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David asks, "I am interested in possibly pursuing a career as a copywriter. I am 29 with an undergraduate writing degree, and I currently reside in New York City. I have been a sketch comedy writer and actor for a number of years, and have nothing to put on a professional resume now that I am seeking a job in this new field.
Could you offer any advice as to what steps I could take at this point?"
Copywriting is a talent driven arena. If you have the talent you'll get a chance to use it. Any of your comedy sketches would provide the person hiring a copywriter examples of how you write. And comedy sketches are aligned with copywriting since you must write for effect in both instances. So, collect as many of those as you can.
If you have no direct copywriting experience there is a little technique to develop a portfolio. Consider yourself a freelance copywriter and develop advertising copy, promotional letters, and other copywriting type copy. Send it out to agencies and see what reaction you get. Put copies of those items in a portfolio you can say are done, "on spec." Then, when you go talk to someone in an agency or a corporation they have some idea of what you can do.
It's important to determine what, exactly, you want to pursue in copywriting. Advertising, business letters, catalog writing, promotional literature? Then decide where you want to work. Ad agency? Corporation? Non-profit? Government? Once you have that clarified you can target areas better and concentrate on those areas. It's much more effective than going out in the job market and wandering around hoping someone sees how much talent you have.
Then you design a resume that focuses on writing the comedy sketches and any other writing you've done. Include a sparkling cover letter that is brief and potent. That letter can be very important because it affirms your copywriting abilities to the person who reads it. And make sure the package you send gets in the hands of a manager or boss rather than throwing it into the human resources department.
It's a matter of thinking clearly, making definitive plans, and then executing. Give yourself some months. Don't get too discouraged and keep at it until something breaks.
Good luck in your pursuits!
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