Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Are you thinking about becoming a copywriter, but you’re worried about how long it’ll take? If, like me, you’ve ever started a course, run out of steam and given up half way through, you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to show you how to get your Copywriting Diploma FAST and keep your motivation levels high.
After the Coronavirus crisis hit, my language school went into liquidation and my fourteen year career as an English Language teacher was suddenly over. My students had to return to their countries, travel became a no-go, and the school I’d been working at for nine years closed its doors for the last time.
I’d been thinking about making a career change for a while, and 2020 finally gave me the push to make it happen. On the 5th May, I enrolled with the Blackford Centre and started my Diploma in Copywriting. On the 6th July, I handed in my last assignment.
I know what you’re thinking. That this is either some kind of cop-out, cowboy course or I let my grades suffer for the sake of speed. First of all, I can assure you that The Blackford Centre is highly respected and their courses are endorsed by a host of regulating bodies, including ABC Awards, EADL and Access. The course itself is benchmarked at Level 4, meaning it’s the equivalent of an HNC or one year at university.
There are 21 modules and 11 tutor-marked assignments so there’s plenty of substance, too. My marks were also pretty respectable, and I achieved a total of 7 A grades and 3 B grades. In fact, my lowest grade was a B+.
Now, it goes without saying that you need an excellent grasp of English grammar, vocabulary and spelling before you even begin. And more than that, you have to have a genuine interest in writing for advertising. If you have these essential ingredients, there’s no reason you can’t fly through the course and ace it too!
Tip #1 – Read the Course Information Thoroughly Before you Start
The Blackford Centre give you lots of guides to help you succeed on the course. Read them. Especially anything that’s related to what they expect from your assignments.
I opted for the online edition, and if time is of the essence, I’d recommend you do, too. Not only do you get your materials instantly, you can’t lose or misplace anything, and you won’t have to hunt through a stack of books to find what you’re looking for. Get those assignments in by email as well, if you can, as this speeds up the process too.
Make sure that anything you hand in to your tutor looks professional, is clearly labelled and includes your creative process. Start each assignment with an explanation of what you did, why you did it and how you arrived at your final draft. Don’t forget to include references to any books, websites or online materials you used, as this gets you extra marks.
Tip #2 – Get off to a Flying Start
The first couple of modules and assignments are the easiest, so push to get them finished in those first few days. I know it can be tempting to put off starting a course, especially one without time limits, but getting them done is going to fire up your motivation, big-style.
Not only will you get a great overview of the course and what it actually means to be a copywriter, but it’ll give you that great sense of progression that can make or break your resolve.
Tip #3 – Don’t Wait for your Tutor to Mark your Assignments
I typically found that my tutor would take 7 days to mark my assignment and get it back to me. Occasionally, it was done quicker but 7 days seemed to be the norm. If you want to complete the course fast, don’t wait for your tutor’s feedback. Crack on with the next module as soon as you’ve handed in your work.
The course recommends you don’t hand your next assignment until you get the last one back, and this is good advice. Keep going with your modules and assignments but keep them under your hat until you get your grade. Then use your tutor’s comments to improve what you’ve already written.
Hand in your next assignment the same day that your tutor returns the previous one – that way you’re roughly hitting a grade a week. If you have any questions about the following assignment, be sure to include those in your submission email too – it makes the process of them getting back to you so much quicker.
Tip #4 - Use the Internet to your Advantage
I did the course during lockdown, so I had no chance to visit a library. A lot of the tasks are library-based, but if you don’t have access to a good one, don’t let this stop you in your tracks. I found a lot of excellent resources online and it saved me a whole load of time too. There are also some great downloadable eBooks, guides and documents out there, so seek them out - you won’t be disappointed.
This advice applies to ‘field-trip’ style visits too. In one module, my task was to visit a trade fair. As I wasn’t able to do this, I googled ‘online trade fairs’ and bam, hundreds of results. Who knew that was even a thing? I got all the information I needed in less than an hour, without even leaving my house.
Tip #5 – Don’t let a Tricky Task Screw Up your Momentum
If you land on a task that throws you, either because it’s difficult or involves taking a trip somewhere, don’t stop to get worked up over it. Simply carry on reading through the module and come back to it later. This happened to me on more than one occasion, but I realised early on that getting stressed about it slowed me down and put me in a bad frame of mind for learning.
Tasks are dotted throughout each module and help you to put what you’ve learnt into practice. Most of them are analytical or research-based, but there are some practical ones thrown in for good measure. They’re not assignments though, and they’re not graded so if the worst comes to the worst and you’re totally stuck, scroll to the end of the module and read through the answers. As long as you’ve attempted the task, you’re still on the upward trend of the learning curve.
Tip #6 – Focus your Effort in the Right Places
There is a lot of content to cover in this course and it’s easy to expend unnecessary time and effort on tasks and assignments your tutor will never actually look at. I’m not saying don’t be thorough, but don’t sap your creative mojo to the point you have nothing left to wow your tutor with.
Concentrate the bulk of your energy on your graded assignments. Ungraded assignments and tasks don’t need to look pretty, and they don’t require 100% perfection. Don’t procrastinate over them, just get them done. You can always revisit them later. In fact, looking them over with more knowledge and experience under your belt, means you can apply the lessons you’ve learnt to create even better copy.
Tip #7 – Make Relevance your Goal in Optional Assignments
Out of the 11 tutor-marked assignments, 3 are actually optional. I set out with the intention of completing all of them, but I realised that in order to get my creative juices flowing, they had to be personally relevant to me and my copywriting goals. In the end, I handed in 2 out of the 3, and I feel that was the right call.
The assignment I opted out of was to write a bid proposal for freelance work. Not only was I fairly convinced this wasn’t something I wanted to do in real life, but the rubric was pretty woolly too. If you don’t want to risk your grade average, my advice is to stick to optional assignments that support your copywriting goals, and have clear and attainable objectives.
Tip #8 – Forget about Everyone Else
I’m not going to lie, I became pretty obsessed with the thought that I might not be ‘doing it right’ when it came to some of the assignments. I scoured the internet for examples from former students and berated myself for my subpar ideas.
Not only did this knock my confidence and slow me down, but it made me second-guess everything I was writing, to the point of insanity. And, guess what? Those assignments were my lowest grades. So my advice to you is to trust your gut instinct. Don’t try to be someone else when you’re writing. Be you and believe in your own creativity. Trust me, you’ve got this.
I hope these tips have inspired you to get going with that copywriting course you’ve had on the back-burner. If you have any questions, get in touch – I’d love to hear from you.
Which tip did you find the most useful? Do you have any great tips of your own? Let me know in the comments.