What Should You REALISTICALLY Be Expected to Know as a Beginning Copywriter

by NEWATT
9 replies
I've looked at many posts here regarding newbies in copywriting and been directed to lots of good books on copywriting but as a newbie who would like to work for an agency or even as a freelancer approaching an agency for work; what would they expect you to know AS a newbie?

What I've seen is that copywriting is a very broad field (after looking through all those posts). If I did approach an ad agency as a newbie with my spec ad portfolio looking for either an agency position or freelance work, what would they legitimately expect me to know how to do? What type of spec ads (print, internet, radio, t.v., etc.) would they expect to see in my portfolio?

Is there specific software I should know how to work with?

Are there specific terms I should know?

Should I be familiar with specific statistical analysis companies?

Is a working knowledge of SEO also a pre-requisite?

I just want to make sure I'm not spreading myself too thin regarding topics that a beginner wouldn't be expected to to familiar with, so I can focus on getting things done that will actually get my foot in the door as quickly as possible.

Please don't tell me to get an internship. I'm 50 and while I wouldn't rule it out 100% it's not likely.

I already have a BA in English but no experience in the advertising field. There it is. Thank you for your help.
#beginning #copywriter #expected #realistically
  • Profile picture of the author drewfioravanti
    You're better off posting in the copywriting section. Copywriting
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    You'd be expected to be able to get people to take out their credit cards and buy stuff. With respect, no one cares about your English degree. People looking to hire copywriters want results. SEO has little to do with copywriting though you might hear otherwise on this forum. Real copywriters would never compromise a written pitch by trying to work in keywords or any other elements of SEO.

    As for terminology, I don't know if studying posts on this or other forums is any advantage. My gut says it might have been at one time but not so much now. There are, however, plenty of inexpensive and free copywriting guides you can pick up. Not only that, you can do a search for popular copywriters and subscribe to their lists/blogs and pick up lots of useful information. Good luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author NEWATT
      Thanks! Appreciate your answer.
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Get on LinkedIn and start combing through job listings. That'll tell you much more about what an agency would want than any one opinion here could.

    FYI you'd be looking for junior copywriter roles to start. Nothing to do with you or your age - simply your skill set. You'd need to start in a junior role to get the on-the-job education you're hoping for.
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    • Profile picture of the author NEWATT
      Thanks, I'll check that out. BTW, how did you start out?
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      • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
        Originally Posted by NEWATT View Post

        Thanks, I'll check that out. BTW, how did you start out?
        NEWATT, go through the top copywriting books of all time (sticky thread), start with one's which appeal to you as a newbie, and read them, as you continue to hone your skills by gaining experience. Keep reading, keep practicing, and don't worry about the specifics of what you should and shouldn't know at any given time.

        Take it easy...
        -Cam
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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    First, you are right about the many hats a copy writer wears and the approach probably would be different for the specific job you are seeking.

    For example, you might interview with an agency which has catalog companies as clients, so your job might be writing catalog copy. I'd expect you to know what a sheet catalog is, and the writing would be different than for a regular catalog.

    I would expect you to be familiar with the lingo...an FSI, as example.

    My junior copywriter might get assigned to begin with a Free Standing Insert, a lift page, or the creative strategy being used.

    As with all job seekers, I advise a one of a kind approach to a potential employer, a custom created resume to match the job posting and if you did get in front of me and asked, "What do you do?" (In any shape or form) you would be quickly shown the door.

    I want to hear how you fit in with what we do, what you bring and are you willing to do, and the more inexperience you bring, I want to see the counter measure of hard work, maybe long hours and a burning desire backed with productivity,

    Here are a few "lists" to look over and get familiar with them:

    Glossary of Direct Marketing Terms

    SmartBiz.com: Small Business Resources - Glossary of Advertising Media Terms

    http://www.aai.ie/resources/uploads/...sing_Terms.pdf

    Good luck.

    gjabiz

    Originally Posted by NEWATT View Post

    I've looked at many posts here regarding newbies in copywriting and been directed to lots of good books on copywriting but as a newbie who would like to work for an agency or even as a freelancer approaching an agency for work; what would they expect you to know AS a newbie?

    What I've seen is that copywriting is a very broad field (after looking through all those posts). If I did approach an ad agency as a newbie with my spec ad portfolio looking for either an agency position or freelance work, what would they legitimately expect me to know how to do? What type of spec ads (print, internet, radio, t.v., etc.) would they expect to see in my portfolio?

    Is there specific software I should know how to work with?

    Are there specific terms I should know?

    Should I be familiar with specific statistical analysis companies?

    Is a working knowledge of SEO also a pre-requisite?

    I just want to make sure I'm not spreading myself too thin regarding topics that a beginner wouldn't be expected to to familiar with, so I can focus on getting things done that will actually get my foot in the door as quickly as possible.

    Please don't tell me to get an internship. I'm 50 and while I wouldn't rule it out 100% it's not likely.

    I already have a BA in English but no experience in the advertising field. There it is. Thank you for your help.
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    • Profile picture of the author NEWATT
      Thanks, this helps narrow things down a bit.
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  • Profile picture of the author WD Mino
    Here's what someone told me they did when starting out.

    They talked to former and current employees.
    They researched the company, the strengths and weaknesses.
    They asked people who have gone through the rigorous process successfully, what they brought to the table as far as the interview.
    He was interviewing for huge companies so he wanted to be prepared to answer, and be able to know what he was talking about. He studied, made himself stand out and landed a job at a major corporation.

    He figured out one company was wanting to hire him even though they said they hired someone else, but they were wanting a kind of response like... Well.. you made the wrong choice, good luck with that, kind of thing
    I am not an employee, so I don't know what is expected, but, I think taking the extra step beforehand may give you an edge over any other. It did for him.
    Best
    -WD
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    "As a man thinks in his heart so is he-Proverbs 23:7"
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