How to Become a Copywriter in Singapore

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Learning how to become a copywriter in Singapore follows the same process as becoming a professional in any occupation. Copywriting as a profession has been underestimated, partly on the grounds that anybody who can speak, read, and write in a particular language is automatically a copywriter for that language.

This is tantamount to stating that I go dancing every Friday night so I am a professional dancer, capable of performing in A Chorus Line or Wicked. Or worse, I know first aid, so come to me for heart surgery or hip replacement. Becoming a copywriter has its path, rigors, rewards, that any aspiring copywriter must walk before he or she earns the title of copywriter.

In Singapore, breaking into the field of copywriting is easier if you have a degree in a related field, like communications, journalism, advertising, media relations, marketing, or something similar (check out NUS: School of Communications and New Media’s website). Note though, that not having a degree never stopped anyone determined to make a name in that field. There are many copywriters who have become household names in the field, who do not have a degree in any of these subjects, or do not have a degree at all. The basic premise is that having a degree can make it easier to get a foothold in the industry. But academic qualifications are only a small part.

Becoming a good copywriter should be the goal here. And for that, there are two qualities that every aspiring copywriter in Singapore (or anywhere else for that matter) must possess. First, he or she must have innate curiosity. This killer quality is essential in the creative industry, and copywriting sits somewhere in the middle of this sphere. A good copywriter is always inquiring into the workings of everything because he or she knows that a task involving copywriting for any topic may pop up at any time. As copywriters, we have to write about everything from organic bananas, to the next breakthrough pharmaceutical discovery.

Curiosity is essential and must span the gamut across every type of field and industry imaginable. In fact, experienced copywriters learn the value of keeping one eye on their keyboards and the other on the world outside. If you are not curious by nature, but want to become a copywriter, start training yourself now. Read books that you would normally never read. Watch a television show in another language and try to keep up with the story. Singapore has four national languages and Singapore television has no shortage of shows in each. If your first language is English and your second language is Mandarin, watch a show in Malay or Tamil. Try following the story through visual cues.

You will find your mind translating these cues into your native language. That itself is great training to become a copywriter. Becoming a copywriter in Singapore does not seem like a big deal but it is, and while copywriting as a profession is welcome throughout the world, in Singapore we are particularly fortunate to be in a multi-lingual society.

Each language has its own sub-culture and nuances to express the same things we experience. Ask a friend who speaks a different language from you, say Malay, to identify an object. Then ask your friend to translate the meaning into English. More often than not, you’ll end up with phrases and sentences that you’ve never thought of. Become curious about everything. It’s a tall order but copywriting is the business of managing communication — the world’s oldest activity.

The second quality every copywriter needs is perception. Seeing things from a different point of view is one thing. Seeing things from multiple viewpoints is where the money is at. A good copywriter is able to express multiple meanings through multiple channels and still maintain congruency in communication.

This quality is critical to becoming a good copywriter because in a place like Singapore, where communication systems are evolved, people expect a copywriter to be discerning and able to sift through words (spoken and written) and quickly arrive on the same page as the client. Singapore is in a unique position with regards to its national languages.

The rules of one language often mingle with another to create a hybrid form of communication. A copywriter in Singapore has to be an expert at hybrid forms of communication and must be able to pick the right message from multiple layers of meaning. Perception is essential for any copywriter who aspires not only to break into the field, but establish himself or herself as the master.

If you enjoy copywriting and know that you have these qualities, then consider starting with an advertising agency. There are not many dedicated copywriting agencies like Quantico Copywriting in Singapore, but there are plenty of creative agencies looking for copywriters to help out on a part-time or full-time basis. Get invited to some networking events and meet people who are already in the field.

Quantico Copywriting organizes free public talks around Singapore through its internal group — Qrowd. Get in touch with us and see how you can become a Qrowd speaker. It’s free and it’s full of copywriters from every background imaginable. If you know instinctively that you are a great copywriter, then follow your passion and hopefully this insight will help you get there a tad faster.