Advertising Agency Copywriter Career Profile

What is a Copywriter, and What Do They Do?

Copywriter
Copywriter. Getty Images

Job Description:

Typically, there are two types of copywriter - those that work for an agency, and those that work in-house for a client. In fact, it's even called client-side copywriting. If you accept one of these copywriting jobs at an agency, you will work on the creative team and you'll usually report to the Creative Director. A copywriter's main focus is on writing for ad mediums like print ads, brochures, Web sites, commercials and other advertising materials.


 

Salary Range:

$37,327 - $57,443 for an entry level copywriter, with some senior copywriters reporting a salary of over $100,000 including benefits. Of course, copywriters in places like New York or London can expect greater reimbursement. 
 

Special Skills:

  • Ability to write catchy, persuasive copy that sells every client's products or services
  • Brainstorm copy ideas and possible angles for a client's ad materials
  • Work long hours and meet deadlines are both a must
  • Must be able to work in a fast-paced, high pressure environment
  • Strong command of the English language with an eye to catch spelling and grammar errors
  • Contribute original ideas for ad campaigns
  • A thick skin because your copy will be revised many times
  • Ability to work with graphic designers, account executives and possibly even the client to move the projects from concept to completion
     

Education and Training:

Many copywriters have a bachelor's degree in English, journalism, communications, advertising, marketing or public relations.

Some have specifically attended an advertising school. Others have started on the ground level with little or no college education and have worked their way up. They may have even taken a copywriting course to learn the fundamentals of writing copy.

Generally, the higher up the career ladder you want to go as a copywriter, the more work experience and/or college education is required.

The requirements vary based on the agency's size and the city as well.
 

Typical Day:

As with many roles in an advertising agency, it's hard to accurately describe a typical day as the job is so diverse, and is very reactive. Sometimes a copywriter will have to drop everything to work on a pitch, or attend a last-minute photoshoot. But as a general rule of thumb, a copywriter's week contains the following:

  • Write copy for ad materials like print ads, brochures, Web sites, commercials and other advertising mediums
  • Edit projects that have come back for revisions
  • Proofread ad copy before it's sent for approval
  • Meet with the Creative Director or the entire creative team to give a status update on each of the projects being worked on
  • Contribute ideas for new business and current clients' ad strategies
  • Help prepare pitch concepts for clients
  • Work with the creative team to cast for projects ready for production
  • Go on location where commercials are being produced

 

Common Misconceptions:

While some agencies do want their copywriters involved with the clients, campaign pitches and strategy sessions, a lot of copywriters find their job description doesn't include some or all of these involvements with the client's campaign.

Other copywriters spend a lot of time involved in these activities. They don't sit down at their desk at 8 a.m. and write copy all day until it's time to go home.

Know what type of environment you prefer before going in for the interview. But be flexible. As a new copywriter, every bit of experience is helpful no matter how the agency views the role of its copywriters.

 

Getting a Job.

Copywriters can begin with little or no college education by interning or landing an entry level position. A ground level job generally begins at a very low pay scale. Without much education or experience, your best approach is to find a smaller agency to get your feet wet.

College graduates may also find they have to start with a ground level job. Interning while in college gives you a great opportunity to gain valuable experience and make contacts you can use once you graduate.

 Some agency copywriters started out as freelance copywriters. They built their portfolio and made key contacts while freelancing.

 

Fringe Benefits:

If you are lucky, you'll get to travel the world on photo and video shoots, and hang out with some very cool people. Your work life is different from day today, and can involve a lot of fun activities. Some creatives play pool while they're thinking of ideas, or even basketball. In some agencies, you will be provided with free food and drink on many occasions to offset the late hours and weekends you may have to work. You also get to kick your feet up on a desk, and just sit and think. How many jobs offer that kind of working environment?