Many new and would-be copywriters ask me about getting a copywriting certificate—some sort of proof that they know how to write copy. How else will employers or clients know that you know how to write copy? But not only is a certificate not necessary, it could actually be detrimental to your job hunt.
You do, however, need training. You need to know how to write copy. But a certificate doesn’t prove that. Here’s why.
The Truth About Getting a Copywriting Certificate
I completely understand the desire to get a copywriting certificate. You want a piece of paper that says, “Yes! She knows how to do this. You should hire her.”
But a copywriting certificate doesn’t mean that you can write copy—it only means that you can pay for a course that gives you a certificate at the end. (After all, what do you call the guy who graduates at the bottom of his medical class? Doctor.)
Employers and, in particular, creative directors know this. In fact, in a lot of ways, getting a copywriting certificate marks you as a newbie: You don’t know enough about the business to know that a certificate doesn’t make you anything special.
And getting a copywriting certificate will definitely hurt your job hunt if you’ve put your focusing on getting one in lieu of doing something else…
What You Need Instead of a Copywriting Certificate
People want to get a copywriting certificate because they want proof that they can write copy. But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. The very best proof that you can write copy is samples of well-written copy.
In other words, the best proof of your ability to write copy is a great portfolio.
If your portfolio is full of work (whether paid work or spec ads) that shows that you understand the principles of copy, you know how to collaborate with a designer, you can adapt your writing to companies’ various brand voices, and you can write across a variety of media—if that’s the case, you’ll have your proof right there.
And, of course, before you even begin to build your portfolio, you have to actually know how to write copy. Easily the biggest cause of failure among would-be copywriters is people who just decide one day that they are copywriters and start applying for work.
Copywriting is an entire career and, as with literally any other career, it requires training. There are things you need to learn before you can do it. And, by the way, as part of this copywriting training, you should be building your portfolio and learning to find work. Otherwise, it’s useless.
(If you’d like more information about our copywriting training, you can check it out here.)
Your turn! Have you ever wasted money on a certificate for something and come to regret it? Or do you have a “proof is in the pudding” story? Let us know in the comments below!