You’re mingling at a party.
You get introduced to a new group.
Some dude with slicked-back hair, a big watch, and those stupid pointy leather shoes shakes your hand a little too firmly.
“What do you do for a living?”
You say, “I’m a copywriter.”
He says, “Oh. Legal. Got it. I’m in real estate.”
Before you can correct him he’s assaulting someone else’s hand.
You stand there in your flip flops and breathe a giant sigh of relief. “Thank god he didn’t ask any follow up questions. Now I can drink.”
If you dare to become a copywriter you can look forward to many scenarios like the above.
People will be confused by what you do for a living. When you say “copywriter”, they will hear “copyright”.
People will assume you make little-to-no money. But Slicky McGoo in the story above will need to sell 3 expensive houses this month to keep up the pace.
And oh yeah, this party might be the first time you’ve been “forced” to leave the house because you work from home and set your own hours. “No Saturday open-houses for me, Slicky.”
What Is Copywriting?
“Copywriting is the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing.”
Mmmk. Thanks Wikipedia.
Here’s how I explain it to my mom:
“I write ads.”
That’s plain and simple the easiest way to explain what copywriting is.
The best ways to get paid as a “copywriter” are to write promotional…
- Ad campaigns (for Google or Facebook).
- Sales pages or Video Sales Letters.
And all these things have the purpose of selling something.
That’s the important distinction.
Copywriting is meant to sell something.
That’s why it’s sometimes called “salesmanship in print (or text)”.
Editorial writing is meant to express something… like an opinion.
You CAN be a content copywriter. You write content that leads towards a sale.
You CANNOT be a journalist copywriter. You don’t want to lead someone to think. You want to lead them to ACT.
And preferably that ACTION is to buy something as soon as possible.
So during the holidays, if mom or a relative asks what you do, you say, “I write ads.”
She’ll think about Madison Ave and you can resume drinking heavily with your uncle Bob.
Copywriting IS NOT Copyrighting.
Again, if you make the mistake of telling a layman:
“I’m a copywriter.”
They are going to hear, “copyrighter.”
And think you’re some kind of lawyer.
Copyrighting is, of course, the act of securing the legal right to publish, perform, film, etc.
So they’ll ask, “You help people copyright their work? Like music?”
Then you’ll have to use my canned response and say, “Oh no, I do copywriting for ads. I write ads.”
Why Are You Thinking About A Career In Copywriting?
Here are the main reasons why most people get excited about becoming a copywriter:
- You can work from home or anywhere in the world. I’ve lived in Thailand, Argentina, and Colombia. I now live near the beach in San Diego, CA.
- You don’t need qualifications. I have a degree, but I’ve used it approximately zero times. A lot of the best copywriters I know didn’t even finish college.
- You can actually make a lot of money without a ton of physical effort… or even really hourly effort. It’s one of those skills that can help you get paid while you sleep. Making money while you’re awake is sooo early 2000’s.
- As a business owner, copywriting will make you more sales and more money. A lot more business owners should ve interested in learning how to write copy… but they’re always so busy.
What Qualifications Does A Copywriter Need?
Anyone can become a copywriter. Literally anyone.
I’d say it’s better the dumber you are because you won’t overthink things.
The cool part about copywriting is that there’s only one requirement…
That you are able to produce the results you promise your clients.
It’s that simple.
You don’t need a degree, or a certificate, or a license. (I’ll sell you one of those if it makes you or your parents feel better.)
Let’s drill into this for a second: “Can you produce the results you promise your clients?”
If you’re a freelance copywriter, can you make the amount of sales you promise you’ll make for someone?
You say to a client: “I’ll write you an autoresponder (emails) that will make more sales than you’re currently making.”
If that’s true that’s all you need.
As you get deeper into the game, you’ll understand better what value you bring to your clients… which means, your rates are not fixed. You can charge more and more as you get better and better.
But the bonkers thing is… if you can produce results, you can apply the “advanced” tactic of value-based pricing for your services immediately, before you have a ton of experience.
Essentially, you base your rates on how much net profit you anticipate bringing a client. You can also base it on a percentage boost you’ll give to a client over their current conversion rate. Value-based pricing is a topic for another article but know that it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
How Much Money Do You Copywriters Make? “Can I Make Six-Figures?”
Hey, how big is your…?
But seriously, this is a tough question to answer. It’s not a normal career.
The best copywriters in the world, who are working for bigger companies, can demand up to $1M a year plus bonus incentives.
This is not professional sports, or even Wall Street, where the top people can make $100M in a year.
If you’re a pure copywriter… and an employee… your income will be capped in this range even if you’re the #1 person in the entire world. You’re still an employee.
The nice part, however, is that once you learn the skill of copywriting, you’re never limited in how you use that skill.
In other words, you can use those sales skills in whatever scenario you choose.
I have lots of friends who make millions a year as business owners. A copywriter can also be a business owner.
But to answer the question: six-figures as a copywriter is very achievable. Of course you have to work hard and smart.
I’ve had students achieve the six-figure level in under 6 months.
I’ve had others without as much fire or natural talent take longer to get there.
I’ve had still others who didn’t have a lot of time to devote in the beginning, use copywriting as a side-hustle, and eventually build up their business over the course of several years before quitting their regular job.
Look… copywriting is still writing. Some folks are going to be better writers than others and will ascend faster.
However… again, this is NOT professional sports. You don’t have to be the best of the best to make a decent living and add value to the businesses you work with.
You don’t have to take a traditional path to be successful as a copywriter.
Some people will work more than others.
Maybe it takes you 40 hours a week to make a six-figure salary.
But another copywriter has found a more lucrative niche and/or they’re a more gifted writer, so with only 20 hours a week, they make six-figures.
The interesting thing is, you really can have a choice in the matter unlike other professions. You can work more or less. Experiment with rates, etc. and make as much as you want.
The possibilities are endless.
What’s The Best Way To Learn How To Become A Copywriter?
You’ll hear some snarky “veteran” copywriters say, “Just start writing copy, that’s the place to learn how to write copy.”
They’ll tell you to avoid books, courses and coaches and “just write”.
In what other career do people give you that advice?
“Just go start lawyering, dude.”
That’s going to cost you a lot more time, energy (and money) than getting a solid foundation with a copywriting book, course or coach.
That’s why I created CopyHour and why I have copywriting coaches here to help.
A great first step on your copywriting journey is to join my free copywriting newsletter. I’ll send you a 5-part training series on writing copy that sells.