Posts filed under Copywriting

Lauren Pope: Copywriter & Social Media Marketing Manager


Name: Lauren Pope

Age: 24

College Major: BA English Lit/Creative Writing

Current Location: St. Louis, MO

Current Form of Employment: Copywriter/Social Media Marketing Manager

Where do you work and what is your current position? 

I currently work for Imagery Marketing Group as a Copywriter and Social Media Marketing Manager. I specialize is social content creation, marketing copywriting and all things social media.

Tell us how you found your first job and how you found your current job.

I spent the summer after graduating cold applying to every publishing house I could. I’d gone to school to become an editor and one day a publisher, so I was blindly following that path with little to no success. In the five months I applied to editorial positions I only heard back from one Big Five publisher and that interview didn’t go anywhere past the first round.

I was at dinner with family and friends when one of my fathers friends jokingly mentioned that the marketing group his company had hired didn’t know how to write to save their lives and he casually mentioned they could use someone like me. That’s when I broadened my search and discovered the world of marketing. Another family friend mentioned the FleishmanHillard internship program after I expressed interest in marketing and that was how I got my start.

I swear by LinkedIn when searching for jobs. LinkedIn and Glassdoor are the two websites I recommend every job seeker utilize to their full advantage.

My current position was found through LinkedIn. My experiences with Fleishman and my LinkedIn page scored me the interview and I was hired the same day I went in to talk with the people at Imagery. I swear by LinkedIn when searching for jobs. LinkedIn and Glassdoor are the two websites I recommend every job seeker utilize to their full advantage. 

What was another writing-related job that was important to your career?

Being a freelance copyeditor. I work for Booktrope for freelance work and I think editing the work of others has made my own writing stronger. You can get stuck in a rut with your writing that sometimes it’s nice to step back and see what others are putting out into the world. You can see different writing styles while editing and decide you like something that someone else is trying, or see something you don’t like at all and figure out why you don’t like it. Editing the work of others really centers you on your own voice and preferences. 

What did you do in college to prepare you for post-grad life?

Internships! Internships of any kind. I had a year of editing experience by the time I left college through two internship programs at my University. When I was applying at Fleishman I had no marketing experience, but the fact that I was an editor by trade really helped me stand out to them. Almost any skill is transferable if you know how to spin it. So my advice is to start looking for experiences you can bolster your resume with while you’re still in school. 

And join a book club. Join a writing guild. Join clubs and programs that compliment your skills. Don’t play down the fact that you’re an English major. You need to embrace your strengths.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

If you’re going to claim you’re a writer on your resume or in a job, you need to have published work or a portfolio. When I first started applying to jobs I was telling people I was a writer because, well, I am. But I was writing short stories that weren’t a good fit for company applications. Thankfully the company I applied to had a writing test so I could prove my chops, but I lost several opportunities because I didn't have "real world friendly" writing pieces to highlight my skills. Start a blog or find a website that does think pieces and write for them. Write original pieces for your LinkedIn page. You just need to have something tangible that you can bring to the person hiring to show them that you can write. It seems like a no brainer but you would be surprised.

LinkedIn is my other piece of advice. Weaponize it. It’s Facebook for the corporate world. Go to Walgreens and get a decent headshot of yourself for your LinkedIn page for $3 and spend an afternoon really crafting something that shows your strengths as an English major and writer. People will look you up on LinkedIn when you’re interviewing and a strong profile can make or break you. Use it to connect to industries you want to work in. Find others with the job you want and message them to ask them how they got there. Join groups and use it to meet and talk with people in the industry you're trying to break into. Use it to find a job. LinkedIn is the best resource people aren’t using.

Chelsea Phipps: Community Management Lead

Chelsea Phipps: Community Management Lead

Sydney Turnquist: Social Media Coordinator

Sydney Turnquist: Social Media Coordinator

Mollie Turbeville: Content Editor & Freelance Book Editor

Mollie Turbeville: Content Editor & Freelance Book Editor

Posted on January 17, 2016 and filed under Copywriting, Social Media.

Sam Slaughter: Fiction Writer & Brewery Social Media Manager

Name: Sam Slaughter

Age: 26

College & Majors/Minors: Elon University - BA, 2009, English/Creative Writing & Anthropology. Stetson University - MA, 2014, English.

Current Location: DeLand, FL

Current Form of Employment: Fiction Writer and Brewery Social Media Manager

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I currently work as a social media manager for a small craft brewery in DeLand, Florida. Starting this fall, I will also be an adjunct professor at the institution that I received my MA from. In addition, I do copywriting or editing for a few different people in town on a client-to-client basis.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

I fell into one, and for the other it was just as easy. I’ve always been interested in beer, wine, spirits, brewing, et cetera. From the time my college roommate and I attempted and eventually made abysmal homebrewed beer, I knew that it was always going to be something that I circled. In stories, I think Flannery O’Connor was the one that said you had to have your characters circle the same drain, or something to that effect. Alcohol, both making it and writing about it, is my drain. When I moved out to Montana for Grad School 1.0, I called all the wineries in the area and asked if they’d teach me. One place got back to me and did so. When I got down here, my boss’s husband knew some people that homebrewed and invited me over on a day they were brewing. I brewed, then did it again and then again. I stuck around. As they began to visualize a brewery, I was always there. I made the beer, I poured the beer, I drank the beer. With previous bar experience, I was/still am necessary to the brewery in the sense that I know more about the beer than most and I can also sell it better than most (an ability to play with words helps this out a lot). I may not be able to talk to strangers face to face on the street (the writer part of me coming out), but I sure as hell can sell you a pint of craft beer from behind a bar.

For the position with the university, I asked. After graduating, I was trying any and everything to find a job that would allow me to pay my bills. Teaching appealed to me—I’d co-taught a class while a grad student with my mentor and I have other teaching experience (City Year, an Americorps program)—so I sent an email inquiring about open positions with my university. Thankfully, they had some, I interviewed and now I’m preparing to fly solo with my first college class.

To address the last part, it all happens by networking. In such a small town, it isn’t hard to be known for your words. When you make enough acquaintances who then learn you can write and write better than most, copywriting jobs occasionally pop up. Business isn’t booming, but by asking people if they could use better copy for websites or whatever, you get a job here and there. It keeps me writing a variety of things and it, who knows, could lead to other freelance gigs in the future. I just keep asking and letting people know I’m available.

What was another job that was important in your career? 

Practically, an important job was working for a newspaper as a beat reporter. Two years after I graduated from Elon, I moved from Montana, where I'd spent a year floundering in graduate school, back home to New Jersey, where I took the job as a reporter. I learned a couple of things while at that position. First, I learned to write in the very basic, journalistic way that I had neglected to do throughout college. Working as a reporter for a small weekly, you learn to strip away any of the fancy bells and whistles of language in an effort to paint a simple portrait of, say, a town council meeting. In defense of town council meetings, though, there is no place for fancy bells and whistles. 

Not so practically, a job that sticks out for me is a summer I spent working as a gravedigger. You can call it a cemetery groundskeeper or a lawn facilities technician or some other fancy title, but I was a gravedigger. I used a shovel and I put people in the ground. It sounds harsh, I know, but it was also the perfect opportunity as a writer to learn. This job, and any other not-so-important jobs I’ve held over the years, especially ones that are more manual labor than intellectual labor, allow for time to think. I plotted stories while I worked, even if I never wrote them. I catalogued details of place. I tried out dialogue while I was out amongst the headstones weed whacking.

I try to balance practically and impracticality in my life if for nothing else than to remind myself that I need to make mistakes or I’m going to lead one hell of a boring life and more importantly a life not worth writing about.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I wish I could say I did something specific. I didn’t though. Like I said earlier, I just happened to circle the same drain a lot. Really, there were two drains, so maybe this has to turn into a simile more like two planets, some gravity, and a ball in the middle. I swung from one orbit to the other and back in a figure eight pattern for a long time. Similes aside, I knew from a young age (eighth grade or so) that I wanted to write. I knew later on that I wanted to be around alcohol. Whatever I was doing, I kept those two things somewhere in my mind. They weren’t always in the front, but they were there. If your passion is strong enough, you learn to mix it into your everyday life. That’s all I did. I made sure words and booze were around all the time. The booze part is more difficult than the words part, but you learn over the years how to do it. As long as you know you haven’t forgotten about it—and the sheer fact that you remind yourself not to forget about whatever it is being the proof of that ( I think that’s how that works)—then you’ll be fine. Find your passion and don’t let it go.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

If you want to be a writer, try to have a job that does not involve writing. It may sound counterproductive, but I felt the least inspired (and the least energized) to write when all I did all day every day was write. When i got home, I had enough energy to go to the gym and then I'd sit around and complain about my job to my family. Instead, find some physical. Use your body and tire out everything, but your mind. Work somewhere where you will interact with people. Even if it isn't something permanent, it'll be useful. Work in the service industry. If you want to write in any sort of genre, this experience will give you settings, characters, you name it. The weird people you will meet when you work at a bar will provide an endless font of ideas for stories, poems, essays, everything. If nothing else, it'll provide an insight into how not to treat other people when you are out to dinner and that, I feel is quite useful in life.

[Sidebar: Working in a job where you write some, I think is also a good thing, though seeing as that is what I do, I recognize that I am bias. I like to think of it like an engine—writing all the time it'll overheat and you'll be left on the side of some lonely highway in North Dakota wondering whether or not a true crime show was shot in the area, but writing some of the time keeps the engine running, and running well so that when you do get to write you can perform optimally.]

To add to that, and this will sound cliché so for that I apologize, but try stuff. Live a little. When you spend all of your time with your nose in a book or sitting in front of a lit screen, you tend to miss out on things. I'm not saying go out every chance you get—that is probably as useless as never going out unless you take damn good notes—but don't be afraid to occasionally interact with others. Most won't bite and if they do, they're probably trying to be playful. If they're not, then you've got one hell of a story if you get out of there alive.

Finally, writing is a job, so expect to always (unless you're one of the incredibly successful and lucky ones) to always hold down two jobs. One you may never get paid for, but it deserves just as much attention if you want to be successful at it. Write and read whatever and whenever you can. Fail at writing and get rejected a lot. Get hurt by the rejection, fume over it, hug a teddy bear or a loved one, have a beer, strengthen your resolve to not let it happen again, then get back to it. It sounds a bit harsh, I know, but if you're not writing with a passion that can overcome that stuff, then why write?

Visit Sam on his professional website and follow him on twitter @slaughterwrites.


Kat Clark: Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications

Kat Clark: Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications

Dan Moyer Jr.: Screenwriter

Dan Moyer Jr.: Screenwriter

Christine Stoddard: Writer/Filmmaker, Co-owner & Creative Director of Quail Bell 

Christine Stoddard: Writer/Filmmaker, Co-owner & Creative Director of Quail Bell 

Posted on July 17, 2014 and filed under Copywriting, Freelance, Journalism, Self-Employed, Social Media, Writing, Teaching.

Larry Castro Nadorra: Copywriter


Name: Larry Castro Nadorra

Age: 23

College & Majors/Minors: AB English with focus on Linguistics, Literature and Language Teaching

Current Location: Manila, Philippines

Current Form of Employment: Copywriter at Cre8 IFC Inc.

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I work for a Singapore-based digital design agency which specializes in annual reports. As a copywriter, my task is to conceptualize the design of annual reports while providing taglines and text for the inside pages. I also do some ghost writing for CEOs and chairmen for their corporate statements whenever I’m assigned one. I’ve been doing this job for more than a year now and so far I have been able to meet the expectations of clients whose businesses are listed in the Singapore Stock Exchange. They range from technical/industrial, food processing, textile and etc.

Probably the best thing about my job is that I get to be creative in different levels depending on the client. Most of them tend to be conservative and would want to reflect that in their reports while others would want something different and would demand a more creative approach. While there isn’t exactly a wrong design, the challenge I’m faced with as a copywriter is trying to make ends meet, finding a way to incorporate your own creativity with what the client wants. It’s never easy but along the way this helps me understand the taste and style of clients and makes work less stressful eventually. 

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

I found my first job when I applied as a copywriter for a local KPO company in Makati, the central business district of the country. All my life I had lived in the comfort of a small city in an island south of the Philippines, where the beach and the mountains are just less than an hour away from where everybody was living. I didn’t tell my father of my plans of getting a job outside my hometown and when I finally dropped the bomb I was glad that he was supportive. However, I was only allowed to go for the interview if I had at least three other interviews in different companies. This proved to be a challenge because for someone fresh out of college, the better jobs most likely went to those who studied in the country’s top university, almost all of which are located in the capital, Manila. The competition was tough and all I had to bank on was my degree, my ambition and a lot of humility. 

When I finally went for the interview, I realized that in some way, I was fighting for a job against applicants with much relevant experience than I had. I was nervous, knowing that my resume alone will not land me the job. So when it was time for me to be interviewed, I made it a point never to sell myself cheap. In one way or another, I managed to explain to the interviewer that my background in the liberal arts allows me to think critically and creatively while keeping yourself composed and well-rounded in any environment. Those weren’t the exact words I used but it was something to that effect.

A few days later, I got the confirmation and found myself working with amazing people, analyzing news and economic trends that would affect the reputation of many multi-national companies. I did this for about a year and seven months before moving on to my current job.

When I decided to take the next step in my career path, I saw a job opening for a copywriter position in a new company to be based here in Manila. I thought this opportunity to be a pioneer employee was too good to pass out so I sent an application and got scheduled for an interview. I was pretty excited about this because I thought that this job would allow me to gain experience in a more creative field. The company was also willing to send their employees to work in the main office in Singapore for exposure so this definitely was a plus. Since my employer has yet to establish an office in the Philippines then, I was interviewed in their hotel room where I was made to conceptualize and materialize a sample cover art and tagline for one of their clients on top of the copywriting exam. My heart sunk to rock bottom when I had to do this for a few hours and fortunately I was able to accomplish it despite not having any background in graphic design. The confirmation came after two weeks and the rest is history.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

Among the more recent and highly relevant writing assignments I had would probably be writing for corporate messages for clients. Most of the time, the heads of many companies don’t have the time to share their message to stakeholders and they rely on the services of creative design agencies to do the writing for them. In my first year of work, I wasn’t given this task because I was still learning on my own. (Mentorship is not that easy when there is no direct supervision.) It was only this year when I was assigned to write a draft and it was for one of the company’s long-time clients. The pressure was definitely intense because I really had to give it my best shot to keep the client satisfied. While this proved to be challenging at first, I guess it helped that I got used to doing a lot of client research and keeping myself updated on any new developments. When I submitted my first draft, I thought it was total mess but when I got it back for revision I was relieved to find only a few. From this experience I learned to trust in my abilities and to continue on developing style suited for such writing assignments.   

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?  

In my junior year of college, I volunteered to be the stage manager/apprentice director for our Dramatics and Stagecraft class. My professor, who is a practitioner in theatre arts, was in the process of making a theatrical deconstruction of Oedipus Rex based on the context of Muslim Mindanao culture. At first I was planning to audition for one of the roles in the play but then decided to take on a more challenging position as the stage manager. It was really crazy to say the least. For the entire semester I had to manage my time effectively in order to comply with requirements and obligations from different classes and organizations. But in the end it all paid off because we exceeded our professor’s expectations and paved the way for the refinement of the production which was to be performed during the seasonal tour of our school’s theatre group. This was one of the most valuable experiences I had in college since it allowed me to hone my people skills while testing my ability to maintain a balance in my academic and extra-curricular life. 

My experience as a practice teacher also helped me significantly in my career. Before, I was less enthusiastic about this because of the amount of work and effort you need to exert to help students learn. We even took the extra mile and climbed on top of a hill to reach a school as part of our extension activity to help the less fortunate. This went on for several months and it changed my perspective on what it means to be a teacher. Through this I learned how to be professional despite the least ideal of circumstances and to take a step further in giving the best of what you can offer.   

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

To my fellow English majors, I’d like to share this quote from Jenine Weyrauch. "You are not the product of your circumstances, but rather, you are the product of your choices." Don’t just settle for what is available. Take a gamble and pursue your passions. While the career path for us is not definite, this allows for more opportunities to choose from. In the end, the most important thing we can take with us is not only the theories we learned from the classroom, but also the values and the many pearls of wisdom we have inculcated while finishing our degree.

Visit Larry's blog, oohlalarry, and connect with him on LinkedIn.


Vincent Rendoni: Email Marketing Copywriter

Vincent Rendoni: Email Marketing Copywriter

Posted on June 10, 2014 and filed under Copywriting, Writing.

Ricardo Castaño IV: Freelance Writer & Editor

Name: Ricardo Castaño IV. But if we’re going to be friends, please call me Rick.

Age: 27? Nope, 28. I stopped keeping track after I turned 21.

College & Majors/Minors: English, with a focus on Creative Writing, and Theatre.

Current Location: Dearborn Heights, MI, but for anyone who’s not from Michigan, Detroit.

Current Form of Employment: Freelance Writer/Editor.

Where do you work and what is your current position?

Currently, I’m looking for full-time employment while working on a bunch of freelance projects. I’ve most recently become a contributor to, and I’m an Editor-In-Training at I write about Technology for TR and talk funny movies over at BellaOnline. They’re both really great, giving me a way to share my opinions with the world and hopefully get a few laughs (and bucks) out of it.

I’m also a volunteer for a program called Copywriters Without Borders. They’re a really awesome group that helps new companies and nonprofits with noble purposes by lending advertising to their organization free of charge. My project involved mapping poor villages in India to help its residents leverage their land rights. It was bad ass.

Before I was the rolling stone I am now, I was a full-time copywriter for Driven Solutions, Inc. I worked on some really cool projects with really awesome people. I wrote and edited commercials for a variety of media, including web, radio, and TV, as well as various editing and proofing jobs. Unfortunately, I had to leave prematurely due to some unforeseen client contractions. It was a shock to me, and neither I nor my employers wanted me to go.

Before that, I interned with two non-profit organizations simultaneously. Michigan Opera Theatre was an awesome experience—I wrote study guides on classic operas and magazine articles. I also wrote some social media posts and press releases, but the highlight was coming to work in downtown Detroit and getting to see Der Fliegende Holländer with my wife for free in that amazing hall.

I also worked with a bunch of cool cats at The Deaf Professional Arts Network. It was founded by deaf rapper Sean Forbes, and ran by his equally talented friends, all who had some form of hearing difficulty. As of this writing (28/5/2014), they’re over in Israel with a friend of mine, rocking the house. I did some market outreach for their fall tour at the time, edited their website, and wrote some of their newsletters. I wish them every success, but they’re so friggin’ cool it doesn’t even matter.

Even prior to that, while I was still in college, I interned for Driven Solutions as a copywriter, which was my foot in the door to my first big boy job. I also interned as a communications intern at The Scarab Club, an awesome artsy group of folks behind the Detroit Institute of Arts. At Driven, I proofread radio scripts, wrote radio scripts, and voice acted. At the Scarab Club, I wrote social media posts and archived their records.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).

Alright. To be honest, my first job was as a paperboy, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear about that.

My first job where I was actually paid to write was with Driven, partly because they remembered that I worked really hard for them as an intern. As an intern, yes, I did have to do some writing tests, which my future boss liked. I was always there when I said I would be, stayed for as long as I said I would, and worked the whole time I was there.

I made sure to have a portfolio website set up. It wasn’t much at the time, and to be honest, it’s still not as cool as it should be, but I made sure that the work I was the most proud of and showed me in the most versatile light was first and foremost.

As far as an application process, it was really just an email conversation that led to an interview where I was explained the job. I didn’t have a lot of advertising experience, but they knew that I was a quick study. I was hired because of my versatility and potential, and I really have to thank him for taking a chance on me. I like to think I paid him back as best as I could.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?

Now, if you’re referring to a job as one where I actually got paid, then this tidbit stops here. A lot of my work has been for free, because I’m just not “there” yet. But another job that I consider important to my career was working with Michigan Opera Theatre. I was exposed to several different things I could write and add to my repertoire, and getting an article I wrote published gave me a huge boost of confidence.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

I was a late bloomer in college. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until sophomore year, and didn’t get involved in extracurriculars and scholarships until late junior year. But when I knew what I wanted to do, I jumped in with both feet. I hooked up with a really great internship coordinator who would become my mentor and really dear friend. He found my internship at the Scarab Club, and arranged my first meeting with Driven. After a really great experience in a creative writing workshop, I wanted to continue my experiences with that.

So I founded a literary organization, the Wayne Writers’ Forum. I like to start from the ground up, so to speak. I used my position there to immerse myself in all kinds of writing, from professional forms for public events to a personal tone I used in my newsletters. It was a great opportunity to unite the writerly folk at my university. It’s mainly a commuter campus, and I wanted to work to get everyone together and help them improve their craft.

While working with the Forum, I also took a position as the Editor-In-Chief of the Wayne Literary Review. It was an awesome experience that exposed me to the publishing process and tested my ability to delegate responsibility among my other editors, while also doing a rather good amount of editing myself. I love editing almost more than I do writing, and I was completely in love with it.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree? 

If you write regularly, congratulations, and don’t ever stop. However, try to make time to make sure that you actively search out venues for your work. Opportunities to work with others who are doing things you do are not to be missed. One of the best and hardest to follow pieces of advice I’ve heard was to avoid keeping my writing in a vacuum. It’s my baby, you know? It’s always a work in progress. But as a writer, you need to be ready to say goodbye to your work and share it with others. Otherwise, how are you going to get those compliments to stroke your ego?

I can’t recommend self-help books because I’m not that kind of guy, but I can recommend optimistic music. I’ve been really into Chance The Rapper lately. His Acid Rap EP is amazing. As far as a book, the one book that made me want to be a writer was Stephen King’s On Writing. I suggest the audiobook. Steve’s croaky tenor gives so much more to the no-punches-pulled tone throughout the book.

The stuff I worked on outside of my classes was truly the stuff that taught me the most about the real world: time management, getting shit done, and getting it done well are the most important things you can learn. Everything is a deadline, and your classes are a good way of getting an idea of how important deadlines are, but the more you load your plate, the closer you get to how the real world is when you get out. Get busy. I’m not saying don’t have fun.

Find things you love.

I’m saying get busy having fun.

Feel free to check out my front page at, Take a look at my LinkedIn page if you’re interested in connecting with me on a more professional level. If you’d like to see some of my more recent publications, check out my profiles at BellaOnline and TheRichest.


Andi Satterlund: Self-Employed Writer/Knitting Pattern Designer

Andi Satterlund: Self-Employed Writer/Knitting Pattern Designer

Maggie Smith-Beehler: Poet, Author, Freelance Writer & Editor

Maggie Smith-Beehler: Poet, Author, Freelance Writer & Editor

Nicki Krawczyk: Copywriter, Copy Coach & Founder of

Nicki Krawczyk: Copywriter, Copy Coach & Founder of

Posted on June 9, 2014 and filed under Copywriting, Freelance, Writing.

What Does a Copywriter Actually Do?

When I first told a friend that I was a copywriter, she half-jokingly asked me if I was the one who drew the little circles around the tiny “R”s after company names.

Now, obviously, she was confusing copywriting with copyrighting—two homonyms with very different meanings—but there was some truth behind her question. Most people have no idea what copywriters do.

In the broadest definition, copywriters write advertising and marketing pieces. The words they write (their “copy”) sell things to people; whether that be literal selling of products, convincing people to take an action, or persuading them to think of a product, company, or person in a certain light.

When I use words like “selling” and “persuading,” a red light goes on for a lot of people and they assume that copywriters are “evil advertisers,” tricking people into buying things that they don’t need. That actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

A copywriter’s job, in essence, is to connect people who have a problem, a need, with the solution to that problem. That’s really the only way that anything is ever sold. A copywriter uses words that a particular audience will relate to and will understand to convey a solution (be it a product or a service) to a problem.

Sure, some problems are certainly more critical than others. The copywriter who writes the subway ad for a battered women’s shelter that helps a woman find a place to stay is doing a different kind of service to the world than the copywriter who writes a subway ad for a minivan that has the kind of seating and safety features that someone has been looking for—but that copywriter is still providing a service to the person seeking those features in a minivan.

My point is that copywriting is really about using writing to connect people with the solutions they need.

Copywriting, just like any other career, requires training; there are specific skills and techniques that someone must learn in order to become a successful copywriter. One of the most common mistakes I see people make is assuming that because they know how to write, they’ll be able to find jobs as copywriters. That’s just not how it works.

Creative Directors and clients want to hire copywriters who how to write copy—who know all the tools and techniques of writing effective messages. Which makes sense, right? I mean, I’m good at driving, but that doesn’t mean I can get work as a big rig trucker. I don’t know how to do that, so no one’s going to hire me to do it. I would need to get training.

And, in my opinion, it’s well worth getting that training because, not only is copywriting a great paying career, but it’s also fulfilling and fun. Copywriters get to do interesting, challenging, creative work and work with talented, dynamic people. A copywriter can work on-staff or as a contractor or a freelancer, and he/she can work for ad agencies, in-house agencies or individual clients.

No career is perfect, of course, but it’s thrilling to actually see your words in print or online; to know that thousands, if not millions, of people are reading words that you wrote. And I also suspect that it’s one of the few jobs in which you’re regularly really proud of what you do. Several times a day, a copywriter looks at the copy on his her or screen and thinks, “Hey! This is really good!”

So, I’m sure that there are plenty of people in the copyrighting business who enjoy what they do (even if they don’t get to draw the little circles—what a pity). But people who love writing, who want to collaborate to create great work, and who want to make a good living for their efforts, would do well to see if copywriting might be a good path for them.

Thoughts? Questions? Let us know in the comments below.

Nicki Krawczyk is a copywriter, copy coach and the founder of, an online resource with tips, tools and training for new and aspiring copywriters.


Posted on June 5, 2014 and filed under Articles, Copywriting, Featured Articles.

Leslie Nelson: President & Creative Director @

Name: Leslie Nelson

Age: 49

College & Majors/Minors: English major/interdisiciplinary (English, History, Art 1850-1945)

Current Location: San Diego, CA

Current Employment: President/Creative Director of, LLC

Where do you work and what is your current position?

I currently run a video production company,, LLC in conjunction with my husband, Mark Nelson, who is a director of photography. I act as account executive, putting together estimates for video shoots and coordinating them. I also manage post-production, working with video editor and motion graphic designers.

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

Since I had studied overseas in Oxford for a year during college (my entire junior year) I was quite obsessed with Britain so I secured a work permit and went back after graduating. I had a neighbor that worked for a publishing company and she had asked me to help edit a grammar textbook for her over that summer. This was 25 years ago, so it didn't require sophisticated computer skills, but I really learned a lot about grammar in the process of editing this book. After this, she also gave me the opportunity to write about five entries for a children's encyclopedia that I could send back from England and get paid as a freelancer. I wrote about topics such as the Commonwealth and the Industrial Revolution. This was a great experience to learn how to write in an easy to understand manner.

So though I had this income, the publishing company wasn't paying me much so I sought out an internship. I proceeded to get a paid internship working for a small ad agency with four men who had all worked for the big ad agency J. Walter Thompson. It was not easy. I had interviewed at the many of the ubiquitious London temp agencies and gotten nowhere and I had been to numerous restaurants without a hint of interest from anyone. One of my friends from Oxford told me about a start up ad agency. I got to work under the creative director. He didn't throw much my way, but he did let me give him some ideas and taught me how to sell through copywriting and I also got to watch him design. I also spent time talking with the partner that did the marketing research and he explained how market research was done in places like Africa and other international locations. The other two partners included the technical numbers guy who processed the marketing research data and then the president who was more apt to be dishing out Bloody Marys in the morning and hosting plenty of lengthy client lunches at the Cafe Fleur down the street.

I think they wanted to have their agency filled with bright young people because that was what they were used to. However, they had all of their big agency habits, and after 3 months, the stationers came by wanting payment for their letterhead one day and shortly thereafter, my checks started bouncing. So I headed east and became a waitress in Bath, England in a cafe working for Canadians. I finally was able to collect on bounced checks with help from my new employer. This experience and learning to be persistent on getting this payment was one of the most helpful experiences to prepare me for small business.

After working as an intern at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego and for a three-person marketing consulting company in San Diego for about six months upon my return, I decided to start doing freelance copywriting and start my own business. I was 23. Over the course of eight years, I wrote sales letters, ads, business plans, wrote and designed brochures, edited manuscripts and enjoyed working with graphic designers. I learned a lot about how to write sales-driven copy that generated results. Then, after meeting my husband, I had the opportunity to work on a video production, so I dove in and read all the books I could on video scriptwriting. With time, he started his own video production business and shortly thereafter we merged our two companies into one. That was 15 years ago and we're still going. We no longer do print work and my writing goes as far as video scripts, proposals, emails, and web content.

What was another writing-related job that was important in your career? 

Some of the summer jobs and internships I had helped shape my direction. My junior year of high school, I worked for San Diego Home & Garden Magazine. I got to work under the copy editor, where I learned to edit, and then spent some time talking with the amazing editor, Peter Jensen. He really helped me learn how you could use the English language to tell a compelling story in a very natural way. He was a great writer, and could take his readers to different places with such ease. Part of the internship enabled me to write a published article. So I learned how to do a photo scout, seeking out homes in San Diego with attractive, well designed game rooms. I learned which homes had the visual interest in order to be featured in the magazine, and then I got to interview different homeowners and sought out the best content for the article, and ultimately wrote a solid article. The time I spent talking with Peter really helped me understand how important his philosophical love of the written word affected the magazine's content and the company's culture.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

In college, I participated in a lot of intramural sports. I played ultimate Frisbee and tennis at Stanford, and then in England, I participated in Cuppers (the British word for intramurals) rowing, ballroom dance, and swimming and just about any other college sport that I had a change to participate in. Once I returned from England my senior year, I proceeded to organize an Oxford-type ball like they had in England at Oxford University's different colleges. It was no simple task, but we put on a great event in the end and I learned a ton about event planning.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

Being an English major opens up a lot of possibilities and it's up to you to start cracking open the different doors and peering in to see if there's anything attracting you behind the doors as you consider different career options. Try things out that interest you. Go to a professional association meeting if you want to know more about a particular field. Talk to people working in areas that you are interested in. Offer to take them out for a quick lunch or coffee and see if you share any passions. Read books and blogs about areas that you want to learn more about. Call people up and talk to them and ask them what they do and what they like about their job. Listen and watch those who you admire. I think I learned so much from George Stock, the creative director in England, just by watching him work and listening to him and also from Peter Jensen in the discussions I had with him. Nowadays, I learn a lot listening to my husband explain technical information on camera and lighting gear. This is how you gain direction with a major that is extremely broad. Find out what types of samples you need for your niche or any technical classes you need and then get going and sign up. Also, check back with people you met in the past as you gain new experiences. You never know what new opportunities may open up.

Visit to learn more about Leslie's work, and take a look at one of their demos!

Posted on May 19, 2014 and filed under Communications, Copywriting, Filmmaking, Freelance, Self-Employed, Writing.

Pamela Patton: Owner, Operator & Chief Wordsmith @ Paragraph Writing Services

Name: Pamela Patton

Age: 55

College & Majors/Minors: Grand Valley State University, B.S. Communications, Aquinas College, MM (Masters in Management with an emphasis on Marketing)

Current Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Current Form of Employment: Owner, operator and chief wordsmith, Paragraph Writing Services

Since 1991, I have been incorporated as Paragraph Writing Services. Here, I do it all, from writing and editing to bookkeeping and petting the cat (a very important responsibility, as she can tell you with her little “pet me” nips).

But I didn’t start out as a writer. I started college as a vocal music major. I knew things weren’t going to turn out well when I couldn’t master the piano, and my voice teacher told me my nose was too small to properly sing in French. So, my then-boyfriend got me a work-study job at the campus-affiliated PBS station, where I discovered I loved to write promotional copy.

But did I immediately switch majors to accommodate my new passion? No! The promotion director got fired, and I landed the position—at the age of 19.

And she lived (and wrote) happily ever after, right? Wrong! New management at the station decreed that anyone in a management position had to have a college degree, which I did not. So I began on a career path that eventually lead me back to college. (It involved a cross-dresser, cocaine, and cleaning toilets.)

Older and wiser, I returned to Grand Valley State University, this time as a communications major. I took copywriting classes, public relations writing classes, business writing classes, and advertising classes, while working part-time at Opera Grand Rapids as promotion director. As my capstone project, I had a wonderful opportunity: To produce a marketing video to raise funds for the opera. I wrote the script, was the voice talent, and worked with a professional video production company.

Two things happened: Fundraising went through the roof, and I was promoted to full-time upon graduation. At the opera, the board president who checked my press releases was also the editor of the local paper, and I received marketing advice guidance from another board member who was the head of marketing for a local furniture manufacturer. Both of these people were great mentors, and I am friends with them to this day.

From the performing arts, I went to banking. I wrote for the holding company and the lead bank where I learned a lot about investments, finance, estate planning, 401(k) s, and just about anything else related to managing money. There, I wrote everything from statement stuffers to annual reports. (Yet I still can't manually balance my checkbook.) It was about this time that I decided to do a little freelance work on the side, and opened Paragraph.

From banking, I went to a multi-level marketing company. I won’t mention the name, but you’ve heard about it, I’m sure. There, I contributed to one monthly publication, three quarterly publications, and a website in need of constant updating. That equals approximately 60 unique ad concepts with clever headlines, multiple articles and mucho web content per month. Topics? Home care, water treatment, health and nutrition, and beauty, cosmetics and skin care. I came out of there as one versatile writer.

But then, I was “globalized. (Laid off.) So I decided to try the freelance life full-time, and here I am today.

One thing I learned during my hiatus from college was the importance of a portfolio, even as a student. Therefore, I volunteered to write wherever I got a chance. I wrote a newsletter for the local ballet company. I continued to write as a volunteer for the PBS station’s annual televised auction. I collected letters of recommendation from my supervisors. Because I was an older student, I made friends with many of my instructors, and would go out for coffee with them and have them critique my work and give me advice.

I have a confession: I wish I had taken more English classes. I wish I had paid closer attention to sentence structure and grammar. You need to know that I began my career before word processing. Before the Internet. Before spell check. Before desktop publishing. I made mistakes along the way and learned the rules on the job. (I worship the ground that proofreaders walk on.) And those rules are important, because you need to know them in order to break them, as we often do in advertising headlines and copy.

So my advice to you is this: Know the rules. (The Gregg Reference Manual is my bible.) Read. A lot. Especially writing in print. Check your facts and then check them again. Don’t believe everything autocorrect tells you. Find a proofreader to worship and an editor who will make your writing better. Develop your own voice. Be versatile. And know that advertising is nothing like “Mad Men” or “The Crazy Ones.”

Pamela has won several awards for her work, including Public Relations Society of America Gold Spectrum Award and Best of Show Award, Apex Award, International Council of Shopping Centers MAXI Award, and numerous ADDY Awards. Check out her fantastic business website,, and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Andy Badalamenti: Creative Director at an Advertising Agency

Name: Andy Badalamenti

Age: 48

College & Majors/Minors: Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art (diploma in Cinematic Animation); College of St. Elizabeth (English degree, minor in writing)

Current Location: New Jersey

Current Form of Employment: I am a creative director for an advertising agency

Where do you work and what is your current position? 

I began my career as a commercial artist—I did illustrations, mechanicals, layouts, posters, lettering and the like. I often worked with writers who had Journalism, Communications and English major backgrounds… they wrote the words, I created the pictures. (“Me not know, me simple artist” was my favorite saying back then.) My father was a former English teacher, and my sister currently teaches middle school English, so I was always exposed to great literature and art. Shakespeare and Whitman were regulars in our house. To this day, my father and I share poems and talk literature all the time.

The first company I worked for was a public utility. I was part of the Communications and Marketing Division. One dark year, we had a round of layoffs, and a number of the writers were let go—yet the amount of work was the same. (It’s been this way in America ever since.) Given my love-of-English DNA, I volunteered to help write a newsletter for our customers. That dopey little decision changed everything, as many dopey little decisions do.

When I wrote the newsletter, I had very little supervision, thanks to the fact that staff that was cut to the bone. I gleefully unleashed the anxious little creative dog in my brain longing to be free and let him run amok. I wrote a quirky, fun piece… which was a huge change for the stiff, stodgy, conservative, make-bankers-look-like-Dead-Heads company I worked for. Yet, after it was published, we got a great response—customers wrote and called in, saying it was the first time they ever read the newsletter, and some had received it every month for 20 years. 
The vice president of our division was simultaneously thrilled, flabbergasted, horrified and defensive—and came up with an appropriate punishment for my success. I was given the project to write every month from then on. (“You like being creative, huh? Well, here you go…”)
Soon, I realized I was smitten with writing. But if I wanted to get anywhere with it, I knew I needed a degree, so I went back to school at night. It took seven grueling years, and I moaned and complained every minute of it, even though I found the subject fascinating. In the meantime, my wife and I started a family and I was working in excess of 45 hours a week. I worked very hard at school, focusing on writing, kissing up to professors and networking with fellow adult students. I ended up graduating top of my class.

I eventually left the watch-paint-dry world of electric utilities, and I began working for advertising agencies. In the beginning of my time with them, I was a 50-50 hybrid—art director and copywriter. I wrote the copy for projects, then I would mentally unplug from left-brain to right and create the artwork. I loved it, but agency life was a huge adjustment for me at first. It was, and is, creativity on demand—and what you produce must be really good. Clients are paying top dollar for it and love to fire agencies that ever fall short. No pressure.

I worked for several advertising agencies and began climbing the proverbial ladder to supervisory positions, which I still hate. I can supervise—I have the ability—but I don’t like it much. I’m truly a Mac monkey who loves to create. I’m having a blast right now banging out this little interview. Fortunately, in my current job, the agency relies on my creativity a lot, too… so I still get to play. 

Because I had both an art and writing background, I was valuable to the smaller agencies that hired me—they couldn’t afford separate supervisors for each function. I found my niche: Getting paid to do two jobs for the price of one. Just kidding.

I also threw myself, completely and hopelessly, into self education. I have read hundreds of books and thousands of articles/blogs on writing and marketing and I have taken dozens of courses, seminars, and workshops over the years. I am currently very tired and nearsighted, but well informed. Advertising and marketing is all about being current, and you have to stay on top of your game, constantly. Clients look to you for that expertise, and you better provide it. Again, no pressure.

For the past few years, I’ve been educating myself on content and social media marketing, and I’ve been writing a marketing blog for a few years now.

In my current position, I am responsible for all the daily operations of my advertising agency (part of a larger marketing company). I oversee a staff of account executives, art directors and production personnel. I work directly with clients, help pitch new accounts, write copy (headlines, content, ad copy, marketing strategies, public relations writing, social media, etc.), and I help our clients shape their brands and messaging for their products and services. If you watch Mad Men, I would be Don Draper, just uglier and nowhere near as nicely dressed.
Working in advertising and marketing is a ton of responsibility and stress. I usually put in at least 50-70 hours a week, year round, which is typical in these industries. But it can be very exciting and interesting work, too. You just have to handle stress well!

Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different). 

In advertising, having a degree is important, but I’ve always found that it is much more important what you can do. In other words, what specific skills can you bring to an employer? That can include—depending on the advertising agency or department you work for—writing, editing, conceptualizing, partnering with art directors on projects and more. In marketing, an advanced degree is much more important—we’re talking MBA here.

A major part of the interview process in advertising is showing the work you’ve done—having a portfolio of work—and highlighting what skills you have. Talent matters, a lot. You also have to be comfortable presenting work to clients, defending ideas, and be at least decent with handling people, taking criticism, working with a smile under heavy pressure/deadlines/hours, and doing multiple projects at the same time with perceived grace.

What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?

Since I went back to school at night, I was already working in my field by day. Still, I wanted more writing experience—things like radio commercials, brochures, websites and more. Freelancing was a big help with this. I started writing for friends and acquaintances’ businesses, often for free, just to get experience and build my portfolio. My only payment was samples of the finished pieces! Before long, I had a book full. Today, my samples are on my iPad.

As I alluded to before, stopping your education at your degree is a huge mistake. No matter what field you’re in (advertising, writing, teaching or whatever), keep your skills fresh. I really believe we’re living in a transitional period. I can’t think of a single industry today that is either A) About to go through a major change, B) Is in the midst of a change, or C) Has already changed dramatically. Keeping your skills and outlook current, I think, is key to survival—no matter what you do.

If you’re in college now, and you have an idea what field you’d like to end up in, use those pricey English skills and research the hell out of that industry. Find trade publications, websites, blogs and more and read, read, read. (Just what you want, more reading!) Know that industry and what’s happening in that world, and set your skills and sights accordingly.

What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?

I think my advice to anyone—not only English majors—is to be self aware. Know what your talents and abilities are. I was always good at coming up with ideas, and I found a way to use that skill, coupled with my degree, to make a career. It’s not like I had a big plan or anything. A lot of it was by accident or luck. But when I saw something I thought I could do, I went for it. And I always shaped my skills.

Your talent may be in teaching… writing resumes for people… blogging on a topic you love… writing articles for a local pub… composing killer lyrics… being a social media maven… assembling data for scientific studies or reports… interpreting classic literature with a fresh perspective… or editing other people’s work to bring the best out in them. Know yourself, know what interests you, and try to find a job that needs that ability. Always learn all you can and bring something of value to the table every day.

Currently, Andy writes a blog on marketing for his currently company, CI - Group. It's a blog that's geared towards marketers in business-to-business or business-to-consumer companies. 

Connect with Andy on LinkedIn, and check out the children's Christmas book that he wrote and illustrated!