Copy Writer

Did you know that the man who penned American classics such as Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer also wrote the ads that publicized his own lectures?

In one ad that was published in newspapers all around the country, Mark Twain highlighted in large, bold type “a splendid orchestra,” “magnificent fireworks,” and a nine-feet-tall “Irish Giant”…which the ad’s fine print cleverly revealed “would not be part of the evening.” Twain, it seems, was not only a great author, but also had the makings of a great copywriter.

A copywriter is someone who writes to increase sales of a company’s product or service. She can write newspaper ads, like Twain, as well as sale letters, press releases, website ads, brochures, articles, and even books. Copywriters also create the scripts for television and radio commercials. If you have ever gone to a store or signed up for a service after seeing or hearing an advertisement, then a copywriter has hit her mark.

Though most copywriters have a strong background in English, getting a degree or taking college English courses are not the only ways to break into this field. There are books, online courses, and even entire colleges devoted to teaching you to be an effective copywriter. Most of these will train you in specific copywriting skills, such as writing for television, radio, or websites.

An internship with an advertising agency is considered the best preparation for a copywriting career, however. Paid internships may be hard to come by, and the few available ones are highly coveted, so offer yourself as a volunteer if you cannot get your foot in the door for paid positions.

In addition to having strong communication skills, copywriters need to also have some natural creativity. You must be able to create a mental image of the product in the ad and make it compelling to the target audience. You can do this by appealing to the customer’s emotions, creating a certain mood, adding humor, or emphasizing the product’s superior traits. The best copywriters are those that make advertising so memorable it becomes a permanent fixture in popular culture. Iconic ads such as DeBeers’ “A diamond is forever” and Nike’s “Just do it” were created by great copywriters, who not only sold the product, but indelibly etched it into the public’s mind at the same time.

On a day-to-day basis, copywriters work as part of a creative team. They brainstorm with clients to generate ideas, which they then turn into a working script. Copywriters work with actors, videographers, sound technicians, set designers, and graphic designers, depending on whether the ad will be on television, radio, websites, or in print media such as newspapers and magazines.

It is not all fun and glamour, though. Copywriters do many mundane tasks, such as writing press releases and “advertorials” for newspapers and magazines, too. Some clients can be picky and hard to please; you may work on an ad campaign for weeks, which the client ultimately rejects. To be successful as a copywriter, you must be able to really listen to the client and write for his target audience. You also need to have a thick skin and not take rejections personally when a client disagrees with your creative approach.

A copywriter working for a professional advertising agency can earn a substantial salary; entry-level copywriters earn an average of about $27,000 annually, while seasoned professionals earn up to $70,000 per year. You can also supplement your income by working as a freelance writer, editor, or ghostwriter. In addition, more than one copywriter has turned professional writing experience into a best-selling book. Fortunately, being a great writer is a skill you can market to many different industries.

Copywriters, like editors, have the primary duty of helping others shine. They are also indispensible to companies wanting to put their best face forward in their advertising. The next time you watch a funny commercial or hear a riveting radio ad, just remember that there is a good copywriter behind it!


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