I’m a former HS teacher (English, Art/Design, and Photography) looking to move into the creative fields. I want to eventually make my way to a creative director knowing my personality made my curriculum engaging and meaningful. I’m having a hard time “picking a lane” with how I start. I enjoy writing and my experience as an ELA teacher gives me a lot of experience with rhetorical writing and narratives. How _exactly_ do I get my start in copywriting to showcase branding and marketing experience?

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Also, what’s with your job title on here? Seems like you sort of have some work to do before being called ‘Creative Director.’ 😂


Step 1 — You start out by writing a ton of fake ads. Like, hundreds of fake ads. Especially nail really solid print ads because it can show strong conceptual thinking in something like a simple headline.

Step 2 — make more fake ads because your first ones really suck.

Step 3 — prune all those executions down to ~6 separate campaigns. Maybe one is for a sponge brand. Another one is for a dog kennel. Whatever brand has potential to be conceptually interesting. Avoid a brand like Nike (their ads are already great and yours won’t look so hot in comparison). Think about what works the best conceptually. Also, only make the kinds of things you’d want to get paid to make. If you don’t want to be writing for digital apps, then don’t include a bunch of digital app copy in your book.

Step 4 — really hone the craft of your favorites from the ads you made. If you want to be a writer, then start with all the writing and don’t worry too much about the art direction. But eventually they should all look decent/presentable. If you don’t feel you can design some of your ideas, you can either pay someone to help you design things you have in mind — or you can find an art direction or design student who needs smart writing for their portfolio and partner up.

Step 5 — make a portfolio website with those best (6ish) campaigns on it. Look at how Brandcenter graduates put their sites together and make one just like that with your campaigns.

Step 6 — ask for a ton of honest feedback. Ask people who won’t hold back on tough opinions. Be prepared to go back and revise things until they’re all really solid.

Step 7 — apply to jobs and hopefully get paid to make real ads at a real agency.

Step 8 — get hired and work your ass off. be the best at what you do and it will get you closer to CD

(The easiest way to fast track this is attending a portfolio program for copywriting. But if you’re determined and committed, you can do it on your own.)


One thing you should know is that Creative Director is really a level of seniority within the creative department of an agency.

CDs start out as junior copywriters and junior art directors. They get promoted to mid-level, senior-level, and associate creative director level creative roles before reaching CD. So you should focus on which of those two disciplines you want to be in instead of the title you’ll get after your fourth promotion.


Thanks for your reply. I realize the experience necessary for a CD. I’m just in a tricky situation because I have a background in both writing and art/design. Which ever lane I pick, I’m going to continue building the skills in the other.

I’m leaning on copywriting simply because I see my passions translate better with writing and the designs to follow when building a portfolio.

Thanks again for your reply!

You could try to pick up quick jobs on upwork to get a feel for working with clients and doing “real” work if spec work isn’t your jam.


Just fyi i am over 12 years into my career and an acd. Some people jump to cd at like year 8 but you have to be extremely good and extremely lucky. It may be a longer road than you expect.


I’m familiar with Adobe CC but am very inexperienced when it comes to branding / client-based design. I have two freelance clients now—but I’ve hit a plateau with them. I mostly do art and design for personal projects or HS lesson plans. I think writing is a better stepping stone to showcase my thinking as a CD and art & design stuff support my path.

My company has a training program for people pivoting their careers, DM me if you’re interested. It’s in healthcare marketing, which has its detractors here, but the pay is exceptional.

Grass is always greener. I’m kind of wishing I’d become a teacher. This job can be great, but there’s a lot of egos.

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