copy writer or copywriter what's it like to get paid to write (2)

Whether you’re a copy writer or copywriter: what’s it like to get paid to write?

Whether you call the role a copy writer or copywriter, you’re essentially referring to the same thing in the end. It’s generally meant to be one word – like firefighter – and essentially it’s the title of anyone who turns ideas and words into campaigns, marketing material and compelling copy.

Through words, you are able to sell an idea, brand or ideology to people, delivering valuable content while also developing a personality for your brand and introducing them to whatever concept or idea you want them to learn more about.

Sometimes copy is written with the intention of boosting SEO (also known as ‘search engine optimisation’) and enables you to ensure Google is also reading your words in the best possible way.

For some, becoming a copywriter is a natural progression. Maybe you’ve taken a job in marketing or PR and it’s one of the requirements of your role. Perhaps you’ve fallen into it from another job role, or maybe you studied language as part of your degree or college training and it’s led you to write for a living.

For some, writing is undertaken alongside other work. Even some of the biggest names in fiction had to pay the bills; Stephen King started off as a janitor, Harper Lee was an airlines reservation attendant, Douglas Adams was a bodyguard, Sophie Kinsella was a financial journalist, Nicholas Sparks sold dental products and Agatha Christie was an apothecaries’ assistant.

One copywriter’s journey

copy writer or copywriter what's it like to get paid to write (4)

My own background involved becoming a copywriter through studying, first for an English degree, followed by an English Masters. Writing was always in my blood, even from a young age. However, I never fully knew what I wanted to do with it.

Like many who have a passion for writing, as a young child I’d idealised becoming the next J.K. Rowling – but it seemed such a long and arduous journey writing hefty novels with only a limited chance of success. Plus, as I got older, I had less inclination to sit and write lengthy prose. That took me into the mindset of journalism, constantly pitching different articles that I wanted to write for print and online. As I started to do this, I honed my craft and learnt more about what people wanted to read and how it ought to be written. I got better as a writer, but still – it wasn’t particularly rewarding financially. You can’t pay your bills with a by-line. No one is going to get their electric covered thanks to ‘exposure’.

Another problem is that, nowadays, every man and his dog sees themselves as a writer thanks to social platforms giving us all a voice online. The challenge is, not everyone can write, and therefore while it may seem easy (after all, most us know how to put letters together correctly), doing it well is truly a trade of its own and a profession that only those who are trained and experienced can fully master.

The multiple lessons of copywriting

It was from this that I tripped into copywriting and, from starting just over a year ago, I’ve not stopped – with just under 700 articles under my belt. I’ve learnt a huge amount in this time, from the hundreds of different topics I have covered as a writer. I’ve learnt so much information I never knew I could be interested in, and covered such a vast expanse of subject matter. Every day truly has been different as a result.

copy writer or copywriter what's it like to get paid to writeI’ve also developed my ability to type and think quickly. To know how to craft the perfect article or sentence within a matter of minutes, sometimes almost subconsciously, so in tune is my brain with the job role. It’s cliche to say, but certainly true when people claim ‘practice makes perfect’. It really does – the more you type and the more you write, the more natural and second nature it becomes.

As a copywriter, you also develop the ability to understand how businesses operate, what they are seeking to achieve, and how the work you’re doing fits into the larger marketing picture. I thought I understood SEO before I became a copywriter, but this all developed substantially after beginning. Likewise, I didn’t realise just how important blogging is for a business, and how many were willing to work with a copywriter or ghost writer to ensure their business was saying what needed to be said in the best possible way. Suddenly I realised people truly valued these skills.

Even the best writers have learnt key lessons. As Neil Gaiman once said, “Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.”

And, as Tara Moss commented, “Write. Start writing today. Start writing right now. Don’t write it right, just write it – and then make it right later. Give yourself the mental freedom to enjoy the process, because the process of writing is a long one. Be wary of “writing rules” and advice. Do it your way.”

A rewarding career

copy writer or copywriter what's it like to get paid to write (3)Copywriting has been thoroughly rewarding, and whatever you call yourself in the end – copy writer or copywriter – the outcome is always going to be positive.

Sure, it’s a lot of hard work and isn’t easy to constantly challenge yourself with new topics or new businesses that already have a developed house style. Writing can be very subjective and there are going to be times when you don’t get it right first time around. You are doing a job for an individual or business working to a copywriting brief, so it isn’t just about what you like the sound of (as can be the case with other types of writing). It needs to serve a clear purpose, have a strong and cohesive tone of voice, and align with their brand and house style. If it’s a fun and hip brand, they won’t want anything too corporate. You need to be able to juggle different types of writing with various audiences and interests.

However, it will all be worth it. You will eventually become a much better editor, and therefore far more skilled and adept writer, as a result – and this can only stand you in good stead as time goes on.

For those looking to develop their copywriting skills, there are three ways of doing so – one is practice, the second is research (i.e. reading lots of blogs, articles, etc, on the topic of copywriting and those written by copywriters), and the third is taking a copywriting training course to learn more about what is required and develop your skills. People like to see a portfolio of work so whatever you do, make sure you keep writing – and have a record of everything you’ve done.

Finally, good luck – enjoy the ride! You never know where it’s going to take you…

In the meantime, why not find out more about whether you’re copy writing or copywriting?


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6 fantastic copywriting schools - copify

6 fantastic copywriting schools

When starting a career as a copywriter, you may be seeking out additional training to hone your skills. This makes perfect sense as it is a competitive industry in which extra qualifications can seriously help you to stand out. However, it can be hard to tell which courses are the best to take with so many options on the market. Don’t stress – let us help you! Here are six of the best copywriting schools available…

Falmouth University, UK – Professional Writing (MA)

6 fantastic copywriting schools - copify If you are looking to expand your professional writing skills and already have a bachelor’s degree, this is a fantastic course with a diverse range of teaching areas. With a commercial focus, you will learn how to write both flexibly and effectively, but also with a business-minded approach throughout to ensure you can monetise your work.

The course is taught entirely by practising editors and writers, meaning you’ll be able to benefit from their real-world experience. You’ll be shown how to tailor your writing to fast-moving, competitive markets in a range of sectors, from copywriting to non-fiction, magazine features to screenplays. It will enable you to forge a successful, viable career with the necessary ability to cope with the tough demands of writing. The course is taught through a range of assignments, live briefs, projects and essays.

Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan – Creative Advertising (MA)

Want to expand both your writing skills and cultural experiences? This international course in creative advertising is a fantastic way of getting both under your belt and means you can also learn a second language while you’re studying. The course is taught in English and is specifically aimed at students who already have a first-level academic diploma or BA degree. The course has been developed in partnership with New Zealand’s Media Design School and has a strong orientation towards teaching students about contemporary advertising.

Both experts and leading companies will challenge students through creative briefs and workshops to come up with copywriting that stands out in a competitive market. It adopts key modern advertising processes and methodologies. Students are taught best practices and will gain a strong understanding of how to incorporate strategy into writing, while also utilising consumer insight, story-telling and research. The goal is to teach students how to produce innovative advertising campaigns across a variety of media platforms. This course is largely taught through practical application and includes an intra-curricular internship for students to apply their skills.

Centennial College, Toronto – Professional Writing (Graduate Certificate)

6 fantastic copywriting schools - copify This graduate certificate in professional writing is geared towards turning students into effective, versatile communicators who can provide relevant and thoughtful content for their audience while sticking to effective project management techniques. Students are taught how to adapt their writing style to a range of professional settings and styles, which will include web copywriting, content marketing, writing for social media, digital storytelling, and speech writing.

The course gives students the chance to build a comprehensive portfolio of work, which will also include a variety of formats (i.e. newsletters, websites, brochures, presentations, etc). The training you will receive is well-rounded, allowing you to take on a variety of writing roles once you have finished the course.

London College of Communication, UK – Confident Copywriting (One-day Course)

If you want to brush up on your skills but don’t have time to take a longer programme, then this one-day copywriting course is a great way to hone your techniques and brush up on what it takes to become a copywriter. Courses run from 11am to 5pm for one day at a time in Elephant & Castle, London. You can book yourself onto a course throughout the year, with each one taking place on a different day of the week. Alternatively, you can book to study online if you can’t reach the physical location.

The course is taught by Ron Finlay, who is a respected industry expert. He will show students how to connect with customers through using words on a range of platforms, from e-mail to newsletters to social media. The course is intense and will show you the many key tricks and tools to effective copywriting. You will participate in both creative and practical exercises to learn how to write like the experts, with an understanding of what it takes to deliver fantastic copy across a range of platforms.

By the end of the course, you will be able to edit, review and improve your writing, as well as write better and faster. Time is money as a copywriter, and this can be a hugely beneficial skill. You’ll also learn how to improve your persuasive powers, and ways of applying everything you have learnt to your working life.

The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing, UK – Copywriting Courses (Short courses)

6 fantastic copywriting schools - copify 2At IDM, there is a wide variety of copywriting courses available that will help you build effective, compelling copy, no matter what the required medium is. IDM has trained more than 70,000 delegates from over 28 countries and has awarded over 1,500 different qualifications in digital marketing. They have also run in-house training programmes over 28 countries for more than 11,000 marketing professionals.

Their copywriting courses include ‘Briefing and Evaluating Creative Work’, ‘Copywriting for Digital’, ‘Copywriting for Social Media and Blogs’, ‘Copywriting: An Introduction’, ‘Writing for Content Marketing’, ‘Copywriting for Not-for-Profit’, ‘Copywriting for Web and E-mail’ and ‘Copywriting Masterclass’. These short courses are typically one to two days in length and rank in different levels of complexities. You will need to be able to attend classes in central London, which are held throughout the year.

The skills you will gain are diverse and it is important to consider before taking a course what it is you’re specifically looking to develop. This is a great way of finding your focus and enabling you to have a clear specialism. You can find out more about what you will learn, who the courses are suited to, and what pre-requisites you will need to have on the IDM website.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK – Principles of Great Copywriting (One-day Course)

This one-day copywriting course is ideal for junior or aspiring copywriters, marketing professionals or communications practitioners. It will teach you the key principles of good copywriting, offer techniques for creating compelling headlines, teach you the best practice for combining words, show you how to tailor copy for specific audiences, and help you to see the variety of challenges presented by different media.

The courses run throughout the UK, with dates available in London, Birmingham and Manchester. The course director is Phil Woodford who was previously an advertising creative director and is a skilled copywriter. He has a range of experience to share with students. Class sizes are small and will involve no more than 15 people. You can learn at three different levels – introductory, advanced and masterclass.


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How to land careers in writing professionally

How to land a career in writing professionally

It’s one thing writing the occasional blog or penning a witty anecdote on your Facebook wall, but it is an entirely different thing trying to land yourself one of the often elusive careers in writing professionally. The market has changed dramatically over the years, and what is now on offer varies significantly from what journalists of old used to face. Pitches no longer need to be sent by snail mail, articles aren’t always printed on paper, and newspapers don’t just report on the news.

Instead, the digital world has pioneered a new face for writing, giving everyone a voice and opportunity to speak. It’s no longer simply about talent, but also what audience you have and who is willing to listen. Printed magazines and newspapers are a dying breed, with much of their revenue now coming from online ad sales. So how on earth do you go about forging a professional writing career?

Build up your toolkit

Firstly, it’s definitely worth brushing up on your skills if you feel you may need them. The London School of Journalism has a wide selection of established courses available, including freelance classes and creative writing courseHow to land careers in writing professionallys. You can do these during the day, in the evenings or even via distance learning. They also run a four-week summer school each August. Their courses cover everything from media law to internet journalism and equip you with a wealth of valuable skills.

You can also train with the Press Association, and they offer courses on a wide variety of areas from news reporting to magazine journalism to sports reporting. These courses can often be challenging and stimulating, but offer everything needed to get your writing up to a professional level. They are also widely accredited, meaning employers and clients will value the training on your CV.

Get experience

It can often be a catch-22 situation for a wannabe writer – you need experience in order to build up a portfolio and put your skills to the test. However, people want to see experience in order to trust you. The best way you can get these much-needed hours under your belt is through offering your skills out for free for a period of time. This can eventually lead to clients when they find themselves impressed with your work.

Alternatively, you could sign up to freelance writing platforms such as Copify, in which the work is available for you to complete without the stress of needing to find the clients or prove your worth to them beforehand. This can really help you get a lot of work completed in a short space of time.

Know your speciality

You can be the most adept writer on the planet, but every writer will have some kind of strength. Whether they find themselves better at penning features or more savvy with advertorial copy, they’re able to focus on what thHow to land careers in writing professionallyey’re good at so they can get the most out of every pitch or opportunity. The better you are at something, the less time it takes, which means the more money you can make per hour.

It’s not to say you can’t generalise – you can. This is often best if you are looking at writing for local or regional publications. It will open up more doors for you in terms of assignment opportunities. However, if you want to become part of the ‘big’ names, having an ‘expert’ subject can be hugely valuable. People will start to know that they can come to you for a specific topic. For example, everyone knows that Martin Lewis is the man to head to for articles about finance. Robert Peston is the person for politics. Deliciously Ella is famous for her interviews about food and nutrition. Jamie Oliver talks about kids’ food a lot.

Never stop thinking of ideas

A good writer will always be on the hunt for content or article opportunities. From the people they speak with to the experiences they endure, there will always be an article waiting to be written. As a professional writer, you will need to generate a lot of ideas. As freelance writer Roger Morris notes for Writer’s Digest, “Ideas are the currency of freelancing, and the rule of thumb of needing to pitch five to 10 for every article you place is pretty on target for most of us.”c

It’ll always be easier to pitch your articles after you have built up a bit of a track history, but the more ideas you have, the better. Just make sure they are fleshed out before pitching so people don’t get bored of your name popping up with half-considered ideas. It’s not all about quantity but quality too. The more original your idea is, the better. Often editors will jump for ideas that go against the grain or feel controversial but don’t say something simply for the sake of it. You’ll always have that article to your name – don’t be trite.

Meet the editors

If you are serious about forging a professional writing career, you will need to start meeting with the people who publish your writing. It won’t be easy – they’re very busy people with very little time. However, the more you can get to know them and build a secure relationship with them, the higher the chances are that they will think of you when a writing opportunity comes knocking. Don’t be scared of them – even if they’re your writing idols.How to land careers in writing professionally

Send them an e-mail and ask if you can take them for coffee. Once you have managed to get their valuable time, find out what they look for in article pitches, what their focus areas are (so you’re not pitching the wrong subject matter to them), how they go about working with freelancers or hiring staff writers, what opportunities they have available, and what type of writing they really like.

You could also ask them about their journey and how they managed to get the job they did. Typically the road won’t have been straight, so it is always interesting to find out what turns in the road they have followed. Then, either follow up with a thank you note and your CV/portfolio, or apply for a job with them when it next becomes available. They’re far more likely to put a face to the name than if they were to get an anonymous application land on their desk.


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Image credits: Michael CoghlanDean HochmanPerzonSEO

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copywriter portfolio examples

7 creative copywriter portfolio examples

Whether you’ve never written an article or blog before in your life, or have just dipped your toe in the freelance writing waters, you’ve probably realised fairly quickly that having a killer copywriter portfolio is a necessity. With hundreds of individuals all popping up on Google or social media with the claim that they can turn words into sales and ad campaigns into hot leads, you’re fighting against tough competition. What distinguishes you against these? How do you stand out? Quite simply, it is through your creative copywriting portfolio.

Getting started

It may feel like a catch 22 situation – you need opportunities to write in order to get work, but without a portfolio, finding those opportunities is difficult. However, there are plenty of ways in which you can master this problem quite effectively.

Firstly, you can offer your services out for free initially to see if anyone would like anything written for them. This is a great way of meeting people, showcasing your skills, building an archive of samples for potential clients, and potentially even finding new clients who will want to work with you because they are so impressed with what you have done.

In a similar vein, you could also offer people a free taster before they work with you as another way of showcasing what you have to offer – a sort of ‘try before you buy’ if you like. You could also opt to take a copywriting course, where the material you produce while studying will also double up as a portfolio for once you’re completed. Alternatively, you could start writing for a site like Copify where the work is there waiting for you without you needing to go and seek it out.

However you choose to start, you may find you really want inspiration from other writers who have tackled the portfolio challenge before you. If you search on Google you will be inundated with options. From the large sites to the independent, there are plenty of ways in which copywriters have creatively demonstrated their talents to potential clients.


Although this social media platform is dictated and led by images, it is a great way of also sharing your portfolio – particularly those where your work may have accompanied striking imagery – or getting ideas for how you can present yours. Whether you type in the search bar ‘Find a copywriter’ or ‘Copywriter portfolios’, you’ll undoubtedly find a lot of results that can help you. Terri Lively is just one example where she showcases her work on other websites as well as blogs she follows. Or, if you are looking to work with a copywriter, Pinterest can lead you to the right person for you. All in all, it’s a creative way to share your work with others.7 copywriter portfolio examples


It may seem unusual to find a portfolio on Facebook – where would you even start looking? However, when we typed ‘Copywriting Portfolio’ into ours, the first person that popped up was ‘Jared Friedberg’s Copywriting Portfolio’. His clever way of using keywords in his name and description meant a writer in Toronto popped up on a feed in the UK, simply through a search term. Although Facebook is typically for socialising, more and more businesses are tuning into its marketing potential. In many respects, your page and everything you write is a portfolio in itself. If you have lots of typing errors, these will count against you if someone looking to hire you sees it.

Carbon Made

Although you will be featured alongside many other copywriters, Carbon Made is a great way of getting yourself noticed. It has a more visual feel than text but is a creative way to showcase your work. You can include both images and clear lists of who you have worked with, as well as a biography of who you are and a contact section so people can easily get in touch with you. Joshua Allen, for example, has worked with the likes of Groupon, IBM and Dell – and this can all be seen in his portfolio.

7 copywriter portfolio examples


You can find hundreds of creative copywriter portfolios on Contently. The platform has specifically been developed to showcase the work completed by writers, journalists and copywriters. You can directly link to all your projects, meaning it is very easy for people to read your work. It’s also free to use, meaning little investment on your part other than maintaining your feed. It is possible to filter by clients and include details about who you are, including a link to your website and description. Sharon Hurley Hall, for example, has written 881 projects for 81 clients so far, and Contently provides her with a fantastic place to track all of this.

Evan Benner

Evan’s website is a visually led copywriting portfolio. He clearly lists all his featured projects down the side to give a clear overview of who he has worked with. You can then see images that connect with these on the right-hand side with dates for when he completed each project. Evan’s portfolio arrived as a Google result, showing just how valuable it can be to have your own website when showcasing your portfolio.

Clare Barry

Another creative copywriting portfolio comes from Clare Barry, aka Copy Clare. Like Evan, Clare has used her personal website as a way of showcasing her work. Her presentation of her portfolio is simple but direct. Her URL title is quite striking: ‘Warning – I don’t do boring’. Then, when you land on her page, the headline is simple and to the point ‘I write down ideas for money’. Her website is an advertisement of her writing style in itself for those looking for no-nonsense content.

7 copywriter portfolio examplesShe also has a page named ‘Hire me’. Her about section is likewise witty and honest – ‘People pay me money to think of attention-grabbing ideas and fearless concepts for big named brands.’ She has a blog on her website, in which she can share her thoughts, improve her site’s SEO ranking, but also give readers a chance to get a feel for her writing and what style she adopts. Her portfolio is a mixture of images and words, showcasing how what she writes can evolve into fully designed adverts.

Stephen Marsh

Another great copywriter portfolio comes from Stephen Marsh, whose website is clear and direct – ‘Read less of what I say. See more of what I’ve done’ his headline reads. You can open his portfolio or download it as a PDF, which is a handy way of being able to make an impact with big clients who will often print off your portfolio so more than one senior team-member can take a look. He has also produced numerous case studies to detail his work, which adds a further description on each of the projects beyond just giving the final text.


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Image credits:  Terri Lively, Joshua AllenClare Barry

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