Laying the foundation for confident writing takes years.
My first writing gig was for a news radio station in Rhode Island. A few of my first assignments were to write about local events and cut audio clips from the morning news to post on their website. Having a little notebook and getting to go to fun events around Providence helped me live my broadcast journalist dreams while writing about interesting topics in my community.
While I was in college, I wrote profiles on professors and took a course on writing for magazines, where I started to understand the difference between writing academic papers and citing sources and writing compelling magazine stories that are still well-researched and definitely still cite their sources.
After those experiences, I was a marketing coordinator at a PR firm in Philadelphia, NouSoma Communications, where I wrote press releases, created press kits, identified PR opportunities, and wrote pitches for publications. This helped me understand audiences, and catering to different industries or demographics.
Content marketing = creativity + strategy
Once I started working in marketing full-time, I realized how much I enjoyed blog writing and coming up with conversational sales copy — it was the perfect blend of writing, creativity, and using my marketing skills.
Content marketing combines strategy, creativity, and an understanding of the audience. Once you understand the pieces and how they work together, you can take on any topic or marketing challenge.
With a strong foundation in research, creative writing, marketing, and journalism, you can thrive as a content marketer. (And once you have a handle on grammar rules, you can break them and start sentences with and.)
Getting started as a marketing copywriter
But without practice in each of these areas, it’s really tough to write compelling conversational copy. I feel lucky that I’ve been building these skills over many years, but when people ask me how they can get started, they often think it’s easy and will happen overnight. But it takes a lot of reading, writing, reviewing edits and feedback, practicing, and trying again to become a confident writer on a variety of topics.
The most seasoned copywriters and content marketers get hung up on explaining complex topics in a clear, succinct way, so don’t get discouraged if you’re struggling to articulate a concept. My advice — ask for a quick brainstorm with someone who knows about the topic or at least understands it. Sometimes, talking it out helps to get your thoughts in order and untangle a creative block.
To get started as a copywriter, practice writing about topics that interest you, submit pitches to magazines and publications that you respect, and don’t stop trying. Once you start following editors on Twitter who are looking for pitches, you’ll start seeing lots of opportunities show up. Some editors will give feedback on your pitch, which will only help you have a better chance the next time. There are paid writing gigs out there and the only way to level up your skills is to get more practice. Good luck!
Copywriting resources for beginners
- HubSpot’s Content Marketing Certification (free)
- The Craft of Magazine Writing, UCF ($129, self-paced)
- AP Stylebook
- WebFX Readability Checker
- The #WritingCommunity on Twitter
What do you want to hear about next? Let me know on Twitter @katboyarsky.