief template on their website for you to download and fill in. However, not all copywriters are prepared for this and you may need to produce your own. That’s not to say you should jump in at the deep end with a super detailed brief. Start with a speculative email and see if the writer is interested in your project before you commit to getting the details down on paper.

Doesn’t writing a copywriting brief take too much time?

When you need some content writing, you’re always going to need to provide a writer with a copywriting brief. It’s the only way to ensure you receive the end product you need while safeguarding both yourself and the writer in the process.

Australian marketing analytics company Digital Balance states that you should “make it your goal to put as much effort into writing your brief as you expect to get back from your writer.”

At the same time, use your judgement. Copywriter Liz Ernst writes about the fine line between providing enough detail to help your copywriter and writing so much that you overburden your writer – and yourself in the process. Your brief should be comprehensive but streamlined; remember, you’re hiring a writer to make your life easier, so don’t fall into the trap of practically creating the content yourself!

Of course, one way to get around the pitfalls of sourcing a freelance copywriter and having to remember all of the above is to use a copywriting agency with a set copywriting brief that you can customise. This can save you time, money and a lot of hassle.

 

Image credit: Perzon SEO ‘business office morning coffee’

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How to create a killer copywriter portfolio

As a copywriter, your portfolio is your shop window. A place you can highlight your talents and showcase your work, it’s important if you want people to see what you can do. However, many writers, whether they’re new to copywriting or not, panic when they hear the words ‘copywriter portfolio’. Although it doesn’t have to be a scary thought, collating a collection of your pieces and showcasing them for others to view and criticise can be daunting. But it’s essential if you are to prove your skills and impress your potential clients. That’s why we’re sharing our tips to make sure your copywriter portfolio stands out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

Choosing your portfolio pieces

The top myth when creating a portfolio is that you have to include everything you have ever written. However, this simply isn’t true. A strong copywriting portfolio emphasises quality over quantity. It should be focused, lean and represent your speciality or field.

Select your best work

When it comes to copywriters, there isn’t one person who doesn’t have a piece that is close to their heart. However, when it comes to designing your killer portfolio, think about your strongest pieces, the skills required to write them, and how well your copy fits the client’s brief or industry. It’s essential you push all nostalgia to the side; your favourite piece isn’t necessarily your best.

Tam Tran (Flickr)

If you find yourself torn between a couple of pieces, consider for each who the end client was, how big their audience (and influence) is, and whether you are able to assess the performance of that particular piece of work. Was it liked and shared? Did it generate a buzz or a discussion?

Be diverse

In terms of the copy you include, we advise you choose an array of pieces to showcase your skills and talents. However, don’t just select a range of subjects, be sure to include a variety of styles too. By this, we mean a selection of blogs, press releases, articles, product descriptions, eBooks or research papers, to name just a few options. Usually, the more diverse your portfolio is, the stronger it will be.

However, if you are hoping to specialise in a specific industry, or you have specialist knowledge of a particular sector, be sure to include examples that relate to the industry in question. It’s important the pieces you select reflect the work you are applying for.

How big should your copywriter portfolio be?

Typically, the number of pieces to include in your copywriting portfolio can vary, and it generally depends on your personal preference. You may feel it is better to keep it to 8-10 quality pieces, or you may prefer to provide more options (between 20 and 30). Remember, you can easily switch pieces out of your portfolio if you feel you have something stronger later on down the line. For job applications, you should stick to a maximum of five pieces. This gives the client a good idea of your skills as a writer without boring or overwhelming them.

Make sure your work is current

Ideally, you shouldn’t include any work in your portfolio that was written over two years ago. The top pieces in your portfolio need to be what people are most likely to read, which means they need to be current and relatable.

If you aren’t sure what to include, a top tip is to create a spreadsheet of your published pieces, making sure you include titles, publication dates and relevant links. Having this for your own personal record enables you to categorise and keep track of everything you’ve accomplished.

Do you need permission?

This is a tricky question to answer, and it isn’t something many people think they even need to consider when it comes to creating their portfolio. On one hand, it’s your work. However, once a project is signed off, the copyright for the work is transferred to the client.

To be certain, we advise asking the client’s permission to showcase the work in your portfolio. This way you’ll know for definite before you begin.

Get the presentation right

It may sound odd, but getting the presentation of your copywriting portfolio right matters too. It’s also important you have both an offline and online portfolio. According to entrepreneur and blogger Julia McCoy, online copywriters are in demand. Therefore, it’s likely that the majority of your copywriting work will be for online clients, so it makes sense to have samples available on your website. It also means you can easily send a link to a potential client who asks to see your portfolio.

Perzonseo Webbyra (https://perzonseo.com)

When it comes to your presentation folder, make sure everything’s represented neatly and clearly. Use quality paper and clear wallets to keep the pages clean and to stop them from ripping. In terms of your online portfolio, make sure it is simple to navigate and access. It’s also important that the font is easy to read and that the design highlights the copy, as opposed to any images or graphics. You need to remember you are being judged for your words, not the images you’ve chosen to include. Content creator Rachel Solomon recommends the top six online content writing portfolios, including Pressfolios, Contently and About.Me.

Some great examples of successful copywriter portfolios include those by Kathryn Slater and Gari Cruze.

Keep your biography short

When it comes to writing about ourselves, we are our own worst enemies. When it comes to your portfolio, the biography should summarise what you do and the skills you have. However, it’s important to keep your integrity. Don’t get over-personal, this is about your professional abilities. Instead of revealing your age, mention how many years you’ve been writing for. If you’ve had a successful copywriting career, summarise your accomplishments by focusing on the most impressive or relevant achievements. Equally important, ensure you include your current job title as well any links to your social media profiles that represent your professional brand. LinkedIn is a great example here, but your personal Facebook page may not be a great idea.

Fact: Bad spelling and grammar, as well as clichés, won’t impress. Don’t overload on buzz words and make sure you sound confident by avoiding self-deprecation.

New to copywriting?

If you are new to copywriting and you don’t have many pieces to showcase, creating some samples is a great starting point until you gain more experience.

Create your own brief and do the work as if you were being paid by a client. It could be anything from a blog post or pages for a website, just be sure to set yourself something you know you’ll be good at. When it comes to showing the piece of work in your portfolio, make it clear it is conceptual rather than a commission. Not only does this demonstrate great initiative, but it allows you to showcase your strengths.

One final tip

Don’t shy away from creating a killer copywriter portfolio for the fear of being judged, it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase your abilities. Although one person may not like your work, there are bound to be many more that do. There’s just one final point to remember: don’t reveal your entire collection. Keeping clients intrigued by what else you can or have achieved can go a long way.

 

Image credit: Perzonseo Webbyra, ‘Businessman standing in his office’

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Work life balance tips for freelance copywriters

Work/life balance tips for freelance copywriters

In 2016 there were 2 million freelancers working in the UK – a rise of 43% during the previous eight years. But whether you’re a freelance copywriter, you work from home or you balance paid work with freelancing, trying to keep your personal and professional lives separate without the traditional office boundaries can be a challenge.

However, there are plenty of easy ways to prevent your career having a negative impact on your private life as well as your health and mental well-being, from switching up your environment to investing in a business phone number. Below we offer some work/life balance tips for freelance copywriters:

1. Manage your time

It sounds obvious but it’s one of the most difficult aspects of freelancing to master. In fact, many people in employment believe they lack the willpower to work for themselves. But whether you’re a chronic procrastinator or you tend to take on too much work, drawing up a schedule is crucial so that you don’t end up spending more time than necessary on a task.

The beauty of being a freelance content writer is that you can choose to work at a time that suits you. However, too much freedom can be a bad thing. Define the parameters of your working day and don’t overstep them. Task management platforms like Trello and DropTask are invaluable if you have to juggle a lot of jobs or crave structure. Or a simple calendar can do the trick.

If you know you tend to spend far longer than you should, ensure you set strict time limits and don’t be tempted to overstretch yourself. You might even find it helps to work on one job in the morning and another in the afternoon so that you can make steady gains while keeping your mind fresh.

2. Shake up your environment

For some, working from the confines of the home could be a recipe for going stir crazy. It’s best to try and have a designated office space, even if it’s just the corner of your living room so that you can leave it and mentally switch off when you’ve finished working.

Finding the home too distracting? Try taking your laptop to a quiet café or find a nearby coworking space. If you live in a remote area, make an effort to take a short walk or go out and grab lunch to give your mind some respite and help break up the day.

3. Keep your personal time personal

Don’t run the risk of letting your freelancing bleed into your personal life. The best way to do this is to make plans with friends and family – and stick to them! If you plan to meet your best friend in the pub, have tickets for a show or you’ve committed to a weekly exercise class, you’ll feel better knowing you have something to look forward to and for having some time away from the desk. Make sure you also schedule time for yourself, whether to work on a personal project or hobby, or simply relax with a good book.

4. Use your time well

Being a freelancer means accepting that workload ebbs and flows. Get into the habit of being smart with your time, capitalising on any fallow periods by catching up on accounts and invoices, and writing and scheduling your own blog and social media posts with a tool like Hootsuite. This means you won’t feel the need to let it encroach on your free time when you’re suddenly inundated with work. Employing an accountant or investing in accounting software is also a useful way to save yourself some time when it comes to completing your end of year tax return.

Perzon SEO 'Business woman working on laptop in her office'
Perzon SEO (Flickr)

When you’re going through a busy period, prioritise your jobs by deadline but aim to make a start on new jobs as soon as you can. Even if you that just means doing some preliminary research or getting some ideas down – it will help you feel better that you’ve made some headway when you finally get round to it and will give you chance to clarify any parts of the brief you’re not sure about before it’s too late. Also, just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the perks. Grab an early finish when you can – it will do wonders for your self-esteem!

5. Know your limits

Be realistic about how long it will take you to complete a job and be upfront with your client if you can’t complete it to deadline – or at all. It can be tempting to say yes to every job that comes your way, but you’ll only end up working longer hours which will have a knock-on effect on your personal relationships and even your health. Ultimately, you could find yourself out of work for longer if you’re beset with stress or exhaustion. Some projects might have to fall by the wayside but the client will appreciate your honesty and may even be willing to extend the deadline.

6. Make time to log out

In the gig economy, it can be tempting to stay chained to your smartphone or laptop, retweeting social media posts, checking stats, networking and hustling for work. But all of this can contribute to unnecessary strain, leaving you feeling exhausted. Make time to disconnect from the internet and your tech for at least a few hours on an evening and at weekends. Planning regular holidays or a few days away can also help refresh what may sometimes feel like a monotonous day-to-day cycle.

7. Separate your devices

If possible, buy a separate computer for personal use. This means when you’ve finished working you can put your computer to bed and won’t be reminded of what you’ve been working on, be tempted to tweak that blog post or fire off an email.

8. Get a business number

Having a separate computer might be a choice, but having a work number really isn’t. For starters, having a dedicated business number from an app like Another Number means you can choose to receive calls during your designated ‘office hours’ so that you can spend more quality time with friends and family.

Marco Verch - 'Windows Phone'
Marco Verch (Flickr)

What’s more, you can use it on your website or online business listings without compromising the privacy of your personal phone line so that you needn’t worry about nuisance calls when you’re relaxing. Just as crucial, having a work number helps manage client expectations by letting them know that just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean you can take their calls at all hours of the day.

The app allows you to have a second mobile number on your smartphone without the need for another contract or sim. It means you can continue to provide a professional service without having to carry a second phone around. Another Number also has custom ‘do not disturb’ and auto-reply messages features. Plus, when you receive a call, you know before you even pick it up whether it will be personal or business related, allowing you to take it somewhere more private if necessary.

Being a freelance copywriter doesn’t mean you need to become a victim of burnout. Get more tips to improve your work/life balance or advice on how to become a copywriter.

 

Image credit: Leticia Chamorro, ‘Time’

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