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"Website Copywriters - Work For Mad Men Or Yourself?"

Updated on December 4, 2013

Advertising Agencies - The GOOD, the BAD, the PRESTIGE

The information I've provided within this hub could help you with a very important decision . . . now, or down the road.

Read closely: Working as a copywriter for an advertising agency is not glamorous (as portrayed in the TV series, "Mad Men.") Expect long hours, numerous re-writes, and eventually, burnout.

Allow me to take you inside a real ad agency; and then contrast ad agency employment with owning your Internet copywriting service.

A Brief Overview Concerning Advertising Agencies

If the high-society, social scene and the perceived prestige of working in beautiful surroundings is vital to your work-life happiness you should become an agency copywriter (given the fact you are a great copywriter.)

  • You may enjoy 5-star lunches.
  • Jet to beautiful places.
  • Your name appears somewhere in the crawling credits.
  • You enjoy a steady paycheck.

However, looks are deceiving. Underneath the seeming, exotic lifestyle awaits a grinding, 6 day work week. If you truly enjoy copywriting, and are able to crank out creative copy day-to-day on their clock, then choose stability. Work for Mad Men.

At some point in your career, however, you will soon discover you have a choice.

Work for Mad Men or work for yourself.

Ad Agency Copywriting - The Facts

Following are my personal observations from years of working in the advertising agency business world:

  • There is NO 'in between'... You are a results-producing copywriter or not. Notice, I said nothing about 'talent'. Creativity and talent mean absolutely nothing to an advertising agency. The agency's bottom line solely determines your future.
  • MOST advertising agencies are known for their Mad Men, cut-throat reputation. Through observation and many years of experience working for media-based agencies I know that statement to be true.
  • On the flip side, advertising agencies can sometimes provide very rewarding careers.
  • Advertising copywriters are in constant competition, raising stress levels; raising tempers.
  • Advertising CEOs Are "Mad Men" or good guys and if you, as a staff copywriter, don't make the grade, the Mad Men type take great delight in watching your swagger dance through the door swinging under a glowing red EXIT sign. (I've seen this happen many times.)
  • Some advertising agencies truly care for their clients.
  • Most advertising agencies truly care for their bottom line.
  • Your fellow advertising agency copywriters will smile when shaking your hand all the while holding a knife to your back in wait for the right moment to skewer. Et tu, Brute?

When you write for an advertising agency, you will be treated one of two ways:

'Serf-ly' or 'Kingly'.

The Mad Men CEO determines your title according to his/her subjective rating standard.

I once worked for an agency where 5 people were fired within a 10 month period because the CEO believed their work was below standard. These people have families to support, bills to pay... ahhhh, you know the rest. The sad side of this tale is that their work was better than average and maybe with some professional training, these people could have had a shot at advertising agency immortality.

This hiring and firing is THE way of life for advertising copywriters and if you think, "well, the money is fantastic; I know my abilities and it's worth it."


The average advertising agency-employed copywriter averages $40,000/year. The very best agency copywriter tops out at only $56,000!

That ONE Client

Most advertising agencies depend on one major client for survival. You must ask yourself what would happen if that one big fence builder decided to pick up stakes?

I can tell you without reservation what would happen. The advertising agency you work for will close its doors immediately and that means you are pounding the pavement once again.

By the way, this scenario is happening more and more, although it's always been a part of the agency scene.

The Money Is In Website Copywriting

It makes no difference whether you decide to work for Mad Men or work for yourself, it's imperative you know how to write resumes, press releases, brochures, newsletters - even video scripts.

However, the most important copy you will ever write is online Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Keyword-Based, Website Content.

Do this well and your future is all but assured: Don't learn it and your choices are relegated to one - working for Mad Men.

Online SEO copywriting is a craft, a science and an art form rolled into one; and when done well, provides huge profit margins for the product or service website.

Read this to see why online SEO copywriting and content is so critical for your future.

If you didn't watch the video that was part of that Hub, I urge you to go back now and watch! It's that important.

The Beauty Of Website Copywriting

Website copywriters need NOT be politicians to be successful.

Think about it.

In most ANY job you can imagine, you must:

  1. Know someone to get the job
  2. Keeping that job is almost always based on...
  • General office politics
  • Mad Men liking your personality
  • The inside cliques thinking you are OK
  • More and more, ad nauseum

As a website copywriter, politics are irrelevant.

A number-crunching computer determines your future.

You and the advertising elite can see how your writing has affected rankings, moved website position, added referring sites and a hundred more analytical statistics.

Your job security is based on numbers; and numbers alone hold your fate.

One of the few happy faces found in a typical ad agency.

Are You A Great Copywriter?

If your real talent resides in composing words that sell services or products, you have a bright future.

The politically-filled, 'gotta'-be-noticed' atmosphere abundant in an advertising agency may be your thing, but before you make the decision to write website copy for an agency or go it alone, remember the following:

  • An advertising agency has final say over everything you've written. Mad Men will edit your copy and they will be wrong 95% of the time. If you need that weekly paycheck you WILL make the corrections even though these incredibly ignorant 'suggestions' will hurt the client.Worst of all, you, not Mr. Mad Men CEO, will shoulder the blame.
  • Politics run rampant in advertising agencies. Not a politician? Vote - NEVER run. In other words, best to just keep your mouth reigned in.
  • Your writing excellence wins awards; awards engraved with the company name.
  • You get a steady paycheck.
  • Your benefits are paid.

Making It Your Way

I will always remember the first day I reported for duty at a particular advertising agency. The usual introductions finished, I found current print pieces this ad agency used for marketing. I was first shocked and I then let out a laugh the entire building probably heard.

These marketing materials were filled with grammar, spelling and spacing silliness.

But the really silly part kept house in the fact this well-respected and monetarily-successful advertising agency was attempting to attract new clients with these god-awful "marketing brochures".


It's your first day on the job, you're happy and excited... then you stumble upon these horrific marketing pieces.

What would you do?

Lip-buttoning is the wise option, but I'm not wired that way.

Any savvy, potential client reading this brutal "copy" would instantly dismiss you (mentally for sure; and physically, in very short order.)

I could not contain my reaction to this marketing nightmare so I made the decision to talk with the agency owner.

With two of these printed disasters in hand I walked over to his secretary and asked for an appointment: He could see me immediately.

We exchanged pleasantries and I then asked him if he knew how the company's marketing pieces were negatively impressing potential clients... His answer?

"Well, we've spent a lot of money on these marketing and advertising pieces. Hell, besides, I think they look pretty good and most people won't catch the mistakes."

After a short while, I walked back to my office where I threw my given portion of these ultra-inferior, laughable gems in the trash heap; never again seeing the light of day.

No More Mediocrity

The story you read is true, and even though I stayed with that agency several years, I knew one day I would establish a professional business, giving my clients the closest thing to perfection in every product, EVERY time.

Flash forward: So I did create my own company, and this company is gaining positive notoriety in a fast way!

A Day In The Life of Copywriter31

'Typical' is a word we copywriters very seldom use, but an average day at Writers 31 consists of:

  • Writing
  • Studying
  • Marketing
  • Fine Tuning

If only for the practice, I write something EVERY day. I find it amazing how quickly I lose my edge without honing my writing skills.

Very seldom do I find a day that does not demand at least 2 hours of writing in my efforts to promote my business, but I know from experience the daily writing routine sharpens my craft.


A successful copywriting business demands STUDY! The business world is daily changing, and staying ahead of the curve provides valuable asset for existing and potential clients.

I can recommend only one company that provides the best online copywriting information. That company is AWAI (American Writers And Artists Inc.)

Be prepared; their material is pricey, but you are learning writing secrets from the true masters in this business... well worth your investments.

Be leary of things you read on the Internet. Check everything thoroughly before you commit. It's much easier to not buy than to fight with a company for a refund.


I remember paying a webmaster almost $2,000 to design my first website in 2003. When I saw it online for the first time I mentally began counting all of the money that would soon start rolling in. I waited, waited and waited some more... no money; no nothing.

Just because you've got a killer website occupying space somewhere in cyberspace, expect, at the minimum, a wait of 2 years before you see any real money come in strictly from your website.

Your website is only one piece of the marketing pie:

  • Give speeches
  • Advertise your website
  • Volunteer your time
  • Learn social media
  • Tell everyone you see and know you own a copywriting business
  • Ensure all your marketing pieces are coordinated with a killer logo

Fine Tuning

Have you ever written the perfect website SEO copy? What about the perfect hub or article? if you answered 'YES' to these two questions, you will never be a great copywriter. Your writing can ALWAYS be better!

Mistakes are teachers and I guarantee you've made at least one mistake in everything you've written. Learn from them and plod ahead.

All the great ones make mistakes and I know they ruminate over every job they've written, sometimes going back years to read what they could have written better.

NEVER be satisfied with your work; it's the only way you will improve.

The Pros and Cons Of Working For Yourself

When you own your online copywriting business:

  • Time means nothing unless it has to do with a deadline.
  • The dreaded necessity of buying expensive clothes is eliminated.
  • Incredible tax breaks are there for the claiming.
  • YOU get the glory: YOU take ALL of the heat.
  • Write one control that does well and you'll never have to worry about finding new clients... they will find you.
  • You receive no weekly paycheck.
  • You receive no paid benefits.
  • Be prepared to work long, long hours, meaning, you better love copywriting.

Mad Men or Good Guys?

In the end, know we are all wired differently and each of us have different needs. Some people need that steady check, while others are energized by the money, freedom, and recognition.

Whatever path you choose, always give your best. Even in first drafts, don't give your clients spelling errors or grammatical mistakes - proofread everything that leaves your office or computer. After all, your reputation as a trusted copywriter is always being scrutinized.

Mad Men or Good Guys? A choice that by now, should be abundantly clear for you... Whatever decision you make, I wish you luck. Remember, if you know website copywriting (SEO, Conversion, Keyword, Keyword Searches, Backlinks) you have a future... a GOOD future.



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    • copywriter31 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Ranka 

      8 years ago from Port Neches

      "soft robots with some blood" - very cool! I wish you well.

    • profile image

      Long Island Advertising Agency 

      8 years ago

      we're slowly (or maybe not that slow) becoming little software people. kind of a soft robot with some blood.

    • copywriter31 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Ranka 

      8 years ago from Port Neches

      My phones accept speed-dialing -

      Business: 409-497-9522

      Cell: 409-273-0145

    • Etsel Skelton profile image

      Etsel Skelton 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I would agree with the "GOOD future" part. My company orders a lot of content every week from writers. However, there are not many writers who fully understand SEO fundamentals. The few I know who do understand, and can speak the lingo, have their own speed-dial button on my phone.


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