Struggling to Jumpstart Your Career as a Creative? Get Out of New York City, ASAP.
Jealous of all the Samanthas and Jakes living their life on a beach in Bali? Same. This is the kind of work-life balance and freedom a lot of millennials aspire to achieve. I’ve read hundreds, if not thousands of articles on “How to become a copywriter“ or “How to get into copywriting”. However, none of them specifically outline the brutal beginnings on how to start and survive financially in the process. Getting into it professionally is one of the hardest tasks one can do. This is the reason why a lot of aspiring copywriters become discouraged and eventually start digging a hole to bury their dreams. And themselves.
I didn’t enter the copywriting field in a traditional way. Ever since I can remember, I was good at writing. During college I would write essays and term papers for others. With all the A’s my clients were getting, I started having more credibility and more work. Nonetheless, it was still not enough to support myself full-time, especially while living in New York City. With no journalism or English background, my chances of getting real-life experience at a corporation or an agency were slim to none.
The competition itself is so fierce that if you do get a job, you should consider yourself the chosen one. So rejoice my friend, pop a cheap bottle of the bubbly, have a one-night stand, max out your credit card at Bloomingdales. Do what you gotta do, boo. Just don’t forget to wake up the next day and realize that even if you’re the chosen one, your salary will still be somewhere between “I have $32 left until my next paycheck” and “Mom, can you help me pay for my electricity bill? They’re going to cut it off soon.”
While copywriting wasn’t my primary reason for moving to Poland, it’s the best thing I could have done for my career. Due to the nature of copywriting, my job can be done remotely. I am now able to save more from my side-hustles while working in Poland than I ever would working an entry-level position in New York City. If becoming a copywriter is your dream job, moving to another country is the best decision you can ever make. Here’s why:
1. Lower cost of living.
According to Salary.com, the median wage for an entry-level copywriter with a Bachelor’s degree and 0–2 years of experience is $25 per hour. Subtract all the taxes and deductions and your monthly take-home pay is around $2,700. If you’re single and have no responsibilities, you’ll probably survive. Paycheck to paycheck. While eating ramen noodles for breakfast and dinner (no lunch though). Take note that this is a median wage for those who are entering the field with a Bachelor’s degree already.
While trying to become a copywriter in New York City may leave you borderline homeless, gaining experience in another country will not. Of course, this depends on the place you choose. For example, the average cost of rent for a 1-bd apartment in the center of Poland’s capital — Warsaw — is $700. Move 20 minutes away from the city, it’s much less. Now, you can work on minimum salary in the U.S., and save while you’re at it. But, if you can’t find a U.S. job and your search resembles looking for a needle in a haystack, see #2.
2. Less competition.
Speaking English in the U.S. is normal. Being a native speaker of English in Poland is rare. You don’t really know the value of your own language until you go to a country where people go through extensive measures to be able to speak it the way you do. And even if they receive a PhD in English, they will never be able to have the same exact proficiency that a native speaker does. This automatically blows the competition out of the way.
Plenty of corporations choose Eastern European countries as their hub due to lower costs and are always ready to hire English-speaking employees who have a knack for writing and language. Just because of that, you will relatively make more than the average Joe and not worry about living month to month.
3. More hands-on experience in different fields.
Competition in the Big Apple is cut-throat. Most of the time, for an entry-level copywriter, you take whatever you can get. If you land your first job doing technical copy, you will probably stick to it for years to come until a miracle happens or luck comes your way.
On the other hand, in a country with hardly any job competition, you will be able to get a taste of all kinds of copywriting work — from in-house corporate positions, to working at an advertising agency or even UX writing. To be quite honest, as a native English copywriter, you oftentimes get to pick and choose your jobs, in whichever field you like, with whatever company you want to. In Poland, although I am not much of a gamer myself, I began to work as an in-house copywriter at G2A.COM — the biggest marketplace for gamers and geeks. What I love about my workplace, is that I am not limited to writing one type of copy — I do it all. Seriously, all.
4. More time for hobbies.
A lot of copywriters (or aspiring ones) value the nature of the job itself due to its flexibility with schedules and the ability to grow a side-hustle while working a day job. Whether it’s providing a service or running a successful blog, there are a lot of extra employment opportunities for copywriters. The key issue in New York City, is that most of the time, you just can’t spend a few hours on them anyway.
In my case, after moving to Poland, I was successfully able to gain experience in the copywriting field AND dabble my fingers into food photography, while expanding my audience on Instagram. I would never be able to spend as much time on it back home as I can here. Growing professionally and at the same time, being able to grow your side-hustle hobby? You can’t go wrong with that.
5. Better work-life balance.
The American life consists of working and…well, working. Overtime is something very common, as if doing 60 hours a week is the new 40. This is the norm in the U.S., and less of a practice in Poland or other European countries. In addition to hardly any overtime days, you get around three weeks of paid vacation time. No one looks at you in a weird, condescending manner for taking a sick day or week off.
I turned my dream into reality. New York City closed its doors on my career, but Poland opened windows. Or maybe scratch that — it opened the holy gates of job heaven. I am no longer questioned whether I have 20 years of experience at the age of 27. I no longer have to deal with the MTA and hourly commutes. Quite frankly, no one even bothers to ask if I have a degree.
While you’re sending your 875297th job email, looking at more entry level creative jobs and collecting all of your quarters to get an everything bagel with butter 3rd day in a row because you can’t afford cream cheese or tofu, I am just going to meditate. Or maybe make myself a cup of coffee with almond milk and powdered MCT oil. Or maybe I’ll go make low-carb cauliflower bites and take a picture of it too, so I can post it to Instagram later. I don’t really know about you, but if I was you, I’d want to live like that too.