Tips on Becoming a Copywriter

A young woman who’s about to graduate with a degree in English writes to me: “Do you think it would help my chances of getting a job if I took a class in graphic design?” My answer: “YES!”

Quizzical proto-writer

Should an aspiring copywriter study graphic design?

These days, with company budgets being what they are (small and getting smaller), creatives are expected to do the jobs of two or three people. I saw an ad for a Creative Director that required the applicant to be able to write, do graphic design, create websites, manage a department budget, and interact with clients.

In the old days (as little as five years ago), those would have been the jobs of at least five people. Today, it could be the job of one employee, depending on the size of the creative department and the agency or company. Oh, and did I mention that Creative Director-of-all-Trades job was paying $30,000 per year?

Jobs for copywriters at companies are all but non-existent, which makes it a bull market for freelancers. But though I hate to disillusion this young woman about the value of an English degree, in my experience, with only that degree, your competition is everyone who can type on a computer. Everyone thinks s/he can write. But everyone knows they need a graphic designer to make Web or printed materials look good.

So I will reply to this budding copywriter that yes, she probably should take a class in Graphic Design, if not two or three, so that she can meet the current need for multi-skilled creatives in a company or agency.

Annie Oakley, Little Sure-Shot

Loaded for bear

The more you can do, the better your chances of getting one of the few available jobs for college grads. Write? Great. Write and create designs? Better. Write, create designs, and build websites? Better still. Write, create designs, build websites and know SEO? BEST! Then, if you have Emotional Intelligence to go with all that know-how, you may have it made. It’s a lot to ask, but most companies don’t train employees anymore. They expect you to come in the door loaded for bear, with all the talents they need already in place. So go get loaded. I mean, for bear, creatively. Of course! ;-)

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