05 December 2016

Are There Too Many Freelance Copywriters?

Asks... The Copywriter...

Standing room only at the bi-montly copywriters convention

Freelance copywriters are multiplying. They’re swarming, proliferating, and springing up all over the shop. There really are lots of copywriters.

And I should know, because I’m a copywriter, an eager, fresh-faced member of this emergent hoard. A proud-to-be-converted pen-pusher. So, it’s with a heavy dose of hypocrisy that I whisper: are there too many of us?   

For one thing, there’s plenty of work. Enough work to support an apparently steady stream of people leaving jobs in journalism, teaching, product management, god-knows what.

I'd rather be copywriting

New careers in copywriting are trending. Just look online. Half a million blog posts have been produced on this very topic. Like this one  – How To Become A Copywriter With No Experience. 

“It’s very possible… No education! No formal training!! Make lots of money!!!” the writer enthuses in a crescendo of exclamation marks. Well duh, where do I sign?

Admittedly, most articles on the subject advise people to get some experience first. But not necessarily writing experience.

“Copywriting is a business skill” suggests this blog writer, “It’s not like being a novelist, poet, playwright, essayist or even a journalist.”

Fair enough. But who would you choose to write your business slogan, Richard Branson or Jonathan Franzen?

Hot air? Me?

There is a great emphasis placed on the ease of becoming a copywriter. 

“Anyone” can do it according to this post, “If you call yourself a copywriter, and clients pay you for copywriting, you’re a copywriter.” It’s that simple.

And, as the effusive blogger in our first example proclaims, you really can “Make lots of money!!!”

A recent survey by the Professional Copywriters Network reveals UK copywriters – both in house and freelance – earn on average £39,850 a year, a fair whack by any measure. Add to that the obvious perks of being your own boss as well as the option of working in your underwear, and you have a very appealing prospect.

One more paragraph and I really must put some clothes on

Considering all this, it’s hardly surprising copywriting has taken off. In fact, it’s heartening to infer that there exists a steady, healthy demand for written content. The problem is, assuming there is a glut of us, you might expect good copy to be everywhere. But it isn’t. The media is awash with pointless apostrophes, hackneyed phrases, poorly constructed sentences.

To my mind, this could mean one of two things. Either the quality of the copywriting profession has been diluted by chancers and flannel-peddlers. Or… the UK should hire MORE copywriters!