Starting a career in copywriting

Guest blog by student copywriter, Graham Soutar

Graham Soutar trainee copywriterSix months ago I didn’t know what a copywriter did; now I’m studying to be one. I’ve recently started a distance learning course and here are some of my experiences and thoughts so far on my journey starting a career in copywriting.

I’ve been a salesman for ten years and learnt very early on in my career that if I wanted to be the best I had to understand the ‘psychology’ of selling. So what does that mean? Simply put, it means understanding what makes people ‘tick’. What are your customers’ needs and wants? And how will you persuade your customer to buy the products or services that’s just right for them; the very same products and services that you have to offer. These skills are very powerful to the salesman; they are also very powerful to the copywriter.

I hadn’t realised there was such a close relationship between selling and copywriting.
This is great news, I can utilise the skills I have learned over the past decade as well as satisfying my creative side.

So why do I want to concentrate on writing?

Well, throughout my sales career I have been involved in the decision making process for various marketing activities; producing leaflets, brochures, and newsletters. Learning to write better copy will help improve the success of future promotions, increase the impact our brochure will make to the consumer and hopefully ensure our newsletters will at least be read by our potential clients instead of immediately being filed in the bin!

My long term goal however, is to become a full time freelance copywriter. Why?

  • Having young children – it will help me have a better work/life balance
  • I’ll get the chance to write about a variety of different subjects
  • I enjoy being creative and have a passion for marketing and writing

Also the time has never been so good to be a copywriter. In these dark days of recession, companies have to work harder at promoting their products and services; more advertising means more opportunities for you and me. However, I’m under no illusion that it will be an easy or ‘pain free’ experience. But there are some important steps we can take that will help us make the best start for a career in copywriting.

Should I enrol on a Copywriting Course? Why not?

You will have access to established copywriters who have a wealth of experience. You will have the opportunity to complete assignments that are based on ‘real life’ scenarios and you will also build up a body of copy that will help you put together a portfolio to showcase your work to potential clients.

Read, Read, Read!

Start reading more books, newspapers and magazines. Always be on the lookout for good copy. Start a ‘swipe file’; folders that will help you catalogue all the good copy you’ve found; headlines, sales letters and press advertising to name just a few examples. This file can help you when you need inspiration for writing your own copy.

Join Social Networks

Twitter especially can be a good social network to join (if you haven’t already). Follow copywriters and authors; read the blogs they produce; join in their conversations, become part of the copywriting world. You can pick up great advice from the experienced professionals that are having success right now!

Start writing

Research is vitally important to making an informed decision on your future career … BUT, just reading about being a copywriter will not give you the experience or feedback you need to improve your writing skills. You need to put your learning into practise. Contact your local parish magazine, charity organisation or start your own blog, but just start writing.
One of the most exciting things about life is that we never stop learning and it’s never too late to develop new skills.
If like me you are starting out in this wonderful industry, GOOD LUCK!
And don’t be daunted by the journey ahead.


Graham Soutar has 10 years experience as a sales professional. In that time Graham has been responsible for developing sales & marketing strategies and mentoring sales teams.

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