No experience? No problem!
Most people associate this common saying with entry-level, low-wage jobs. But when it comes to copywriting, that’s simply not the case.
While success may seem far away for those pondering how to become a copywriter with no experience, the fact is that many copywriters who’ve built profitable careers started right where you are now.
As with any new skill, the only way to gain experience is to start at zero and work your way up.
However, copywriting is unique from many other types of work in that you can learn the skills you need in a self-taught environment. Copywriters can improve their abilities and build a portfolio of work without the barrier of needing a university degree or years and years of specialization to find clients and projects.
In other words, there are things you can do right now that will directly impact your future as a copywriter and set you up for the best chance of success.
While learning to market yourself and build and manage a business are critical components of copywriting, especially as a freelancer, it’s important to build up the skills to do the job first. Having that foundation of knowledge about copywriting and the skills you’ll need will give you the confidence to make the business side work.
Copywriter Exchange is here to guide you through those first steps of building a successful copywriting career. Here’s what you should know about how to become a copywriter with no experience.
Copywriting: From the Beginning
Square one for how to become a copywriter with no experience is to understand the basics, including:
- What is copywriting?
Copywriting represents a broad spectrum of marketing projects, brands and topics, and client expectations. When exploring the field of copywriting, it’s good to understand the various roles you might take on as a copywriter and what types of work you want to pursue. Copywriting can include projects such as advertorials, email campaigns, press releases, social media postings, whitepapers, landing pages, blog posts, long-form articles, eBooks, and more.
A client may be looking for a copywriter for specific categories such as direct marketing, social media, technical copywriting, branding, thought leadership, or building search engine optimization (SEO).
- Specialization: What do you want to write about?
While it’s possible to write about a diverse set of topics for clients from vastly different industries, this approach means you must accept you’ll be doing a lot of research every time you start a new project. You’ll essentially be learning brand-new topics from scratch—and that’s on top of the usual work of learning a client’s brand voice, audience, house writing rules, the ins and outs of their products or services, et cetera.
Unless you’re already familiar with the topic, you’ll be doing much more work on the front end of the project.
Another approach is to choose a niche market you’re either already knowledgeable about or interested in and to seek jobs in that industry. This approach has several advantages. You’ll become a subject matter expert, which means you can write more efficiently and confidently for brands in your chosen industry. It also means you’ll build a body of work within that industry, which can then be used to market yourself for similar—and higher paying—projects.
Building a portfolio of work within a specific industry has a cumulative effect, allowing you to attract clients more easily within that industry.
Building a Foundation
Once you have an idea of what copywriting is and how you plan to gain the experience you need, it’s important to build some basic foundational knowledge on those topics.
There are many resources available to help you on your journey to becoming a copywriter. These can include blogs, forums, podcasts, books, articles, seminars and networking events, and more.
Here are a few of our favorite resources for general copywriting knowledge.
Moz—Moz is your one-stop shop for everything SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process by which you optimize your content to rank as high as possible on organic Google searches. This can include keyword research, link building, alt text, improving domain authority, and more. Moz offers high-quality premium SEO software and also provides free resources, including beginners’ guides, webinars, step-by-step guides, blogs, and more.
Ahrefs—The ahrefs blog covers diverse marketing topics, everything from local online marketing, to freelancing tips, to content marketing for SaaS (software as a service) companies. If you’re looking for a resource that covers both SEO and a lot of general marketing topics, ahrefs is for you.
Content Marketing Institute—This resource gives you access to information on a variety of content marketing topics, such as content creation, distribution, operations, and optimization, as well as audience building, SEO, and social media. They also offer events, training, consulting services, and job listings.
Semrush—Semrush offers a variety of resources, such as webinars, ebooks, and blog posts, and Semrush also offers marketing software tools for keyword research, link building, market analysis, social media management, and more.
Copywriters may or may not hold degrees in English, journalism, marketing, business, or anything else. However, copywriting certifications let you gain experience while you earn an achievement to legitimize you for clients and in-house marketing jobs. Many are also asynchronous programs, so you can earn a copywriting certification on your own schedule.
Take, for example, EDU by Content Workshop, a program that offers courses on topics such as digital and print writing, on-page SEO, writing to match a brand, and the basic business skills of starting a freelance career.
Certification programs help you master critical skills when learning how to become a copywriter with no experience, including the following.
Copywriters are more than just skilled listeners; they’re active listeners. Writing effective copy means tapping into 6 key active listening skills. Clients appreciate a copywriter’s ability to understand their target audience’s motivations, concerns, and expectations–without losing sight of the call to action.
SEO is a crucial skill to master when it comes to online marketing, specifically content marketing. SEO is all about driving organic traffic from Google to your client’s content, ultimately turning them into marketing and sales leads. A copywriting certificate will cover the basics you’ll need—and in some cases, advanced SEO strategies—to optimize your content and drive organic traffic.
No one expects a copywriter to be Bill Shakespeare, filling every sentence with ornate language and flowery metaphors. In fact, that’s really the opposite of how a copywriter should approach their writing. While opinions vary, it’s generally believed that good copy should be written somewhere around the middle school level. There’s even a formula to test how readable your copy is. A copywriting certificate can teach you tricks of the trade when it comes to writing clearly to a specific audience within a brand’s voice and expectations.
Marketing Content 101
A copywriting certificate should teach you how to write different types of marketing content and what the goal and approach to each should be. For instance, a white paper has a vastly different purpose and appeal than a light blog post introducing a topic. A certificate program should allow you to practice and apply these skills—and go through an active assessment so you can gauge your learning outcomes as you go.
Next Steps on How to Become a Copywriter with No Experience
Whatever tools, resources, or learning programs you use, there’s always more to learn. When learning how to become a copywriter with no experience, the journey will continue throughout your career. Novice and veteran copywriters are learning new things about their craft daily.
As you grow in your career, you may take additional steps to gain new skills and connections, such as attending conferences and workshops, teaming up with other freelancers, and investing in copywriting tools to help you achieve your goals.
Hopefully, these are the first of many steps toward becoming the copywriter of your dreams.
Connor Holmes is a content writer with Content Workshop who comes from a diverse writing background. He worked as an award-winning public safety staff writer at his hometown newspaper, The Cape Coral Daily Breeze. He earned his MFA in creative writing and has professionally published fiction and poetry. He has also tutored English to students from grade school to grad school.
At Copywriter Exchange, we’re a group of master content marketing pros who bring their diverse talents and backgrounds to bear on the art and science of creating high-performance content tailored to your needs. We exist to help copywriters thrive in today’s economy by connecting them with the resources they need to step up their game. Join now to access our templates, guides, and courses to help you grow your career, skills, and network.