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A Comprehensive Guide to Copywriting Courses
Have you ever read advertising on the web or in print magazines and newspapers and thought, “I could do that” or even “I could write something better than that”? Have you always excelled in English and writing classes? Are you an avid reader? Are you intrigued by how words interact? If so, then a career as a copywriter might be a good choice for you.
Maybe you’re already working as a freelancer and want to ramp up your skills to make yourself more attractive to commercial clients? Things change so often in the whole of e-commerce and digital marketing, it’s a smart move to invest a little time and money into keeping yourself on track of the latest copywriting skills.
What is copywriting?
Copywriting is the art and science of writing text for advertising that appears in print, on the internet, in emails, on direct mail pieces and even on in-store displays. Copywriters can work for corporations, work for advertising agencies or be self-employed as a freelancer. More recently, digital marketing agencies have emerged. These companies often employ copywriters to work on digital advertising campaigns.
Education and training to be a copywriter
A question we hear a lot is “do I need a college degree to be a copywriter?” It used to be that a bachelor’s degree in English or other related field was necessary to launch a career as a copywriter. The advent of the internet has changed that dramatically. Today, most employers and clients are willing to let a copywriter’s work speak for itself and aren’t so worried about degrees.
Copywriting is a specific writing skill, being able to persuade readers to make a purchase based on your ad copy. However, to be a successful copywriter, you also need a good vocabulary and command of English grammar and composition.
Copywriting courses range from free newsletters to formal online education programs. Some are free; others have a substantial fee. Some are self-directed; others are taught by instructors. Some are even presented on podcasts. There are courses for beginners and other for those who want to hone their skills. Our aim is to help you sort through all of the entries that come up with a simple Google search of “copywriting course” and help you find the course that best fits your interest, your experience and, of course, your budget. (Remember, the money you spend on business education courses that relate to your existing career or that help train you for a new career can generally be deducted from your US tax return. Be sure to tell your tax advisor about your copywriting courses.)
1. Udemy “How to Become a Freelance Copywriter” Course
Udemy is a massive, private, online education provider with more than 150,000 courses, each created by experts in their individual field. These courses are self-directed, so you can work through them at your own pace. Udemy currently offers three copywriting courses. “How to Become a Copywriter” is their entry level course and is written by long-time copywriters Len Smith and Sean Kaye.
This course focuses on how to get started as a freelance copywriter, the business side of freelancing and how to build an online portfolio. Some highlights of this course include ways to increase your income as a copywriter, how to market and sell yourself as a copywriter and how to start generating new sales from a website.
“How to Become a Freelance Copywriter” is $89.99, but there are frequent discounts. The course includes 1.5 hours of on-demand video, two minutes of on-demand audio, four articles and a large collection of downloadable resources. For the fee, you get lifetime access to the course and there’s also a downloadable certificate of completion. All Udemy courses carry a 30-day money-back guarantee.
2. Udemy “Copywriting Secrets”
Udemy builds on “How to Become a Freelance Copywriter” with its “Copywriting Secrets” course. This course is also written by Len Smith and Sean Kaye and focuses on ad writing skills like how to leverage emotion, how to write good copy faster (so you can make more money) and how to network effectively with other writers to help grow your business.
This course is also $89.99, but again there are frequent discounts. The course includes three hours of on-demand videos, two articles, 44 downloadable resources and a downloadable certificate of completion. The one-time fee gives you lifetime access to all of the course materials. All Udemy courses carry a 30-day money-back guarantee.
3. Udemy “Advanced Copywriting Strategies for Online Sales”
The third copywriting course in Udemy’s catalog is “Advance Copywriting Strategies for Online Sales”. While it’s not required, it’s a good idea to master the other two Udemy copywriting course before take this third, advanced, course. “Advanced Copywriting Strategies for Online Sales” is written and presented by Brian Yang, a copywriting strategist, YouTube instructor and publisher of Hustle & Design.
This course focuses on timeless principles and formulas that can help drive sales within the small window of time must online shopper give to each ad. Highlights include how to write effective calls to action, writing product descriptions that give customers a reason to buy, and how to use testimonials to leverage your customers to sell for you.
“Advanced Copywriting Strategies for Online Sales” is $89.99, but again we suggest you look for discounts. The course material includes six hours of on-demand video, 43 minutes of on-demand audio, 13 downloadable resources and a downloadable certificate of completion. All Udemy courses carry a 30-day money-back guarantee.
4. Landing Page Conversion Course from Unbounce
Conversions are the name of the game in online sales. If you haven’t worked with e-commerce, conversions refer to the number of people who click on an ad and end up making a purchase. Unbounce is a Canadian software company that specializes in creating landing pages for companies. They also sponsor an annual Call to Action conference. The company share the knowledge its gained with landing pages over the years and how to write them, so they lead to sales in its “Landing Page Conversion Course”.
This course spans multiple topics, all related to helping online pages and contacts lead to more sales. Instructors include Unbounce founder and CEO, Oli Gardner, as well as top digital marketing experts like Rand Fishkin from Moz, ConversionXL’s Peep Laja and Copyblogger’s Brian Clark.
“Landing Page Conversion Course” from Unbounce is free. Course material includes 11 emailed lessons with video tutorials and real life examples. Copywriting topics include writing effective CTAs, how to write lead capture forms, landing page copy and how to use buyer psychology.
5. Peep Laja’s Conversion Coaching Program
ConversionXL (CXL) is a provider of online marketing training courses. They offer dozens of courses on everything from content marketing to using Google Ads. The company’s CEO, Peep Laja hosts a wonderful course on writing ad copy that converts. His eight-week Conversion Coaching Program covers a variety of topics, including how to write ad copy that converts, what is conversion optimization and why it’s important and how to conduct good conversion research. There’s also a bonus ninth week installment that focuses on how to start and operate a CRO (conversion rate optimization) agency.
Unlike most of the other courses profiled here, this course features live instruction, with two live webinars each week as well as live Q&A sessions. This program is much more of a give and take type of instruction that the others.
The cost of Peep Laja’s Conversion Coaching program is higher than the other programs. However, Laja guarantees that his students will make 10 times their investment in the first year by using their new knowledge. The program is $1,999, but we’ve seen periodic discounts, so keep your eyes open if you want to try this program.
6. ConversionXL Effective Website Copywriting
ConversionXL also offers a course that focuses exclusively on copywriting. This is a good choice if the previous course sounds interesting to you, but costs more than you want to spend. (We totally understand.) The CXL “Effective Website Copywriting” course is free and takes just 13 minutes (on average) to read. But, there’s a lot of great information packed into this article by Peep Laja.
The “course” covers the process of great copywriting, how to outline your copy, the do’s and don’t’s of writing ad copy, and how to boost your ad copy’s conversion rate. The article is a must-read for anyone who’s serious about copywriting.
7. Kopywriting Kourse
The Kopywriting Kourse promises to teach you to “write like your speak and sell like hell”. The creator of this course, Neville Medhora is a top copywriter, who was the chief copywriter for AppSumo before he struck out on this own. His AppSumo advertising emails were noted for their uniqueness, humor and stellar conversion rates.
The Kopywriting Kourse is has three components. The first is a free course aimed at beginners. This includes eight videos on topics such as “what is copywriting” and “a copywriting checklist’. It also offers a helpful list of resources for beginners and advance copywriters alike.
The second part of the Kopywriting Kourse is a three-month intermediate course for $267. The third, gold level, part of the Kourse is a year-long course for $999. This part offers “access to all the trainings, live office hours and unlimited professional copywriting help.
The second and third course offer access to dozens of video classes as well as a member forum, where you can share ideas, questions and concerns with others who are taking the course.
8. AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting
AWAI stands for the American Writers and Artists Institute, an organization that has been helping writers since 1997. Awai’s “Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting” is a great course for beginners looking to launch a career as a freelance copywriter. The course is self-guided and features “586 pages of tips, techniques, and strategies that have sold billions of dollars worth of products and services through the mail”. In addition, subscribers get the AWAI Hall of Fame e-Book, which is packed with the “best sales letters and direct-response ads ever written”, and a “How to Safely and Quickly Change Careers” ebook.
One of the nice perks of this program is that is gives you access to Awai’s exclusive job board, DirectResponseJobs.com.
Awai offers a free 30-day trial, so you can try it out before you have to put out any money. If you decide to keep the course, the cost is $497. However, like other copywriting courses, they offer frequent discounts.
While this course is designed for beginners, Awai offers a variety of other courses aimed at neophyte and advanced copywriters.
9. Blackford Centre for Copywriting
The Blackford Centre for Copywriting course is a comprehensive learning module that cover the essentials of copywriting. Topics include…
- Basic and advanced writing skills
- Methods to research audiences
- How to write direct mail pieces, brochures and press releases
- Tips for writing digital marketing copy, including PPC ads, email marketing and SEO copywriting
- How to find copywriting work online and offline
This is a self-guided course, but help from tutors is available via email or telephone. Course materials include 17 modules with both online and printed learning material. Topics include How to Become a Copywriting, Writing for Different Kinds of Web Pages, and Writing for Social Media. The tutors in this program are all practicing copywriters, so you can be assured they know what they are talking about.
The UK-based Blackford Centre for Copywriting course is one of very few copywriting courses that is accredited.
The cost of this course is $1165.00. This program, too, is frequently offered at a discount. The Blackford Centre offers a 60-day money-back guarantee if you return all of the materials in good condition.
10. Copyhacker’s Conversion Copywriting 101
Conversion Copywriting 101 is an introductory course on the basics of web copywriting. Designed and taught by copywriters Lianna Patch, Sam Woods and Amy Hebdon, this course covers topics like the difference between features and benefits, How to write Google Ads campaigns, and the difference between homepages and landing pages. Access to the course is free.
The Copyhacker’s Conversion Copywriting 101 course is a perfect intro course for those who aren’t quite sure yet whether a copywriting career is right for them.
11. CopyHacker’s Copy School
CopyHacker’s Copy School expands on Conversion Copywriting 101 course. The course’s home page asks if you know the answer to the question, …
“What’s the difference between a marketing campaign that generates record-breaking profits, vaults you to the top of your industry, and has you jet-setting to Lake Tahoe for your next team off-site…and one that barely breaks even and leaves you shoulder-shrugging on your postmortem Zoom call as you wonder where the heck things went so wrong?”
It’s a compelling question!
Course materials for the Copyhacker’s Copy School include 10 sample sales pages, 10 sample web pages, 10 sample sales funnel copy, 10 sample emails, 10 sample landing pages, 10 sample product launch copy and 10 sample social media ads.
The course claims to be able to make you the “most profitable person in the room”. To that end, the copy school features eight separate modules, with prices ranging from $497 to $1995. Modules include “Converting Visitors on your Website”, “How to Write 4 Complete Funnels” and “Send Your Subscribers to Sales Pages that Convert”.
12. Experts on the Wire — Copywriting: From Unbearable to Unstoppable
This podcast is ideal for those people who learn best by listening versus reading. This free, 1.2-hour tutorial is short, but powerful and features noted digital marketing expert, Dan Shure talking with Pamela Wilson of Copyblogger about the difference between good and bad ad copy and how to save yourself from bad copy. Right now, it’s only available for downloading on Apple devices.
13. Content Blogger Content Market Certification
Speaking of Copyblogger, this noted industry blog has its own copywriting certification program. The course content includes “How to market yourself as a content marketer”, “What is the ‘buyer’s journey’ and what are the milestones” and “The kinds of content that attract links and widen your network”. The course is divided into eight modules. You get access to the first one right away, the second within a few days and then two a week for the remainder of the course.
The course is self-directed, but you’ll be invited to Q&A sessions each week with the instructors.
After you complete the course, you’ll have the opportunity to apply for your Content Marketing Certification. A Copyblogger professional will review your coursework and offer constructive feedback, something that few of the other courses offer.
This course is $397.00.
14. SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting Certification
This SEO copywriting certification course is designed specifically for those who want to write sales copy for the web. Maybe you are just starting out and want to focus on web writing or maybe you want to make the leap from traditional ad copy to SEO.
This three-month, eight-lesson course covers topics like “Why smart background research equals great copy”, “Writing prime-positioned web pages that convert like crazy” and “Spotting new content strategy opportunities”. Course materials include both print and video instruction that you’ll have access to 24/7 forever. There’s also a designated Facebook group for course members so you can interact with other students and ask questions of the instructors. You’ll be granted exclusive access to twice-monthly educational conference calls with SuccessWorks CEO Heather Lloyd-Martin and other well-respected SEO experts.
SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting Certification course is $995.00
15. The KnowledgeBank: Sales and Persuasion Skills for Startups
This self-directed course, written by 20-year veteran copywriter Len Smith, focuses on copywriting for start-ups and entrepreneurs, particularly in the digital realm. He stresses skills that will make your copy drive sales and persuade people to buy your products and services. Highlights include “Understanding people’s motives for buying”, “How to turn needs into wants” and “How to overcome ‘price-itis’. Never ever having to sell down on price”.
Course materials include eight video lessons. Additional and future updates (called “fireside chats”) are also included. Len is also available via email if you have any questions during or after the course. The fee gives you lifetime access to the training materials.
Cost: $180. KnowledgeBank offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. The company also offers a free preview video, so you can see if the course is right for you before you enroll.
16. Pixar in a Box: the Art of Storytelling
Copywriting is really a form of storytelling. The best ad copy helps readers empathize with the character in the ad and feel that the person could very well be them. In addition, more and more digital advertising is done via video, so learning how to write good screen copy is a valuable skill for a copywriter.
Pixar in a Box helps subscribers to hone their storytelling skills, something that can benefit almost every copywriter, from someone who’s just entering the field to a jaded veteran. The self-directed course, sold by Khan Academy, features a series of videos. Topics include “We are all storytellers”, “Story structure” and “Visual language”.
Course materials include six learning modules with teaching videos and a series of accompanying activities.
Skillshare is a business training platform that allows you to take multiple courses for one monthly subscription fee. It’s like of like the Netflix of online learning. All the courses are self-directed and taught on video. Skillshare offers a number of courses about copywriting. We particularly like the 13 courses by Jack Zerby, a copywriting veteran and the former head of Vimeo. Highlights include the basics, like “What is copywriting” and “Audience: what to ask and why” as well as more advanced topics like “Short vs long copy” and “Improving your skills”. There are a variety of “class projects” that accompany the videos.
In addition to the courses by Zerby, there are several dozen other courses about copywriting on Skillshare. Some of the best of these include…
- Digital Marketing: Copywriting and Blogging
- Copywriting for beginners: how to write web copy that sells without being cheesy
- Personal branding: your copywriting secret sauce
- Crappy copy: 8 digital copywriting mistakes you should avoid
- Copywriting for startups
Skillshare also has a forum where students can ask questions and share ideas.
Cost: $22.00 per month for access to all Skillshare courses. (The first 14 days of Skillshare are free.) You can save by opting for an annual subscription for $113.88 (or $9.49 per month). Skillshare also offers periodic discounts on both the monthly and annual rates.
19. Direct Marketing Association: Copywriting Essentials Course
This six-week training course taught by Clare Harrison of Full Circle Consulting is different from all of the others we’ve profiled in that it’s an interactive course. This means that you get weekly feedback on your course work. We also like that it includes some materials on online copywriting as well as writing for digital marketing.
Course materials include links to the live video classes and downloadable materials to accompany the classes.
Cost: $499.00. There are discounts for Direct Marketing Association members.
20. Direct Marketing Association: Creative Copywriting
This is a streamlined version of the Copywriting Essentials course. It features 90 minutes of on-demand video rather than the live-streaming classes, so it’s better for those who aren’t available during the middle of the day, when most of the Copywriting Essentials classes are held. It’s also less expensive.
Course materials include 90 minutes of on-demand video instruction and downloadable materials to accompany the lessons.
Cost: $199.00. There are discounts for Direct Marketing Association members.
21. Media Bistro Copywriting Fundamentals Course
Media Bistro offers a wide range of resources for writers of all genres. There’s a job board, a forum where writers can interact and a diverse collection of training courses. We particularly like the Copywriting Fundamentals course. This is an introductory course that walks you through all of the steps in developing a brand voice and communicating that to the public via your ad copy. Highlights of this course include “When to break ‘official’ writing rules for punctuation or sentences to make copy more conversational and interesting”, “How to incorporate word play into your ad copy” and “Copywriter secrets”.
Course materials include video tutorials and downloadable resources.
Cost: Media Bistro membership is $119.88 per year. That gives you access to all of MB’s dozens of online training classes, webinars and freelance tools. There is a 14-day free trial period if you’d like to check out the site before you join.
22. ADMA Copywriting Essentials Course
This course is sponsored by the American Data-driven Marketers and Advertisers Association. This is a beginner’s course and topics include basic foundations of copywriting, creative copywriting techniques and adapting to web writing. Instructor Jon Maxim has 25 years experience in advertising and copywriting. He is the creative director of The Maxim, an Australian digital marketing agency.
Course materials include four training modules. You can opt to attend the class in person (if you just happen to live in Melbourne or Sydney, Australia) or watch videos of the class online. The class takes one day in person or eight hours online.
Cost: $895 or $695 for ADMA members.
Books on copywriting
Not all training comes in video modules. There are some excellent books on the subject, both in ebook format and more traditional hardback. We don’t feel that we’d cover the topic of copywriting courses sufficiently well with mentioning at least a few of our favorite copywriting tomes.
1. “The Copywriter’s Handbook” by Robert Bly
Our number one favorite copywriting book, “The Copywriter’s Handbook” is a wonderfully comprehensive look at the business and the art of copywriting. Robert Bly, the author of dozens of books about commercial writing, has been a professional copywriter for more than 30 years. In this book, which you’ll want near your desk as you work, he shares such practical tips as “eight headline variations, fifteen ways to open a sales letter and fifteen for ways to open email marketing messages. 432 pages.
Cost: $13.19 (paperback) from Amazon.com.
2. “The Well-Fed Writer” by Peter Bowerman
This is one of our all-time favorite books about writing. Bowerman, a self-described six-figure freelance copywriter, shares his secrets for writing good ad copy as well as how to find good, profitable clients; how to manage the business of freelancing and how to work with other freelancers, like web designers, to improve your marketability to clients. 368 pages. Updated for 2020.
Cost: $19.95 (soft cover) or $9.95 (ebook) from wellfedwriter.com
3. “Making Ads Pay: Timeless Tips for Successful Copywriting” by John Caples
This book, written in 2011, cuts through all of the niceties to get to the essence of good copywriting–copy that sells. He takes real life examples and analyzes them, telling you why some things work and others don’t. Those it came out a decade ago, this book has lots of good information on copywriting that is still relevant today. 256 pages.
Cost: $13.99 (paperback) from Amazon.com.
4. “Words that Sell” by Richard Bayan
This book is a must-have for any commercial writer. The premise is simple; some words just evoke a better reaction than others. Bayan has done the research and has compiled more than 6,000 words and phrases that will give your ad copy that sizzle that your clients’ need. 160 pages.
Cost: $13.73 (paperback) or $9.99 (ebook) from Amazon.com.
5. “Creating Fat Content” by Dr. Andy Williams
This copywriting book focuses on what’s essential to writing good content for the web. In Dr. Williams estimation that’s long content. He explores the art of writing 2,000 words or more that still hold the reader’s attention and persuades them to buy. Though this book was written in 2007, many of the tips here still apply today. 160 pages.
Cost: $9.99 (paperback) or $3.79 (ebook) from Amazon.com. This ebook is offered free to Kindle Unlimited members.
Job prospects for US copywriters
Of course, the first question on most prospective student’s minds is “How much money will I make as a copywriter?” The answer to this depends on the size of the company you work for, your part of the country and your experience. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a copywriter in the United States is $60,300 or around $30/hour. Glassdoor estimates the average copywriter’s salary to be $58,565. Both sources say the high end of the salary range exceeds $100,000.
There are two main categories of copywriters–those who work for corporations and ad agencies, and those who freelance. While most of these courses focus on freelancing, the same skills can be applied to a corporate copywriting job or to starting your own copywriting agency with your own stable of copywriters.
While the world marketing arena has changed somewhat in the last couple of decades, from magazines, newspapers and billboards to digital advertising, the basics of good copywriting remain largely the same. Being able to write good, concise and persuasive ad copy is likely to be in demand for years to come. If you’re just starting your career or are a copywriting veteran, expanding your writing skills by taking one or more copywriting courses this year is sure to pay off in the long run.