June 13, 2014, by Beth Dawson

Could you be a copywriter?

By Derryck Strachan, Managing Director, Big Star Copywriting

You know you’re good with words, and your lecturers are always complimenting you on how well written your essays are. You might be studying English, creative writing or another related subject, or you could be studying a scientific or technical subject and feel you could transfer your knowledge to the commercial world of copywriting. 

So, could you be a copywriter and what’s it like to be one? 

From essays to copy

During your time at university, you’ve undoubtedly developed a set of skills that enables you to write essays on all matter of topics. However, writing an essay and producing a piece of compelling commercial copy are two very different things.

In an essay, you must show the examiner the extent of your knowledge and understanding, and while extra marks are often awarded for the quality of your writing, it’s usually a secondary consideration. When writing copy, you must once again convince the reader that you’re an expert in the subject discussed, but you also must ensure that they keep reading and take action based on what you’ve written (e.g. buy a product, request more information etc…).

Another way in which copywriting differs from essay writing is that quality and accuracy is of the utmost importance. Spelling errors and grammatical inconsistencies no longer cost you marks, they can potentially result in missed sales and lost clients.

Can you learn to stop worrying and love the deadline?

Deadlines are another important aspect in the life of a copywriter which you will be familiar with from your university studies, and in the fast-moving world of commercial copywriting deadlines are rarely flexible.

In addition to this, when you become a copywriter the deadlines are very frequent. Say goodbye to several deadlines a semester and hello to copy deadlines that occur once a week or more. Keep to those deadlines and you’ll soon ingratiate yourself to all manner of editors and clients – miss more than a couple and you may find yourself looking for a new job.

The spice of life

If you crave a career with plenty of variety, then copywriting may well be for you. One day you could be writing product descriptions for an online fashion retailer, the next you could be whisking readers to far flung corners of the globe with your travel guides.

If you opt to be a freelancer, you may also enjoy the flexibility that you can gain by telecommuting (working from home using the internet, email or telephone to communicate with your employers), effectively making your office wherever you lay your laptop.

Who should be a copywriter?

If you can write concise, compelling copy that convinces people to act and are good at getting work done to tight deadlines, you could be a copywriter. If you have a passion for the written word, a commitment to verbal excellence and a strong desire to communicate with others, you should be a copywriter!

Want to know more about careers involving writing? Check out our journalism and advertising, marketing and PR webpages. If you’re a studying a scientific subject, our careers beyond the lab webpage will be particularly useful for you. You can also book an appointment with a careers adviser through My Career to discuss how you can get into one of these industries or come along to our open door week 16- 20 June, when there’s no appointment needed. 

Posted in Postgraduate Taught Students