Once Upon A Time: An Introduction To Creative Copywriting

Lifelong writer Jaideep Patel guides us through the peaks and the valleys of creative copywriting.
Jaideep Patel
Publisher, gradmalaysia

OK, it may be a stretch to say I am a lifelong writer. However, I did start very young: my first ‘article’ was published in The Star when I was 7. And I still write for a living. That (and the fact that I’m quite terrible at many other things) has brought me on an interesting career path as a writer.

But enough about me. Let’s get on with business!

What is creative copywriting?

Creative copywriting is half art and half business. The art aspect involves the clever use of storytelling and creativity to turn marketing communication (messages that are meant to promote products or services) into an easily digestible message. In most cases, these messages are entertaining, provoke thought and illicit laughter. Good copywriters have the writing skills to make people react the way they want them too.

On the other hand, there is a business aspect that comes into play. This ‘business savviness’ of copywriting is a skill that can be practised and perfected over time, as you become more and more accustomed to writing for different types of companies, who invariably function in different industries and deal with different types of products and/or services.

In a nutshell, creative copywriting is writing artistically but for a business goal. The term call-to-action (CTA) is important, and all good copywriters know this. What do you want your words to result in? Do you want people to visit a website, or register for an event? Perhaps you want them to sign up for a free rewards card membership.

What does a copywriter do at work?

Copywriters are generally tasked with the following:

  • writing copy (taglines, radio jingles, scripts, advertorials, etc) that is engaging and relevant to the target audience
  • brainstorming ideas and concepts with an arts-based partners eg art directors, graphic designers, etc
  • making revisions to ads or campaigns as per the instructions of the clients
  • presenting copywriting ideas both internally (to colleagues) and externally (to clients)
  • conducting research on clients’ products and/or services, target audiences and competitor products and/or services
  • liaising with voice-over talents for radio ads or talents/celebrities for videos and TV ads.

Where do copywriters work?

Copywriters generally work in:

  • advertising agencies
  • full-service marketing agencies
  • media production houses
  • digital and new media companies
  • employer branding firms
  • radio and television stations
  • government departments/agencies.

Many copywriters work full-time as in-house copywriters in companies across various sectors, while other copywriters work on a part-time or freelance basis.

What is the salary and career progression of copywriters?

Fresh graduates who start off on this journey normally start off as junior copywriters, where the starting salary is in the region of RM2,000 per month. It might seem to be on the low side, but good copywriters usually move up the ranks very quickly. With about two years’ experience, your salary may double. Senior copywriters with over five years’ experience can earn up to RM10,000 per month.

Other factors come into play as well. For example, copywriters who work in teams that win industry awards such as the Kancil Awards and Effie Awards, etc will see greater career progression. However, only a handful will be lucky enough to be in these situations.  

What are the qualities required to be a good copywriter?

  • Creativity
  • Humour
  • Determination
  • Patience
  • Teamwork