what education is needed to become a writer - copify

What education is needed to become a writer?

If you’re considering becoming a writer, you need to first accept that there is a lot of competition in this industry, and you will need to be on the top of your game to make a good living. This is not designed to put you off, but more to make you aware that those who do become successful have put in the time and learnt the necessary qualifications. Here is a helpful overview of what being a writer actually entails, and what education is needed to become a writer.

What does a writer do?

A writer’s job is to communicate a variety of concepts through the written word. Writers can take on many forms, they can explain concepts with simple straightforward instructions, they can entertain with dramatic or humorous stories in scripts and novels, or even persuade you to purchase a product with a witty copy in advertising.

The great thing about writing is that it’s transferable. All you need is a laptop and internet access, then you can work wherever you desire. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately two-thirds of all writers are self-employed, but there are still many who work in-house for companies and marketing agencies.

What education is needed to become a writer?

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A writer’s educational requirements vary on the type of writing they do. Below we will discuss a variety of writing ‘genres’ and techniques along with their corresponding education requirements.

Regardless of what type of professional writer you wish to become, you should develop strong computer skills as most writers do research on the internet as a fundamental part of their work and submit and send their work via email.

Creative writing

To pursue a career in creative writing you will first need to be a creative person. Creative writing can see you writing long fiction novels, witty poems to short stories. Creative writers send their writing to various editors in the hope of publication and remuneration; however, there are opportunities out there for ghost writing.

If you want to freelance with creative writing then technically no educational background is necessary, beyond that of spelling and grammar taught in high school. However, if you want to write creatively for a company, you will need excellent written English skills and you will find it beneficial if you have a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, English or liberal arts. You can also practice your writing by writing every day to perfect the craft, or you could undertake a marketing course available in colleges to help sell your work.

Copywriters

Copywriters use their writing to advertise a product or service and to persuade customers to buy that product or service. If you decide to freelance write then you will usually need some sort of writing experience and be educated to a degree standard. If you are aiming for a fixed position within a company, then those positions usually require a bachelor’s degree in marketing, advertising, business or liberal arts. However, if you have a degree in another subject, a copywriter training course can help you move into this sector.

If you are short on experience, you can write for charities, or community projects to increase your skills. The higher the education and experience, then the higher the career progression. Copywriters can become ‘copy chiefs’ or supervisors who coordinate the work of others.

Technical writers

Technical writers are those who develop technical guides such as quick-start sheets, operations guides or any other style of documentation that is designed to help the general population understand how to use a particular service, machine or product. The education required for this type of writing is typically a bachelor’s degree in English, communications, or of course, technical writing. Some employers may require you to have a major in a ‘technical’ subject such as engineering, medicine or computers or equivalent experience.

Journalists

what education is needed to become a writer - copify 2

Journalists or reporters write stories to explain important events or happenings. This can range from local news, national news or international news. It can also vary depending on genre. For example, fashion journalists will write stories based on trends, runway shows, entertainment news etc, whereas political journalists have a pure focus on an area of politics.

The education required for this type of writing is typically a bachelor’s degree in either communications, English or journalism. However, employers also accept degrees from other areas of study if applicants have related work experience. Remember, communication skills are just as important as writing skills in a journalism role as a high proportion of your writing will come directly from interviews.

Experience is key

To succeed in any role of writing, your experience is just as important as your education. You need to build up a strong portfolio in the style of writing you most enjoy. Experience can be gained through a variety of platforms, including writing for free as a guest blogger on a variety of websites; interning in a local newspaper or magazine; or writing for a non-profit organization.

Regardless of whether you’re just beginning as a writer or you are a professional, you should always be looking for ways to improve your writing skills, find employment and connect with other writers. Professional associations are a great resource for doing this and some brilliant organizations that support writers include The American Society of Journalists and Authors, National Writers Association and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

More than a degree…

what education is needed to become a writer - copify

Along with possessing the skills of written English, in today’s world, writers need to have a well-rounded skill set to be successful. This includes impeccable language skills in all forms of grammar, written, reading and word usage, digital media skills including the knowledge of basic HTML, CSS, and search engine optimisation and diligence so that writers can check their work for errors, accuracy and overall quality. These skills can be taught and improved online via online courses.

After reading this, it is probably best to jot down what qualifications and experience you currently hold as a writer. Next, identify what necessary qualifications and skills you will need to hold in order to reach your intended position. After that, it’s a not-so-simple case of matching the two up and filling in any necessary requirements. Just remember, it’s never too late to learn a new skill and going back to college or university, or indeed studying a new qualification in your spare time, should be viewed as a step forward, not a step back.

Main image credit: Visha Angelova
Image credits: Michael D BeckwithEsther VargasTayloright

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how to begin a blog post - copify

An expert guide on how to begin a blog post

Are you tired of reading this blog post already?

Hopefully not, though a surprisingly large number of people decide to switch off from a post, after having barely read the introduction.

The reason for this is that the introductions are poorly structured and don’t offer a compelling reason to keep reading. Since you’re here, there’s a good chance you’ve suffered this problem in your own writing and are fed up with people giving your posts the cold shoulder.

Well, it’s time to change all that, and give you a rundown of exactly how to begin a blog post.

What goes into a great blog post introduction?

how to begin a blog post - copifyRegardless of the exact style you write in or what purpose your post has, there are 3 key elements you should look to include in any great introduction. These are:

1. The hook

The hook is usually just one line or shorter, and hooks the reader’s attention, giving them a desire to read the next line.

2. The transition

The transition is what ties the hook into the rest of the post, and leads the reader nicely onto the purpose of why you are writing.

3. The thesis

The thesis is where you summarise the topic that you have decided to discuss, and then give the reader a reason to keep reading.

7 top suggestions on how to start a blog post

When you see it like that, writing a great blog introduction may seem simple and straightforward. Well, most of the time it’s not.

Being able to write great introductions takes time, practice and creativity. But luckily, there are a number of different methods you can use to help give you a helping hand in the right direction.

Here are 7 such methods you can use to start writing killer introductions.

1. Ask a thought-provoking question

If ever you are asked a direct question in any format, you can’t help but think of an answer. This rule applies to the written word, which makes it a useful tool in the copywriter’s toolbox.

Simply think of a relevant yet interesting question and use it to start your post. The reader will immediately wonder why you thought to ask such a question and be hooked into reading more.

Sometimes the easiest way is to get the bulk of your article down first and craft your intro last. That way you can begin with an attention-grabbing question based on a reference you make later in your post.

how to begin a blog post 3 - copify2. Share a shocking fact

Whenever you pick up a newspaper, what’s the first thing you’ll see on the cover? That’s right, some sort of shocking headline.

That’s because the shock factor causes people to stop and actually want to pick up and read the paper. You can apply the same logic by starting your post with a relevant but surprising statistic regarding the issue you wish to discuss in your post.

3. Write against the status quo

Being different is a great way to get noticed, and is a way you can hook the reader’s attention. If you begin your blog post with a crazy thought or unconventional idea you believe in, then the reader may be interested enough to hear the rest of your argument.

Obviously, you don’t want to start writing outrageous statements just for the sake of it, but if relevant don’t be afraid of holding back or offering a different perspective from the status quo.

4. Tell the reader something personal

Your hook is essentially you trying to build an immediate connection between you and the reader. Sharing with them something personal about yourself is a way to immediately give life and personality to your words.

A statement like “I was recently told I have 3 weeks to live”, is a powerful way to immediately set the tone and become intimate with the writer. As you can imagine, this tactic should only be used in certain circumstances, but don’t worry, you don’t always have to be quite that personal.

5. Start with a question somebody asked you

If you are an authority in your niche with any kind of readership, you could use questions you receive as a means to start your posts. It quickly demonstrates that people are asking you for advice and that what you’re saying is worth listening to.

Better yet, you want to try and use thought-provoking or insightful questions to best hook their attention. For example, “Somebody recently asked me, do you think it’s worth mortgaging my house to buy Bitcoin?” It introduces the topic and leads the post off with an interesting topic of discussion. If you’re stuck for other questions to raise around your field of expertise, Answer The Public is a good resource.

6. Share a story of your successhow to begin a blog post 2 - copify

If people are reading your post because the title suggests you will answer a question they desperately need an answer to, then why not start with a success story? It immediately validates that you know what you are talking about, and can genuinely empathise with the issue they are facing.

This is similar to the point above and is best used when you do have some sort of readership or are imparting some form of expertise that you have built up over time. Better yet, it works well for readers who already know who you are, as well as those who’ve never heard of you before.

7. Get to the point

This technique applies to almost all aspects of your writing, and it is especially useful to do in your introductions. Rather than lead into a long and tedious description as to why you are writing about the topic, just tell them.

It doesn’t need to be as basic as “here is your problem, and here’s what you should do”, but should be along those lines in terms of honesty and forthrightness. People will appreciate the genuine help, without all the waffle.

Rounding off

Hopefully, now, you have a much firmer understanding of how to begin a blog post. The great thing about writing is that everyone and anyone has the ability to get better and improve their abilities.

Taking some time to understand the science behind a great introduction will help you with all future posts you write. If you’re stuck for inspiration, just pick one of the 7 suggestions above and get writing.

After some trial and error, you will quickly identify a few techniques that work best for you. Then, once you hit publish, just sit back and watch your fan base flourish.

Got any other tips on how to begin a blog post? Share them in the comments below.

 

Main image credit: Derrick Austinson
Image credits: David BleasdaleBenson Kuaimanka

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Learn from the best 6 examples of good copywriting

Learn from the best: 6 examples of good copywriting

A great copywriter has a firm understanding of the target audience they are writing for, and how they should best style their text. They also understand that the sort of copy they write will depend largely on the format in which it is presented. What this means is that there is no straightforward answer for how to write the best copy, as it depends entirely upon who will be reading it and under what circumstances it is needed. So, to help give you a thorough understanding of what constitutes good copywriting, here are some examples taken from a number of different uses.

Landing page

The landing page is an integral part of any website as it needs to quickly draw the visitor in and give them a reason to keep exploring your site. The text needs to demonstrate your brand and very concisely lend enough information to intrigue them and leave them wanting more.

Grammarly

Grammarly isn’t just a great tool for writers, it’s also an excellent example of crafting landing page copy that creates a sense of need. First and foremost it adheres to the first rule of sales writing by putting the reader at the heart of the content, with an emphasis on ‘you’ and ‘your’ over ‘us’ and ‘we’. The content also leads with the benefits (saving users from committing grammatical faux pas) and emphasises its USP as going ‘beyond the basic spell check’, being able to be integrated into a range of other services.

Along with a strong, snappy active voice, Grammarly’s offering is compounded by a reference to its team of leading linguistic authorities and testimonials from high-profile users. All this culminates in the solid call to action to ‘join more than 10 million happy Grammarly Chrome users today’…for free. On top of that, its design uses graphics to progress the argument and highlight how the product works without the user having to take any action such as clicking on a video.

FAQs

One of the most important parts of any website’s copy is the FAQ section. Before making a purchase, most customers will visit the FAQ as it summarises the important aspects of what they are about to purchases, and answers any crucial questions. All answers need to be concise, professional and to properly address any concerns the customer has.

Card Against Humanity - Examples of good copywriting

Card Against Humanity

Card Against Humanity is perhaps one of the greatest examples of a site that knows their customer to a tee and used that knowledge to target their prose in a unique and humorous way. Their FAQ section is perhaps the best example of this, whereby all answers are in some way comical, and at least a little offensive. It may not suit everyone’s taste, but it certainly suits that of their customers.

Social media

Social media is a powerful tool that any business can use to build a following of loyal customers and it’s no surprise that many organisations now turn to professional copywriters for their posts. Here is an example of good copywriting from a company that is leading the way in great corporate social media.

Innocent

Innocent are well renowned for their strong performance on social media. They post regularly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and often combine powerful imagery with simple two-line quotes. They continuously find a way to be humorous and young, and they have used this great copywriting ability to accumulate millions of followers across all accounts. Check out their reply to a fan’s comment, they even put witty thought into seemingly pointless responses.

About page

Much of the time, you will land on a website via Google or from a link someone sent you and you simply want to find out more about who created the site and why. In such a case, great copy from “about” pages are able to demonstrate not so much what you do, but why you do it and why people should trust what you have to say.

MAG - examples of good copywriting

MAG

MAG (Mines Advisory Group) have a mission to save the lives of innocent people who live in war-torn areas where mines are still a huge risk to their daily lives. This section of their about page helps to paint a very vivid story about the risks that people face. The copy is clear and to the point, but really touches your heart by drawing out the fears that such people face every day. In just one page of text, you understand what MAG do, and you are left wondering how you can get involved and help out.

Product descriptions

Getting people to view what you have to sell is just one part of the battle. The other part is convincing them that what you are offering is worth paying for and will bring them added value. This is where compelling product descriptions come in.

Brew Dog

Brew Dog produces speciality craft beers that they claim are above and beyond all the typical bar lagers and ales. To catch their readers’ attention and show that what they offer is unique, they have clearly put great care into each one of their product descriptions. Every item sounds rebellious and interesting and any craft beer lover would be keen to give one a try.

Blogs

Captivating blogs that appeal to your audience are a fantastic way of staying in touch with your readers and offering added value after a purchase. They are also great for attracting new audiences via SEO, and great copy is vital in showing you offer quality content and making them want to learn more about you.

The Blonde Abroad - examples of good copywriting

The Blonde Abroad

One of the best examples of good copywriting comes from The Blonde Abroad who is a female travel blogger. Within the last 5 years, she has managed to build one of the most popular travel blogs in the world. Getting to the top of such a competitive niche means understanding your audience and providing useful, interesting information in a clear manner. Such great blogs mean more people follow her on social media, which in turn means she has a greater reach the next time she writes and publishes a post. Kiersten puts much of her success down to having found her voice and a way of speaking that resonated with her intended audience.

These examples of good copywriting demonstrate the power of great text, used for a number of different purposes. If after reading this you’ve decided your site could do with some updating, or that you need help finding the “voice” of your site, it may be time to hire a professional copywriter. Great copy has the power to display your brand in a far more positive light and can attract a lot more customers than boring straightforward text possibly could. Copify offers copywriting services for all manner of different needs, so get started by viewing what’s on offer here.

 

Main image credit: JoanDragonfly
Screenshot credits: Card Against Humanity, MAG, The Blonde Abroad

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Freelance writing opportunities for beginners

6 freelance writing opportunities for beginners

Becoming a full-time freelance writer is proving to be an increasingly popular career choice for people all around the globe and, at least from the outside, it can look like a pretty cosy job to have. But, in reality, many people fail to succeed or give up along the way because of the difficulty in finding freelance writing opportunities for beginners.

With so much competition for work, it can be difficult to make yourself stand out and to secure clients that are willing to pay you what you know yourself to be worth. Well, the good thing is that plenty of people do succeed and that there is an abundance of opportunities available for budding freelancers looking to gain greater independence and pursue their passions. To overcome those initial first steps and to get your career off to a strong start, here are 6 of the best ways to find freelance writing opportunities as a beginner.

1. Guest post

There’s a reason that guest posting appears first on this list and it’s certainly not because it will start paying your bills from the outset. In actual fact, guest posting is something that you should actively seek and be willing to do for free – even when you’ve ‘made it’ as a full-time writer.

Though it doesn’t bring in money straight away, it offers you the chance to hone your skills as a writer and to get your name and work out in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. In turn, being a popular guest writer gives you more things to add to your portfolio and allows you to reach more potential clients than you can in other ways.

2. Speak to friends and relatives

Freelance writing opportunities for beginners

Unless your inner circle of friends work for major publications, it’s unlikely they will land you the dream writing job you desire. However, you may be able to pick up some smaller pieces of work to keep you going. Also, by letting everyone know that you are looking for writing work, they can recommend you to their friends and anyone they feel might need your services.

At the start, try and be open-minded and take on even minor writing roles, such as freshening up someone’s CV or a covering letter for a job they are applying for.

3. Join a copywriting service

Many businesses want to find top quality copywriters but don’t have the time or patience to post endless job requirements or sift through resumes. In turn, they use popular copywriting services like Copify.

To join, you don’t necessarily need the greatest amount of experience, but you do need to pass some test articles to make sure your writing skills are to the right standard. If you do get accepted, you get the chance to write about a wide number of topics that excite you and give you a breadth of real-world copywriting experience.

4. Join job boards and freelance marketplaces

Freelance writing opportunities for beginners

Another popular route for businesses to find copywriters is by posting job listings on job boards or in freelance marketplaces.

In recent years these have become quite overcrowded and it can be hard to make yourself stand out. But, if you’re willing to work for low amounts to start and to then build up reviews, they may prove a great way to find opportunities that are available and find long-term clients.

Here are some places to get started:

Upwork
Freelancer
Guru
Blogging Pro
All Freelance Writing
Problogger
Student Gems

Note that many of these services aren’t free or may require you to pay a monthly subscription to apply to any more than just a few postings each month.

5. The freelancing community

To be successful from the outset, you need to become a part of the freelancing community. For starters, there is a wealth of information available helping you to become a better writer. Beyond that, it’s a great way to find new and intriguing ways to find jobs and to even have work referred to you.

Say, for example, you build great relations with a writer who is in the marketing industry who receives a request from a client to produce some work relating to health and fitness. If they really have no idea on the topic but know that you do, or if they are flooded with jobs, it is likely they could refer your services instead.

6. Cold pitching

Freelance writing opportunities for beginners

Of course, the ideal freelance writing opportunity for beginners is getting your own long-term clients on board. Finding clients that have a need for a writer is one of the hardest parts and that’s why many turn to jobs boards. But to really exploit all opportunities, you should start cold pitching potential clients.

Cold pitching is by no means easy and most people simply give up after sending out 1,000 emails to various businesses and not getting any feedback in return. The problem isn’t that businesses aren’t looking for writers, the problem lies in how writers choose to approach them. Here are some rules to follow:

  • Don’t send out a mass blanket email to as many email addresses as you can get your hands on. Instead, send emails only targeted to businesses that actually centre around your chosen topic.
  • Don’t send the same email to all of your chosen businesses. An email that has simply been copied and pasted is easy to spot and will rarely get a response; instead, make each email personalised in some way.
  • Don’t go straight in for the sell. In your first email, try to gauge their interest and highlight what you offer and why it could benefit them specifically.
  • Don’t pitch the wrong stuff. Make sure you scan their website to check out what kind of content they publish, see if they have writer guidelines and how they like submissions to be made. Many websites and publications also post calls for submissions on their blog and social media profiles so be sure to follow them – even if just to familiarise yourself with their content and tone of voice.

Cold pitching will take effort and will require you to be patient and not let the “no’s” get to you. However, have a strategy to make it easier. Decide how many and what publications you are going to target over a specific time period and with what ideas to make it easier to track. You’ll also know which ones to follow up on if you haven’t heard back.

Never underestimate the importance of planning and perseverance

As stated throughout this article, finding the ideal freelance writing opportunities for beginners is not an easy process nor is it something that can be achieved overnight. Instead, invest time into planning out a few strategic avenues, focus on achieving small goals and set yourself regular deadlines. Over time, you should start to see results, and if not, then employ more tactics and techniques, such as building one-to-one conversations with key influencers and developing a skill or knowledge in a niche area of copywriting, until you get the results you need.

 

Main image credit: Ritesh Nayak
Image credits: David Swiftwww.Pixel.la Free Stock PhotosAlena Vinokurova/Strelka Institute

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