The creative departments of advertising agencies tend to be split into two core teams: the art workers and the copywriters. These two teams have very different functions, but without each other they would be highly ineffective. Together, they are an advertising force to be reckoned with!
Copywriters are the clever people that come up with the spoken or printed copy for advertising campaigns. Copywriters might be required to write all kinds of copy, from single catchphrases or slogans, to full scripts for TV, film or radio commercials. They might even be scripting ‘viral’ video ads that promote products across social networking websites, such as YouTube.
Day-to-day activities might include attending meetings with clients and colleagues, discussing briefs in detail and conjuring up cool, unique, engaging and creative ideas. After brainstorming ideas with the rest of the creative team, they will sit down and actually write creative copy.
It’s then all about presenting the copy to clients and adapting it in accordance with their demands. You might even carry out editorial and proofreading duties to make sure your copy isn’t peppered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
You’re not going to be a solitary poet, sitting there writing lyrical masterpieces with a commercial twist; you’ll be working alongside a dynamic team of people within a fast-paced environment. At the end of the day, communication and collaboration is the key to success!
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for copywriters are based on experience levels and the size of the employer. Large integrated agencies (i.e. agencies that handle advertising, public relations and marketing all under one roof) tend to pay higher salaries and offer attractive benefits.
Copywriters with less than five years of experience earn in the range of £18,000 and £28,000; those with 5-10 years of experience can earn between £25,000 and £50,000; and copywriters with more than 10 years of experience can earn salaries anywhere between £50,000 and £120,000.
Work can be hectic for junior copywriters and they may work long hours from time to time, while they gain experience under the guidance of experienced professionals.
However, work schedules are extremely flexible and informal within the creative department, unless a campaign deadline is looming.
Understandably, you need to have awesome creative writing skills to work in this area. However, the fact that advertising agencies are now taking on diverse marketing and promotional activities across both traditional and new media means that creative writing ability alone is usually not enough.
Furthermore, the advertising industry is becoming increasingly competitive. Consequently, a relevant degree in any subject which involves a lot of writing, such as English, journalism, marketing, advertising, history or PR, is usually preferred.
You will also need an impressive portfolio of existing creative work. This will be assessed by potential employers upon application, so it needs to be tailored to each organisation. Cut out the rubbish and only feature your best work. Furthermore, if they are a purely digital advertising agency, you should put emphasis on your digital work and neglect print examples.
Unlike other areas of advertising, there aren’t many graduate schemes for copywriters. Therefore, you might need to distribute some speculative applications or start thinking about getting in via another route, e.g. planning or account handling.
Training & progression
Don’t worry, you’re not going to be shipped off to an intensive copywriting academy; most of your training will be ‘on-the-job’!
New employees are usually paired with experienced copywriters who will act as their mentor. Copywriting is a competitive industry so junior copywriters need to be able to take tough criticism in their stride and learn by trial and error.
Growth is dependent on individual performance. If your campaigns are successful and you win some advertising awards for your work, you are likely to be promoted quicker. Once you have proved yourself consistently, you might become a senior copywriter.
Attrition rates are high in the advertising industry, with creative professionals frequently job-hopping and working for several employers in the first few years.
Economic fluctuations can also impact employment opportunities, as businesses downsize their advertising budgets during market downtimes.