Beginning the Copywriting Journey

21 replies
I've been reading posts debating the prices copywriters charge, how good they are, etc. My question is: what's the best way to build a reputable portfolio AND clients, if you're just starting out in the field? I've been studying copywriting for a few months now and I'm ready to accept biz opps.

For those of you that are now successful copywriters, what tips can you offer about your trials of starting out? How did you market yourselves and what prices did you charge as a beginner? Thanks so much.
#beginning #copywriting #journey
  • Profile picture of the author hemux
    I started off by finding various projects on freelancing websites and made sure that the buyers left a nice little review when they left.

    The price charged was really really low in the beginning. Even around $1/500words.

    However with time i advertised myself on various different forums. The users left nice testimonials to the service and this allowed future clients to know about the service and place reliance on it.

    With time, as i got increased number of reviews, i increased my rates..
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Lam
    Hi Snow Tigress,

    You'll want to first have a web page consisting of a sales copy for your own service, jump on to the WSO and read what other copywriters are doing, learn from their positioning and pricing (not copy), setup your own WSO, grab a bunch of clients, write your ass off to make sure it's perfect for your clients, gather up all your testimonials, add the testimonials to your web page sale copy, post your new projects into your portfolio and then start bringing traffic to your page.

    If everything is good to go at this point, you'll be able to raise your prices. Make sure you're active in the forums and other copywriting forums. Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author hemux
    Apart from that you'll also need to make sure that you have an editorial staff in place when you decide to start a team.

    Ive been in this business since a year now. What ive learned is, without the help of editors your clients are never going to be satisfied.

    The writers that you hire, will some day decide to submit low quality work. Which will hurt you
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Lam
    An editorial staff? Now I'm curious - how many copywriters here have an editorial staff? Ray? Scheda? Vin? Daniel? Paul? Loren? Somebody?
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    • Profile picture of the author Matt James
      An editorial staff? Now I'm curious - how many copywriters here have an editorial staff? Ray? Scheda? Vin? Daniel? Paul? Loren? Somebody?
      Hell yes, I employ someone solely to cycle through fonts until I pick the one I fancy.

      And another of my employees inserts Money Back Guarantee graphics into my letters all day long.

      Hey, these are technical skills. If you're not outsourcing you're missing out!

      Kevin... I'm betting this poor poster has a (strangely common) case of the ol' content/copywriting confusion...
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      • Profile picture of the author Kevin Lam
        Originally Posted by Matt James View Post

        Hell yes, I employ someone solely to cycle through fonts until I pick the one I fancy.

        And another of my employees inserts Money Back Guarantee graphics into my letters all day long.

        Hey, these are technical skills. If you're not outsourcing you're missing out!

        Kevin... I'm betting this poor poster has a (strangely common) case of the ol' content/copywriting confusion...
        Wow, I never thought about that. I should employ my own team right away. I bet this saves you oodles of time! Man, I can count up the minutes I'll save now!
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  • Profile picture of the author Stephen Root
    How about finding PLR products and try to pitch them? Once you build stats you can show and you are confident you can repeat the success, then go out and get clients. I don't have experience on bidding for very low paying copywriting jobs at freelancer sites but it sure sounds like you can't track how well your copy worked. That's pretty much the most important thing a starting copywriter needs to be tracking. At least our company would never hire anyone to write copy without some sort of proof their copy sells.
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  • Profile picture of the author Zeus66
    Snowtigress, I'm not a copywriter, as such, although I've written several sales pages that have pulled a respectable 1-2% conversion rate over the years. I am, however, a content writer going back to about 1996, and I think some of the lessons there probably apply to copywriting as well.

    Any form of writing needs to produce results for the buyer. That's how you build a reputation and get new clients without having to advertise for them. With web content and articles, the "results" may be getting people to click through to a website from the end of the article, or perhaps getting them to sign up to your list on a squeeze page. I'd go so far as to say that for many of my past clients, it was enough that the language flowed smoothly and there were no spelling or grammatical errors.

    My understanding is that it's a much higher level for copywriting, but the ultimate goal is the same: impress by getting results... then the good stuff will flow to you instead of you having to go out and seek new clients and higher fees.

    To that end, I really think you're sitting on a goldmine here at WF. Offer discounted services in a WSO and/or the Warriors For Hire section. Use those first forays to build a reputation and a portfolio. Just be prepared for negative results too, because with sales copywriting, so much of it comes down to simple math. If your copy sells at a decent rate, you'll be seeing green. If it doesn't, it's back to the drawing board. That's really what seems to separate content writing from copywriting.

    John
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  • Profile picture of the author CheapSeoContent
    You need to start with a very low price, say $3 per 500 words and once you build up reputation you can increase your price. Always, talk to a client with a smile. Even after you turn into a good writer, never show any aggressiveness to a client.
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    • Profile picture of the author MontelloMarketing
      Originally Posted by CheapSeoContent View Post

      You need to start with a very low price, say $3 per 500 words and once you build up reputation you can increase your price. Always, talk to a client with a smile. Even after you turn into a good writer, never show any aggressiveness to a client.

      I agree! CheapSEO Content has hit the nail right on the head. From now on whenever a newbie comes in looking for advice on being a copywriter I'm going to steer them to writing SEO content for $3!

      To hell with trying to do something here... I give up. CheapSeoContent is right.

      Everyone write content!
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  • Profile picture of the author Hesster
    Criminey... The bottom end of the content writing market just keeps getting lower and lower. 500 words for $1-$3? And here I thought a penny a word was bad.
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  • Profile picture of the author Scott Murdaugh
    As much as I'm fighting the urge to reply to some of the other posts here, for the original poster here's my advice...

    If you're talking about "copywriting"... Words that sell, sales in print, words that make money, etc... Not "content writing", blog posts, articles, etc... Then here's what I did.

    3-4 years ago I never even considered becoming a "copywriter", had zero desire to do so, and I also knew nothing about the industry.

    I'd written ads when I was younger for sales jobs I had... Getting my message across to a mass market, instead of speaking to each prospect one on one just made sense, and it made me money.

    When I made the transition to internet marketing I developed my own products and sales letters... And they made money.

    So when I started out I had a track record of copy that converts. I got into becoming a copywriter because it's the aspect of marketing that I just "get"... And I've been pretty good at it.

    When I first decided I wanted to become a copywriter, even though I had a ton of experience with results to back them up, I started in the WSO forum at around $300 a letter...

    That didn't last long, I went to $500, then $600, then $997... And then I left the WSO forum.

    My advice is to write some copy for some of your own products, or a PLR product, or even a Clickbank product... Just something you can get to gauge your conversion rates.

    Because if you just go out and start calling yourself a "copywriter", with no experience at all writing copy, even if you charge $97 a sales letter you're doing your clients a disservice...

    Because you have no experience at producing results, and it's NOT easy to do. Copywriting is designed to motivate people to pull out their wallets and spend money, that's the toughest kind of writing there is.

    My advice is to get out there and prove yourself before you even think about soliciting services. This way you can educate yourself while building up a portfolio, so when you do start out you can be confident in your ability to be a valuable asset to a client.

    I started out writing pretty damn cheap... I did that so I could build up a reputation and get some testimonials, and it worked.

    But before I was even working dirt cheap I had sold literally millions of dollars with my writing. (Houses, pianos, online projects, etc.)

    That's my .02. Prove that you can provide value, and then market yourself... You'll have a huge head start on most up and coming copywriters.

    Good luck.

    -Scott
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    Over $30 Million In Marketing Data And A Decade Of Consistently Generating Breakthrough Results - Ask How My Unique Approach To Copy Typically Outsells Traditional Ads By Up To 29x Or More...

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  • Profile picture of the author snowtigress
    I only have one thought... Thank God I'm not a content writer

    Thanks to everyone for your great advice. I know its worth more than 2 cents!
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    Ben Settle has some good stuff about how to get clients on
    his blog... some good ideas. He got f'ed over a lot writing
    for percentages in his early days but he built a portfolio too.

    I don't really recommend writing "for a cut" with internet
    people because you are likely to get screwed - but in the
    process if you choose to write for free up-front you'll win
    some friends who will send you referrals and future business.

    Clayton Makepeace recommends tracking down sucky salesletters
    and offering to rewrite them for a percentage of the increase.
    Harlan Kilstein says that's dumb unless you are sure you are
    dealing with people of real integrity (hard to know on the net).

    I tend to side with Harlan - get paid up front for your work.

    Marketing your own services well has the benefit of showing
    prospective clients you are walking your walk. When you look
    at the top direct response writers they appear not to market
    themselves at all, but in the past they did and many wrote
    books, did a lot of public speaking at rubber-chicken lunches
    and all sorts of other demeaning and dull work that constitutes
    marketing a business.

    It's not well-known and it's a bit dated, but Jeffrey Lant's
    "Money Making Marketing" is the best crash-course in what
    it really takes to sell your services with marketing (and phone
    work) I have read. It kicks "Guerilla Marketing's" butt, IMO.

    Get Peter Bowerman's "Well-Fed Writer" or Bob Bly's book
    "Secrets of A Freelance Writer" or Steve Slaunwhite's
    "Start and Run A Copywriting Business" - I have the first only
    and it's enough for me. There are allegedly a lot of overlaps
    among the three.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    A lot of copywriters started by writing for their own products.

    In that way you can experiment as much as you want and you
    have no other person to be accountable to if the copy bombs.

    I know a few very talented copywriters who just write for their
    own products. So don't just think about writing for others at
    the start, write for yourself first and make some money while
    you learn the craft.

    I wrote for myself before I offered my services to others.

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author snowtigress
    Nice idea, but I don't have any products to sell yet. It sounds like some people started off learning copy as an asset for their own biz instead of hiring a copywriter. It's great that they found a career out of it. It seems silly for me to create a seperate biz of selling things just to write sales letters. I'd rather leave product creation to others and stick to creating good copy FOR those products.
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    • Profile picture of the author Matt James
      Nice idea, but I don't have any products to sell yet.
      So grab some PLR products and get writing.

      At least you'll have a sales page up you can show potential clients. You asked for advice, received some great tips and you've already decided against it?

      It's great that they found a career out of it. It seems silly for me to create a seperate biz of selling things just to write sales letters.
      Why is that silly? Do you want the practice, do you want to get your work out there?

      Just because you've been studying doesn't mean you're 'ready' to accept clients.

      I actually started out writing for my own products too some years back and I didn't know what the hell I was doing. But you have to start somewhere and putting in a lot of effort into your own stuff... only for it to make a pittance... is a great way to learn the ropes fast.
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    • Profile picture of the author Elmar Sandyck
      Before you hurry yourself and get things started, you should first with actual practices say do some of your friends and relatives some copywriting services for free. Ask for their comments and significant critics.

      It is just like being new to selling some other products and services where you should take your product to a trial at first before you start offering it to the world. Once you have some valuable comments and critics from your first would be clients, use them as your firm foundation.

      Once all packed up and ready, start first with a low price. But be careful not to be too low as it might set a negative image on you. Once you have built up your reputation through time, you may then start adding a few bucks on your price.
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  • Profile picture of the author snowtigress
    hmm, so where would I find PLR products to buy for resell?
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  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    I think you'll find they are abundant in the WSO forum. Also
    you may find some in the War Room private forum, for
    free - but you have to pay for the membership which is
    a one-time thing and very worth it.

    Most PLR is banged out pretty quick and what happens
    is most of the marketers who buy it are... a little sloppy
    with the copywriting and presentation and the PLR ends
    up devalued do to these guys selling the product for
    a buck or two.

    There are 100s of membership sites selling PLR and
    MRR (master resale rights) products. Shop around and
    you'll see a wide range of offerings.

    What you need to do, in my opinion, is to some extent
    rewrite most PLR products - and furthermore make a great
    cover and write a salesletter that really "pops" - most
    PLR salesletters I've seen are on the feeble side of
    competent.

    It's really all about how you package and sell the stuff.

    You can easily search Google for PLR content. For example:

    "Kung Fu PLR" (the first term that popped into my head)

    Whatever info-product topic interests you just Google for
    PLR on it.
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