Copywriter Salary, Job Description, and Career Path

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Companies everywhere are constantly engaging with existing and potential customers about their products and services. When Apple introduces a new iPhone model or Amazon has a limited-time sale, their first order of business is to get the word out about their latest offerings.

Companies in all business sectors require written messaging to describe their products or tell people why they should take advantage of their services. Moreover, this content must be informative, enticing to customers, and speak in the voice of the brand. In short, businesses need copy provided by copywriters — the expert wordsmiths who create written messaging for companies and marketing agencies.

Since copywriting requires a firm command of language and the written word, a bachelor’s degree, such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in English, is a solid first step toward this professional goal.

When considering whether to become a copywriter, it’s natural to ask questions such as: “What is the current copywriter salary?” and “What does a copywriter do on a day-to-day basis?”

A freelance copywriter is jotting down ideas in a notebook while working on his laptop from home.

Copywriter Salary

Copywriters may work for a company, a marketing agency, or be self-employed. When self-employed or working on a freelance basis, a copywriter’s salary is whatever rate they chose to set. Typically, freelancers charge clients on an hourly basis, a per-word rate, or by the project. Copywriters who work at companies full time are usually part of an in-house marketing department or at a marketing agency hired by other companies in need of copywriting services.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), writers and authors earned an approximate annual median salary of $67,120 in 2020. Additionally, the compensation website PayScale reports that the median copywriter salary was about $53,000 as of August 2021. For marketing copywriters, PayScale reported an August 2021 median annual salary of $50,000. Salaries can be affected by factors such as location, employer, and level of education and experience, among other variables.

Copywriter Job Description

On a day-to-day basis, copywriters typically write about products, services, or other topics on a company’s behalf, adapting their approach to the medium they are writing for. Copywriters will develop short-form copy such as headlines, taglines, and social media posts, along with long-form copy such as blog posts for the company’s website. Whatever form the copy takes, the written content must always be in the company’s voice so it aligns with the brand. Copy must also be informative and enticing to gain the reader’s trust and attract their interest.

The copy typically concludes with what’s referred to in the marketing industry as a call to action (CTA). The CTA is written to encourage the reader to take decisive action. Some of the most simple and basic examples of CTAs include “click here,” “buy now,” “subscribe,” or “learn more.” The more readers are persuaded to act, the more successful the copy is deemed to be as measured by certain performance metrics. Great copy generally equates to high click-thru rates, low bounce rates, high transaction rates, and longer-than-average session times on the company’s website.

The copy’s purpose is what differentiates copywriters from content writers — two roles that people sometimes confuse. To be clear, copywriters write to motivate a potential customer to take a specific action, while content writers aim to educate or entertain. A fiction novel is an example of content writing, while an email blast that persuades people to buy that novel is an example of copywriting.

How to Become a Copywriter

Companies that hire copywriters prefer candidates with the right educational background and work experience. Earning a marketing degree is an appropriate path to learn about the marketing industry as a whole (copywriting included). However, for students who wish to pursue a career in copywriting specifically, an English degree is a better choice because it focuses on language, writing, editing, and other applicable skills. A degree combined with solid writing samples usually is enough to qualify for an entry-level position as a copywriter.

For those who want to build out their portfolio of copywriting work during college or after graduation, on-the-job experience can be obtained via internships or by obtaining freelance work. Copywriters with years of experience and large portfolios of high-quality work are better positioned to move into a lead or senior copywriter role. A promotion, of course, will have a positive impact on a copywriter’s salary.

Skills Copywriters Need

Copywriters need a particular skill set to be successful. First and foremost, they need a firm command of the English language. They must also be versatile to write for different platforms and clients. Copywriters write in the tone and voice of their clients, which means they often must shift gears throughout the day and adapt their writing style accordingly. Copywriters also must be consummate self-editors who can spot and correct their own mistakes.

Additionally, copywriters need to be fast and efficient researchers. One important skill is the ability to find information about a product or service and then translate that information into engaging, persuasive copy that triggers the intended action (clicking, subscribing, buying, etc.).

Finally, a copywriter must be flexible and able to accept criticism. Typically, a piece of copy goes through multiple rounds of approvals from several different individuals before it’s deemed suitable for publication. During this process, many suggestions for edits and changes to the content may be made. The onus falls on the copywriter to accept feedback and direction and apply it to the copy. Although most of the work is done by one person, copywriting is ultimately a collaborative effort.

Many Paths to Success

Copywriters play an important role in developing informative and persuasive written messaging that engages customers and motivates them to take a specific action. Companies rely heavily on copywriters to market their products and services, which is why most in-house marketing departments and outside marketing agencies have at least one copywriter on staff.

If you’re eager to embark on a career as a professional copywriter, Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in English is a solid first step.

Courses such as Advanced Creative Writing, Writing about Literature, and Writing Across the Disciplines are designed to hone your craft as a writer and develop your skillset. Graduates with an English degree are well prepared to take on freelance projects and work for companies that employ professional copywriters.

Let’s be brave together. Take the first step toward your professional goals today at Maryville University.

Recommended Reading

A Career of Creation: How to Become a Writer

Creative Jobs for English Majors

How to Become a Social Media Copywriter

Example Sources

American Writers & Artists Institute, What Is Copywriting?: AWAI’s Essential Introduction to the Copywriting Industry

Dan Lok, Who Hires Copywriters?

Forbes, Content Writing Vs. Copywriting In Digital Marketing: What’s The Difference?

Indeed, Copywriter Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Inspiring Interns & Graduates, Five Essential Skills For A Copywriter

PayScale, Average Copywriter Salary

PayScale, Average Marketing Copywriter Salary

The Balance Careers, What Does a Copywriter Do?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Writers and Authors