Being an advertising copywriter is a different gig to other kinds of copywriting. In the main, the skillset of an advertising copywriter is a conceptual one, and it’s his or her ability to solve problems in an appropriate but imaginative way, rather than to write, that secures a job.
It would be virtually impossible to become a freelance advertising copywriter straight from college. The industry is highly competitive and the skills required to fill that part of the overall advertsing job which is the copywriter’s really need to be acquired while working in-house for an advertising agency. So a few years in-house is virtually obligatory.
Once you’ve done that..well…I’d suggest having a few more years. The reason is this.
Being an ad copywriter is enormous fun. You get to work with larger budgets, on known brands, and to make TV commercials, or see your work in national papers or on poster sites. Most clients who want work of this kind are of a sufficient size to want or need to work with an advertising agency.
Very few clients, or agencies, will put their work out to freelancers, and those that do will tend to use very experienced freelancers who first spent a long time inside an agency.
So. Be warned. It’s hard to get a job as a trainee advertising copywriter because of the competition.
But the competition only exists because it’s fun, and well paid.