What Is Jingle Writing? (Explained for Beginners)

Jingle writing is catchy, flashy, and fun. But what exactly is jingle writing?

Here is a good definition of jingle writing:

Jingle writing is a style of writing that is characterized by short, distinctive phrases which are repeated over and over again, usually for advertising. The purpose of jingle writing is to reinforce a specific idea about a product into the minds of people who hear it.

In this article, I’ll answer the most common questions people ask me about jingle writing.

What Is Jingle Writing? (Brief History)

Jingle writing was first made popular in early radio advertisements.

The first modern jingle is attributed to General Mills, who broadcast a jingle about Wheaties in 1926. It aired in Minneapolis on Christmas Eve with the ditty, “The best breakfast food in the land.”

However, there is anecdotal evidence that jingle writing existed as far back as Shakespearean times—perhaps even earlier.

Back then, traveling musical groups sought sponsors.

The sponsor often required the group to write and perform a song dedicated to the sponsor or to a business they owned.

Since then, jingles have been used in a wide variety of advertisements, television shows, and radio programs.

What Is Jingle Writing? (The Appeal)

One reason jingles became so popular so quickly is that they are easy to remember.

Instead of long sales pitches, jingles utilize short phrases that rhyme, often accompanied by music.

This makes them ideal for TV and radio ads, which are sometimes only twenty to thirty seconds long.

People seemed to respond well to this style of advertising because they enjoyed being able to remember the jingle later on—often even after hearing an ad only once.

What Is Jingle Writing? (How Are They Made)

The jingles that were first created for radio commercials were made by simply pounding out notes on a piano or strumming chords on a guitar.

Nowadays, jingles can be composed with any combination of music, lyrics, and audio tools.

Usually, jingles consist of a simple rhythm and a repeated phrase. The lyrics of the jingle do not have to rhyme, but it is preferred if they do so.

They are short, typically no more than a sentence or two, which are often repeated several times during an advertisement.

A jingle is a story in a sentence.

With this in mind, jingles typically incorporate a catchy phrase that is easy to remember and repeat.

Jingle Writing Examples

Probably the best way to learn about jingle writing is to see actual examples. So, here are some famous examples of popular jingles.

Jingle writing examples:

  • “They’re Magically Delicious”—Lucky Charms
  • “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup!”—Folgers
  • “I’m Lovin It”—McDonald’s
  • “I Wish I Was an Oscar Mayer Weiner”—Oscar Mayer Weiner
  • “Cuz this is what I know-ooh ooh-ooh”—Sprint
  • “Gimme a Break”—KitKat
  • “Nationwide is on your side”—Nationwide

All of these jingles have several things in common:

  • They are short, rhyming phrases that are easy to remember.
  • They have a catchy hook or chorus that can also be used as a standalone phrase.
  • They are often associated with the advertised product—whether it is the name of the product, an image of the advertised product, or even just a short description of the advertised product.

How Does Jingle Writing Differ From Other Songwriting?

Typically, jingles are short, simple songs that advertise a product or company.

They can be written for any purpose and to portray any image—they don’t need to be serious.

They just need to appeal to the target audience.

Jingle writing is different from other types of songwriting because jingles are only used to promote something and never as an actual song.

They use rhyme and rhythm that appeal to the masses, similar to pop music.

Jingles typically do not require a lot of knowledge about music theory or the structure of songs—they’re typically more simplistic.

What Is a Jingle Writer?

A jingle writer is someone who writes jingles.

Jingle writers possess a unique set of skills. They must have excellent writing abilities so that they can complete the jingles quickly and efficiently.

Typically, jingle writers also have a background in advertising and music.

What Does a Jingle Writer Do?

Jingle writers are typically freelance workers who are paid per jingle.

While jingle writers create jingles for advertisements, sometimes they may also be asked to write a TV show or radio program theme song.

Jingle writers write the jingle, sometimes even the music that accompanies the lyrics.

To write a successful jingle, they must know the brand, product, and customer.

They must also know:

  • Language
  • Music
  • Advertising
  • Psychology (memory)

What Does a Jingle Writer Not Do?

A jingle writer does not perform the jingles.

Jingle writers do not choose which ads, TV shows, or radio programs in which to place their jingles.

In other words, a jingle writer has little to no control over where his or her work ends up.

Typically, the client (the company that will use the ad) hires a copywriter and art director to write and design the advertisement—respectively.

These professionals work together to make sure that the advertisement is both effective and appealing. After this point, it is handed off to a jingle writer who writes a matching jingle to be played with the ad.

Is Jingle Writing a Good Career?

Jingle writing is not an actual field of work. It is a subset of advertising or copywriting.

In most cases, advertising is a field that requires years of training and practice.

To be a copywriter or an ad designer, a person must have a degree in a relevant field (such as marketing, journalism, English, etc.).

However, there is no specific degree program for jingle writers.

Most jingle writers learn how to write jingles on the job by being employed as freelance copywriters. They also might take classes in music composition or lyric writing to improve their skills at writing jingles.

Good degrees for jingle writing include English, music, and advertising.

Typically, those who work as professional jingle writers also possess some type of formal experience in advertising and/or music.

As freelance workers, they are usually paid on a per-project basis.

Jingle writing can serve as an entry-level position for advertising copywriters or self-employed musicians who are hoping to expand their market.

However, some writers achieve great success by becoming independent artists who write jingles for big brands.

How Much Do Jingle Writers Make?

Jingle writers typically earn $500 to $1,500 per jingle.

However, this will depend on the amount of time that is spent writing it, the size of the company, and whether or not there are other expenses such as music licensing fees, etc.

Typically, a jingle writer is hired by an ad agency and works directly with the ad agency’s clients.

If the jingle writer is independent, he or she may be working directly with the company that wants to use the jingle.

For both types of work—working independently or through an advertising agency—a jingle writer can typically expect to make up to $1,500 per jingle plus possible royalties.

For smaller brands, you might make $250 per jingle.

According to Comparably.com:

The salaries of Jingle Writers in the US range from $21,070 to $101,150 , with a median salary of $49,820 . The middle 60% of Jingle Writers makes $49,820, with the top 80% making $101,150.

A little-known fact is that bestselling author, James Patterson, is the richest jingle writer in the world (but not from jingle writing alone). Patterson helped create the famous Toys-R-Us jingle, “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid.”

How To Get Started in Jingle Writing

In most cases, jingle writing is a freelance job.

One way to do this is by looking for advertising jobs through internet job boards and job postings.

For those who have experience in either design or copywriting, it may be possible to be hired directly as a jingle writer.

It might also be possible to create an ad campaign and copy for the client (including the jingle) independently, without direct employment (by contract).

You can also launch your own jingle-writing service by:

  • Creating a website (With a portfolio, way to contact you, and FAQs about your experience)
  • Offering jingle writing services on gig marketplaces (such as Fiverr or Upwork)

Finally, you can enter a jingle-writing contest or competition.

To find contests, regularly run an internet search for “jingle contest” plus the current year. So, if it’s 2050, then search, “Jingle contest 2050.” Also, search for “jingle competition.”

You can also create a Google or internet alert for “jingle contest” and “jingle competition.”

Can Anyone Learn Jingle Writing?

Anyone can learn to write a jingle if they take the time to build the necessary skills.

Someone who does not understand writing or music will face more challenges writing acceptable and saleable jingles.

Generally, a person who is new to jingle writing will have an easier time learning how to write jingles by being mentored. The more experienced the mentor is in writing jingles, the better.

Alternatively, a beginner can learn how to write a jingle by reading books and taking online courses.

How Long Does it Take To Write a Jingle?

It typically takes anywhere from one hour to two weeks to write a jingle.

It can take more time depending on the type of jingle and how long it is (whether it’s 3 seconds or 30 seconds).

However, it can be an easy job for those with some experience in writing music lyrics or poetry. Jingle writers typically only need to create something catchy that people will want to listen to (that is also “on brand”).

Typically, the most difficult part is creating a short, memorable phrase.

Here is a good video on how to write a jingle:

YouTube video by Randy Laskowski—What is Jingle Writing?

Final Thoughts: What Is Jingle Writing?

Jingle writing can be a fun and lucrative career. If you do it right, you may just create a jingle people around the world can’t stop singing, even decades later.

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