I recently started a new job and I was talking to my mum about how happy I am to have found a career I’m good at and more importantly, that I love. Then we got to talking about what I wanted to do at school – it varied weekly (whale watcher, doctor, lawyer, Jennifer Lopez) – and how I didn’t even know my chosen career path existed back then!
All throughout my childhood and teenage years I was drawn to fashion, I loved cutting images out of Vogue, drawing clothes, creating my own magazines and learning designer’s name off by heart. I was under the illusion that the only ‘fashion career’ was to design clothes – which I wasn’t convinced I could do. My mother was even less convinced, I remember her dissuading me from studying fashion design at university so I studied classics instead.
Nowadays it is a bit easier – the internet happened – information is boundless and very easily accessible. Here is where I admit that I’m as old as the hills and while I was at school the internet had three pages. I’m not kidding, there was Teenchat, BBC news and another one I can’t remember. Encarta was my Wikipedia.
Still, I can’t help thinking I wish I had some careers advice when I was a bit younger, after university I still had no clue what I wanted to do and held down a succession of dead-end jobs, becoming increasingly frustrated. I knew I wanted to do ‘something’ in fashion. But I wasn’t sure what and more importantly how.
That’s actually how I started blogging, I loved writing and fashion and I had a lot of ideas so I thought it would be a good idea to get them down somewhere. That was the best career decision I’ve ever made.
Sorry, you do what now?
I’m now a copywriter, working in fashion, and I’ve grown used to people not understanding what I mean when I say that. Well, copywriting is the craft of persuasive writing. So unlike poets and novelists, it’s writing but for a commercial purpose. I write to sell sh*t (and hopefully amuse and inspire along the way).
What I am not is:
- A copyright lawyer
- A journalist
- Someone who copies writing
You may have seen the TV show Mad Men, well that centres around an ad agency full of copywriters – a lot of copywriters work in advertising, coming up with clever tag lines and snappy ad copy.
What I do…
I don’t work in advertising, theres an ever-growing number of copywriters who work in-house for businesses as these days content is king.
If you think about all your favourite brands, how do they communicate with you? Through their website, emails, store signs, catalogues – all these things require words, and they’re created by a copywriter. Me in some cases.
A copywriter is tasked with creating a ‘tone of voice’ for a brand – the brand’s personality if you will. To do this you have to know your customer, your brand’s history and values and also inject a little of yourself into your work.
Fashion copywriting is quite specialised like medical copywriting or technical copywriting (there are lots of different types). You need to know about fashion, for one thing, if you’re writing product descriptions you need to know about different fabrics and their properties, sizing and fit.
How to become a fashion copywriter
Bloggers do it better
I can only tell you how I, in all honesty, fell into copywriting. Remember I told you starting a blog was the best decision I ever made? Well, that’s because it made me realise how much I love writing, specifically about fashion, so I kept doing it, which honed my skills. Then I won Grazia’s fashion Blogger of The Year 2102 (the first and last year they ran that competition, don’t blame me) which gave me a real confidence boost.
Work, work, work (work, work, work)
With my new found confidence I pestered (honestly) the guys at VICE magazine to let me intern there – I was living in Leeds at the time and I knew I had to get down to London. While interning I went to all the fashion parties I could, kept blogging, blagged a style column at SB:TV (again through pestering) and made as many contacts in the fashion media as I could (all while holding down a job at Forever 21 on Oxford Street, quite tiring).
Don’t be afraid to ask
Then I saw a job opening at Urban Outfitters for an assistant copywriter and I must confess I wan’t entirely sure what it meant but I read the job specification and it mentioned writing, and I loved the brand so I was quite set on the role. Luckily I remembered one of my blog readers worked there and I cheekily asked her to pass on my CV, which she did and I got the job (thanks Claire).
On that note – use your contacts but make sure that you help other people when you’re in a position to. Because karma. And general good morals.
My career history up until then didn’t really include any copywriting but I was passionate and Urban Outfitters loved my blog and could see that I was a competent writer.
I’ve since worked at other high street fashion brands, freelance, and I’ve just started work at another retailer.
You can start as an assistant, then become a copywriter, then you could stay a copywriter forever! The titles around this are weird. Pay varies wildly too – I know people paid not so well and people paid eye-wateringly well. You could also become a content editor, head of content, head of copy, content strategist, a freelance consultant. The opportunities are endless! Especially in this day and age, content and branded content is literally everywhere and the best brands are investing heavily in it.
Top tips for becoming a good copywriter
- Write a blog – it’s free and it’s kind of expected now
- Hone your technical skills – revisit all those grammar lessons you learned in school
- Proofread again
- One more time. This time print it off, paper reads better than a screen
- Read some more
- Write creatively – write for fun, for no reason, whether it’s film reviews, poetry or short stories
- learn supplementary skills such as: social media, photoshop, marketing and photography and design.
- SEO matters but don’t compromise on style
What’s so good about copywriting
I keep saying that I love my job but I’ve just realised I haven’t really said why.
Well, for me, I get to write which is my one true skill. It’s very creative – I get to write lots of exciting things about exciting things. I’ve interviewed cool people, reviewed cool places, and of course written about a shit-tonne of clothes. Also I get to work in amazing head offices with great people. At Urban Outfitters I got to work in a studio with a never-ending parade of (sometimes half-naked) male models.
I love that thousands of people get to actually see my work. I also, and I’m told this type of narcissism is the mark of a true writer, get a real kick out of seeing things I’ve written in print. I enjoy the responsibility of being the guardian for a brand’s tone of voice. And, despite my complete lack of fashion design talent, I’m happy that I still ended up working in fashion!
So there you have it, you now know what I do… and hopefully have picked up some helpful tips if you want to do it too!