I don't know too many people with a knack for words that dream of becoming copywriters. But honestly, I hope that changes. I went to college with a totally different plan, but have certainly found a fulfilling path.
Most of my attention, as a kid, went to fiction. I won short story competitions, and spent hours trying to come up with new worlds and characters. Everyone at my alma mater, Emerson College, focused on either fiction or poetry for their first few years of school. And I'll be honest-- I'm fairly terrible at both. By senior year, I repositioned my focus to magazine publishing. Then, by graduation, the print publication industry fell apart in the real world. It was time to pick up the pieces!
I graduated college a semester early, and within two weeks was employed as an e-commerce copywriter for GUESS.com. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea why I was hired. I had some experience with fashion journalism, but it must have been my magnetic charm that caused the team to bring me on board. I did some pretty standard work for e-commerce copywriting-- product descriptions, banner ads, landing pages, and e-mails.
It was great work for someone who had dreamed of working with fashion magazines. E-mails and banners brought out my inner headline writer; product descriptions were like narrating runway shows.
Copywriting is a great way to indulge your inner nerd. GUESS was an in-depth education in fashion tech. I was encouraged to speak with designers, sewers, buyers, and PR reps to learn as much about the clothes as I could, to sell them properly. I can tell you the difference between every kind of pleat or pocket!
I segued from GUESS to a Hollywood PR firm. Covering both celebrities and lifestyle products, I will be honest with you-- this was the hardest job I have ever had, and not at all glamorous. While it was a great education in the entire Hollywood process (and I can pick Oscar winners like nobody's business now), I doubt I would ever go back.
PR might be a steadfast copywriter’s worst nightmare. Every day is different—and if you work for a successful firm, there’s at least one new client a week. As someone who appreciates long-term branding and strategy, I was a wreck most days.
I currently work as a writer in both editorial and copywriting for a wine and food writer. While my main job is to contribute to his editorial outlets, I have also been hired to work as a social media and branding copywriter for his company. This is the best of all my past jobs, rolled into one—there are definitely things I get to geek out over, plus a long-term, brand-focused goal that fits well with the way my brain works.
There are just a few things I’ve learned in my short career as a copywriter. I’m trained to avoid clichés, but this one fits: learning keeps the job exciting. One way to do this is by working for a business that thrives on the unknown.
But if you can’t handle the stress (like me!), try to find a niche in which you have at least a little interest. I honestly learn something new every day—and that’s what will always keep copywriting fresh.