What’s a Junior Copywriter?

You’ve seen an ad for a Junior Copywriter. And you’re wondering what, exactly, that is.

So let’s shine some light on it for you by looking at it in two halves: ‘Junior’ and ‘Copywriter’.

I’m going to do ‘Copywriter’ first. If you’re not exactly sure what a ‘Junior Copywriter’ is, it’s perfectly possible that you’re not too sure what a Copywriter is at all.

So what’s a Copywriter?

A Copywriter is a person who writes ‘copy’. ‘Copy’ is the word that’s been used for decades to describe the written part of advertising and marketing material. The headlines and text of magazine and newspaper ads. The slogans on billboards. The scripts of TV and radio commercials.

More recently, it’s extended to include the digital media writing we call ‘content’: the written parts of websites, social media posts, email marketing and so on.

The easiest way to explain what a Copywriter does is to say only that they write on behalf of a business or organisation, and that the job of what they write is almost always to help the business or organisation sell its products or services, or convince people of the value of whatever it does.

Copywriters are used by clients because of their ability to convince people, by using words, to do things. And we do that in return for payment.

Like a lawyer, a copywriter doesn’t need to like or believe in her client. Her job is simply to tell her client’s story for them in as clear and/or persuasive a way as possible.

Copywriters and ideas.

If you’ve ever seen the TV show Mad Men, you’ll have seen what it was like to be a Copywriter working in advertising in the United States in the Golden Age of copywriting.

But the kind of copywriting in that show, where the Copywriters dreamed up clever marketing campaigns for big corporations, is just one particular kind of copywriting.

It’s called ‘conceptual’ or ‘creative’ copywriting. Thinking up a powerful, relevant idea, rather than writing a lot of words, is the most important part of that kind of copywriting.

There are still Copywriters who do that today, mainly in advertising agencies.

But there are many Copywriters who are less ‘creative’. They do work that is less about coming up with ‘a big idea’, and more about providing information, presenting a case or setting out an argument.

Both kinds of work are copywriting, and a good Copywriter is able to do both. But many brilliant ‘creative’ Copywriters are not great at dealing with complicated arguments and writing long pieces of text (‘long copy’, as it’s called). Equally, lots of excellent and in-demand Copywriters who can deal with complicated long copy are not very good at coming up with ideas!

If you’re thinking of applying for a ‘Junior Copywriter’ position, it’s very likely that the job will not be for a person to concentrate on coming up with ideas. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a good job, and it could open the door for you to move on later to a more creative position.

Where do Copywriters work?

In principle, a job for a Junior Copywriter could exist anywhere that they use Copywriters.

Such employers divide loosely into two camps. Some Copywriters work ‘in house’ or ‘client side’. This means they are employed by a company that is in some kind of business, to work on helping that company create its marketing.

So an in-house Copywriter might work for a bank or insurance company, or a real estate or construction firm. Or they might work for a pharmaceutical or healthcare firm, an engineering or software business, or a leisure or travel business. Or they might work in a public sector organisation, like a University or Local Government department.

Copywriters who do not work ‘in house’ work ‘agency side’.

This means you work in some kind of marketing company. This could be an advertising agency, digital marketing agency, web development company, social media company etc. The agency will have a set of client companies who are like the companies listed in the previous paragraph. The agency will look after some or all of the marketing for each of its clients.

So in a client company that employs Copywriters in-house, only a few people’s jobs will be to work on marketing. (Everyone else who works there will be employed to do whatever that company does for its customers.)

But in an agency, almost everyone will be a marketing person of one kind or another, working to help the agency’s clients.

How being a Junior Copywriter is different in an agency to client side.

For a Junior Copywriter, the opportunities in these two kind of companies will be quite different.

If you take an in-house role as a Junior Copywriter, you’ll gain experience solely of the business of the company you work for. And there may not be anyone in the company with real expertise as a Copywriter to help you develop.

If you take a job as a Junior Copywriter in an agency, in contrast, you’ll get to work on lots of different clients, in different business areas. There will also be some more experienced copywriters, and a Creative Director, able to help you learn how to do the job properly.

What qualifications do you need to be a Junior Copywriter?

Well this is the good part. You don’t really need any. It’s absolutely possible to leave school at the lowest age permitted wherever you live, and to get yourself a job as a Junior Copywriter.

You don’t have to have a degree from university, or passes in particular subjects in high school.

Having said that, education is a good thing, and most employers like to take on smart, enthusiastic people who seem keen to learn.

So, while there are no hard or fast requirements, I’d say that to get hired as a Junior Copywriter you’re going to need to show that you can write clearly and confidently in good English.

You will also need to be able to show that you have good, all round intelligence; an interest in the world and in business, and an awareness of what’s going on.

If you’ve been to college or university, and so have an undergraduate degree or equivalent, then there’s no particular subject that you need to have studied.

But clearly you will be expected, given your age and education level, to be able to write well and organise your thinking. You’ll need to be able to show some practical evidence of your interest in writing. A blog. Some magazine articles. A few vlog or short video pieces. To have nothing you’ve written at all to show is likely to go down badly.

Apart from that, anything you know, or can find out, about business and marketing will help you show why you’re a good choice.

What will you be doing if you get hired?

So if you land a job as a Junior Copywriter, what can you expect to be doing?

If you join either an agency or a client side employer as a Junior Copywriter you should expect, at the beginning, that you’ll be doing:

  • simple copywriting tasks
  • copywriting tasks no-one else wants or has time to do,
  • a fair amount of other tasks that don’t seem to be related to copywriting at all.

You’ll probably do a lot of social media posting. There’s nothing wrong with this. Use it as an opportunity to develop your marketing understanding, as well as your writing skills, and to show your boss that you’re capable and keen.

The important thing to realise is that being a Junior Copywriter is a stepping stone to becoming a Copywriter. That’s an interesting and well paid career that you’ll be able to work at for years to come. So be patient, get a smile on your face and say “Yes” to whatever you are asked to do.

Try to get experience on as many different kinds of work as you can.

And, if you are not the only Copywriter in the company, ask whether a more experienced Copywriter can be your mentor. If you have such a Copywriter to review your work and explain what’s good and what’s bad, you’ll progress much faster.

Avoid ‘Junior Copywriter & Something Else’ jobs.

Try to avoid applying for roles that appear to be looking for a combined ‘Receptionist and Junior Copywriter’, or ‘Data Entry Clerk and Junior Copywriter’.

The attempt to combine a ‘Copywriter’ role with positions like this tells you that the company does not really understand what a Copywriter is. It also suggests they won’t be placing a great deal of value on the role once you’re in.

They actually need a receptionist and think it may be possible to get someone to blog as well.

There’s nothing wrong with this if you like the sound of that balance. But if you’re considering a Junior Copywriter role to get you started on the road to being a Copywriter, it may be a dead end.

What can you expect to learn?

In even just a few months as a Junior Copywriter, you should be able to learn a basic grounding in marketing. Ask questions and people will be happy to tell you things.

You should also expect to learn about the business or businesses for which you write. (If you’re working in an agency that will be a few businesses, while if you’re client side it will usually just be the business of the one company you work for.

You should also begin to learn about the various media and platforms for which you’re writing copy. Make sure you get the opportunity to try writing blog posts as well as social media, say, or a brochure as well as newsletters.

All of these items have different roles and relationships with their readers. The more of them you get to try your hand at, the more you’ll learn.

What can you expect to earn as a Junior Copywriter?

How much you get paid as a Junior Copywriter will vary depending on a number of  factors including:

  • where you live,
  • whether you go to work in an agency or client side,
  • what your age and educational background are like when you get hired.

Being a Copywriter is a professional role, however, within marketing.

So you should normally expect to be paid better than somebody joining in a general or admin role, say, and perhaps the same as a Junior Sales Exec or Account Manager.

Take a look on recruitment site Glassdoor to get an idea about salaries.

The important thing to keep in mind is that Copywriting is relatively well rewarded as a career. Should you build a strong reputation or go into a particularly lucrative area such as advertising, you’ll earn a very good income once you graduate from Junior Copywriter to Copywriter.

How long will you be a ‘Junior’ for?

It’s impossible to say exactly how long you. This will depend on whether you joined the company with some prior copywriting experience, or as an absolute beginner.

Unlike some careers, copywriting has no professional examinations to take after which you automatically lose your Junior role title. So it usually comes down to how quickly you learn, become genuinely useful and require less watching over.

It may also come down to how willing your employer is to promote you, which will usually involve paying you more.

If you started as a Junior Copywriter with no previous experience, worked hard and progressed well, after two years you could probably apply for a job somewhere else as a Copywriter, rather than as a Junior.

If they were looking for someone with lots of experience you may not yet qualify. But by that time you should be able to work as a less experienced, but fully functioning, member of their team.

What should you ask if you go for a Junior Copywriter interview?

If you get as far as being offered an interview for a Junior Copywriter role, get along and talk about yourself in a confident and friendly way. Just avoid suggesting that you know all about being a Copywriter.

If you’re going into anything in a junior position, it’s best to recognise that your knowledge is limited.

Being keen to learn and pleasant to have around will be enough to get you hired.

When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, however, here are some things to ask:

• Will there be someone to mentor me and actually take the time to critique my work?

• Apart from mucking in as anyone would from time to time, will I be expected to do anything other than copywriting as part of my normal day to day job?

• Will there be the opportunity for me to progress from Junior Copywriter to Copywriter? If so, how long can I expect it to take before that happens if I’m doing well?

• Will I get a chance to try working in different situations and on different kinds of copywriting task, or will I be doing the same thing for as long as I’m here? (Remember, you learn far less doing the same thing every day than trying your hand at different things.)

Junior Copywriter? Get that job and start off on the road to being a Copywriter.

That’s just about all you need to know.

A Junior Copywriter is just a Copywriter in the making.

Give it your best effort. Read up about marketing and business in general.

And understand that it’s a business skill that uses some creativity.

It is absolutely not a creative free-for-all like writing novels, movie scripts or poetry.

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