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by Nick Usborne
To those who already know, there is no mystery to what a copywriter does for a living. But if you're at the early stage of thinking about writing for a living and want to know what a copywriter does, and what opportunities there are for copywriters, this article is for you.
A copywriter is the person who writes the words for any advertisement you see in a newspaper or magazine.
Copywriters write the words on billboards and flyers. They write the words on coupons and catalogs.
Copywriters wrote the direct mail package that came through your letterbox. They wrote those fundraising requests you receive.
Copywriters are also busy working away at promoting products and services you probably have little to do with. In addition to writing promotional text for consumer products, copywriters are also behind the words on all that business-to-business advertising material. They write the ads promoting electronic parts to auto manufacturers. They write the letters that promote accounting services to Fortune 500 companies. They are paid by pharmaceutical companies to write ads and brochures aimed at physicians.
The list is endless. Wherever there is something being sold, there is a copywriter somewhere being paid to write the sales and advertising materials.
How can you make a living as a copywriter?
You can make money as a copywriter in three main ways.
First, you can find employment as a copywriter with an advertising agency. It's not easy to get this kind of job, but if it's what you want, go for it. The advantage of working for an agency is that you get to work on a variety of clients and will learn a great deal from all the other people involved.
Second, you can work within the advertising department of a company. Many companies decide to do some or all of their advertising work themselves, instead of outsourcing to an ad agency. If you look hard, you'll probably find it easier to find a job with a company ad department than with an agency.
Third, you can choose to be a freelance copywriter. This involves working from a home office and promoting your services to anyone and everyone who will give you work. As you get more successful, you'll be able to pick and choose your clients. Is this a good way to go? It depends a lot on your ambitions and temperament. Working from home and having to look for new work, month after month is not for everyone. But others positively thrive on it.
Myself, I have worked in ad agencies and as a freelance copywriter. For most of the last twenty years I have been a freelancer. It suits my character and has fitted well with my family circumstances. In addition to which, I have always made more money as a freelancer than I did as a copywriter in an ad agency.
Is copywriting a good job?
I may be biased, but I think it's a great job. The pay is good and the work is varied and usually interesting.
What's the best area to get into?
Good question, because there are dozens of difference specialties among copywriters. The honest answer to this question is to say that the best area is the area that appeals to your interests and abilities the most.
If you have a genuine interest in health and alternative health care, you're in luck.
Both mainstream medical companies and alternative health companies pay big fees to good copywriters.
If you are interested in the world of finance and investment, top copywriters in that field can charge a great deal.
Surprisingly, perhaps, another hot area for copywriters is the fundraising market.
You might think that non-profits would pay less, but they don't. They depend on great copywriting to raise the money they need, so they pay well for good work.
Also you have a wide choice of media - you can write for TV, for radio, for print or for direct mail.
Where's the money? There is money in all of those specialties. But one very hot area is direct mail. That's the area in which I have made a lot of money over the years. Direct marketing companies will always pay well for well-written letters, ads and other direct response materials.
And if you want to work from home as a freelance copywriter, you'll find it a lot easier finding direct mail work than, say, TV work.
In a way, this is an article with no end. I could go on for pages and pages about being a copywriter. I guess that's what my other articles are for! In the meantime, I hope this has helped clarify the job description of a copywriter and some of the opportunities that are available.
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