How to become a copywriter in Canada

by Nick Toner

How to become a copywriter in Canada

Many Canadians love writing, and it’s no surprise that more and more of them are turning to copywriting as a way to make some money from their passion.

Luckily for them, there are lots of opportunities in the copywriting world for those with the right mindset and a strong dash of talent. In this article, we’ll take a look at some tips on how to become a copywriter in Canada and kick-start your career.

Work on that portfolio

If you’re planning to work as a freelance copywriter, your portfolio is what matters most.

It’s what signals to potential employers that you’re talented and able, and it allows you to stand out from the crowd by showing that you’ve got experience.

Your portfolio should be a living document that you constantly adapt and update depending on the job you’re applying for.

Say you’re going for a copywriting job for a country hotel, and you have previous experience working for a province’s tourist board. Rather than send in a standard portfolio which includes all sorts of work, it’s a good idea to zero in on the tourism work and show off your relevant experience.

What’s more, a strong portfolio is one that looks the part as well. It’s well worth considering investing in your online portfolio’s design in order to make it look beautiful: while it may seem like a large upfront cost, it’s likely to pay off as time goes on.

And remember, you should always emphasise in your portfolio how your writing helped the client achieve their key commercial aims. As Ontario-based health copywriter Elise Moreau has said, investing “the time to learn about what your [client’s] business goals are so the copy…actually gets you results” is really worth doing.

Sign up with content creation sites

For many people, the idea of setting up a portfolio and tweaking it every day until you find the perfect formula to get clients just doesn’t suit.

That’s where Copify comes in. By offering qualified and talented copywriters in Canada just like you access to a large pool of work, you can kick-start your career almost straight away once you’ve applied.

Practice your craft

If you’re looking to become a copywriter in Canada, it’s vital that you make sure you stay ahead of the competition by keeping your skills up to date.

Even with the strongest portfolio or excellent experience, many work providers will still want to assess you by giving you a test piece which demonstrates to them that you are right for their clients.

That means you should always be looking to expand your range of writing skills and keep your abilities tip top, no matter what stage you are at in your career.

If you’re already working with a content production site or an agency, you can start by making sure you pick up some slightly unusual briefs that push you to the limits of your abilities.

Of course, there’s no point wasting time on something irrelevant if you’ve developed a specialist career and skill set you’re happy with – but by taking the plunge on a path that has some small element of a new challenge, you’ll be able to keep yourself on your toes and give yourself that professional edge.

And if you’re not currently working with anyone, why not keep your hand in by whipping up a test piece for a company and sending it over to them as a way of pitching your services? Even if they decline your offer, you’ll still have had a chance to practice – which is great for your professional development.

Join an agency

For those who are looking for experience in an office setting, working at an agency might be for you.

While opting for this route doesn’t always offer as much autonomy, flexibility or diversity as setting up as a freelancer, it does offer you the chance to collaborate with others on specific projects.

What’s more, it also means you’ll sometimes get to work on the non-writing side of the copywriting industry, such as meeting with clients to find out their needs and building long-term strategies for them which suit their business goals.

To do this, opting for a graduate scheme or looking on jobs boards is a great place to start. These jobs exist all across the country, although in the case of agencies it’s most common to find them in big cities like Toronto and Montreal or regional hubs like Vancouver.

And while you’re waiting to land your dream agency job, gaining experience – and earning money – at content production sites or as a freelancer is a good way to fill the time.

Don’t give up!

If you’re just starting your journey to become a copywriter in Canada, it may all seem a little daunting right now. Whether it’s portfolio building that’s scaring you or it’s simply not knowing exactly which opportunity to go for first that’s putting you off, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed as you start out.

But the best piece of advice to remember is this: don’t give up!

The beauty of the Internet is that there are always new ways to market yourself and find potential clients, and even if one door closes then another is likely to open soon for those who are willing to hone their skills and put in the time.

As the experiences of successful Canada-based copywriters like Stephen Da Cambra show, it’s definitely possible to build your own brand and a career for yourself in this field.

Main image credit: Alex Indigo

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Nick Toner

Nick Toner

I am a freelance copywriter, working with brands in the UK and beyond. I help companies produce blogs, websites, ebooks, social media content and more.