Portent Staff // Jul 30 2008
If you were a creative writing or English major, you may think your job prospects include pouring coffee in a cafe while scrawling poems on napkins, burying yourself in manuscripts as an editorial assistant in a publishing house, working as a journalist for a local publication, or of course writing the Great American Novel.
But there is one wee writing career that doesn’t really cross the average English major radar (and least it didn’t cross mine) and that’s copywriting. If the muse hasn’t been in lately, why not give marketing writing, aka copywriting, a try? Below, I cover the basics of a copywriting career to show how copywriting is actually preferable to most other writing jobs.
Duties. Most copywriters work in agencies, which means they’ll get to sink their writing skills into a whole portfolio of clients. There are always new accounts coming in and others leaving, so the work doesn’t get too old. Also, if you have a client you particularly don’t like, you’ll be able to alternate between that account and ones you do enjoy. This is pretty painless compared to being stuck in more sedentary writing paths (writing one monthly column, teaching the same English 101 class year in and year out.)
Work environment. An internet marketing agency on the surface appears much less harried than say, a news room. But don’t let that deceive you. There is plenty of adrenaline in copywriting, as crunch campaigns are conceived, new copy ideas are needed on the fly, and eagle-eye editing has to be turned around in the blink of an eye. The tension of an internet marketing agency may bubble beneath the surface, but it’s definitely there. After you get in the groove, working as an internet marketing copywriter becomes incredibly exciting.
Hours. Unlike journalism or entry-level editorial jobs, copywriters in an agency setting usually enjoy a nine to five type schedule, good vacation and reasonable sick day packages. Copywriting is definitely the kind of career that allows you to time to pursue other hobbies. If you’ve been toying with a six p.m. yoga class or Thursday knitting group, it will be easy to balance your career and still commit to outside activities of interest.
Pay. In my experience, compensation packages for copywriters are more generous than for other careers. As a journalist I was burnt out writing very intense, hard-boiled news articles for a human rights newspaper, and I was barely making enough to survive. While the work was rewarding, at the end of the day I was mentally bankrupt and could barely afford McDonalds. Copywriting offers a much more comfortable, stable living and doesn’t tax you mentally the way other writing careers can.
Advancement Opportunities. The advancement structure is similar to other writing jobs. There are usually between two and three other positions above you, including Senior Copywriter, Marketing Director, or Account Manager. Once you dip your toes into agency life, you may wish to simply keep honing your copywriting chops for your career, or you may choose to build on your career within some other avenue of agency life. At any rate, copywriting sets you up with some invaluable skills such as diligence, resourcefulness, and communication, that will be useful in any professional setting.