25 Sep, 2022
So, you’re thinking about becoming a copywriter.
With over 4,536 freelance copywriters currently employed in the United States, copywriting is become a highly desirable career path - specifically freelance copywriting.
But, realistically, there are copywriters out there who have simply woken up one morning and decided “hey! I’m going to be a copywriter,” without any research or complete understanding of what that means for them. They see other copywriters promote their work and they think “I could absolutely do that,” which is often their downfall.
Because a good copywriter makes writing copy look effortless. Just as a good singer makes their performance look like second nature.
The reality, though, is that being a copywriter is no easy gig.
So, yes, the freedom to work wherever, whenever is amazing. But it’s not a given as soon as you decide to be a copywriter.
You have to make your way up to that stage. You have to earn it. And there’s a lot of graft needed before you get there.
And, realistically, not everyone is suited to being a copywriter. There are certain skills and experience you need to have. Because, while there are countless copywriters all around the world, there are far less that can actually bring in results. And those copywriters are the ones that make it in the big league.
With that in mind, if you’re deciding whether to become a copywriter, here is a list of the things you need to be good at before you take the leap.
It may seem obvious, but for some new copywriters, they don’t see this as a barrier. Established copywriters will get hundreds of messages per day asking for guidance and support from new copywriters who don’t know what to do.
That wouldn’t be a problem, but a whole heap of them can’t spell “copywriting.”
Of course, it’s far more than just spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
You need to have a way with words.
While you don’t need an English or Creative Writing degree, you do need to be able to write in an engaging, captivating, and compelling way.
No degrees are necessary to become a copywriter. But if you do have one in English or Creative Writing, it’ll help you learn far quicker.
It’s almost as much about how much you listen as how much you write.
As a copywriter, you’ll need to be able to socially listen to various markets and target audiences.
You’ll need to understand the pain points that a certain demographic and psychographic convey, and - more importantly - how they express these pain points.
Copywriters don’t just sell for clients.
They solve problems for their client’s ideal buyers.
In order to sell properly and reunite the ideal buyer with your client’s product or service, you need to listen closely to how they tick. From what motivates them, what causes that fuzzy feeling of nostalgia, what frightens them, and what makes them press that “Buy Now” button, as a copywriter, you need to have top-notch listening skills.
This separates the average copywriter from the best.
Average copywriters don’t like receiving negative feedback. They see it as a way of their client “slating” their work. They’re highly attached to their words, because it came from their heart. And if they slaved over it for months and they’re met with negative feedback, it can cause heartache.
The best copywriters, however, know that this “negative feedback” isn’t negative at all. It is - in fact - constructive criticism. They know that it’s an opportunity to build on their skills, and see it as a manner of professional development.
I’m not saying that they’re jumping with glee at having to make changes and edits. But I am saying that they don’t take it personally. They know that it’s not a reflection on the copywriter as a person, and rather the way in which their client wants to come across.
You may gain clients who will never ask you “why” you’ve written various things.
Equally, you may get clients who will want you to walk them through the reason behind your word choice, structure, and techniques.
In copywriting, every single word serves a purpose. There should be no word on your piece that is there just “because.”
This can be a tricky learning curve - especially at the beginning. It’s difficult to articulate our reasoning behind our word choices.
The best way to learn how to do this is by creating your own copywriting swipe file. In this swipe file, analyze other copywriters’ work, trying to work out why certain words, techniques, and structures were implemented.
Possibly one of the most important skills to have as a copywriter is empathy.
While some may deem empathy as a characteristic trait, it’s also a highly profitable skill.
Copywriters work with emotions every day. Every word they use will be heavily laced with emotion.
They need high amounts of empathy to be able to put themselves in the shoes of both their clients and their client’s target audiences.
Only when a copywriter understands the extent of an emotion that drives someone toward searching for a solution will they be able to encourage that person to take action.
Realistically, a copywriter cannot sell without empathy.
Let’s clear something up before I explain this point.
Copywriters don’t need to stick to the rules of grammar. They can break them. And sometimes this can result in success.
That’s not to say they can just write something without proofreading it, and that deliverable is littered with mistakes.
The differentiator is that those rules can be broken if there is a purpose behind it, and that purpose is clear.
However, you’ll still need to be highly trained in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Sure, you can rely on software like Grammarly, but it won’t pick up every error. And, at times, if you’re trying to make an “intentional error” for branding purposes, Grammarly will tell you it’s incorrect.
Brands thrive on trust. If their copy isn’t written accurately, (that is: with perfect grammar - unless intentional - spelling, and punctuation,) they’ll miss out on that trust. That, in turn, is reflected in their conversion metrics.
Copywriters earn, on average, $250 per hour.
That said, that figure comes with experience, dedication, and a lot of graft.
If you feel copywriting might be the right career for you, make sure to do your research, take copywriting courses, and sharpen your skills. It’s not an easy pathway to success. But once you get there, you’ll realize that it was worth every single step.
Special thanks to Liz Slyman for writing this blog.
If you are a freelance Copywriter, you can use the #1 portfolio tool for Copywriters to land high-quality clients and 10x more money. Showcase your work beautifully and professionally on Fueler. Create your profile on Fueler today.
Over the past decade, Liz Slyman has worked as a copywriter and digital marketing executive for a multitude of companies from startups to mid-sized businesses to working as the VP of marketing for award-winning, platinum-selling artists and is now teaching copywriting courses.
Leveraging an understanding of the nuance of language in marketing, Liz founded Amplihigher, a content marketing and copywriting agency, designed to connect consumers to companies in a way that results in next-level brand expansion.