One of the alternative careers for teachers to consider is becoming a copywriter; a job for those who have a way with words and enjoy putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard).
Copywriting is a great option for you if you’re seeking something outside the classroom that enables you to flex those creative muscles and find a way to use words that speaks to people’s emotions.
What is a Copywriter?
Copywriters write copy (text) for adverts, webpages, email campaigns, product descriptions, social media posts etc. Using their way with words, they write to persuade readers to take a certain action, e.g. to buy something, as a result of reading the copy.
Some of the best adverts you’ve seen are down to skilful copywriters. It’s different to content writing, as you’re helping companies convert readers into customers. Content writers are more subtle, they write mainly to provide useful advice or guidance for people to read and learn about. But sometimes the two jobs mix and copywriters do produce content for businesses too.
If you’re able to persuade people with your words, the life of a copywriter could be a great alternative career for you.
What Skills/Qualifications Do I Need?
If I said writing, would you hold it against me? Okay, okay, apart from the obvious ‘being able to string a sentence together’, there’s the skill of being able to write something that sells to a specific audience.
It’s about creatively persuading a potential customer that buying that particular product or service is going to benefit them and solve any problems they might be having. And that comes from really creative, impactful story telling.
Let’s take an example.
Lots of people are loyal to particular brands. When they buy a pair of trainers, they tend to go with their brand of choice, e.g. Nike or Adidas. When buying a phone, they’re iOS or Android.
What about you? Which brands do you particularly like? When having tomato ketchup, does it have to be Heinz? When buying a car, do you always go with a particular car manufacturer?
Writing for Emotion
When you think about what caused you to buy from a particular brand in the first place, it might be tricky to pinpoint one single thing. But one thing marketers know is that people buy with emotion and justify with logic afterwards.
You buy something because of the way it makes you feel or by the identity it gives you. No one buys a Ferrari for reliability; they buy it for status. For how it makes them feel. For how it makes other perceive them. I buy Lucy Bee face wash because I like how having smooth, clear skin makes me feel, i.e. confident, happy etc…
It’s copywriters that speak to these emotions. The skill is being able to speak to a specific audience to make them feel a specific way, usually through buying a specific product. You’re telling their story and appealing to their identity.
So now you know what skills you need, you need to know about the qualifications. Well, the good news is that there are plenty of courses out there to help you on your way to copywriting success.
Copywriting is a skill and therefore needs to be learned – whether it’s once you’ve started out or before you even open the laptop. Everyone is at a different stage of their writing journey, and if you’re passionate about what you do, it’ll stand you in good stead.
It’s not just about the writing either. You need to learn about writing for the digital world, e.g. optimizing your copy so that it’s found by search engines like Google.
Here are some courses/people that may help – I’ve gone with small business owners as I’m all for supporting other people on the entrepreneurial journey. If none of these floats your copywriting boat, Google will have other answers!
As well as learning through a job, copywriting skills need to be refined and honed, just like any other professional skill. Practising your writing is going to stand you in good stead for success, as will reading the copy from others.
Start looking at adverts, promotions etc. What would make you buy that product? Snip out examples that work well or speak to you. What emotions did the copy invoke?
What Job Opportunities are there?
You’ve got two options really. One is to be a freelance copywriter, building your own portfolio of clients and running your own business; an appealing option because it means you can fit work around your other commitments.
This is something our guest copywriter and former teacher, Becky, has done. You start off by working with small companies who need copy written and build yourself up that way.
Another option is to join an agency or a company, as part of their marketing team. You will need to start as a junior copywriter and work your way up.
How much do Copywriters Earn?
Some of the best copywriters earn big bucks for writing ad copy that sells – we’re talking six figures. They’re worth their weight in gold to big companies, in big industries. But they tend to be the most experienced ones out there and working for the biggest brands.
According to Reed, the average copywriter in the UK, with some experience, earns just over £33,000 per year. However, they tend to be copywriters working for companies or agencies.
If you’re freelance, it really is up to you how much you charge and how much you earn. Decent copywriting courses should give you an idea of what to charge and when to increase your rates. It’s a learning curve, as for any freelancing job, but the more you can add to your portfolio of copywriting, the better it can be for the money you earn.
Notes from a Copywriter
I’ve been lucky enough to get to know Becky from Mockingbird Writing (IG handle: @mockingbirdwriting) and I’m thrilled that, as a former teacher, she’s given some words of wisdom about her experience of transitioning from teacher to copywriter.
“I had been a secondary English teacher for almost 14 years when I decided to make a complete career change. Getting to that decision wasn’t a quick process. I’d slowly been falling out of love with education for a few years, but after some real soul-searching and planning, I decided to make the leap. And I don’t regret it.
I am now Founder and CEO of Mockingbird Writing. Or in layman terms, I am a freelance copywriter, and I love it. I write website copy, blog posts and social media content for small business owners. Being my own boss means I can plan my days and work flexibly around my family.
It isn’t perfect – I still work late into the night and at weekends, but somehow it is easier to manage. It’s probably because I am not as exhausted – I hadn’t realised how tired teaching was making me. I have great admiration for all teachers. They do a fantastic job. But, I am pleased that I found the strength and courage to try something new.”
Is Copywriting the Alternative Career for You?
If copywriting sounds like something that could be a great alternative career for you, why not look into it further? It’s not for everyone, but you definitely have transferrable skills from your teaching career – writing all those reports might come in handy after all!
The great thing is, if you choose to freelance and work with small business owners, you’ll build up great relationships with clients who come back to you time and time again. With practise, you’ll find your writing voice and develop those copywriting skills, and before you know it, you’ll be away and running with it.
If you’d like some support with career change, I offer coaching to support teachers to build a new career outside of the classroom. Why not check out my coaching page and get in touch if you’d like to book in a FREE discovery call to discuss things further.