How do I succeed as a ‘Big Idea’ developer?

Helen BrownHello Helen,

What advice would you give to a 37-year-old guy who has found recently he possesses the abilities and skills required to become a great copywriter, that is, an unparalleled ability to write prose, the psychological understanding of all types of target markets, an extensive background in philosophy studies, an ultra-perceptive eye for detail, a professional background in music and arts, a voracious curiosity with the ability to become a little expert on a product or subject within a short time, languages…

1) What would you suggest to that individual in order to succeed on pursuing a career as a copywriter/’Big idea’ developer?

2) Would you suggest University is the best option, taking his age, or maybe there’s an alternative way to enter the profession for matured applicants without pre-acreditations or experience working in an Agency?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

Best wishes

Dear F,

I will put the fact that your letter is wordy, nonsensical and grammatically incorrect (accreditations) down to the edit of the letter and assume for the sake of this response the 37 year old in question may indeed possess the abilities required to become a great copywriter.

Let me start with a caveat; in my mid-thirties I changed my career so I speak from experience when I suggest you consider the following options very carefully. There are many excellent advertising courses available offering mature students the opportunity to craft their copywriting skills, however should you be accepted onto one of them, bear in mind a degree will launch you into the job market 3 year hence.

Whilst you will have life experience on your side, to a prospective employer you will have the same practical copy-writing experience as all other graduates – at twice their age – and whilst this may not be an issue in many industries, whether we like it or not for those starting out in the advertising industry it is a young person’s game.

With this is mind I’d advise you to a) undertake a part-time course to build your professional credibility and b) develop your own content. Considering the first of those; there are a broad range of part time courses available at Goldsmith’s and in addition, Central St Martin’s has some really reasonably priced evening courses. Alternatively the Open University offers a wide range to suit every interest and budget. Professional accreditation only gets you so far, you will need to build up a body of proof in order for a prospective employer to have enough evidence of capability.

There are a number of routes to achieve this; write your own blog and build a readership over time; see if you can get some articles published in the press or relevant industry publications; develop a critique of others work with your own take on the campaign; start your copywriting career by working for smaller design agencies to build your portfolio further. F, whilst I firmly believe anything is possible, some things are slightly less possible than others.

Good luck,