If you are wondering how to become a copywriter, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning copywriting careers, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Copywriters, sometimes known as ‘creatives’ within the advertising industry, produce written material or ‘copy’ for promotional material and advertisements, including slogans or text for print adverts, leaflets or jingles and scripts for radio and TV commercials.

    As a copywriter, you could work as part of creative teams alongside art directors, providing visual imagery to accompany your wording. Your job starts with a brief about the clients, their products, their target audiences and the messages that need to be put forward.

    Typical responsibilities:

    * work with art directors to produce original concepts that fit a brief
    * present concepts to agency creative directors and account teams
    * help to present concepts to clients
    * make changes that the clients request
    * write clear, concise and persuasive text
    * ensure that ads adhere to the relevant codes of advertising practice
    * proofread text to check for grammar, spelling and factual content
    * liaise with photographers, production companies, printers and designers.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of a good copywriter include:

    * excellent written skills, with an ability to convey messages clearly, concisely and persuasively
    * good use of spelling, grammar and punctuation
    * creativity and some imagination
    * excellent team work and communication abilities
    * accuracy and good attention to details
    * ability to deliver under pressure, within a strict deadline
    * resilience and an ability to deal with criticism
    * good business acumen
    * research abilities, broad general knowledge, plus awareness of modern popular culture.

    How to become a copywriter
    No specific entry qualifications exist for becoming a copy writer. However, advertising is highly competitive, so many employers will expect a degree or a similar level of qualification.

    You may gain an advantage if you take a course that involves copywriting, for example:

    * an HND, foundation degree or full degree in advertising
    * a CAM (Communication, Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation) Diploma in Marketing Communications
    * a qualification in another useful subject, such as journalism, media studies, English or marketing.

    When you are looking for a job, you may need a work portfolio (also called a ‘book’) that you can show to a potential employer, as you may be employed based on the creativity and written skills shown within it. You will no doubt find it beneficial have some writing experience across a wide range of styles.

    It could be useful to work with an aspiring art director to develop some campaign concepts for portfolios. British Design and Art Direction (D&AD) runs organised advertising workshops, helping people in building portfolios and making contacts in advertising.

    Many people get into copywriting through work experience within companies or advertising agencies. Many advertising copywriters begin with gaining experience through a direct marketing or B2B (business-to-business) marketing company.

    The IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) publishes a list of members that offer work experience, and it also runs its own graduate recruitment service. The D&AD runs specialist graduate placement schemes.

    Training and Development
    You could begin as a junior professional within an advertising company. Your training could be work-based, perhaps through a graduate training process.

    Your training could involve the IPA Foundation Certificate – online training for staff with six months+ experience within any field of advertising.

    Try to stay abreast of industry news and changes through your career. The D&AD organises ‘Workout’, a series of day-long creative courses. The IPA runs seminars and short courses for the staff of member agencies.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Starting salaries are around £18,000 to £25,000 a year
    With experience this rises to £25,000 to £50,000 a year
    Senior creatives in leading agencies can earn up to £100,000 or more

    Job Prospects
    Advertising careers are very popular amongst graduates, so there is a great deal of competition. The majority of advertising vacancies are based within London and the core cities of the UK.

    Many jobs are shown by national newspapers, specialist recruitment agencies, trade publications like Campaign and Creative Review and the IPA’s website. However, not every job vacancy is advertised, so approaching an agency directly or finding work through networking and making industry contacts could also be a good idea.

    With experience, you may progress to the role of creative director or senior copywriter. You may decide to work on a freelance basis. Moving between agencies is common to get a promotion or deal with larger clients. Being head-hunted is quite common for executive level jobs.

    Useful resources:
    Communication Advertising & Marketing Education Foundation Limited – CAM
    Moor Hall
    Berkshire SL6 9QH
    Tel: 01628 427 120

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