Copywriting Q&A: How to Work as an Expat Copywriter

How to be an expat copywriterIt’s many writers’ dream to live overseas and pen a few brilliant words every once in a while to pay for their apartment in Paris and the croissants that keep them fed. And here’s the thing: There are some copywriters that are able to do just that. However, it’s not quite as simple and idyllic as it sounds. Read on for the straight-up facts…

Today’s question comes from Alexis K. who asks, “My dream is to live overseas. Is that possible to do as a copywriter? Or am I just delusional?”

So, let me start out this conversation with the conclusion and then work backwards. The fact is that living and working as a copywriter overseas is hard, but it’s not impossible. If this is really your dream and you’re dedicated to making it happen, it’s possible to make it happen. It just may not be very easy.

(*A quick note: I’ll be talking from an American viewpoint, but everything here will hold true for your particular nationality. I’m using “American” as a shorthand, if you will.)

There are two ways you can make something like this happen. 1) You can work for a company overseas and write copy for them or, 2) you can live overseas and write copy for various freelance clients.

Let’s talk about the downsides of of road number one before we talk about the upsides. First, in order to work for a company overseas, they usually have to approve you for a work visa and that can be challenging to find a company that will be willing to do that. (It can be expensive and require a lot of paperwork.)

Second, you face the challenge of trying to write in a language that is not your native one. Even for an American, writing in British English requires a lot of learning and study to master the idiosyncrasies that make up the differences between American and British English.

Now, for a few of the upsides. For companies overseas that are specifically advertising to an American audience, hiring an American copywriter can be the best way to ensure that their copy resonates with that audience. This is an excellent scenario for a copywriter; you get all the benefits of working for a company, while still writing in your native tongue.

Another upside of this scenario is that you have the built-in social circle of your office. Moving to another country can be lonely, but having a group of coworkers that you can occasionally socialize with will help to make this a bit easier.

Now, let’s explore scenario two: working overseas and writing for freelance clients.

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Downsides: It’s especially difficult to get clients when you’re in a different country. You can’t meet in person for meetings and, though you can always Skype, that won’t be enough for some clients. Depending on the country, too, you may be living in a time zone that is several hours different from your potential clients and that may affect your working relationships.

Bear in mind, too, that if you’re living abroad and not there on a work visa, your taxes may be especially complicated and you may have to leave that country periodically, depending on their laws. (Many countries allow you to stay for up to six months without a work visa before you have to leave for a specified amount of time.)

On the upside, though, working for clients in your own country while working overseas means that you’re working in the language you’re most comfortable with and most likely to find success in. You may also find it comparatively easier to find clients in your country of origin than in the new country in which you’re living.

Again, I want to stress that both of these scenarios are possible. There are people living these lives right now. They’re difficult…but they’re not impossible. As you become good at what you do, you’ll be in greater demand and better able to direct exactly where you want to go.

If you want to live the life of an expat copywriter, now’s the time to start planning for it. The first step, of course, is making sure that you have the skills to actually write copy—and write it well. That’s why we created our training: to offer the most comprehensive online training available, with plenty of flexibility and help along the way. 

It’s possible to make your dreams come true—it’s just up to you to pursue them.

Your turn! Is copywriting overseas in your future? What are your plans? Let us know in the comments below!

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