Even though teaching English as a foreign language remains the most popular career choice for expats in China, copywriters and proof-readers from overseas are also very much in demand. In this article, I bring you a brief guide to copywriting and proofreading jobs in China, covering the industries that require such services, the experience and qualifications required for these roles, and what kind of compensation expats can expect. Get sharpening those quills!
Let’s start with the basics. What does a copywriter actually do? What does a proofreader actually do?
Copywriting (invariably referred to as content writing) generally involves writing for the purpose of marketing a product or service. During my previous job in Shenzhen, I wrote listings on overseas online marketplaces, such as Amazon and OnBuy, for electronic products. It was my job as a copywriter to write a product description that would convince customers to part with their cash.
Copywriters may also be responsible for writing blogs, social media posts, B2B communications and adverts, all of which have the aim of attracting eyeballs and eventually generating sales. In short, the copywriter’s job is to write in a way that sells.
Proofreading (invariably referred to as editing or copyediting) usually involves polishing pieces written by someone else. As the title suggests, your job is to spot grammatical mistakes, fact check, and, if necessary, improve and/or rearrange the piece to make it more readable. Such jobs are particularly common in media and to some extent in education.
Of course there are exceptions to the aforementioned definitions, but generally, as far as copywriting and proofreading jobs in China go, this is the scope of the typical roles for expats.
A few key industries tend to dominate when it comes to employing foreign copywriters and proofreaders in China. Each industry has different requirements, so let’s go through them one by one.
Whether churning out electronic products, clothing, or something else, Chinese manufactures of all kinds are keen to sell to overseas markets. And who better to sell to those markets than native speakers of the language in those countries?
In your job as a copywriter, you may be expected to write product listings for shopping websites, informative and SEO-friendly blogs, social media posts, scripts for videos, and taglines for adverts. Applicants for copywriting jobs in this industry should ideally have an interest in the products sold by the company. After all, if you have no interest in the product, how will you persuade others to buy it?
Those with a business background, such as Master’s in Business and Administration (MBA) graduates, will be at an advantage. However, it’s also possible for those from different backgrounds, such as teaching, to enter the field so long as they can write concisely and persuasively.
In this industry, the more foreign language skills you have, the better your employment prospects. Those with excellent written English can market to English-speaking countries; those with French to French-speaking countries; those with Spanish… you get the picture. The more languages you have the more valuable of a hire you’ll be.
This is where proofreading tends to be in demand. China has a vast array of English-language newspapers and its own English-language television service. Native English speakers are therefore required to proofread articles and TV scripts for spelling, grammar, accuracy, and style. Proofreaders may also be required to more closely edit and reorder pieces in order to make them more readable to an English speaking audience.
Those with a background in journalism or communications will be at a distinct advantage here, but applicants with any other proofreading or copywriting experience may also find success. As with many industries in China, native English speakers tend to be the most in demand by media outlets, while those who speak Chinese as well (so they can more easily communicate with local staff) will be even more desirable.
This is where copywriting and proofreading jobs in China are usually referred to as consultancy positions, i.e. “education consultant”. For the most part, these jobs involve proofreading and editing Chinese students’ applications to overseas universities. Studying overseas is now very popular in China for those with the minds and the means. This has in turn created a demand for native English speakers to assist with applications.
Most of these jobs specify that consultants must have a minimum of a BA undergraduate degree from a university, preferably a prestigious one, in the UK or the US. For instance, students applying to top American universities will want someone who studied at Yale, Princeton or MIT, etc, while those heading to top British universities will ideally want Oxford or Cambridge graduates.
Beyond this, those applying for education consultancy jobs should be passionate about higher education. It may also help if you sell yourself as a specialist consultant in one or more subject areas. For instance, your resume may come across as more nuanced if you make it clear that you still have firm connections to the faculty and alumni of your specific course.
As with many other industries, entry-level copywriting and proofreading jobs in China can pay quite low, with expats typically earning between 10,000 and 15,000 RMB (1,400-2,100 USD) per month. Those with more experience may be able to push for 18,000 RMB (2,530 USD) and above, particularly when it comes to mid-level management positions and roles within the media. Only top-level managers and experienced media editors should expect to earn upwards of 25,000 RMB.
A downside to copywriting and proofreading jobs in China compared with teaching positions is that there also tends to be fewer benefits as part of the employment package. While many teachers enjoy long paid holidays over the summer and at Chinese New Year, those working in copywriting and proofreading jobs are typically only offered five days paid annual leave alongside Chinese public holidays during their first 10 years within a company. Copywriting and proofreading positions also lack other benefits usually offered to teachers, such as an annual flight allowance and free or subsidized accommodation.
In short, do not expect to be treated like royalty as a copywriter or proofreader in China. Those without experience will need to start at the bottom and work their way up, as is the case in most jobs.
The number of copywriting and proofreading positions in China may never surpass those of teaching positions, but professionals in this field are nonetheless in demand. For expats in China who are not teachers or simply bored of their current career path, it’s a reliable industry to punt for. And while you may start off with relatively low pay and few benefits, you will quickly acquire a portfolio of work that you can take with your anywhere in the world. Writing and traveling… now isn’t that the dream?!
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... acquire a portfolio of work that you can take with your anywhere in the world. Writing and traveling… now isn’t that the dream?! COPY EDITING TEST? Should be with YOU anywhere ..and traveling is a nightmare now - needs updating!
May 03, 2020 02:18 Report Abuse
look in the jobs section. being pro-active will show a potential employer that you are motivated. asking other people to do this for you is not going to make you stand-out as a potential employee - in fact it will make you look lazy. Use the internet to do your research.
Apr 28, 2020 20:28 Report Abuse
yes you are right romit.r. Professional adults who post on the internet clearly need their hand held when being told how to use the internet - like clicking on links supplied in an article that would bring them to a 'Jobs' section - there must be about 10 links in the above article that goes to the 'jobs' section of this site. Clearly being a teacher or a Copy Writer does not require you to be someone who can use their initiatlve, demonstrate that you can actually do research, or use a search engine (or even click on links in a relevent article). Thanks for labeling me a 'thug' - this is really helpful when it comes to a rational discourse. Please remind me when i am hiring to chose the 'adult' who has demonstrated that they are unable to use anything other than social media and can't do their own research. Next time I won't presume that an adult should employ common sense. If an individual can not even put 'teachers/copy writers jobs' in a search engine, what does that tell you about them as a potential employee? Just asking (as a potential employer)
Jun 03, 2020 15:33 Report Abuse
I am right in more than ways than one to trigger such a lengthy response but someone who inserts 10 links of the same site in a single article isn't doing big favours, akin to the guy copy pasting the same comment/rant without being of help to lazy beginners who'd rather hear it from a person, than click on a link. The discourse stopped being rational when you threw your attitude around by using words like "someone worth employing", so actually the label was more of a pseudo-tough guy, you can keep it on if it helps. Clearly being an active community member doesn't increase your tolerance for the not so enlightened ones and trying to drive the point that you're a recruiter only makes your frail ego visible. Next time you meet a candidate who didn't meet your high standards, let them leave with an advice they can use instead of a snarky comment that only makes you fell good.
Oct 27, 2020 00:04 Report Abuse
OUCH! you only took a few months to reply to me. Should my feelings be hurt with your name calling? Should i sugar coat things a bit more for you? so i am a 'thug' and a 'pseudo-tough guy', and have a 'frail ego - anything else you would care to call me? I find that when people resort to name calling, it is because they don't have a rational argument/point to make. Please keep it up.
Nov 04, 2020 00:46 Report Abuse