What price copywriting training?

For many new copywriters, life is a Catch 22 situation.  They’re trapped and don’t know how to get out.

What is a copywriter?

People from all walks of life become copywriters.  Often they’re people who enjoy writing and perhaps have written some short stories.  Maybe they edit their local parish magazine or have a blog. It might be they’ve done an English degree and have a talent for writing.  For some, it’s about achieving a life-long ambition to be a writer.

That’s all a great start, but none of the above qualifies anyone to become a copywriter overnight.  Copywriting isn’t about writing a few grammatically correct, nicely-structured sentences.

The copywriter’s job is to write words that sell.  It’s about understanding the psychology of human behaviour.  It’s about motivation. It’s about writing so powerfully that people are compelled to act on your words. It’s about marketing and generating sales.  And without those skills, you can’t call yourself a copywriter.

The Catch 22

If you’re to earn a living as a freelance copywriter, you need an income.  That income comes from clients who are prepared to pay you for your skills and expertise.  But the people who will pay you a professional rate want to see evidence of your skills. You need a portfolio of quality work.

Of course, every copywriter has this problem when they’re starting out.  But for someone without the right skills and training to fall back on, the problem is even greater.

That’s where the freelance auction websites and content mills gain.  Like sharks circling, people posting jobs on these sites prey on freelancers who are so desperate to build their portfolio, they think they have no alternative but to work for a pittance.

Fancy a peachy writing job?  Well, take your pick from these found online just this week (jobs like this are two a penny):

  • 3 x 800 word articles by the end of today – bidding around £3 per article
  • 10 x SEO articles (400 – 500 words) – £4.50 per article
  • 10 x 500 word SEO articles – £22.00 (£2.20 per article)

If you follow this blog, you might have read Nexus Words’ guest post about the changes in the People per Hour rules, and how it is becoming just another site offering piecemeal, low-rent jobs.  These examples came hot off the PPH press:

  • 50 x 200 word articles with a maximum budget of £150 (£3 per article)
  • 10 pages of motivational website copy – maximum budget of £300 (£30 per page)

(Note the word ‘maximum’)

But WOW … potentially a £300 job! That could be tempting, but how long would it take you to write?  If you’re not sure about what this might involve, find out here why copywriting can’t be done in 5 minutes.  Suddenly, that job doesn’t look quite so lucrative, does it?  More than minimum wage certainly, but this is one of the better jobs on offer.

Sadly, many freelance copywriters never escape this trap.  They spend hours of their time pitching for jobs they don’t get, because someone, somewhere, is prepared to work for even less money. Jobs like this won’t help you build a strong portfolio or a loyal client base, and they certainly won’t pay the bills.

The solution

If you want to deliver a professional service and be paid professional rates, you need training.  And that means enrolling for a professional copywriting course.  In an earlier blog we looked at the staggering disparity between hairdressing apprenticeships and the average copywriter’s training!

But this is where our old friend Catch 22 rears its ugly head again.  Many copywriters say they can’t afford to pay for training.  But can they afford not to?

Do the sums

If you go to our enrolment page, you’ll see it will cost you £520 to study with the Copywriting Apprentice distance learning course.

Copywriter A (in the Catch 22 situation)

If you’re earning (let’s be generous and take the highest paid job article project above) £4.50 per article, you’ll have to write 116 x 500 word articles to pay for your copywriting course.

Let’s assume you’re a fast worker and you can complete one article an hour (research, plan, write, revise, proof and send), and you work 35 hours a week.  That would take you almost 3½ weeks to complete the project to pay for your training.

Of course, you wouldn’t be able to eat and you’d have to live in a cardboard box, but that’s the Catch 22 for you.

Copywriter B (trained and working for professional rates)

At a minimum rate of £30 an hour, as suggested on the Professional Copywriters’ Network website, your investment in your copywriting course would be paid for by working just 17.3 hours – effectively half a working week.

Surely, instead of saying you can’t afford to train for your career, you should be asking if you can afford not to.

How training will help you beat the Catch 22 trap

We’re not saying prospective clients will be beating a path to your door because you’ve taken a copywriting course.  Every freelance copywriter has to work hard to build a client base.  But the difference is, you will be able to charge a sensible rate for the job because you’re a trained, skilled professional and have made the effort to learn your craft. And you will be in a stronger position to win work. Investing in your career will give you:

Copywriting skills

If you study with the Copywriting Apprentice course, you’ll learn the skills you need to become a professional copywriter.  We assess you to make sure you already have the right writing skills before accepting you for the course.  Then we work with you to teach you about every aspect of copywriting and its role in marketing.

You’ll start out as a competent writer, but you’ll finish your training as a COPYWRITER.


Everyone has self-doubts, but knowing you have worked hard and have a professional training behind you, is a big confidence booster.  When you are building your freelance business and finding clients, you will be seen to be informed and knowledgeable.  Not only can you say you’re a professional copywriter, you have the training to back it up.


Copywriters need a portfolio to showcase their work.  When you study with the Copywriting Apprentice, you complete 12 written assignments.  While you won’t want to use all your course work in your portfolio, you will be able to demonstrate your skills in areas such as SEO copywriting, content marketing article writing, press release writing, newsletters and direct mail letters.

Marketing knowledge

As well as teaching you copywriting skills, you’ll also learn about the marketing techniques you’ll need to build your freelance business.

You will understand and be proficient in SEO, and able to promote yourself using online and offline marketing techniques.  During and even after your training, you will have access to our students’ resource library, which contains a wealth of guides and advice to help you throughout your career.


Perhaps most important of all, as a trained copywriter, you’ll have credibility.  You will have a quality mark to use on your website and marketing literature, and your prospective clients are welcome to contact our student office if they want to verify your credentials.

Have you heard the saying … there’s a ‘difference between price and cost’?  There’s a lot of  truth in it.  The price is what you pay to train for a career as a professional copywriter.  The cost is being stuck in the Catch 22 trap if you don’t.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy


Picture credit: 123RF

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