“Ooo, copywriting is really hard to get into.” That’s one of the most popular things for people to say when they hear you’re interested in the field. But why? And what is that based on?
So, let me start out with a little story. Practically anytime I’m at party or event and I meet someone new, we do the standard “What do you do?” exchange and I tell them I’m a copywriter. And pretty much invariably, I get back, “Ooo, that’s really hard to get into.”
Now, most often they’ll follow up with something like “my brother’s friend tried to get into it and just failed miserably” or “my college roommate tried that a few years ago and couldn’t make a go of it.”
So my first point is that this is all second-hand information—all speculation. That’s the first thing to watch out for. Everyone wants to have an opinion, but it’s pretty rare that the opinion is based on actual experience.
Sometimes, though, the person I’m talking to will say, “Yeah, I tried to do that and I just couldn’t make any money.” So my next question is always, “Oh? How did you go about looking for work?” And they’ll say they talked to friends of friends, or they applied to agencies. And that’s fine, that’s somewhat in line with what you have to do.
But them comes my next question: “How did you get trained to write copy?” And absolutely always, without fail, they answer, “Oh, I’m just a good writer, so I started doing it.”
And I’m not trying to embarrass or shame these people because they were doing they best they could, but that’s just really kind of nuts. I mean, any career is going to be hard to break into if you don’t have training or experience!
Do you think people who just like to draw land careers as graphic designers without learning design principles and building a portfolio? Or do you think that people who like to cook land chef jobs at restaurants without years of learning and experience? Of course not!
What real, working copywriters will tell you is that, yes, copywriting is very hard to break into—if you don’t have any training or experience. Every time someone who has no training or experience applies for a job, they’re up against other people who do have them. So who do you think the Creative Director is going to hire?
Copywriting is absolutely no harder a career to break into than any other one. But very, very, very few people are going to be able to successfully build a career if they don’t actually know how to write copy! (And there’s a big difference between thinking you know how to write copy and understanding the fundamental principles and advanced techniques.)
So, first, don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that it’s “hard to get into.” Either that’s not based on first-hand experience, or it’s based on the flawed premise that just because they like to write, the world would throw copy jobs at their feet.
You absolutely can be successful as a copywriter. Ab-so-lutely. But the key to being successful is going into it with a plan. You need to have a plan for how you’re going to get trained and how you’re going to get experience and how you’re going to get your questions answered and how you’re going to grow.
(And, Asha, I know you’re a member of our Comprehensive Copywriting Academy, so you’ve taken the right step. And we’ve put that plan together for you!)
Don’t let anyone who doesn’t know what they’re talking sway you from what you want to do. Stay focused, keep working, and look forward to when you can tell these same people that you’ve landed a the copywriting job of your dreams.
Your turn! Have you heard people tell you that “copywriting is hard to get into?” Who were they? How did you respond? Let us know in the comments below!