Sometimes it’s as easy as knowing the right people, but what if you don’t?
It’s a familiar feeling for career seekers—how can you get experience if no one is willing to give you a shot? From the moment you decide to take a new career direction or switch jobs, the deck is already stacked against you.
This can feel especially true in super-competitive industries like marketing and copywriting; often, who you know can be just as important as what you know.
David Ogilvy, for example, after working his fair share of odd jobs–everything from being a tobacco farmer, social worker, chef, and door-to-door salesman–got into the advertising game thanks to his brother.
But what if you don’t have a brother who has his own ad agency like Oglivy? What if you don’t know any copywriters or marketers? What if you’re introverted by nature and making connections doesn’t come naturally to you?
Try reading a few books…
Read to Build on Your Existing Foundation
One particular copywriting legend, Joseph Sugarman, was tasked with writing an ad for a specific kind of watch. In order to do so, he first read everything he could get his hands on about it, according to The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook.
After, he spoke with insiders about how that watch was made, asking follow up questions all the while. As a result, he produced a well-crafted ad—a well-crafted ad that sold.
Simply because Sugarman recognized the importance of research.
Research is often broad in its reach–many times it requires marketers to read up on unfamiliar subjects. In The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook, Sugarman uses the image of a Rubik’s Cube to convey how copywriting borrows from many subjects not within the scope of copywriting itself.
Even Sugarman’s definition of copywriting reinforces this:
“Copywriting is a mental process the successful execution of which reflects the sum total of all your experiences, your specific knowledge and your ability to mentally process that information and transfer it onto a sheet of paper for the purpose of selling a product or service.”
You get that “sum total” from research and reading books.
The right books.
Is Getting a Copywriting Job Really as Simple as Reading the Right Books?
I wouldn’t say so.
Given that you don’t have a lot of experience copywriting, you need to understand the basics of it. I already mentioned The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook–that’s a great place to start. But there are so many other books that can give you a good copywriting foundation, such as:
- Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples
- The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells by Robert Bly
- Breakthrough Copywriting, How to Generate Quick Cash with the Written Word by David Garfinkel
But reading about copywriting is a lot different than learning it from people who practice it every day in the trenches.
Pathways to Copywriting Opportunities that Don’t Require Experience
Start-ups and growing businesses are great places to cultivate copywriting skills because there’s this sense of mutual support–as you support them, they support you.
Another way to get copywriting jobs without experience is to find a mentor and make a connection. This mentor will provide consistent feedback to help you improve your writing and establish credibility.
A few ways to do this include:
The main takeaway here is that you want to collaborate with people who will eventually vouch for your skills. What you’re doing is building a solid professional network of people and organizations you’ve worked with that can help you secure future and consistent opportunities to write copy.
Credibility Supports Job Opportunities
Remember that “sum total” Sugarman mentioned in his definition of copywriting? That “sum total” is based on your past experiences. For example, if you have experience in a given job–let’s say retail–you may be familiar with pricing and the psychology that underpins it.
Read up on retail marketing to translate your experience as a retail worker to copywriting. Once you do that, you can start small by writing a few blog posts for businesses that need such material.
The key here is that you have a specialty–a knowledge base–distinct from just copywriting that you can leverage to support your copywriting goals.
However you go about finding a copywriting job, whether through personal connections, internships, building your credibility, freelance/contract work, or those “odd jobs,” don’t let your current lack of experience keep you from pursuing future success. If you found these tips helpful, drop us a message to share your thoughts via chat below.