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What does a Copywriter do?

Copywriters use their creative writing skills to come up with the wording and audio scripts which accompany visuals used on an advert. A copywriter puts together clear and compelling copy (which is just a fancy term for a piece of writing) in order to sell products. To achieve that, copywriters flex their persuasive writing muscle on websites, blog posts, product explanations, email blasts and traditional advertising channels, in addition to other marketing communication vehicles.

Beyond sitting at their desk writing, copywriters brainstorm advertising concepts with marketing and other creative departments in order to develop communication strategies and ensure dependable brand messaging across print, TV, radio and direct mail campaigns. 


What qualifications do I need?

A degree in media, english, linguistics or anything relating to writing and communications would be ideal if you want to become an advertising copywriter. Apply for a general Bachelor of Arts at any of the recommended institutions in South Africa, or you can complete an accredited short course or postgraduate degree. There is also a two-year full-time diploma course in copywriting (one year full-time for postgraduates) offered by the Association of Advertising Agencies (AAA). Training is also offered by various private advertising schools.

What subjects do I need?



Where can I study?

AAA School of Advertising
Copywriting diploma

City Varsity
Journalism in Print and Digital Media

University of South Africa
BA Creative Writing - Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing

Stellenbosch University
BA in Language and Culture

Where can I get more info?

Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) - www.arb.org.za
Association for Communication and Advertising South Africa (ACA) - https://acasa.co.za/
Association of Advertising Agencies (AAA) - www.aaaschool.ac.za/


Interview with a Copywriter

Jacob Sibiya | COPYWRITER | Self-employed

Jacob Sibiya | COPYWRITER | Self-employed


Why copywriting?
After working in an advertising agency for a while, I looked into working for myself. Although I learnt that it’s tough to make it on one’s own – that I might have to live on potatoes for two months! – I decided to try it. I think my personality is better suited to write by myself sitting at my desk in my office at home working at the times that suit me best. In other words, an open-plan office environment is simply not for me.

What training did you do?
I did a postgrad course at the AAA School of Advertising, which earned me a diploma in copywriting. Afterwards, I completed a three-month internship at an advertising agency.

Describe a typical day
I write advertising copy (the words you see on ads and in brochures) for clients all over the world. I get up very early and after coffee, I sit down and open the brief I received the previous day. I then spend the next three hours answering the brief and send the work to client. If there is more than one brief, or the brief calls for a lot of work, I work until noon. After lunch, and more coffee, I attend to admin such as sending out invoices and trying to get new clients with email campaigns.

What do you enjoy most?
The flexibility. I can work on a Sunday morning and take a Monday morning off. Deciding when I work means I sit down at my computer when I’m most productive. That way I get a LOT of work done super-fast.

What don’t you like?
Tight deadlines and something called ‘name generation’, which is coming up with a name for a company or product. It sounds easy, but it’s very hard. People are picky about what they call their businesses.

What hurdles have you had to overcome?
Getting the first client and keeping them happy was tough, since I had to build a relationship from scratch. But the biggest hurdle is probably something in the present - that gnawing feeling of financial insecurity that never goes away when you work as a freelancer.

What are your future goals?
I’d like to venture into the publishing industry, which is no less daunting than working as a freelance writer.

Experience vs formal training?
Experience is way more important, specifically knowing how to deal with people on a professional level. Things like tone of voice over the phone and email. Just basically being polite while at the same time looking out for yourself, by which I mean knowing what you’re worth.

What advice would you give someone starting out?
Believe that the work you produce is of a high quality and will be in demand. Don’t miss deadlines – and never send angry emails.

Your job in three words
Exciting, Creative, Inspiring

Interview date: May 2021