Thursday, August 11, 2011

Writing Profession Series- The Copywriter

New week, new profession! This week I'm focusing on the Copywriter.
First, blogger was down Wednesday night and this post is late. I say, devils! Also my involvement with other duties, partially writing related, delayed me as well. More to come on that exciting news soon.

Back to business!
What I know about copywriting covers very little. I've heard the term mentioned countless times in the professional world, but the details and nuances are never mentioned. Honestly, I never asked anyone for the answers, but that's going to change. Right. Now.
My guest today is Shona Snowden. She is a copywriter and writes fiction-- her words, not mine. I would say that Shona is a published author. I'm uber excited that she agreed to talk about copywriting and without further ado here's the scoop!
The old saying about writing being one per cent inspiration and 99% perspiration applies solidly to working as a copywriter.

The copy writing career that most people think of most often, and probably as the most glamorous, is the big ad agency writer – the creator of those snappy slogans, witty tv ads and unforgettable ambient campaigns. Remember that sweat, though - even when the words are few, the thinking, the debating and the frustration behind them is quite monumental. The hours spent staring at a blank screen, an empty piece of paper or a white wall, many of those hours in the wee small hours of the morning when the client expects the idea by 9am aren't so fun. What's even less fun is when the client rejects the idea by 9.10am and it's back to that blank screen!
Thankfully for those of us who struggle to encapsulate a four-page brief in a three-word slogan, there are alternative copy writing careers available. Design agencies push through a lot of work, including brochures, flyers, posters, packaging, in-house or customer magazines, web sites, marketing material and all kinds of related collateral – there is almost no limit to what they can handle. And almost all of it needs some kind of words. Few agencies have writers in house, which brings us to one of the most common ways in which copywriters are employed – freelance.
With a little help from the internet or a reliable little business book, it's easy to set up your own freelance business and get started. Qualifications are wonderful things and there are college courses available, however for most writers the most important thing is their portfolio – a collection of previous projects that shows your wit, charm and general control of spelling and grammar*.
Other copywriters find reliable work by working for large companies – companies that need a wide range of brochures, publish regular newsletters or launch new products multiple times a year. Some of these companies employ in-house writers; others use a stable of freelances. And, of course, the proliferation of digital media has led to a proliferation of work for copywriters – web sites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter are important elements of corporate marketing – and somebody has to write them.
The versatility of working as a copywriter makes it a career that can last a lifetime. As long you don't mind a bit of perspiration along with your inspiration!

*You may have to excuse my spelling and grammar – it's late here, so no guarantees!!!
Okay, the nail has hit on the head! Copywriting officially sounds like something I could do... possibly, if I didn't stress out the first time the words fail to come to me. So, adding the words to newsletters, websites, etc. is copy writing. I'm already doing that, and I bet half of you out there are doing that too! From Shona's explanation copy writing doesn't sound that bad of a career, especially from the major corporation aspect.
Now when you are working on that website or helping a friend develop a flyer the project will mean more, as you could use the work as a reference for free lancing ability. Regardless being a copy writer sounds like a job that carries a lot of competition, especially in the free lance market.
What do you think about copy writing? Is it something you are already doing for friends or yourself? Is the market too saturated for someone with the capability to jump into?

I want to thank Shona for taking the time to share her knowledge of copy writing. This post definitely cleared some haze from my eyes. Now, for those interested in learning more about our guest you can visit her website at . Shona also has a story published in the Extinct Doesn't Mean Forever Anthology published by Dare To Dream press. The story is amazing so I encourage everyone to snag up a copy via the links.

1 comment:

  1. Shona describes the work of the copywriter brilliantly!

    I can add a real-world salary perspective based on US economy during more boom times in the early and mid 2000s. Your mileage may vary these days.

    As a copywriter in the marketing department of a large tech corporation with a few years experience, I finagled in late 1999 a starting salary of $60K per year plus bonus ops.

    As a freelancer both prior to working for this tech corp and during a short stint that I was laid off from them (they rehired me in a different writing capacity), I was making $60/hour for short-term projects and $50/hour when guaranteed a longer-term project. Remember, this is with about a decade experience in various writing capacities (and no benefits attached!). So call these mid-career figures.

    Five years ago (right before the economy started heading downhill), I interviewed with an agency in Silicon Valley (California) who offered to price-match my current salary of $74,000 per year as well as provide a laptop and wireless connection (which my current company was also doing), plus work from home (in Texas, which is what I was also already doing - one of the perks!).