Hello everyone! If you are reading this article in search of marketing value, then I have to disappoint you. This is a special issue of large-scale criticism, which I decided to unleash on the vacancies of full-time copywriters in various (huge) companies. You will learn a little later about why I am pouring out this criticism in general, but for now, a little preface.
I could not answer the question straight away, so I took a sheet of paper and began to write out all the pros and cons of working as a copywriter in the state. Fortunately, I knew the entire kitchen of a full-time employee from the inside – I once worked as the head of the copywriting department in a large advertising agency. When I finished making the lists, I noticed two things:
- There are many more cons (for me personally)
- The pluses concerned mostly novice copywriters with no work experience
I put my thoughts aside and decided to return to them a year later. And I forgot. But now, the other day, while tidying up my desktop, I found this list. After reviewing it carefully again, I concluded that my opinion has not changed over the past two years.
Moreover, I became even more convinced of the truth of my thoughts two years ago. And now I want to share these thoughts with you. So here’s my list of 10 reasons why great copywriters don’t work full-time.
Reason #1: Dishonor
Most large companies and advertising agencies find it very unprofitable to promote their employees. If only for those considerations that he takes with him both his name and his authority if an employee leaves.
If you are a great copywriter, then you will quickly sell yourself. And the more people know about you, the more clients you will have. Working in a large company, you work on its behalf, and all your merits are also attributed to the company. Personally, this does not seem entirely correct to me.
If you are a copywriter and create a sales concept and sales text, you do most of the work and deserve fame. However, if you are not a vain person, then there are at least nine more reasons not to work full-time in the state.
Reason #2: Limited earnings
In the West, the work of a copywriter is equated with the job of a salesperson. And many copywriters work not only for a fixed price but also for a percentage of sales. By the way, I run several projects, for which I also receive a fee in the form of a portion of sales, and I notice that I like this form of payment more and more. Here, of course, there are also some nuances, but this is not about that now.
In the post-Soviet space, the situation is a little different. Staff copywriters are often paid a fixed salary (in some cases, they also give a bonus or bonus). The average salary in the market rarely exceeds $2000 – $3000 (more often $1k – $1.5k), while the earnings of a real copywriter, like a seller, are, in theory, unlimited. It is also worth noting that for the salary you need to work every day, from call to call. Not the best deal for me.
Reason #3: Limited freedom
Imagine that you are sitting in an office with a pass system. Summer, +28. The air conditioner is broken. On the floor above, in the neighboring offices, renovations are being done with punchers. But you still have to be at the workplace. The head swells, but nothing can be done about it. You have to sit and write, write, write. Isn’t that nonsense?
And I’m not talking about the fact that the work of a copywriter is, first of all, mental work and only 10 percent – writing a text. Rigid corporate foundations and the need to be present in the office severely limit not only freedom of movement but also thinking, so professional copywriters, as a rule, do not tolerate this.
Reason #4: You can’t give up the task
There are two options here.
- Your boss gives you a task
- The project is transferred to you for development if you work in an advertising agency.
And in both cases, you cannot just say: “No, I don’t like this task, I will not do it.” You are forced to do the kind of work that you may not like. There is only one question left: why? When you are on your own, you choose with whom to work and under what conditions. Don’t like the states? Bye! Following!
Reason #5: Too many hungry mouths
Here again, you have two options: you are working for the company’s needs, or you are working on the orders of the clients of the company. And in both cases, you are the production department: you create a product that increases your company’s sales or a client company.
However, the harsh truth of life is that in addition to production units, companies often have other departments: accounting, lawyers, HR, founders. Moreover, the latter have their own needs, and they build their business in the first place to cover these needs.
As a result, it turns out that most of the money that your job brings goes to feed these hungry mouths, and you get only a tiny part of what you earn. Experienced copywriters understand this perfectly; they see the system as a whole and do not put up with it.
After all, what is the point of feeding dozens of “left” people at the expense of your work when you can take all this money for yourself, working for yourself?
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Reason #6: Bureaucratic swamp
The larger the company, the stronger the bureaucracy is. If I am not mistaken, then one of the third Parkinson’s Law consequences says that a company with 1,000 employees can fully load its employees with paperwork due to hypertrophied bureaucracy.
In simple terms, in large companies, endless reports, reports, explanatory, justification, and other nonsense are widespread, significantly reducing the efficiency of a copywriter. Judge for yourself: instead of developing a concept and selling texts, you should write everything in a paper report to coordinate this with your bosses or a client, who do not understand anything about your work at all.
Once a potential client told me that before I get started, he expects a detailed written report on the analysis of the market, the approaches used, triggers, and other elements that I am going to use in the sales text. I replied: “No problem.” And he increased the invoice amount by $1000. Then the client reconsidered his position, saying that he relies on my professionalism, especially since I guarantee my texts.
In large companies, such a trick, as a rule, does not work because the task of writing a report is given to you by the management, and you are forced to waste your energy and time on useless work.
Experienced copywriters are well aware of this, and therefore do not work on the staff.
Reason #7: Constant Distractions
Scientists have found that it takes an average of 15 minutes for a person to immerse themselves in a workflow. Then he enters a state of flux, and the work begins to boil. This can be compared to a train that needs to accelerate and which then travels by inertia due to its large mass and gained speed.
When you work as a copywriter in the state, other employees consider it their sacred duty to jerk you on any issues related to the texts.
- Managers jerk you when they need to send a commercial offer
- Office colleagues ask you to write a competent letter
- The marketing department involves you in discussing the advertising campaign
- The PR department asks you to write a press release
- The technical department asks you to draw up the documentation
- Management pulls you as an expert into endless meetings
And the series of constant jerking does not stop. If you agree, you are a world man who, at the same time, does not have time to do anything about his work. If you refuse, you do not respect the team. There are three ways out of a dilemma:
- Follow the team’s lead and stay on overtime after work
- Become a hard-skinned lone warrior by gently lifting everyone from your neck
- Work for yourself
Most seasoned copywriters choose the third option without hesitation.
Reason #8: Intellectual property belongs to the company
Many companies have a few tricky clauses in their contracts. One of these points states that the employee’s intellectual work during his work for the company belongs to the company. In other words, if you, while working for company X, developed an ingenious selling concept and then left to work for another company, then you are not allowed to use the same idea for the benefit of another company.
The question immediately arises: “Who will prove it? Maybe the concept was taken from the text that is in the public domain. “Believe me, it will not be difficult for a competent lawyer to draw parallels and prove your involvement, and this can turn into big problems. That is why experienced copywriters, creating selling texts, can indicate in the contract that the rights to the text belong to the customer. But you will not find words that the rights to the concept or structure also belong to him.
Reason #9: Too many auditors
This reason is a direct consequence of reason #6. Depending on the project, many bosses and their assistants make it their sacred duty to inspect your concept and adjust it. Everyone writes from their belfry, and all of them are often united by one factor: they do not understand anything about copywriting, but at the same time, they make their own edits.
As a result, your concept undergoes such metamorphoses that even if you are her own mother (or father) at least three times, you will not recognize her. In practice, this leads to the fact that the concept becomes inoperable. And since bosses are not supposed to walk in the scapegoats, you take responsibility for the fiasco.
Therefore, experienced copywriters, as a rule, refuse any order if several decision-makers have a vote in the project and, as a result, do not work full-time in the staff of large companies.
Reason #10: Time is against you
I left this reason for dessert. When you work as a full-time copywriter, time passes, and all the results, cases, and gratitude go to the firm. If you decide to stop working in the company (no matter for what reason), you will be left on your own: no portfolio, no reviews, no case studies. The only achievement will be a record in the labor force that you worked as a copywriter in such and such a company. And it’s good if this company is well-known.
Imagine how many tasks you could solve on your own, how many thanks to receiving, how many new customers to acquire. During those 3-5 years during which the company sucks all the juices out of you, you can reach much greater heights, get more results and make more money.
And here, a very logical question arises.
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Is it that pointless to work in companies?
At the beginning of this article, I already said that on a piece of paper, I had not only disadvantages but also advantages. Yes, companies have pluses, but they are primarily relevant for beginners. The main plus is the super-fast way to gain experience. According to my observations, two months of work in an advertising agency by expertise is equivalent to 2 years of work on “free bread.” But only for the time being. Then it’s better to leave and work for yourself. Or build other relationships with companies.
How experienced copywriters work with large companies
All of the above ten reasons are only relevant for full-time employment. But this does not mean that a copywriter cannot work with companies. Maybe something else. Only the interaction format is slightly different.
For starters, experienced copywriters always present themselves as a legal entity. It can be either an individual entrepreneur or a company (most often an LLC). The relationship of such copywriters is based on contracts. The copywriter solves the company’s problem, and the company pays him for the performance of a specific job (or achievement of a result). For the money, it comes out more profitable, and the above reasons are irrelevant. This format of interaction is called outsourcing.
This format of interaction has many advantages:
- You are not tied to one company.
- You can work remotely.
- You can refuse projects that are not interesting to you and earn more money.
Although it would seem the work is the same, but the money and time costs differ by order of magnitude.
For example, my laboratory serves six companies permanently. If I worked only in one of them, I would spend all my working time and earn six times less money. Not to mention the fact that I would have to spend 2 hours every day on the road and get stuck in traffic jams.
By the way, about traffic jams. I recently wrote a review of a new book by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, REMOTE: No Office Required. I will not say that this book opened America to me, but it will benefit people who spend 8-9 hours a day in the office. It is also a fantastic piece of content strategy implementation.
And remember that time is an irreplaceable resource!
Yours sincerely, Devansh Pathak.