A copywriter is a person who writes words for marketing materials.
Everyone needs words to get their point across and businesses are no different. Since the mid-1800s companies have hired writers to help advertise their products and services. And now with the internet and social media there’s never been a bigger need for brands to speak in a way that resonates with their audience.
Copywriters work either freelance, agency, or in-house. They’ll always be involved in writing words and they’ll often be involved in coming up with concepts for marketing activities, whether it’s a TV ad that needs scripting or a social media post.
These days there’s nothing to stop you getting your writing published, it might initially be self-published in a personal blog, but with the right amount of experience and interest you can pursue a career in copywriting. Here we look at how you get started, how you develop a career and how you can get paid (and taxed).
The main focus of a copywriter is to be persuasive. The words you write will often have an end goal whether it’s to buy a product or visit a site, so it’s important you understand the types of work that will come your way. You could do this for a number of clients or employers, everyone needs a professional to get their messaging right, and they could all have different expectations. In terms of the type of employment copywriters are either:
The work over any given week can really vary too. You could be writing a script for one client and a blog post for another. Here are some common copywriter tasks:
To become a copywriter you need to have a pretty strong grasp of how words and grammar work. Traditionally this meant having a Bachelor's degree in English, advertising, journalism or marketing, and for in-house copywriters applying for jobs this is still often a requirement. But hiring managers are increasingly looking at samples of work rather than educational background, so as long as you can show your writing in all its glory you should find opportunities.
Here’s a few pointers to get started:
To get paid as a copywriter you need to land jobs that pay for your work (of course!) and this isn’t necessarily difficult, but getting paid enough to make ends meet can be. The average in-house copywriter makes about £25,000 on entry level, £37,000 at mid-weight and after about 15 years, a senior creative (taking on a lot more duties) can make around £90,000.
Meanwhile as a freelancer the sky's the limit, but so is the floor. An experienced freelance copywriter charges between £350-£500 per day, while when you’re just getting started you’ll be taking on jobs that range between £50 for a one off or £100 for a day’s work.
The anticipation is that you’ll always start small and gradually bring your fees up with experience.
If you’re a freelance copywriter, then each year you need to fill out a self-assessment tax return. What you pay is your tax bill minus the expenses of running your business. You can read more on how to complete your self-assessment tax return in this Earnr article.
The usual cut off date to complete your self-assessment is the 31st of January if you’re doing it online, and 31st of October if you’re completing the form by post.
If you’re an agency or in-house copywriter, then you’ll pay by PAYE, which is where your employer deducts income tax from your monthly pay cheque before you get it. So you don’t need to do anything.
Earnr allows you to track your ingoings and outgoings over the course of the year, and automate your tax return. You mark each payment you receive and each expense to your income so that by the time you get to doing your tax return, we’ll have everything we need to do the process for you.
We also give you real time projections for your income as the year progresses so you know how much tax you’ll need to pay. You can say goodbye to manual bookkeeping!
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