What routes have copywriters explored besides agency life? Thinking in-house but not sure who to contact. Overall feeling defeated, but still want to write and not be poor. Any advice is appreciated!

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I think going in-house could be like agency life but worse (depending on the house). Think: Marketing that's significantly more traditional and lackluster. I looked into beauty and lifestyle companies, but the bulk of the work was for product-based print. I looked into a music app, but it was predominantly artist bio pages and subway ads. A former CD/CW I worked with came into an agency after being an editor (he reverse-engineered it), so you could look into journalism — but you'll definitely be making less over time. Before dropping your lucrative ad gig, I'd suggest checking out shops that do the type of work you are interested in now. Perhaps a digital shop that offers campaign and systematic. Or a smaller agency that specializes in app development. If you do want to explore non-agency roles, how about a gaming company that needs writers for narratives? That could be awesome.

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I work with startups on the side. They love the big sexy brands I've worked on and value my skills/insights because they're so techy and left brained

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