Freelance Copywriter, Lewis King, loves to hear people considering marketing as a career and offers some reassuring points that will help you kick-start your career in this thriving industry.
Even if you’re starting your career or looking for a change, I would highly recommend marketing. It’s probably one of the most varied and thrilling industries out there.
It’s also one that people don’t seem to consider – some of the most creative and interesting people that I’ve worked with ‘fell into it’.
And then fell in love with it.
Same goes for me. I had no idea what a copywriter was, but I knew that I loved writing and storytelling. And now I’ve somehow formed a satisfying (if a little strange) career writing words for all manner of weird and wonderful things.
So, imagine what you could do if you intentionally knew about a career like this.
Here are 5 things that I’ve discovered that have helped others take their first steps into this industry.
1 You don’t need a marketing degree
And now you can breathe a sigh of relief.
I know that this is a worry for some people. It’s something people believe will hold them back.
But a marketing degree is not compulsory.
For example, a former boss of mine – who once ran her own social media marketing agency and set up a retail business – studied geography at university.
I studied English & Media (and also Creative Writing) at university. And I was worried about this years ago when I was working for the marketing department of an international business school. I found myself in the weird position of marketing degree courses about marketing – even though I hadn’t studied marketing at university! (Here are some tips on dealing with imposter syndrome from TED).
I also know people in marketing who don’t have a degree either and have also made a great marketing career.
A marketing degree is just one of many paths.
But this doesn’t mean that marketing is not worth studying, which leads me to my next point…
2 Every day is a school day
In one way, school sets you up quite well for a career in marketing.
Although there are no exams (hooray!) there is often plenty of project work and deadlines.
You also have to prepare to always be learning new things.
In marketing, you never just learn the ropes and then you’re done. Because you have to love learning.
You have to become a constant researcher. You have to learn about anything and everything. And you have to learn how to verify sources and find reliable places for information.
This includes studying your area of marketing – for me, it’s copywriting and studying classic copywriting, sales letters, advertising, blogging, etc
And also other aspects of marketing – I have to maintain a good understanding of SEO, web design and layouts, social media, and PR, so my copy can be effective.
And also the products and/or services – I’ve learned a lot about all manner of random things including bricks and roof tiles, defibrillators and law research, to name a few.
But, I can’t actually claim to be an ‘expert’ in the sense that I would talk about these subjects on Radio 4.
But I have enough knowledge and a good idea of where to find the right information to work on my projects.
Talking about knowledge…
3 You don’t need to be a specialist right away…
…or maybe even ever.
I find the whole ‘is it better to be a specialist or a generalist?’ debate a bit pointless. Because it works for different people anddifferent careers.
For me, I’ve worked quite well as being a generally reliable and creative copywriter. I have a few specialist pieces of industry knowledge, but I’ve had quite an interesting and varied career.
I’ve been told that I should ‘specialise’ but it hasn’t held me back yet.
And it’s ridiculous for someone to expect you to be a specialist when you start out. In fact, it’s good to try out new things as there are so many options out there.
Which is basically my next point.
4 There are more options than you first think
Marketing roles are often discussed as being either ‘in-house’ or ‘agency side’, or ‘public sector’ and ‘private sector’.
And these dichotomies are a good starting point when first looking at marketing.
But you’ve also got a variety of organisations, different industries, a variety of sizes of company too.
Also, roles are varied too.
There is, of course, the obvious marketing jobs – graphic designer, web designer, copywriter, PR execs, social media managers.
But then there are other, vaguer roles like account managers (who a half project managers, half client relationship managers), digital strategists, innovation consultants.
And really specific and technical jobs – SEO consultants, conversion experts, e-commerce managers.
It’s always worth trying out different industries, different organisations, different environments and maybe even a different role.
Last year I attempted to be a PR campaigns manager. I hated it.
But it was useful experience, which finally takes me to…
5 All your experience and knowledge will be useful
Not just for your applications and interviews but for being good at the job too.
Copywriting legend Joseph Sugarman talks about the types of useful knowledge and experience. There’s the specific stuff, which is where you research your product.
But then there’s also the general stuff.
Meaning your life and experiences. They stuff you’ve done through work or through your life.
Now, everything you’ve experienced may not be precisely as useful as the guy answering all the questions right in Slumdog Millionaire – but it can be helpful in very intuitive ways.
For example, marketing is fundamentally about talking to people and building relationships. So, if you’ve ever worked in a shop or in customer service, you’ll have the best insight into how to write copy that’s more like a conversation.
Or if you have disabled friends or family members, you will be more attuned to making websites that are more accessible and rank higher in search engine results.
So, don’t underestimate your life and experience either, it will be really helpful in carving a thriving career in this thrilling industry.
Thanks again for this post to our friend Lewis King, a freelance copywriter and compere who blogs at Lewis King Writer.