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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Switching from marketing to copywriting: is the pay cut necessary?

Switching from marketing to copywriting: is the pay cut necessary?


Dear Jancy: I am currently a marketing research analyst making $58K per year (plus bonuses), about 10 years out of college. I would like to change gears and be an advertising copywriter, which is what I went to school for. I can’t up and move to attend an expensive portfolio school, but I’ve read all the ad books, and from what I’ve seen, my portfolio is competitive with the ad school grads. Starting salary for a copywriter is probably about $35K around here – will I be considered “starting” since it’s my first agency job? Or will I be able to ask for a higher salary given my marketing experience?

intro Switching from marketing to copywriting: is the pay cut necessary?We’d suggest that you make your first step on the road back to your writing roots a reality check on where your portfolio stands. Get in to see some senior creatives at places you admire for their comments. You may find that after 10 years of not using the writing muscle, and with the business changing dramatically, you do need to prepare for entering the field. Reading books is great, studying the latest work on good ad sites is helpful, but it will likely take a lot more than that to be employable. That may mean major revisions and additions to the work in your book with some coaching from mentors you may have in the business or returning to school to get up to speed. 10 years is a long time to step away, and you didn’t actually work in the field back then.

As for money, it’s possible you’ll find a place that gives you more than first rung pay based on relevant work experience, but probably not a lot above the normal starting point. You’re really using a different set of skills to be a copywriter and first and foremost you’ll be evaluated on where you stand in that space. If you’re exceptionally gifted and ready to hit the ground running with all of today’s new media/digital opportunities and challenges factored in, that will play a bigger role in what you’ll be offered.

Congratulations on going after what you really want to do. That’s a huge step. It’s great that you’re bringing expertise in research to the new role. With enough determination and passion, you can do it. Here’s to having luck on your side as well.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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