What the hell is a copywriter, and what do they do?


You’ve heard the word, right? “Copywriter” and you immediately picture someone in charge of protecting people’s inventions. Like, “I totally came up with the ‘Just do it’ slogan; I should’ve hired a Copywriter to protect my idea” –well, that’s not quite what copywriting is. That is copyright, and they are not linked.

 The stuff you get in your mailbox –brochures, catalogs, promotional pamphlets, were all written by a copywriter. The emails you get advertising a product, or a service was also the work of a copywriter. The text you read in most websites… you’ve guessed it, was indeed crafted by a copywriter. To put it in other words, a copywriter is a salesman, only he or she does it in print.

 Copywriting is the art –yes! Is quite an art –of creating fresh content for marketing and advertising. You can translate that to taglines, jingles and other creative work or to product descriptions and even more researched-based copy.

 The main difference between copywriting and journalism, or other types of writing, is that the main objective is getting the audience to take action. Whether this is to engage with a product or company, purchase, or opt-in. The copywriting industry is now valued at around $2.3 trillion worldwide, and the copywriter’s role has grown exponentially. The responsibilities have increased, as well as the possibilities.  A whole world is beneath every piece of online content filled with strategy and creativity. Even the text you are reading right now was written by a copywriter!

 How much does a copywriter make?

 Before venturing into copywriting as a full-time job, you’re probably curious about how much do these writers make. Even though the picture may seem pretty –working at home, arranging your own vacations, taking naps, etc. –none of that matters if the pay is low, right? Well, the rumors are true; you can have all of the above and still make a good living. Like any other profession, the income level goes directly proportionate to the capacity of creating compelling texts that both entertain and deliver the desired message. But we will get into the requirements further. First things first.

 You want to know if a copywriter can make a six-figure salary. The answer is yes, and not only that; it is not uncommon to copywriters to earn that.

 Copywriters that pair their writing with networking and other business developments can make between $150,000 and $300,000 per year! Of course, we are talking about exceptional cases.

 Since the vast majority of copywriters are freelancers, the level of income depends on the amount of time that is dedicated to it. Fully committed copywriters can make around $75,000, whereas someone looking to have some extra cash –without sacrificing their time –can earn around $25k.

 Aside from the time that you invest, the salary is also based on the level and area of expertise. According to studies, in general, copywriters earn as follows:

  •  The Top 10% make more than $118,000 per year (that’s $57/hr)
  • 80% of copywriters make around $61,000 per year (that’s $29/hr)
  • And the bottom 10% makes less than $30,000 per year (that’s $14/hr)

 What skills and training do you need to become a copywriter?

 While no individual licenses or certifications are required, most companies that hire copywriters need them to have a bachelor’s degree –preferably in Marketing, English, Journalism, or Advertising.  If you don’t have a college education backing your copywriting, you can always do internships. Hiring managers will be more inclined to hire someone that has at least internship experience. To do that, you have to check online for internship openings and apply.

 The other thing you must have is a portfolio. You can start your collection as early as possible, even college or high school. (Even previous experience and samples from a High School newspaper help!)

 Up to here, we’ve assumed you are attempting to land a job in an Advertising Agency or a company. But let’s say you want to be a freelancer. This means no boss, no tight schedule and… no bachelor degree needed.

 The beauty of freelancing –especially in fields just as copywriting –is that soft skills weigh more substantially than a College Diploma. Your love for writing and ability to do so successfully can turn you into a highly sought-after copywriter. So, what skills are desired/required?

  •  Creativity. We’re not talking about writing the next Harry Potter here. The world of advertising is highly competed, and it requires a high level of creativity to develop original, engaging texts that stand out from the crowd.
  •  Social Perceptiveness. This has to do with being in sync and updated to what’s relevant in the world right now. That’s why employers use the word “fresh” when requesting a job done. We live in a fast-paced world, and a copywriter cannot stay behind.
  •  Determination and work ethics. This is relevant for any type of freelancing work. While the thought of having flexible hours may sound alluring, freelancers have to be capable of self-motivate and to get things done on time without a boss. It is easier to procrastinate when you do not have to show up to an office early in the morning, so your will is tested.
  •  Writing skills. Duh! This encompasses everything: from excellent grammar and spelling to coherence, sentence structure, and the ability to string together a persuasive, entertaining sentence. As unbelievable as it may sound, lousy grammar can break a career, with all the online checkers available, misspell “acquaintance” is not acceptable.
  •  Follow directions. Know your audience. Sometimes, writers  -we all do it! – Make the mistake to write for them. When you are working on a copy text, you have to be aware you are reaching a specific audience, with a particular goal in mind. You may have some terrific ideas on how to convey a message, but being able to listen to your client and engage the readers must be your primordial task. Custom made to order!

 Around 65% of all copywriters are freelancers and set their own hours. If you are passionate about writing and have the above skills, nothing can impede you from trying it.


 Now that you know what you need, you may be wondering what you’ll be asked to do, specifically. Here are some of the most common tasks that as a copywriter, you would have to develop:

  •  Develop scripts for TV, Radio, and Internet Ads.
  • Write brochures or pamphlets.
  • Elaborate forms to be filled out.
  • Manage social networks and content (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
  • Write Policies, FAQs, Product descriptions
  • Write press releases
  • Write website content
  • Write articles

 While you develop copy, you will be asked to comply with the following:

  • Produce error-free text. There’s nothing more disappointing than receiving great, creative work with grammar mistakes or work that does not adhere to the company’s policies.
  • Collaborate with people in marketing, PR, or customer service.
  • Manage multiple projects. You may be required to handle different projects at the same time. (usually with short deadlines)
  • Propose. Once you understand the client’s desires, you will be asked to pitch your own ideas as part of the company’s strategy.

 How can I become a Freelancer?

 You are sold! You are great with words, you possess all the necessary skills, and want to give freelance copywriting a shot. What to do next? Here are some simple steps and tips on how to become a copywriter:

  •  Build a name. Becoming a freelance copywriter is like building a house; you have to start from the ground to get to the top.  Building a reputation and credibility is your #1 task. Do not expect to earn thousands of dollars overnight.
  • Become an expert on a specific niche. This is extremely important. Many copywriters swear they can write “about everything,” but in reality, most employers want some degree of expertise. Let’s exemplify this with a chef asking for a job; he is applying to a high-end French cuisine restaurant, and during the interview, he says: “I can cook you anything from a corndog to a crepe.” Sure he may think that sounds appealing and endearing, but his employee will be thinking, “You are not an expert on the field.”  How can you become an expert? Know yourself –strengths and limitations – and focus on something you are particularly good at. Complement those skills with some training –there are some fantastic courses online you may want to check out.
  • Start small. You can get ambitious once your name is renowned.  Sign in at the most famous sites: Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer. Post yourself as a Copywriter at Craiglist. Begin modestly, accepting gigs that will enrich your portfolio and enhance your experience and reputation.

 Copywriting is a fantastic industry, and freelancing gives you the flexibility you may have dreamed of. If you have been flirting with the idea, your timing couldn’t be more perfect. Take the risk and venture into the writing universe