There are many different types of copywriters and many different types of copy to be written. There are copywriters who specialize in very specific forms of copywriting, such as direct mail or ad copy. There are also copywriters who take a more general approach, writing copy for any item that comes along. Freelance copywriters generally will write several different forms of copy, while businesses that employ copywriters generally look for experience in the type of copy they want written.
- Education: Any type of writing degree, such as in English, journalism, communications, etc., is a strong first step in finding work as a copywriter. If a degree is not possible, many colleges offer certifications or non-degree courses that can be taken to learn copywriting basics. Having any of these credentials is extremely helpful in proving to a prospective employer that you do have some knowledge about writing.
- Pro bono work: If you have no other experience, writing an item for free may get you the experience you need to get paying work as a copywriter. Employers do want to see clips from you, so have something to bring. If you cannot find a client who will accept work from a beginner, you can write up something of your own as a writing sample. This will not be as effective as having a published clip, but an applicant without writing samples would not be considered for a writing job.
- Get an internship: If you have the time to pursue it, an internship is extremely effective at both getting you the experience you need and filling in your resume with relevant experience. An internship at a company may lead to permanent employment with the company as well. Call advertising agencies or the local newspaper's advertising departments to check for available internships.
- Look for opportunities: There are a lot of freelance copywriters out there, and they are always watching for businesses that may need copywriting services. This may include seeing an ad in the paper that is obviously poorly written and offering your services, or receiving direct (junk) mail that relies on pictures instead of copy and could benefit from more of the latter. Local small business that are too small to have their own copywriters or do not have the budget to hire an advertising firm are a good place to start. Small businesses need ad copy, direct mail, coupon copy, flyers and other items written.
The key to getting work as a copywriter is showing copy that you have written. Do what it takes to get a few clips to show prospective clients or employers. At least three clips showing effective, original copy should be taken to any interview. Having a diverse base of clips, covering different types of copy, is helpful in showing your versatility as a copywriter.