Someone just wrote to me on facebook from Seattle asking me how can go about becoming a copywriter.
I wrote him back, and I thought my answers might help others, so here they are (slightly modified):
- Study English Literature. I don’t know about all English Lit departments, but in Bar Ilan we had to write a million papers proving ideas. We had to explain our hypothesis, prove it, and summarize it at the end. That’s basic marketing writing! “Our widget can help you become a better cook [intro]. Its advanced fast-forwardizer streamlines the cooking process [proof] so you will enjoy your newfound ability to create foolproof muffins in half the time! [summary]” See – Shakespeare at his best!
- If English Lit is not your thing, you have to at least have a basic knack for writing, plus attention to detail. It doesn’t matter what style you can write in: as long as you can write a decent, persuasive paragraph that has no grammatical errors in it, you’re already on the right path. What you’ll need to do is learn to match your writing to different goals, but the basics are…basic.
- Take a course in copywriting or marketing writing.
I never took a course. But some people learn better in a classroom setting, so it might be a good way to start.
- Read up about it on the web. Buy some books. I highly recommend this route. Keep reading on the web. Copyblogger is an amazing source of useful tips for good writing. Don’t let the name fool you – what this guys has to say applies to all writing, not just blogging
- Get an entry level job, get experience, use that experience to get a better job, get better experience, get an even better job, etc. That’s the route I took.
Focus your career path on copywriting, so even if you get a job that’s not 100% writing, if you did some writing, focus on that on your resume.
(Writing a persuasive resume is also marketing writing…)
For example, in one of my first jobs I started taking care of client communications and worked on their brochure content. So even though that wasn’t my job, I focused on that on my resume, and got my next better job.
- Move to Israel. There is a huge demand for good English copywriters in Israel right now from hi-tech companies and other companies that export their services. Many writers will tell you it’s not easy to make a living writing in Israel. It’s true. But if you really become a good copywriter or marketing writer, than you can apply those skills to market yourself and build up a good clientele, or get a really good job in marcom.
I hope that helps!