Writers and authors, including copywriters, held approximately 123,200 jobs in the United States. Advertising and public relations firms are the largest employers of copywriters. Many copywriters are self-employed and bid work to these companies.
Most copywriters start out in entry-level positions, working as office assistants or copywriting assistants. These jobs may be listed with college career services offices or at an online job site. You can also try applying directly to the hiring departments of the advertising agencies or other large companies that have public relations departments. Graduates who previously served internships with these companies often have the advantage of knowing someone who can give them a personal recommendation.
Employers will often ask to see samples of published writing. These samples should be assembled in an organized portfolio or scrapbook. Bylined or signed articles are more credible (and, as a result, more useful) than stories whose source is not identified.
Many copywriters choose to work as freelancers, meaning that they are self-employed. Several Web sites are available, such as https://www.upwork.com, where freelancers can bid on projects. The wages are generally fairly low, but the work is best if one is starting out and looking to build a portfolio. From there, a self-employed copywriter can build an online presence with a Web site of their projects and services. With experience, a copywriter should be able to increase the amount they can charge per hour or project.
Advancement may be more rapid in small advertising agencies or companies, where beginners learn by doing a little bit of everything and may be given writing tasks immediately. In large firms, duties are usually more compartmentalized. Assistants in entry-level positions are assigned such tasks as research, fact checking, and light copywriting, but it generally takes much longer to advance to full-scale copywriting duties.
Promotion as a copywriter usually takes the form of obtaining more projects for larger and more influential clients. For example, being assigned to work on spots for a large corporation would be viewed as an impressive achievement. Others advance by moving to a larger or more prestigious firm or starting up their own business.
Freelance or self-employed writers earn advancement in the form of larger fees as they gain exposure and establish their reputations.
Tips for Entry
Participate in a summer internship in the creative department of an advertising agency to gain experience.
Serve on your high school or college newspaper to hone your writing and researching skills.
Research products that you use and practice writing advertising copy to promote the products to your friends and family.
Learn more about advertising and connect with people working in the industry by participating in events open to students, such as AdCamp (http://www.aaf.org), a summer enrichment program for high school students sponsored by the American Advertising Federation.
Build a writing portfolio by collecting clips of copywriting assignments you have completed as an intern and have published in your school paper or other publications.