An advertising copywriter will work in conjunction with an art director to create original ideas for an advertising campaign. The copywriter will be the one to construct words for a campaign, while the art director produces the visual concepts. Copywriters have to come up with new catchphrases, slogans, wording for advertising, and other imaginative writings. Once given details on the client, their brand, and the target audience, a copywriter will have to come up with new and thought provoking concepts. A copywriter will usually have to work on more than one campaign at a time.
In most areas the usual salary for junior positions is £9,000 - £16,000, while in London you will likely earn £12,000 - £20,000. Those with 3 to 5 years experience can expect around £30,000 - £35,000, with a likelihood of up to £40,000 in London. Senior level positions could see you earn £45,000 - £250,000. The salaries are dependent on the agency and its location, as well as the individuals experience and portfolio.
Copywriters often have to take work home with them, both during the week and at weekends. Because of this it can have a negative effect on your social life. The working day is usually office-based, though you may have to be on location at times, and also have to visit clients.
Freelance work is a possibility once you have a strong level of experience, and a reputation in the industry. It is usual for there to be a high level of comings and goings in creative teams, due to the need to change agencies to gain promotion. The larger agencies are based in London, but many other big cities such as Manchester and Birmingham house several agencies.
A HND degree in any of the following would be beneficial to your employability:
Evidence of creative ideas, writing ability, a strong business sense, and original ideas will improve your employability. It is best to team up with an advertising art director straight off and develop a portfolio, due to most agencies wanting to employ ‘partnerships’ rather than individuals.
The D&AD offers workshops to help create a portfolio, and make contacts. They also run a Graduate Placement Scheme, and shows such as the New Blood exhibition, which several agencies often attend. The IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) also has a Graduate Recruitment Agency, and will give you the opportunity to display your work. Once you have a portfolio you need to have a ‘book crit’, which involves contacting creative teams to have your work constructively criticised.
Work experience is of utmost importance but rarely advertised. There is a list of agencies offering placements on the IPA website, and it is also a good idea to contact agencies not advertising openings. You will likely have to go through several placements, and will be paid little to nothing during the early period. For any further advice see the YCN (Young Creative Network) website.
You will start out as a junior copywriter in the creative team, and then move up through middleweight positions, until you can become senior writer. You will usually have to move agencies to get better positions, and it is best you do so with your creative partner.
Freelance work is possible once you have a reputation in the industry, and there is a chance for to work abroad if you wish. Recognition is the one thing that can see you stand out in the crowd, especially if you win awards for your work.
The D&AD offers a scheme called Workout, which is a variety of courses for creatives, most of which usually last a day. The IPA also has courses that are suitable for those who have gained experience in the advertising industry. Some agencies will also run their own courses, on areas such as brand awareness and comprehending briefs.