Transitioning from print journalism to copywriting at a corporate branding agency powered by digital momentum.
After 6 years as a journalist, I felt unprepared for the digital advancements coming my way. So, I entered an industry that understood the excitement and potential of leveraging digital channels to share a message.
I studied Media and Writing at The University of Cape Town and felt destined for a career in journalism. Freshly graduated, I interned at a leading South African multi-platform content company housing some of the largest newspaper publications in the country. There, I transitioned from the print realm to multimedia, found my “beat" in the lifestyle hub, developed my writing style, interviewed people passionately living out their dreams, and worked alongside brilliant journalists who continue to make industry waves. Undeniably, this chapter shaped the writer I am today.
But, as a cell phone-wielding, thumb-scrolling, selfie-taking millennial, I wanted to be part of an industry that had built and established digital momentum. With Covid catalysing innovative business models, the push for tech transformation in industries across the board was evident. Instead, I began to feel the stagnation of an industry grasping firmly onto tradition, fearing change, and ultimately, became bogged down by the inability to be future-fit.
A startup agency with the fluidity to strategically adapt to the changing times and could offer employees the tools and training to develop alongside it seemed like a perfect fit. I completed a Digital marketing short course online, put my feelers out into the online job-hunting space, and said “yes” to writing opportunities that ventured outside my comfort zone and inched my way toward copywriting roles.
This mentality brought me to partner with The Social Craft. I was in awe of the mastery and dedication behind the company’s powerful approach to using digital to amplify employer and corporate brands in, and beyond, Africa.
Collaborating with one of our clients to extract the essence of their employer brand to bring people, culture and strategy together and craft their EVP.
Outside the marketing world, people aren’t very familiar with what this career path entails. There’s a perception, at least in the era of Instagram, that it's mostly writing social media captions and using hashtags strategically. It’s far more than that. The written material I get to create raises brand awareness and ultimately persuades individuals or groups of people to perform a specific action. I will say though - never underestimate the power of a good Insta caption.
What does a copywriter do?
Communicate with the client and our team to ensure we understand what is required.
Research the client’s industry and their audience, identify key messages, and tailor content and writing style to fit their voice, and various online platforms and influence the desired action.
Work with creative teams to make sure that the visual elements within a campaign complement the words.
Identify fresh and interesting angles for PR content, blogs, social media, and video scripts.
Understand feedback, apply the client’s reverts, and make necessary adjustments.
Work within a team to review the impact of our work.
Six months in, the growth I have experienced in this short space of time makes me question what I could have done to reach this destination faster. Looking back, there were a few key points that were essential to my transitional journey.
5 things I wish I knew before making a career pivot:
Yes, you can change careers
Before making a career pivot, I wish I understood that most of what writers do can be learnt on the job. Provided you have the passion and eagerness to be a voice for someone, you can shapeshift into any industry and create the career that you desire (i.e., you do not have to go to a private creative design school!).
Sharpen your skills
You’re already a writer, equipped with the ability to research, extract detail out of an experience, wordsmith even the simplest copy into something enticing, and the imagination to realise the ideas of others and express that through your work. Merging those skills with digital marketing techniques and adapting them for online platforms is a necessity. From YouTube tutorials to LinkedIn Learning, there are so many free, affordable, and short courses available online to enhance your capabilities – use them!
Showcase your talents and abilities – digitally. Leverage the reach of social media platforms to expand your professional network, job hunt, connect with friends and colleagues, and put your best professional self in front of the right crowd. Updating your LinkedIn profile is a great first start. Here, you have the virtual room to highlight your successes, share your work, write articles and share insightful comments about relevant industry news. This can help get you noticed.
It can be challenging to stand out from the crowd when you don’t have a portfolio that backs up your capabilities. I started by building a portfolio of work, as well as my confidence as a copywriter, through freelancing. Taking on new work from different companies allowed me the freedom to taste-test career paths I never would have ventured down. Accepting work that was outside of my usual repertoire showed me how to adapt my skills to fit various work demands and how to supplement any shortcomings with the necessary developmental courses. Ultimately, freelancing allowed me to prove myself to individuals with hiring power.
Ask professionals about their journey
Speaking to colleagues, friends, and people within my professional network about their career journeys exposed me to the idea that there isn’t always a conventional route to follow when it comes to your dreams. Most careers have twists and turns – it’s okay if mine does too!