Creative Interviews, Our Picks, Tips & Tricks

What it takes to become an advertising copywriter

Lawson Clarke AKA Male Copywriter was named one of Top Five Ad Agency Twitter Accounts To Follow by Digiday. A couple of weeks back we interviewed Male Copywriter about his life in advertising. We now follow this up with his unique insight on how to make it as a copywriter, and while keeping your cloths on.


Advertising is a creative industry, and by it’s very nature it’s in a constant state of evolution.

Lawson Clarke: I’m probably the wrong person to ask about what it takes to become a copywriter because I was essentially born into the industry. My father had an agency called Clarke Goward which was a great, little creative shop in Boston for about 30 years. Boston University used to have me come in to talk to kids about getting their first job in advertising, and I’d go up to the chalkboard and write in huge letters, “NEPOTISM,” figuring it would get a laugh. But it bombed every time. To be honest, though, I’m not 100% sure they knew what the word meant.

But as long as you’re asking me, I’ll give you my best advice.

First off, you’re not looking for a job in advertising. You’re looking for a career. And to have one of those, you need the put together the best portfolio you can. And to do THAT, you need to go to school.

I have kids ask, “Well, what if I work on my book by myself?” Sure, I guess you could do that, but there’s just no substitute for a salon environment where you’re surrounded by talented people who have the same creative goals.

I get kids fresh out of college who are convinced they have a book good enough to land their first job as a Jr. Copywriter, and what they typically have is a book good enough to be considered for a portfolio school. Does it suck hearing you have to go back to school just as you’re getting out of college?  Sure, but it’s the truth. And the sooner you come to grips with it, the sooner you’ll be on the path to building a weapons-grade book.

As for the future of copywriters, all I can say is that as long as people keep buying shit, companies who make shit are going to need creative people like us to sell their shit.

I know the past few years have been a little scary, but the industry is not going away. Has it changed?  Yes. Is it going to continue to change? Yes, and believe me, that’s a good thing. Frankly, that’s the reason most of us stick around, because who wants to show up to a job day after day and face the same predictable routine? If that’s you, then go sell medical instruments or something.

Make no mistake, right now is The Golden Age of advertising. It’s gonna be like the Wild West as we claw our way out of this recession, and there’s always going to be room for smart, funny and insightful people with throbbing creative glands.

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