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How to Become a Copywriter

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Copywriters are responsible for the marketing slogans people can’t get out of their heads -- typically a few words or short sentence about a particular service, organization or production. One classic example was the California Milk Processor Board’s “Got Milk?” which featured pictures of celebrities wearing a milk mustache. Becoming a copywriter takes a healthy dose of creativity and the ability to work well with various clients.

If You've Got It

Certain innate skills and characteristics will improve your chances of becoming a copywriter. Talent and creativity are two major qualities you'll need. You can hone them by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in advertising, communications or marketing. It’s not enough to just create good copy, however. You must also be able to sell your superiors and customers. Persuasiveness is helpful to a copywriter, as are social perceptiveness, listening and overall communication skills, according to O*NET Online.

Get an Education and Experience

On his website, freelance advertising copywriter John Kuraoka recommends you obtain a copywriting or advertising internship to learn the ropes of the business. An ad sales job is another way to get your foot in the door, as you will learn about advertising and sharpen your persuasive skills. Kuraoka also worked in a print shop, where he learned how to use the medium to best effect and got some experience creating flyers and brochures. In addition, he recommends setting up a professional website and social media presence. Certification as a copywriter, available from the Business Training Institute, can boost your credibility.

Your Copywriter Book

As an aspiring copywriter, you should begin building your portfolio as soon as possible. Although the slang term for a copywriter’s portfolio is “the book,” in reality it’s a collection of everything you’ve done. Every ad, slogan or jingle you write should go in the book, as well as any photos or media materials related to your work. If you completed an internship but didn’t get a job, ask the boss for copies of your work. Don’t be afraid to create sample ads for well-known products because you might want to pitch something to an established company. If you can find an established art director to mentor you and give you advice on your book, so much the better.

Find an Ad Agency

If the internship didn’t pan out, you’ll need to do the usual: make calls, send resumes and go to interviews. Focus on ad agencies rather than an in-house corporate creative department, as it improves your chances of landing a job and will strengthen your resume when you’re ready to move on. Kuraoka recommends contacting creative directors directly when possible, rather than the human resources department. Make sure you send samples of only your best work and be prepared to articulate your ideas at the interview.

2016 Salary Information for Writers and Authors

Writers and authors earned a median annual salary of $61,240 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, writers and authors earned a 25th percentile salary of $43,130, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,500, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 131,200 people were employed in the U.S. as writers and authors.