To start a career as a copywriter, it’s a good idea to start to write. On a notepad, on a Mac, a chalkboard, the back of a fag packet, it doesn’t matter; just pick up the tools of your trade and start to hone your craft. Write about things that interest you, write about things you want to learn more about, write about things that other people don’t know that they want to know about…you get the idea, just write, and blog, and write some more.
Almost hand in hand with writing, comes reading; there’s copy everywhere – even the back of the shampoo bottle starts a conversation with me in the shower.
So devour it, absorb it and be critical of it. Think about what aspects grab you, and which ones turn you off. Be it the emotional stab of a public health promotion, or the witty pun that makes you chuckle at the bus stop – copy makes you react, and ultimately that’s what you should aim to achieve with your writing.
Get experience – lots of online businesses seek out content for their websites, and whilst you’re developing a certain set of skills, it’s a good opportunity to practice blog writing, product descriptions and webpage copy. In the early days, volunteer your services for free. The business gets free content, and you get to build a body of professional work – win, win. Alternatively, contact local businesses and offer to do some unpaid work for them; you could produce a newsletter or re-write a page on their website, find something to showcase your ability and it won’t be long before they hire you for their next job.
Consider a copywriting or journalism course – there is a lot of information about short courses, professional courses and distance learning available out there, so use this to help you decide whether this is the right route for you. Learning technical skills, strategies and industry terminology could never be a bad thing – but do your research to make sure you sign up for a reputable course before you hand your cash over.
Find out where the copywriters hang out – Twitter is a good starting point. An online community of copywriters can be a fantastic source of tips, advice and information, as well as the odd humorous exchange or two. Be confident, start following and start networking; you never know whether it could lead you to your first freelance job.