I am often asked how I ended up becoming a copywriter.
There’s a story.
It involves fate and a practical goal: paying off a student loan.
In fact, I had no idea what a copywriter was until I became one.
I finished my MBA straight after business school and found myself with what I thought was an enormous amount of student loan debt ($40,000). I really didn’t want to begin my work life chained to that debt – and possibly incurring even more right away in order to get set up with all the things that adults need: a nice car and apartment, furniture, and so on.
What I really wanted to do was travel. But how on earth could I do that when I owed so much money?
I was working as the career placement officer for my graduate school, so I had some great tools at my disposal. I found the job that paid the most and also allowed me to escape the country – teaching English in Japan.
If I could have chosen a place to visit, I would have preferred France, Italy, or another European country. But the pay just wasn’t there. So Japan it was.
I went reluctantly into that gig thinking I would be in exile for a few years. Then I could come back debt-free and ready to start a career.
But it was nothing like I thought it would be.
It worked out better than I could ever have imagined, enriching me as a person, lining me up for a great career, and changing the direction of my life forever.
I paid off my student loan debt after two years. I got paid every month, and I would march straight to the post office to send a money order to my bank back in Canada.
But when the time was up, I wasn’t ready to leave Japan. So I moved to Tokyo, answered an ad in the newspaper, and found a great job at a large telecommunications company as a copywriter.
I didn’t even know what a copywriter was, but somehow the stars aligned.
To think, it’s all thanks to my student loan debt.
I became a student of the world who appreciates other cultures. I got to travel around Asia. I married my husband in India. And we are growing our young family together in Florida.
When I arrived in Florida in 2002, I spring boarded my copywriting background into work at ad agencies, then an SEO company and as a digital marketer.
And none of this would have happened if I weren’t looking for the fastest way to get that loan to zero.
What motivates you every day? Do you have a story to share on how you got into copywriting or your line of work? Drop it in the comments below!
Elizabeth Rangel says
Hi Lisa! I am incredibly inspired by your story. Freedom from student loan debt is also one of my “why’s” as well! 🙂 Thank you for sharing.
Cool to hear your story Lisa!
I’m absorbing copywriting for the creative expression it allows. I have to make this work. I’m a 59 Food and Beverage industry refugee. Yeah, I can wait tables, mix a killer drink or make a schedule for 25 people, but that doesn’t drive me. I need this copywriting skill, and even though I’m old, I’ll get there someday.
Lisa Banks says
Hi Tracy, I’ll bet you have the skills to weave together a great story, with a background like that! I think that rich experience with people is one of the best skills you can use to power a copywriting career. You’ll find it’s less about sentence construction and more about finding the angle or pieces of information that need to be drawn into the light.
I am hoping my stars align one day as well…
Benjamin Carpenter says
Hi Lisa! Great story!
I am in a very similar situation today with debt which led me to copywriting. I’m just starting and learning but I’m hoping I can get rid of my debt in a couple years.
What was your experience like when you were starting out as a copywriter and were first looking for clients?
Lisa Banks says
Hi Benjamin, I kinda fell into a job that let me get some experience under my belt (client-side) and then I built up a lot of experience working at an agency next. I made sure to have a few clients lined up before taking the leap to freelance. Best of luck!
Well I can’t even get a loan in order to match that story. But I do find myself reading the Agora book and other copywriting resources.
Wow Lisa, it’s amazing how things happen how they need to to put you right where you belong. Great story!
Lisa Banks says
Hi Laura, isn’t it amazing sometimes? Thanks for stopping by!