1. That copywriting is even a job that exists in the world. I have no idea why high school guidance counselors don't tell kids about the creative side of the advertising industry. I wish I had known about copywriting when I was growing up instead of thinking my best chance at a lucrative creative career was music. (This is probably the first time the words "lucrative" and "music" have been written in the same sentence.)
2. There's so much more to it than writing. You'd better get comfortable with casting, and all the awkward things that come out of your mouth when you're making your selects. "That child has a weird face," "that woman's nose mole is distracting," and "it's a shame about his chest hair" are all things I've heard or said in a casting context.
3. Half the job is writing. The other half is selling. It is just as important to learn how to write an ad as it is to convince a client to buy said ad.
4. The client is (sometimes) right. It's easy to get annoyed when a client seems overly sensitive to or concerned about a harmless joke in a script. "Who the hell would actually be offended by that?" I think. Famous last words. Cut to me reading YouTube comments a month later where every single person who saw the ad is offended. The client isn't out to get you. They are doing their job, just like you are.
5. Transfers and onlines are different. I had no idea what either of these things were when I was an account executive. My best guess was that a "transfer" was when the files were "transferred" from the hard drives and cameras on set to the editor's computer, and an "online" was the process of uploading everything to YouTube. For some reason, I had convinced myself that this took anywhere from 8-10 hours. I was too shy to ask anyone for clarification, so in case you're in a similar position, here ya go: the transfer is when the colors are corrected. The online is when everything gets cleaned up and perfected in post, including supers. Oh yeah, and a "super" is text that appears on screen.
6. The recency effect is real. You're only as good as the last good thing you did. On the plus side, this means things move so quickly in this industry that no one will remember your fuck-up if you do something awesome a week later.
7. Follow teenagers on social media. I know, I know, creepy. But this industry is all about relevance, authenticity, and cool factor. Everyone has a different way of staying on top of trends, but my favorite is following YouTube and Instagram stars between the ages of 15-21. This age demo is full of trend-starters who latch onto stuff before it catches on with millennials 6-12 months later.
8. It is better to write 10 good headlines than 100 mediocre ones. No one's keeping score. Strive for quality, not quantity.
9. Make friends with entrepreneurs. You never know when you'll be able to proactively approach them with an idea for an ad and turn them into a client. At the very least, you can make some cool stuff for them on the side and show creative directors that you can hustle.
10. Not everything you do has to win an award. Sometimes, a banner ad is just a banner ad. It doesn't need to be brilliant. Part of the job is learning how to budget your time so you can figure out which projects deserve more time and attention.