Is Copy writing the ultimate mid-life career-change choice?

Is Copy writing the ultimate mid-life career-change choice?

inJanuary 28, 2020

Thousands of the nation’s Mid-Lifers are finding themselves bored or frustrated with the career choices they made on leaving school or university – some are choosing to do something about it.  But is it possible to find a job that is stimulating, rewarding, and liberating all at once, and that doesn’t require years of training?

So, you’ve had the courage to change careers (or perhaps you’ve been arm-twisted, but you’re here now – let’s move on!), and you’re at the stage where the mounting fears of perceived inadequacy are nipping at the heels of your former optimism…

Will you have to start at the bottom, in a cohort of zitty zombies from today’s graduating generation of screen slaves, on minimum wage and a zero-hour contract, staring down the barrel of a forty year career ladder?

… In short, no!

The ultimate later-life career?

What if you could work from home, in a creative, stimulating job, set your hours, and get paid an above-average hourly wage?

… There’s only one downside.  The job title.

“Copy Writer”.  Not the sexiest.  At parties, you will always have that first five minutes of conversation that goes “A what-now?  A copyrighter? You do copyright people’s stuff?”

Still, better than the complete and unabashed disinterest you get when you say “accountant”.

What is copy writing?

“Copy writing” is (Ronseal alert) writing copy.

‘Copy’ is, basically, text – it can be as short as a strapline or as long as a tome.  Commercially, it is often 500-1500 words per piece.

It covers a multitude of genres – you could be writing blog posts, commercials, magazine articles, reviews, technical papers, broadcasts, or even full-on novels.

It also covers a googleplex of potential topics – you could be writing about the latest technological developments in defence systems, the history of the European space programme, a technical manual for surgical theatre positive pressure control systems, short fables for children, poetry anthologies, boutique restaurant Christmas menus, or scripts for an advert for yacht finance options (whatever floats your boat, right?)

And you can fit this into your children’s school pick-up routine, your evenings/weekends, your gig schedule, or whatever else gets to impose itself on your weekly priorities list.

Is it for me?

Are you generally interested in the world about us?  Do you like sharing that interest with other people?

This is a good start!

In conversation, do you anticipate what will interest different people about a given topic? … What they will want to know next about it? … What questions they might have, and how they could be inspired to look further into what you are telling them about?

What about your intuition for sense, flow, and relevance?  Your job will be to make reading your copy an enjoyable experience – or, at least, not a difficult one – so this will all help greatly.

Abilities in checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation are also beneficial, although online tools can help with all of this.  Just beware that your own hourly rate will essentially increase the less you have to check everything on Grammarly.

So what kind of person would do well as a Copy Writer?  Someone persuasive, certainly.  Someone interested in the world – that would help.  Someone with an eye for detail – good for the review stages.  Someone who enjoys working on their own, as most of the researching and writing will be done alone.  And, ideally, someone with a rich and diverse cultural background – key for connecting with your readers.

You mentioned wages…

The demand for good Copy Writers is healthy and – with the appetite of the internet for information – is only increasing.

A quick search of freelance copywriter sites today shows a range of £13-42 per hour – equating to a £21.8k-£70.5k salary, for a 48-week year.

This will obviously depend on negotiation, based on your experience and reputation, as well as the number of hours you want to work.

Where do I sign?

Interested?  Want to know more?

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders have a coherent, navigable, and resourceful website (as you might expect!) at www.sfep.org.uk.  They provide information, training, support, and advice, as well as a range of membership options.

Other advice and training options are available online, including much free content.  Which you choose to use will depend on the kind of copy you want to be writing.  For the more high-paced commercial side of copy writing, you need to know about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), to ensure your copy is viewed as widely as possible.  Brian Dean’s “Backlinko” provides a wealth of advice through blog-posts and videos, including his Definitive Guide to copywriting.

Then – start writing!

Writing results in practice, experience, a portfolio, and a reputation, so you can never start too early.  And recruit a critical friend to give you an objective view on what you do well and what you could improve on.

There are a number of companies specialising in SEO that maintain a network of websites, who may be persuaded to publish some of your copy.  But, even if you cannot find someone to publish you quickly, just having samples of your writing to send off to prospective clients will be invaluable.

The future is … yet to be written!

Your mid-life journey to your new career does not have to be a long slog or a fearful prospect – in fact, you could be changing lives and influencing people through nothing more than your written wit and wisdom.

… What are you waiting for?