If you post about networking for copywriters, I guess you’d better be prepared to actually meet with people who want to be copywriters. I’ve been going to a lot of coffees where, if you boil it down, the other person wants to know, “How do I get your job?”
So, here are my tips for getting a copywriting job. I caveat these, as I always do, by saying this is just what worked for me. There is no one way to become a copywriter, this is just how I became a copywriter.
Have a copywriting portfolio
This is step one in getting a copywriting job. You have to be able to show people that you can do the job, and for a copywriter that’s having a portfolio of work. If you don’t have a portfolio, make one. If you don’t have clients, pick some companies and make fake ads for them. You need to be able to show that you can write ads if you want a job in advertising.
Do good work
Advertising is all about the work. People need to see that you have talent and creativity before they’re going to give you a desk at their agency.
Make it better
If you’re not getting call backs or interviews, continue to work on your portfolio till you get them. Once your portfolio is good enough to get you a job, you’ll get a job. Till then, you need to keep improving your portfolio and filling it with new work.
Do a variety of work
There’s no magic number for the amount of work you should show, but personally, I want to see at least six campaigns with a few pieces each so I can get a good idea of your style, creativity, etc. I also want to see that you can work in a variety of media (web, social, radio, print, etc.) and that you can make a concept work across all of them.
Show people what you’ve made
Show your portfolio to anyone who will look at it. Listen to their feedback and incorporate it if it makes sense. Not everyone is going to have good feedback; you’ll have to separate the good from the bad. Then, show your portfolio to anyone working in advertising that will look at it, listen to their feedback and make adjustments as needed.
Treat yourself like a brand
If you want to be a copywriter, you need to be able to show that you can advertise things. Chief among them: yourself. Have a URL, make sure your messaging is consistent, stay on message when you talk about yourself to people – do all the things good brands do.
Have a niche (or two)
If you asked people, most of them would tell you that I do SEO copywriting and content strategy. I’ve cultivated that by staying on message, but I’ve also focused on those two aspects of copywriting so I could bring something to the table that other Austin, TX copywriters couldn’t.
Meet other copywriters
I know plenty of award-winning copywriters. Not because we’re the most social bunch, but because I sought them out so I had people I could look to as mentors and someone to talk shop with. When they had an opening at their agency, they already knew who I was and that we got along on a personal level. That put’s you three steps ahead of everyone else applying for that same job.
The way I broke into advertising was working eight hour days in an office then going home and working four to five hours on my copywriting portfolio. After six months of making things and six more months of making them better, I landed my first advertising agency gig. That’s when the really hard work began.
One of the hardest parts about copywriting is breaking in
We get to work in the candy and toy department of the business world. It seems like pretty much everyone wants to be a writer and/or designer. If you actually want a job where people will pay you to write all day, you have to work harder and be more creative than 98% of the world, because 98% of the world would love to take that job from you. But, if you can prove that you’ll work harder and can be more creative, you can break in.