View Full Version : You for copy?...

08-25-2006, 04:34 AM
I would like to hear your opinions about copywriting.

Boobsie Malone
08-25-2006, 05:42 AM
It's unrewarding. It sucks. It pays the bills.


It's awesome! It rocks! And, it pays the bills!

08-25-2006, 06:12 AM
Boobsie, or anybody, could you paint a picture for me of what copywriting is like?

For example, you go to your desk and are asked to look at a box of wing-nuts and asked to write a paragraph making people want to buy a thousand of them. And then, when you are half way through, somebody puts a bazooka on your table...?

If asked for an example of some copy writing, what could one prepare?

08-25-2006, 07:24 AM
I do some copywriting. It's boring, is what it really is. It's never really sucked and it's definitely never rocked. Most recently, for example, I wrote descriptions of different kinds of bread for a baker's website. Personally, relative to what I get paid ($35/hour), it's not a bad way of making money.

The hard part about copywriting, in my humble, is finding clients. You've pretty much got to do at least some promo - schmoozing at local Rotary meetings, emailing old clients to offer updates, reading the biz section of your newspaper and contacting website developers et cetera and offering to help draft content.

I made a decision about six years ago that I wanted to earn a living and support my family by writing - that wasn't happening through novels and screenplays. So now I'm a journalist and occasional copywriter. I've published a slew of short stories and poems but the pay for those pieces - I make my stamps back, that's all. For me, it's worth it to work from home and earn money by writing, even if it's not my dream. I still slog away at creative writing, but in the meantime, I'm no longer choking in a tie in a court room trying to sell juries on guilt or innocence.

By the way, I have friends in major urban areas who make a lot of money as freelance copywriters - if you're a decent writer and you can sell yourself, it's not impossible by any means to earn a decent living. If you're trying to support yourself while writing the next great screenplay - it could work that way, too.

Boobsie Malone
08-25-2006, 08:19 AM

I don't know, is the short answer. I'm not really a copywriter, I just keep getting jobs.

Basically, I just happened into it. People knew I was a writer, so when a gig cropped up, they suggested me. I went in, the client told me what the project was, I assessed, and told them what I could do for them. Apparently, they liked what I said, and I set to it.

The next job, the people I'd worked for previously recommended me. Again, I went in, listened to what they had to say, assessed, told them what I could do for them.

The most recent job was because the company was short-handed, I happened to be lurking around (long story), they asked me to help out.

I've never done anything with bolts or pegs or... nor have I ever shown them a sample of work. It's really been a word of mouth thing.

However, if someone asks for copy on a bazooka, when originally they'd wanted copy for wingnuts... well, the way you handle that is up to you. You can either say:

"I was brought in to do copy on wingnuts, I don't do copy on bazookas."


"I was brought in to do copy on wingnuts, copy on bazookas will be extra."


"Hey, I was in the middle of doing this copy on wingnuts, but there's this bazooka, and I just came up with a really great idea for copy on the bazooka."

Personally, I treat each job as though it were a screenwriting job, so I'd go with the latter. If someone's bringing you extra work, I'd find a way to roll with it -- either asking friends for help (which I've done), asking the client for help, or... but, if I couldn't do it, I'd explain why I'm not able to, but that I would be completing the copy for the wingnuts, and chances are, they'd understand.

Hopefully this helps!

08-25-2006, 08:36 AM
It helps! Thanks, both of you.

More people: keep helping me!

09-01-2006, 02:04 AM
Okay this looks like my first post but I've been checking out Done Deal for three or four years. I recently started reading the forums again and this question piqued my interest.

Depends on what kind of copywriting you're talking about. If you're talking about what other folks here have described (product descriptions, long copy, etc.), it's not too fun, but can pay the bills.

If you want to go into copywriting full-time with the goal of writing commercials someday, it can be both lucrative and rewarding. Sure, it sucks too, and your ideas get killed every single day, but here are some benefits:

1) Your ideas get killed every single day. You'd be surprised how much can be learned from this process.
2) I've never sold a screenplay (despite writing 10 of them), yet I've been on production a ton, have funny commercials to show for it, and even got to work with some pretty cool directors.
3) I'm now friends with people in all phases of production. For example, if I ever had the courage to shoot that documentary I've been planning...I could basically have all the editing, effects and graphics done for free by pros.
4) Good money, as these people have stated.
5) I've learned to present the hell out of my ideas. When you're an unshaven 20something guy wearing a baseball hat and you sell someone a tampon commercial...it makes it that much easier to present a script idea you actually care about.
6) In my opinion, many reps and producers respect advertising...almost like it validates that someone else spent money producing your ideas.

Sorry to be long-winded, but I would totally advocate for more writers to go into copywriting as a profession on the way to doing whatever entertainment-based writing you want to do. It's been crucial in my development as a creative and you get to work around people who are all as creative and messed up as you. Hell, I bet it will be the main reason I make it (if I ever do) in screenwriting. Only hitch is that you probably need some "portfolio school" training to get into it these days.

But none of that helps if you're talking about the occasional copywriting freelance gig. Then I would heed Boobsie and just network, find small clients, etc.

09-01-2006, 05:47 PM
Copywriting is my day gig.

While I've done freelance copywriting (which sucks trying to maintain a steady workflow), I'm currently a full-time in-house copywriter for an electronics chain. And, while it can suck, it's mostly good. You're writing for a living and get to be creative (plus in the downtime, I can work on my current script).

I write everything from radio ads to print ads to email newsletters to even TV ads (and then even get to driect/produce the radio ads in studio). I get told the product/promotion and the theme/sale and then have to fit all of that into a 60-second radio spot or 40 words on a magazine ad...in some sort of creative way. And like Scripted, my ideas get killed every day and there's times they want something completely different, usually about two hours before we have to produce it in studio. You just grin and bear it and write as fast as you can.

This job has taught me two important things:
A) You don't have to wait for "the muse" to write. You can still write solid copy in even the worst of moods.

B) How to take and accept notes on my work. I get them every day and have learned that it's not personal, which has helped immensely in getting producer's notes on my script.

And if you're looking to get into copywriting (freelance or full-time), create some mock copy as samples: magazine ads, TV scripts, press releases, newsletters, catalog product descriptions, even instructional manuals. Just find some good samples across the net to see how it's done and then create some for a fictious company so that potential employers/clients can see what you're capable of.

09-02-2006, 06:43 PM
And I'm sure you thought of it, but craigslist is a great resource for finding copywriter job postings.

09-03-2006, 01:15 AM
I would like to hear your opinions about copywriting.

It can be fun. It can suck. It all depends on who you work for, how much creative latitude he/she/it gives you, and how much it pays.

It beats writing software manuals.

09-04-2006, 02:44 PM
This is a great thread everyone!

09-05-2006, 08:39 AM
Not sure that I can really add much since it's all been covered, but...

I'm an Associate Creative Director for a major ad agency.
What does this title mean? Not much. Just another way to say I'm a copywriter with ten years experience.

What's great about my job? A lot. Because I've built up a really great reputation, I get put on the juiciest jobs. When a big budget TV commercial for one of our big clients comes down...I'll get the creative brief.

I bring back several ideas and hopefully sell one. Then, it's off to bidding directors and shooting. (Almost exclusively in LA so I'm very familiar with that town and the folks at some really nice hotels.)

I write mostly comedy commercials and get to see my work sometimes on TV (which can be rewarding if it's a spot you're proud of).

The money is very good.

Shooting is a blast. I just got back last week from a shoot with an A-list Hollywood director that has done one comedy feature (so he's a good contact) and we had a lot of fun.

Ate at awesome restaurants, stayed at awesome hotels, etc. etc.

But make no mistake...getting to this point didn't happen overnight. And many people at my agency have been at this game longer than I have and still aren't at this point. It's just like anything else, hard work and talent will get you there.

But if you work hard and are talented...then why not concentrate on screenwriting? The same will happen for you there. And it will take just as long.

The only difference is you'll be making some money in copywriting as you struggle your way up the ladder.

Oh...and the negatives of my job?

1) It's very stressful.
2) Occasionally, it takes over your private life.
3) Travelling (even to exotic locations) can be a bad thing if it's too frequent.
4) Office politics are cutthroat in this business.
5) You must partner with an art director. This is like a forced marriage. Most everything you do is together. Like a cop's partner. This relationship is often difficult to manage.
6) It's very stressful.
7) Many of your ideas will die.
8) Even more of your ideas will change to the point you wished they had died.
9) If you're writing a screenplay while working in advertising...YOU ARE A CLICHE.
10) Did I mention it's very stressful?

But in the end, the positives massively outweigh the negs.

Hope this helps in some way.

Take care and good luck.,