Copywriters come in all shapes and sizes, with some specialising in online content, SEO, or even technical topics. Copywriters working for advertising agencies are often some of the most creative and imaginative people in the profession, as their roles can demand more from them than the work of say a freelance web-based writer. If you’re considering becoming a copywriter or changing the area you currently specialise in but aren’t sure whether advertising is for you, then read on to find out more about this highly sought-after position.
So, what does a copywriter do at an ad agency?
No matter what kind of copywriter you are, the overall essence of your role remains the same. You’ll be producing commercial content for clients that aims to persuade audiences to use certain products or services or perform some other action. However, in an advertising agency, copywriters will work closely with art directors to develop advertising campaigns, meaning they’ll be part of the bigger picture rather than just focused on individual snippets of copy.
Tasks may include more standard copywriting activities, like producing content for leaflets and social media, but will also involve creating slogans and headlines for images, as well as scripts for both radio and TV. Because a lot of advertising involves visual elements as well as text, it’s important for copywriters in ad agencies to have a solid awareness of design and how words will look and fit on a page alongside images. Advertising copywriters may also work with buyers and media planners, making their role one that is more diverse and stretches far beyond just tapping away at a keyboard all day long.
As well as writing copy, copywriters working for an ad agency will need to edit work that clients have requested changes on and proofread content before sending it off. It’s likely that they’ll be handling more than one client at once, making the environment fast-paced and varied. Copywriters will be involved in preparing pitch concepts as well as have the chance to offer ideas and insight into project strategies.
Research will be a big part of their role, as they’ll need to thoroughly understand the audience and brand of the client before writing any copy for them. Copywriters in ad agencies may also be involved in the production side of things, overseeing the creation of the final advert or even being a presence at photo shoots or during the casting of actors.
Working hours are usually 9-5 and office-based in city centres. However, looming deadlines for important projects can extend the working day and involve some irregular hours, so copywriters need to be flexible and prepared to put in some overtime every now and again. If taking part in events like photo shoots or filming, days may run on longer than expected.
Copywriters just starting out in ad agencies can expect to earn between £20-25,000/year, with this rising to between £25-50,000 after three years of experience. Once established as a senior creative, meaning you have 10-15 years of experience, salaries can even rise to an amazing £90,000/year. Of course, for those involved in advertising campaigns that are very successful or win awards, salaries and bonuses can total an even higher amount.
Finding a job
Although becoming a copywriter can be challenging, getting work at an ad agency is even more so. Jobs in advertising are incredibly competitive, so it’s important that anyone looking to break into the industry is prepared to work for it. Luckily, there are certain steps you can take that will make this journey easier and less frustrating, as you can be sure you’re on the right track to making it.
Education: Although not essential, having a degree in advertising or related subjects will be highly beneficial when looking for a job. Whether a BA or an MA, it can really help you stand out against all the competition you’re bound to be up against. Even more general degree subjects like English are valuable, but it might be worth pursuing a marketing or advertising course alongside this to achieve a more desirable skill set.
Experience: Most copywriting hopefuls begin their journey into advertising by scoring an internship or work experience, which then leads to a full-time junior position. If you’re struggling to get your foot in the door, you can build up your experience on a freelance basis as well. All kinds of copywriting jobs are easily accessible online, meaning you should have no problem building up a portfolio of work, even if you’re not being paid very much at the beginning. Using a service like Copify is a great way to build a portfolio and get paid while you do it. Offering a whole range of different jobs, it’s easy to get started without having to worry about building an online presence and pitching to clients.
Once you’ve built up a selection of general writing, you should make sure you have some impressive examples of writing you’ve done for advertising too. You might have to do this work on a voluntary basis, offering your skills to local charities or small businesses, but will be well worth it in the end.
Networking: It’s estimated that only 30% of job vacancies are advertised, making networking one of the best ways to find employment. You can make connections with other professionals either while doing work experience or online through channels like LinkedIn. The more people you know, the more likely you are to be offered interviews or opportunities that the masses won’t have access to, meaning you’ll always be one step ahead of the competition.
Being a copywriter at an ad agency has the potential to lead to a rewarding and exciting career, but, like any kind of writing, it requires hard work and determination. If you think you’d fit in with the vibrant, creative atmosphere of the industry, begin your journey today.