John Kuraoka, freelance advertising copywriter
(619) 465-6100
advertising copywriter mentorship: how it works

Quick finder:
Copywriter mentorship homepage | Advertising copywriter homepage | Ad blog

Mentoring aspiring advertising copywriters is hard work. The demands of working as a freelance copywriter myself has always limited the number of participants I could accept. Add to that the demands of being a parent, and that limits my time and energy even further. I have zero free time, and that has led to frustration and disappointment all the way around in the past. Things declined to where I had a file of past comments that I could cut-and-paste from, which stunk because it meant that I wasnít seeing anything really new. That meant I wasnít getting anything out of the experience either, which put me in a real deficit situation.

So, in a concerted effort to make this mentorship work, Iíve changed my attitude toward it.

This isnít about charity, or helping guide someone to a rewarding career. Thatís secondary.

This is about teaming up with someone and kicking ass. Itís about reviewing work that opens my own mind. Itís about me five or six years from now being able to say that I played a small part in molding a world-famous creative director/copywriter. Itís as much a partnership as a mentorship.

Thatís why I can only take on one person.

Sorry about the rant.

Still game? Here’s how it works.

The next session begins January 15, 2013. The application deadline is December 31, 2012.

To apply, email me a cover letter and rťsumť. Include your full name, email address, and school and year (if applicable). Also, choose one of the two sample projects to complete and submit.

The sample project is the most-important part of your application. What am I looking for? On-target, surprising approaches with strong visual ideas and engaging headlines. Yeah, a few of those wouldnít hurt. But mostly, I'm looking at how you think. Do you take conceptual risks? Do you play with words or ideas? Do you judge lines of thinking too quickly?

Email your application and all work to . Text should be pasted into the body of the email. Some assignments will call for thumbnails, and those must be attached as a JPG (no larger than 1MB) or PDF. Do not send work to my regular email address - my spam filters are set up so that it is extremely likely to get deleted without me even seeing it.

If you’re the one, youíll be notified in early January, and will receive project #1 on the 15th. (And, if you’re not accepted, don’t worry that it’s a reflection on your talent or your work. Tell yourself itís my loss. My choices are as arbitrary as those of any other creative director. If you’re emotionally fragile, well, advertising might not be the best industry for you.)

The program consists of nine advertising copywriting projects, which you’ll work on one at a time. You can review the syllabus in a moment. There is a tenth assignment designed to help you strengthen your job-search tools.

Each project has a creative brief - a document that contains all the pertinent information. With the exception of the final advertising campaign, each project has a deadline one week away - five working days.

After Iíve had a chance to review the work (a couple days), Iíll email you and weíll set up a time for you to call me to discuss it. Iíll generally be available during daytime hours, California time. (I used to do this by email, but it took hours to write reviews, and lacked the dialog necessary to create good creative.) My feedback will be more in the role of a creative director than an instructor. I will offer criticism and encouragement. We may do some brainstorming together, over the phone. I may suggest ways to polish what you have created, but I will generally not edit your copy. Just as in real life, you may need to revise and resubmit a project before moving on to the next project. My goal is to guide you to create work at a consistently high professional standard.

Companies and products named are fictional, so don’t be surprised that you’ve never heard of them. However, assignments are very realistic, sometimes painfully so. Pay attention to what the creative brief tells you about the competitive environment.

When you’re finished with each project, you’ll have some good work to include in your copywriting portfolio. I recommend that you partner with a student of design or art direction to polish your ideas into full-fledged “comps” (short for “comprehensive layouts”) for inclusion in your portfolio.

More than that, youíll have polished your thinking skills. And thatís a tool that will never leave you, no matter how high you go.

Next: the syllabus