What it’s like to be a copywriter

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It was St. Patrick's Day. I don't wear that hat all the time. I swear.


Considering a job as a professional copywriter? Here’s a quick rundown of the day to day pros and cons.

There’s plenty of variety. Any given day, I might be working on billboard headlines, radio scripts or website copy. I might be writing about whiskey, fecal incontinence, or the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Good job for an introvert. I have just the right balance of sitting in my office working alone in blessed peace, and collaborating, brainstorming, and joking around with my coworkers.

You need an organizational mind. Not that every slip of paper on your desk has to be alphabetized, but you have to be able to decipher a garbled mess of notes, identify main points, and rework it until it not only makes sense, but it’s easy and fun to read. And you have to enjoy it. For hours on end.

You have to work under deadlines. This scared me at first, but I soon discovered it isn’t so bad. You get in the habit of writing for long periods of time. You discover new ways to tap into your creativity. And it sparks your imagination like crazy. I had to get an Evernote just to keep track of all the ideas that come to me randomly throughout the day.

Burnout does happen. I was afraid writing copy full time might mean I’d be too burned out on the weekends to work on my novel. It happens sometimes – last week, by Saturday, just thinking about writing made me kind of sick. But most weeks I can start writing around two on Saturday afternoon and work into the evening (with a few breaks). I take Sundays off.

You’ve got to have thick skin. People are going to ask you to change your work. But it’s a lot easier to distance yourself emotionally from copy than from, say, your novel. I mean, you’re passionate about the copy you write (otherwise you’re doing it wrong), but it’s not your soul on paper (like your novel is).

Your writing improves. Fast. Practice makes perfect, after all.

You’re not allowed to lie. Forget the stigma that all advertising professionals are spin doctors. We tread carefully with every word we write. We don’t make any claims we can’t back up with solid evidence. Even if I know my client makes the best cowboy boots, I can’t say so, because it hasn’t been scientifically proven. Sure, we make our clients sound as awesome as possible, but we’re only telling the truth.

You learn something new every day. I know more than the average Joe about a dozen different subjects, including rodeo clowns (those guys are freaking awesome), banking legislation (you lost your free checking because of restrictions on overdraft protection), and where to get heavily discounted home improvement materials while helping struggling families become homeowners (Habitat for Humanity’s “ReStores”)!

You can believe in your clients. Maybe I’m just lucky to work at an agency that pursues the best clients, but the more I learn about my clients, the more I believe in them, and the more excited I get about telling their stories and showing the world how great they are.

You get to tell people you’re a writer. At a party, when somebody asks what you do for a living, you get to say “I’m a writer.” That never really gets old.


Do you write for a living? What kind of work is it, and do you enjoy it?

About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an award-winning copywriter, aspiring novelist, and barely passable ukulele player. Here, she offers writing prompts, tips, and moderate-to-deep philosophical discussions. You can also find her on and Pinterest.
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  1. Thanks… I learned a lot from what you wrote… very interesting job you have from my perspective.
    Keep up the good work…I always look forward to emails from you.
    Siggi in Downeast Maine

  2. Best part of your job? You get to tell people you’re a writer. Fantastic!

  3. Copywriting sounds like a fun job. To bad I already have a job selling eye wear online. The writing I do everyday— bullet pointed descriptions of sunglasses. Bullet points do better on cell phones. I’ve not heard of Evernote–very cool. Thanks.

  4. Working under deadlines actually helps me. Otherwise I find myself staring at the computer in frustration. Then I get out three sentences, then stare again. Deadlines give my brain a sense of urgency. Back in high school, the teacher would say write three paragraphs in the next ten minutes, and i would spit out three pages. No exaggeration that actually happened in 9th grade. And i did that all the time. But after high school or whenever i just sit at the computer to write, it just doesn’t come to me. So anyways great post. It’s cool to get a sense of what you do for a living. I do research all the time but most of its for fun.

    Oh and by the way, wheres jinx and scribbla? They’re gone!! Gee, im gone for a little bit and this whole website falls to peaces. Hahaha im just kidding. But seriously, there gone!!!

    • A sense of urgency! Exactly.

      I haven’t heard from Scribbla or Jinx (or Jinx’s brother) – or Debra, for that matter (you remember her!) in quite awhile. I figured they were as busy as you were. I’ll have to drop by their blogs and check up.

  5. Hello from a fellow Copywriter 🙂 Great post.

  6. I work as a freelance copywriter and the hardest thing is getting paid. Writing and chasing the invoices. Wish I could charge an hourly rate for that.

    • Oh, goodness. I can imagine. That’s one plus of working for an agency – someone else deals with all that “check’s in the mail!” stuff. Can’t you charge any up-front “administrative” costs for invoice-chasing?

  7. Are there any formal presentations involved?
    Hate that jazz.

    • I personally don’t do that many formal/client presentations, but do occasionally. It’ll vary depending on where you’re working. I do a lot more informal presentations to my team or my boss – talking through ideas or reading through scripts, for instance. I don’t like it either, but it does get easier, and I’ve found that I’m usually the best person to read my work – no one else gives it just the right inflection or gusto. Then if it’s a TV or radio script and you need an actor to read it, you’ll usually be there at the recording session or shoot to help direct the actor and make sure THEY read it to match your vision.

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