A copywriter is a professional who writes advertising and promotional copy to sell products and services. Writers are generally part of a creative team that includes an art director or designer. Together they come up with the ideas that become TV spots, banner ads, packaging, email campaigns, outdoor billboards and other promotional messaging. Copywriters present their work to their creative directors -- copywriters or art directors with supervisory responsibilities -- and clients, incorporate feedback and make any changes, and work with production companies and other creative professionals to help bring their ideas to life. Copywriters work on staff for advertising agencies, design firms and companies, as well as independently as freelancers.
I always liked to write, but fell in love with radio and worked at a radio station right after college. After realizing I needed a steadier income, I got a job at an ad agency in New York City working in the Research Department. When my boss told me he was leaving, he asked me what department I'd like to work in. I said creative, because they seemed to have the most fun. It was very unusual at the time to get a job as a copywriter without a portfolio.
A typical day can involve presentations, writing alone, collaborating with an art director, going off site to do radio or TV production, even flying to a location for a TV shoot.
Someone in the advertising world once said, "You're only as good as your last ad." There's a lot of pressure on creative teams to come up with the next great idea. Another hard thing is when you love an idea and think it's really good for your client, but the client doesn't like it, so it never gets produced.
Seeing a great idea get produced and yes, winning awards for my work. Working with incredibly talented people. Being able to work with celebrities.
Very informal, unless clients are stopping by or you're going to a meeting at their offices. Many creative agencies have foosball tables and other quirky accoutrements that make the environment fun and conducive to idea generation.
Copywriters bring different experiences and backgrounds to the job. Some have associate’s degrees, some never graduated from college, and others have master’s degrees. Whatever path you choose, make sure it gives you the opportunity to hone your writing skills. Start a blog. Team up with a design friend and do ads for local businesses while you’re still in school to get experience and samples to include in your portfolio. A portfolio is a must-have. This used to mean carrying around an oversized folio or “book” filled with hand drawn or printed ads. Thanks to the web, a digital portfolio is not only helpful, it’s expected. You’ll need a website that features the ads you’ve written. Writers just starting out create spec ads, or ads they make up for real clients. Or, if you’ve done ads for local businesses as mentioned above, the good ones should go in your portfolio. Internships during college are ideal. Consider all types of companies, not just creative agencies, like the so-called in-house advertising departments of larger corporations. Get experience making presentations to groups of 10 or more. Be confident and ready to defend your ideas. There's a lot of rejection in this business, so you need to be ready to learn from those experiences.
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