Career as a copywriter

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Lisa Jones is a copywriter in Newcastle. Her job is to come up with ideas and write the words for advertising campaigns, TV and radio commercials, newspaper and magazine ads, direct mail, posters, websites, company brochures and so on.

How do you start working out what to write about?

Each new job starts with a brief from the client. The client tells the account executive – who is the person within the agency responsible for organising and progressing the client's work – the aims and targets of the proposed work. The creative team then discusses ideas until we decide on the best one.

What have you been working on recently?

One brief was to advertise a £10 million apartment in London. Another involves writing a series of leaflets for disadvantaged teenagers in Newcastle about the dangers of getting hepatitis C from sex or injecting drugs. It was done as a photo-story written completely in Geordie dialect. An addict taught me the sort of language that would get through to this audience.

Why did you choose this career?

I've always been creative – drawing and writing poems and little books. I wanted to be a teacher until I saw a TV programme about advertising. I didn't know until then that you could draw or write for a living. I always kept my options open and could have become an art director or a copywriter, but I got more and more interested in the writing side. I love playing with words, and finding the rights ones to use.

What's your office like?

There are 21 people in the company and I work with a creative team of five. I use a computer and a lot of pens and layout pads for jotting down and playing with ideas. I work normal office hours although we can work late to meet deadlines.

What are the things you like and dislike about the job?

I get a real kick when something I've worked on has been successful or wins an award. It's also good because I'm telling people things that might make a difference to their lives – even if it's just a great new product. I like the challenge of finding the best way of using words to grab someone's attention and hold it.

It can be frustrating not to have more time to work on things. You might have to write the words for brochure in one day, when you'd really like to spend time perfecting it.

What skills do you need?

English, of course, and a real interest in people. Coming up with images and words that work together is very much a team effort.

Lisa's route

  • English, art and French A levels.
  • Foundation diploma in art and design.
  • Degree in graphic design, specialising in advertising.
  • Worked at a small agency for 10 years.

Lisa's tips

  • You need to be dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic.
  • You need a good portfolio (record) of samples of your work.

Related jobs

  • Advertising account executive
  • Advertising account planner
  • Advertising art director
  • dvertising media planner
  • A Copy editor
  • Graphic designer
  • Editor: Publishing
  • Journalist
  • Marketing manager
  • Technical author

Average salary for a copywriter

  • London agencies usually offer the highest wages.
  • Copywriters usually start between £18,000 to £20,000 and can earn up to £40,000 – depending on their agency and their experience.
  • Successful writers working for leading agencies can earn more than £50,000.

Getting in

  • There are no set entry requirements, but competition for jobs is fierce and most entrants have at least A levels/H grades.
  • A degree or higher national diploma (HND) is often required by large agencies.
  • Some copywriters have experience of writing and selling classified adverts in newspapers.
  • Courses in advertising, communications and media studies are run at many different levels across the UK. Some of these offer copywriting modules or options.
  • The Communication, Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation (CAM) offers six Advanced Certificates, including one specialising in advertising.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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