How to become a copywriter in 3 steps

It doesn’t matter if you’re fresh out of school or changing careers, it can be challenging to break into a new field – especially creative ones. Whether you’re looking to become a conceptual copywriter at an advertising agency or you’re hoping start freelancing and getting paid writing gigs, the most important thing all copywriters need is a portfolio. Let’s start there.

Step 1: Build a Portfolio

A copywriter’s portfolio shows examples of their work. It’s important. Like more important than a resume important, because it gives potential recruiters and clients an idea of how you think and the type of stuff you write. If you don’t have a portfolio or body of work yet, you should consider starting one and read my guide on what makes a good portfolio. If you already have writing and/or conceptual samples, make sure they’re online and you have a web page featuring them. 

The type of work you feature, should ideally reflect the type of work you want to get. If you want to write blog articles, include sample posts. If you’re looking to run social copy, put up some of your most engaging campaigns. No matter what, try to show a diverse style of writing. Show something funny, something inspirational, something technical. An important part of being a copywriter is to be a chameleon not a one trick pony.

Step 2: Network

Have you ever heard the phrase, it’s not what you know, but who you know? It’s true. While your portfolio might get you an interview, your network and your social skills are what will get you the job. Networking is vastly important. If you’re looking to be an independent or freelance copywriter, you need a network who will help refer you to potential clients. If you’re looking to snag a job at an agency, the right referral will make sure your portfolio gets looked at. If you’re like me and aren’t a natural networker, follow my tips on making it easy.

Also, if you’re just starting out in the field, use that to your advantage. Find portfolios online. Join Facebook groups. Cold-contact people you’re semi-connected to on Linkedin and ask them if they’re willing to talk with you about getting into copywriting or if they know of anyone looking for a young writer. Don’t forger to also have them provide feedback on your portfolio too. 

Step 3: Be Humble.

The fact is, people want to work with people they like. If you’re a difficult to work with, don’t take criticism well or always think you know better, chances are your client isn’t going to enjoy working with you. Copywriting requires collaboration and humility. Everyone - and I mean everyone - has opinions on words, especially when it’s their business, so don’t be precious and learn how to deal with copy criticism. It pays to be nice and likable. 

When you’re just starting out, you might have identified dream clients and dream agencies. It’s great to shoot for the stars, but it’s important to also be realistic. If you have zero experience, you most likely will have a harder time getting into an elite agency, so take the best work you can get. Every job thereafter is an opportunity to make your portfolio better and expand your network. Welcome to the team, copywriter.


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