Insider tips on getting a job as a copywriter – Interview with Leif Kendall

After reading a lot of generic advice on 101 other websites, we felt that recent graduates and aspiring copywriters needed more. That’s how we at Marketing Quotes got the chance to interview Leif Kendall, founder of Kendall Copywriting and author of Brilliant Freelancer.
Having recruited people for his owlkn copywriting agency, we’ve used his experience and our own supporting advice to bring you the answers to what every graduate wants to know.

What three things would make you bin a candidate’s CV immediately?

  1. Typos and other mistakes.
  2. An unsuitable candidate who has clearly not read the job description.
  3. Any evidence that the writer has failed to consider my own interests as the business owner.

Leif’s three points highlight the importance of tailoring your CV so that you’re not just listing what’s good about yourself but what you can bring to the company.

A lot of CV’s are sent out to copywriting agencies but what are the benefits of working for one?

Leif Kendall states that one of the key benefits of working for an agency is “the relative job security and the breadth of experience” that you’ll receive. Working for a brand can limit you to only writing for that niche area where as many copywriting agencies have clients from a broad range of sectors. Leif points out, “You’re likely to finish that role with an amazing portfolio.”

Employers are looking for great copy but what makes great copy?

It hard to define what great copy is but Leif’s definition sums it up really well: “Engaging copy is always aligned to the interests of the reader. Another important job is to be interesting and original.”
Great copy also has to be relevant to the medium its intended for whether it’s copy for a poster, magazine or online. More and more people want their information accessible from multiple channels so when looking for a job in copywriting, “copywriters should be prepared to write for many forms of media”.

How can graduates be expected to build their portfolio without any job experience?

While we know it’s difficult to build your portfolio when you haven’t yet entered the industry, there are a number of other ways to fill your portfolio:

  • Have any strengths or hobbies? Find blogs about them online and offer to write guest posts.
  • You could also set up your own blog on a topic you’re passionate about and use a few examples of entries that prompted some engagement to build your portfolio.
  • Lean on connections you have. Leif recommends “offering to help friends and family with any copywriting projects they might have. If you know someone who has a business then you have a good chance of getting some experience.”
  • Don’t be afraid of temporary roles or internships. We don’t recommend you give up your search for a full time job but these avenues are great for building up your portfolio and will be impressive on your CV.
  • Alternatively, Leif recommends volunteering with charities or other local projects.

What’s a typical day like for a junior copywriter?

While you’ll always be working with words, working for an agency with a broad range of clients ensures the topic of your copy will always be varied keeping your day fresh and exciting.
Leif states that a typical day includes “meeting clients, working with designers, writing copy, drinking tea and staring into space while you try to remember a word.”

What should you do if you suffer from writer’s block at your new job?

Employers understand how important inspiration is in providing a creative flair to your writing so you won’t be expected to write in a regimented boot camp style. If you do struggle thinking outside the box and are short for time, Leif recommends, “approach the writing task differently – instead of staring at a blank page, write a list of everything the piece of copy needs to say, and then order those points by priority, or in the order that makes most sense.”
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start writing but don’t edit anything, “just let your brain dump out everything it has to offer. You can then go back and make sense of the mess later.”

Lastly, we asked Leif to list three qualities a copywriter should have:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Intelligence
  3. Creativity

We’d like to add: have confidence in your abilities.
May the words be with you.

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