So you want to be a copywriter?

Pick up your pen. Ready, set...
Jamie Thorp
by Jamie Thorp

Forget everything you know about writing.

That’s what we told the young creatives at the UK Creative Festival – a three-day gathering of inspiration and advice for the creative community.

We (Peggy and Jamie) travelled down to the windy shores of Margate last Wednesday, where we delivered a workshop on all things copywriting at Dreamland.

The simple truth is most people don’t know what copywriting is. Which means most people don’t know there’s a job in it.

You’re probably thinking you need an English or advertising degree to get started. Nope.

It doesn’t matter what degree you have (or if you even have one). There’s no set path, career, or education you need to become a copywriter.

Here’s how to spot you might already be one.

Peggy x Jamie UKCF 2

1. You love writing, duh

Not just academically. Whether that’s blogs, captions, tweets or even Tik Tok skits. Anytime you get the chance to show off your skills with words, you grab it.

2. You love listening

Conversations. Stories. Music. You have a natural curiosity. You’re the kind of person who keeps their headphones in with nothing playing. Because you’re afraid of what you might miss out on.

3. You see an ad and think: I could’ve written that better

What if they’d made it funnier? What if they’d just added this word? And it bugs you. No worries.

This is a sign you’re on the right track. But you should probably know: it never goes away.

Sound like you?

Here are a few tips on getting your copywriting career started.

1. Write

Write. Write. Write.

Practice will always trump talent. The more you write the better you get. Then build a portfolio. With real examples. That ad that was bothering you?

  • Take a pic
  • Make a note of what bothers you about it
  • Then rewrite it

Keep going with it until you have a few of them. Try rewriting a letter you get in the post, a Youtube ad script, or a social media post from your favourite brand. Before you know it – BOOM – your first writing folio.

2. Find the kind of writing that excites you

Every brand needs words and every industry needs writers. You’re spoilt for choice. Here are a few to get you thinking.

Into big ideas and big budgets? Advertising might be for you. You get how brands and culture intersect. Maybe you think you’re a bit of a Don Draper or Peggy Olson.

In the loop? Know what it takes to go viral? Know yesterday’s lingo isn’t today’s? Social media manager might be your thing.

Or, maybe the psychology behind branding and how they keep you coming back for more keeps you ticking. Welcome, fellow brand writer.

You’re into tech but coding is not the kind of writing you’re into. Enter chat, please: UX writing (AKA content design).

3. Forget everything you know about writing

The truth is most of your life you’ve been writing for people who are paid to read your writing. In the real world, it’s your job to grab the attention of the public. And they don’t owe you their time or money.

This means the rules are a little different. In fact, there are no rules: grammar, structure, spelling – if it helps a brand stand out, go for it.

Finally, some bad news…

There’s no clear-cut path to becoming a copywriter.

But the good news?

There’s no clear-cut path to becoming a copywriter.

That means there are all kinds of ways you can get into it. At Reed Words, we’ve come from all sorts of places. From fine arts to zoology, history, and more. In fact, ask any copywriter how they got into it – no two stories will be the same (apart from the fact that they fell into it by accident).

What this goes to show is that being a good copywriter isn’t about your studies or your background. It’s about you. Your interests, your personality, and, of course, your words. Get them down. Polish them up. And see where they take you.

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