4 Things You Need to Know About Being an Agency Copywriter

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The team asked me to write a blog about the step-by-step process of copywriting. And honestly, there isn’t enough space on the internet.

Truth is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all, step-by-step process. Every writer’s process is different and every project too. So, rather than try to quantify something . . . well, unquantifiable, I’m going to give you an inside look at being an agency copywriter.

From Point A to Point B

I’m no stranger to writing copy. I’ve been at it for nearly a decade. But that skill was tested when I shifted into agency work. 

Years of working as an in-house marketer had given me glimpses into the agency world. I relished the times when I got to collaborate with agencies. They seemed so free! So unencumbered by the constraints of a particular organization. And they got to work in a creative space ALL THE TIME.

I Wanted In

After looking around Duluth, one agency, in particular, stood out – Swim Creative. Their tone drew me in, like a bat signal. They needed me as their copywriter, they just didn’t know it yet. 

So, when the time came and Swim posted for a copywriter . . . well, you know what they say about when preparation meets opportunity – you get lucky. Or almost. A month after my interview, the pandemic started to rage and the position was put on hold. 

But then, BOOM! A year later, I got an email asking if I was still interested. 

I was, by the way.

Welcome to the jungle

Now a year in at Swim, I can honestly say that agency copywriting is very different from in-house. There’s a lot more than just writing a catchy headline or copy for a print ad.

It’s fast-paced. It’s overwhelming. Sometimes brutal. Stressful. But it’s also a lot of fun. It’s rewarding. It challenges me and pushes me to be better.

Basically, it’s the best job I’ve ever had.

What to expect

There are a handful of main takeaways I’ve learned about agency copywriting. Let me regale you with them:

#1 – You won’t get bored

With such a wide variety of clients in different industries and a multitude of different projects, boredom is not something you’ll encounter. At least, not at Swim. 

One day you’re writing a blog about maple syrup, the next you’re writing a jingle for an early learning video. 

This is probably my favorite thing about my job.

#2 – Pick up the pace!

It’s fast-paced, so you’ll have to get moving. Expect a full queue of writing lined up for you, at all times. But don’t get discouraged, that’s part of a healthy, thriving agency! 

Managing the workload boils down to organization and communicating with your team. Don’t get too worried about the big picture – agency life is fluid. Take each task as it comes. Project work ebbs and flows, which can be a killer or a savior, depending on the day. 

Remember to go with the flow and be adaptable. Plan for what you can, adjust for what you can’t.

#3 – Be open to feedback

As with any creative profession, you’ve got to be open to receiving feedback about your work. I’ve found this to be extremely true, especially at an agency. But for good reason – at Swim, we want to create the absolute best creative work we can. Feelings be damned. 

But, that being said, we all know that’s the goal so no one gets emotionally invested in a particular idea or execution. It’s all about elevating an idea until it’s – mwah! – golden. 

We’re also marketers, which means we try to outdo each other by topping or adding to someone else’s idea. At Swim, we call that “yes, and… ”

#4 – Try, try, again

At an agency, you’re interpreting a client’s wants, needs, and feedback to create something that’ll solve a problem and hopefully, blow their mind. 

But when your work relies on your interpretation, it’s natural that it may need to be tweaked. When I first started, I think this was the hardest thing for me to grasp. 

It was tricky for me to change my thinking around a certain concept or idea. Or even harder still was trying to morph a concept into something that incorporated many different pieces of feedback. But, with time and practice, it became second nature.

At an agency, it’s all about the client and their business. If a concept or creative piece doesn’t resonate with them, it’s not the right one. So, take that killer concept and incorporate the client’s feedback. Revise that social ad copy so it highlights an important differentiator. Change a word, simply because the client asked. All of these are valid reasons to revise. 

Remember: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.

Now you know

I hope this glimpse at agency copywriting was helpful and helps you to know if it’s right for you. If you’re a college student or a new grad wanting to learn more about agency life, apply to intern at Swim.

About the Writer

Stephanie Dunaiski has a B.A. in mass communication and was trained as a journalist. She transitioned into the marketing realm in 2013 and built her career there. When she’s not crafting stories at Swim, she’s an adventurer, a runner, and a tree-hugging hippy who loves nature, and her family.

Read more about Stephanie.

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