There are so many paths for pursuing a career as a copywriter. It’s easy to gravitate toward the idea of being a digital nomad copywriter, working from anywhere in the world, or even from your kitchen table as a full-time freelance copywriter. Working in an office as a copywriter may seem like the last thing you want to do!
That’s a particularly easy dream to have if you’ve been stuck in a 9-to-5 job in a stuffy office with a manager that doesn’t value your work.
And while a heels-in-the-sand office is a valid goal (just keep that sand out of the keyboard!), it makes agency and in-house copywriting jobs seem like a complete drag.
But here’s the truth: There are some fun copywriting opportunities in offices. And working in an office is a great way to kickstart your freelance career (if that’s your goal).
We’re here to bust the top five myths of working in an office as a copywriter.
Myth #1: You Have Less Work-Life Balance
On the surface, it can seem like working remote—whether from home, a coffee shop, or the beach—has more flexibility. To some extent that may be true, depending on the projects on your plate. But you still have to get work done.
The nice thing about an office? When you leave the office, you’re generally done for the day. The physical separation between work and your home can help you turn your mind off.
When you work from home, it takes a more concentrated effort to disconnect.
Plus, there are offices that understand that employees have lives outside of work. They have kids to pick up from school, doctor’s appointments, and emergency vet appointments when their dogs eat the carpet.
As with any job search, you’ll want to get an understanding of the company culture. For example, many companies (particularly since 2020) have shifted to focus on the work employees get done versus the hours they work or when they work those hours.
Anecdotally, all the offices I’ve worked in were extra flexible with things like doctor appointments, working from home with sick children, or really bad breakups (seriously).
Many companies may not post their work philosophy on their website, but don’t write them off because of it. If you’re interested, go through the interview process and ask for what you need to get your job done, whether that’s multiple work-from-home days or working hours that are more conducive to your personal schedule.
The worst case? You get offered a job and turn it down.
Myth #2: It’s a Stuffy 9-to-5 Job
Alright, we already hit on the fact that you may not end up working traditional office hours. But even if you do, it’s not all cubicles and crummy drip coffee.
Many offices have a laid back, permanent casual-Friday vibe that makes them less stressful (and more fun) than traditional, formal office settings.
Some offices let you bring your dog to work. Others pay for continuing education, whether that’s sending you to a relevant conference across the country or covering some—or all—of the costs of higher education. Some jobs offer catered lunches in addition to ridiculous amounts of rotating snacks.
Patagonia famously offers employees the ability to go surfing when the waves are good outside its Ventura, California, office (the founder of Patagonia writes about it in his book).
I once worked at an ad agency in Seattle that always had two local beers on tap and wheeled around a bar cart during the holidays with hot chocolate and all the fixings: whipped cream, sprinkles, candy canes, and more.
When you find the right work culture, it’s usually because the people are great. And when people are great, it makes it easy to want to come to work and do your best.
Myth #3: It Pays Less Than Freelance Work
While it’s true your hourly rate as a full-time employee in an office may be less than your freelance or contract rate, it doesn’t mean you’re ultimately making less money.
As a full-time employee, your employer pays half of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA). This is the amount paid toward Social Security and Medicare that every employee—whether full-time or self-employed—pays. However, if you’re self-employed, you pay the employer and employee portion, which is why you factor this into your rate.
But you do get benefits as an employee. Most companies offer healthcare, retirement plans (often with the opportunity for matching employer contributions), vacation time, paid holidays, sick time, and other paid time off. You can certainly build benefits into your freelance rate (there’s no need to be beholden to the golden handcuffs).
Myth #4: You Can’t Choose Your Projects
When you’re in an agency, it’s true you’re tied to working for the agency’s clients. Similarly, on an internal marketing team, you’re tied to working on projects for that organization, whereas when you work for yourself you can pitch the clients you want.
But just as you can pitch prospective clients as a freelancer, you can pitch your internal teams. Not only will this demonstrate your value, it may also allow you to work on projects you want to work on. For example, if you see an opportunity for a new email within the welcome series, talk to the product or marketing manager! You may be able to get the project added to your plate.
When looking for an in-house or agency role, you can also take a look at the types of projects you’d work on and the clients you’d work with. Apply to the organizations you want to work for. If you’re passionate about sustainability, look at both companies that create sustainable products, but also look into organization’s corporate sustainability programs. There may be companies you don’t even realize are contributing significantly to a cause you believe in.
And remember that as a freelancer, you may end up taking a less-than-glamorous project because a client you work with on an ongoing basis needs extra help on a project. You may not love that one single project, but you love working on most other projects with the client.
Myth #5: It’s a More Stressful Work Environment
In an office, you may find you have more time to work on a project than freelancing.
Generally, project managers build a significant amount of time into projects. This often allows for more concepting, giving you space for additional creativity.
Of course, it can sometimes feel frustrating if there’s a lull at work. You may feel tied to your desk until 5 PM. This is the perfect time to come up with ideas to pitch your internal team, come up with solutions for improving internal processes, and more.
And the best part? You’re getting paid for that!
Will there be times you’re at the office late? Absolutely. Maybe your agency is responding to a request for proposal, or RFP, and there’s a time crunch to get it done. Or maybe internal stakeholders gave last-minute feedback, but the deadline is unmovable.
But you’re in it with a team. And more often than not, you have an experienced project manager providing ample room in the schedule.
It also doesn’t mean you won’t face long days as a freelancer. Sometimes projects inevitably overlap—despite your best efforts to schedule everything so that doesn’t happen. But you want to provide your clients great service, right? So, you’ll get it done. Even if it means a thirteen-hour day.
Having worked in office for about half my career and on my own for the other half, I recognize that, as with everything in life, there are pros and cons to both. And what works for one person may not work for another person. Or what works at one stage in your life and career may not work in another stage in your career.
But that’s what’s so great about copywriting: it’s flexible. You can shift between on-staff, freelance, and contract roles. You can shift from full-time to part-time and back again.
The key is finding what works for you—and reevaluating that every so often to make sure it’s still the best option.
Have you worked in an office as a copywriter? What were the pros? What were the cons? Let us know in the comments below!
Last Updated on December 27, 2023