How to Become a Copywriter at an Ad Agency

If you love writing catchy headlines, witty slogans, and engaging scripts, you might be interested in becoming a copywriter at an ad agency.

Copywriters are the creative minds behind the words and messages that appear in digital and print advertising campaigns for various clients.

They work closely with art directors, media planners, and buyers to develop and execute effective and memorable ads.

But how do you get started in this exciting and competitive field?

What skills and qualifications do you need? And what can you expect from the job?

As a seasoned entertainment reporter with years of experience in news, gossip, and celebrity biographies, I have some insider tips to share with you.

Here are some steps you can take to become a copywriter at an ad agency and land your dream job.

An image illustration of copywriter ad agency
Copywriter ad agency

1. Enroll in a copywriting course.

While you don’t necessarily need a formal education in copywriting to succeed in the industry, it can certainly help you learn the basics and hone your craft.

A copywriting course can teach you the mechanics of the language, the principles of persuasion, and the best practices of writing for different media and audiences.

You can also get feedback from instructors and peers, and build a portfolio of your work.

There are many online and offline courses available, ranging from short workshops to comprehensive programs.

Some of the popular ones include:

  • The Copy Cure: A self-paced online course by Marie Forleo and Laura Belgray that teaches you how to write copy that is clear, concise, and captivating.
  • Copywriting Essentials: A 10-week online course by the Australian Writers’ Centre that covers the fundamentals of copywriting, such as headlines, body copy, tone of voice, and SEO.
  • Copywriting for Creatives: A 12-week online course by Ashlyn Carter that helps you write copy that connects with your ideal clients and converts them into buyers.
  • Copywriting Masterclass: A 4-day intensive course by D&AD that gives you the opportunity to work on real briefs from leading brands and agencies, and get feedback from award-winning copywriters.

2. Develop your portfolio.

Your portfolio is your most important asset as a copywriter. It showcases your skills, style, and versatility as a writer. It also demonstrates your ability to write for different clients, media, and objectives.

To build a strong portfolio, you need to have a variety of samples that reflect your best work. You can include projects that you did for your copywriting course, your previous or current jobs, your blog or website, or even spec work that you did for fun or practice.

Some tips to make your portfolio stand out are:

  • Choose quality over quantity. Only include your most impressive and relevant samples that match the type of work you want to do.
  • Organize your portfolio by category, such as web copy, print ads, social media, scripts, etc. Make it easy for potential employers to find what they are looking for.
  • Provide context for each sample. Explain the brief, the client, the target audience, the goal, and the results of your work. Highlight the challenges and solutions that you encountered along the way.
  • Showcase your personality and voice. Don’t be afraid to inject some humor, emotion, or flair into your writing. Show that you have a unique and distinctive voice that can capture attention and persuade action.

3. Be open to small jobs.

Getting your foot in the door of an ad agency can be challenging, especially if you don’t have much experience or connections. That’s why you need to be open to small jobs that can help you gain exposure, build relationships, and prove your worth.

Some of the small jobs that you can look for are:

  • Internships. Many ad agencies offer internships to aspiring copywriters who want to learn the ropes and get hands-on experience. Internships can be paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, and last from a few weeks to a few months. They can also lead to permanent positions if you impress your employers.
  • Freelance gigs. If you prefer more flexibility and variety, you can look for freelance gigs that suit your skills and interests. You can find freelance opportunities on platforms like UpworkFiverr, or PeoplePerHour, or by networking with other copywriters, clients, or agencies.
  • Contests. If you want to challenge yourself and showcase your creativity, you can enter copywriting contests that are hosted by various organizations, publications, or websites. Contests can be a great way to test your skills, get feedback, win prizes, and get noticed by potential employers. Some of the popular copywriting contests include:
    • The One Show: An annual award show that recognizes the best work in advertising, design, and digital media.
    • [The Chip Shop Awards]: A creative award show that celebrates the best ideas that have not or could not run in the real world.
    • [The Young Lions Competition]: A global competition that challenges young creatives to produce a campaign for a charity or non-profit organization in 24 hours.

4. Learn the market and know how to brand yourself

An essential objective for a copywriter is to retain, allure, and acquire fresh clients on behalf of their clients by harnessing the power of language, strategic image positioning, and persuasive techniques.

To market themselves effectively and secure clients, copywriters must possess a fundamental understanding of advertising principles.

To successfully attract clients in need of their expertise, copywriters must incorporate elements such as marketing tactics, product positioning, identifying target audiences, and the establishment and maintenance of brand identity into their strategies.

What does a copywriter do?

Copywriters specialize in crafting compelling content for distribution through various channels.

They engage in persuasive writing to inform, captivate, and entice the audience to make immediate or future purchases of products or services.

When entrusted with a client’s advertising plan, a copywriter generates creative concepts to capture the attention of the intended audience.

Meticulous attention to detail and precise word selection are essential in the craft of copywriting, where each element serves a specific purpose.

Copywriters are held to the expectation of delivering nearly flawless content, contributing to effective marketing and the establishment of a coherent brand identity.

Typically, copywriters juggle multiple projects simultaneously, necessitating strong multitasking skills. Additional responsibilities may encompass writing content for:

  • Emails
  • Direct mail materials
  • Media campaigns and catalogs
  • Press releases
  • Billboards
  • Promotional flyers
  • Radio commercials
  • Television advertisements
  • Social media promotions

Frequently asked questions

Is online copywriting the same as general writing?

Online writing and general writing have distinct differences, primarily driven by purpose and style. Copywriting is persuasive, can convey information, and is promotional, designed to engage and captivate an audience.

Do I need to be an experienced writer to get started?

While a grasp of proper grammar, spelling, proofreading, and sentence structure (syntax) is essential, you don’t necessarily need extensive writing experience to begin. What’s crucial is your enjoyment of the writing process and the challenge of using words to attract an audience in copywriting. Through practice, you’ll craft high-quality content tailored to specific needs.

What types of writing do I need to know?

Copywriters encounter various requests, including blogs, web content, social media posts, advertising copy, creative writing, and more. Clients often provide guidelines, and you’ll collaborate with editors to refine content and formatting.

Which type of copywriting is the best?

The ideal choice for copywriting depends on your personality, career aspirations, and preferences. Freelance writing offers flexibility but can be inconsistent. If you’re new to social media or starting from scratch, building an audience and income source may take time. With a passion for writing and determination, you can succeed in freelance writing on your chosen topics.

For those seeking an office-based career with advancement opportunities, a position as an agency or corporate copywriter may be more suitable.


Becoming a copywriter at an ad agency can be a rewarding and fulfilling career for anyone who loves writing and advertising.

However, it also requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance.

By following the steps above, you can prepare yourself for the job and increase your chances of landing it.

If you found this article fascinating you may want to check out:

Leave a Comment