Getting Started in Copywriting

21 replies
Hi!

I've been lurking through Warrior Forums for ~three years from the time I first got started in affiliate marketing (niche blogging + article marketing = Clickbank sales) and I just became a paying member today.

Here's my basic story: I have extensive writing experience in a variety of a professional capacities and have recently become interested in the notion of freelancing. (Perhaps I should mention that I am a recent college graduate in my low 20s incredibly turned off by the idea of working from 9-5 for a job I can lose at a moment's notice.)

I created an account on Elance a month ago and have achieved some moderate success, glowing feedback, and slowly increasing business. I set up a personal website today from where I'll be managing the freelance writing that is presently keeping me comfortably afloat. But it has become abundantly clear that copywriting is where the real money is to be made, and I'm here on WF looking for opportunities to put my skills to the test.

Can anyone provide me with direction for how to get started as a copywriter? I'm able to support myself from my other freelance work for the time being, so time is not an issue. I have time. I'm also confident that I have the research skills, witing ability and perseverance neccesary to be a successful copywriter.

I'm here looking for some tips and pointers from those who were in my place sometime in the past and are now looking back from higher rungs on the ladder

Thanks so much!
#copywriting #started
  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    I am also a proficient writer and am moving into copywriting.
    There are tons of free ebooks on the subject. I can email some to you if it will help.
    Other than that, email people here who have loads of knowledge.
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    Cheers, Laurence. Writer/Editor/Proofreader.
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    • Profile picture of the author UtopianWriting
      Originally Posted by laurencewins View Post

      I am also a proficient writer and am moving into copywriting.
      There are tons of free ebooks on the subject. I can email some to you if it will help.
      Other than that, email people here who have loads of knowledge.
      Thanks, I'd appreciate it a lot if you could forward any useful information to UtopianWriter@gmail.com.

      The truth is, I have read a lot about copywriting but the advice that I'm seeking is more practical--how do I go about finding my first clients? For example, I feel confident in my ability to write the copy for, say, an internet marketing product on Clickbank, but what is a sensible way to go about building such a portfolio? Should I offer free samples, free reviews, or is there a smarter way of going about it?
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonwebb
    As far as the warrior forum is concerned, the best thing to do is set up a warrior for hire ad. Also another great way to get experience is to create a product to sell. ( I advice all copywriters to have products to sell anyway as a means to hedge their freelance work)

    Going through the process of product creation along with sales copy writing, and marketing will help you better understand your target audience ( product creators) it will also give you a live portfolio that you can show to potential clients.

    To your success,

    - Jonathan
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    Use "Search this forum". Enter "Getting started in Copywriting". There's a ton of threads there that will help you.

    I'm about to email you a Copywriting Guide that I always recommend to those just starting out.
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  • Profile picture of the author fycrowf
    I bought a WSO copywriting guide which is very helpful. Just send a PM to me so that I can give to you the exact title of the WSO.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason_V
    Hello, and welcome to the forum.

    I also have just begun my copywriting journey. Unlike you though, I waited far too long to start, should have done it years ago.

    Good job in recognizing this is something you're interested in now and actually doing something about it now.

    The only thing that has me a little concerned is are you only doing this for the money? Obviously you *can* just do copywriting for the money. However, much like anything else when you do something only for the money you're eventually going to get burned out and miserable.

    It really helps if you have a passion for writing and persuasion, the money will follow, this is true of most everything people pursue in life. Passion + obsession = success (paraphrased and borrowed from Alex Becker from Source Wave SEO.)

    As far as the answer to your question here's a good thread:

    http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...ng-mentor.html

    As you can see, me and several others highly recommend Paul Hancox's training. Right now I'm doing the 52 week course Ultimate Copywriter course:

    http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-...res-how.html#1 Then I will follow up and take his direct mentoring program:

    http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-...-months.html#1

    I just wanted to get more of the basics down first before I got into his personal mentoring program.

    However, if you have the cash and the willingness you could dive right into his direct mentoring.

    Obviously, there are also many others you can learn from. I just have experience with Paul and even others in the above mentioned thread have said they learned things from him that no one else taught, and put him in top 3 training they ever had, etc...

    Good luck and congratulations on your current success your ambitions and drive!
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  • Profile picture of the author StephS
    There is a sticky at the top of the forum with a wealth of information on education resources, mentoring programs, and getting clients:

    http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...pywriters.html

    Also, you can search for "get clients" on the AWAI online site and find tons of posts on how people found their first client. I'm not an AWAI member, but this has also been a great resource.

    In deciding to become a copywriter, just be sure to think about what type of copywriting you'd like to do: Direct Response, B2B, Technical writing, Fundraising, White Papers, Annual Reports, etc. There's a wide variety of copywriting assignments available.

    You can start out in your local market by choosing a niche and marketing to those business owners. You can contact ad agencies to offer your services. You can get access to the SRDS (Standard Register and Data Service) to learn about niches or the DMMP (Direct Marketing Market Place) book for a list of direct marketers, and market your services to those businesses.

    There's also a link at the top of the forum regarding copywriting books. Copywriting is different from any other type of writing; it's very challenging and different from writing a gramatically correct article. So definitely take the time to read some copywriting books, and study some courses if you want, which can definitely help you make the transition. Reading books on sales and psychology really help as well.

    Good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    Welcome!

    As I mention to any new writer I hire... you need to read Claude Hopkins "Scientific Advertising" and "My Life in Advertising" at least 3 times.

    But like others mentioned... do a search to find out the classics, those contain more than enough copywriting edumacation.

    Also, hit up the wealth of free knowledge on thegaryhalbertletter.com

    that site alone can make people rich IF they apply it.

    Find some of the classic salesletters and study them/decontruct them.

    If you're on Ray Edward's list (Ray from Spokane) you'll know he's got something really neat next week for copywriters.

    and to find clients... check out Ryan Healy's How to get a Client in 14 days and Jason Leister's Secrets of a Rookie Freelancer... both guides I bought YEARS ago and found helpful at landing clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author MAJ
    Maybe I'm way off base on this. But my recent experience is that it's been progressively more difficult to sell copywriting services. Very difficult, unless you're already tapped into the guru network and on the rolodex of the major mailers. I will say this though, back in 2005, the money came fast and easy, and in large amounts too. Nowadays, it's the complete opposite. What I'm seeing now is it takes two phone meetings just to sell something for $500. Even still prospects fizzle out. I'm thinking business owners/marketing managers are more interested in pumping marketing budget cash into traffic generation.
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    • Profile picture of the author MadHattie123
      Originally Posted by MAJ View Post

      I'm thinking business owners/marketing managers are more interested in pumping marketing budget cash into traffic generation.
      As the good Dr. Livingston said today, "For the love of God, will you please spread the word that it's CONVERSION, not traffic which drives success online? Because when you can make more than everyone else does per 100 visitors, you can buy more traffic, afford more SEO, send more press releases, and just generally boss around your market! "

      What can I add ... except Amen!
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      • Profile picture of the author MAJ
        Originally Posted by MadHattie123 View Post

        As the good Dr. Livingston said today, "For the love of God, will you please spread the word that it's CONVERSION, not traffic which drives success online? Because when you can make more than everyone else does per 100 visitors, you can buy more traffic, afford more SEO, send more press releases, and just generally boss around your market! "

        What can I add ... except Amen!
        Yes, that is true. Though what I'm hearing is that they (business owners/marketing managers) are almost daily being hit with some kind of offer to increase their sales and leads.

        From what I'm seeing ... if they have a budget of $1,000, they'd rather drop it on more traffic vs a rewrite of their website.
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        • Profile picture of the author Jason_V
          Originally Posted by MAJ View Post

          Maybe I'm way off base on this. But my recent experience is that it's been progressively more difficult to sell copywriting services. Very difficult, unless you're already tapped into the guru network and on the rolodex of the major mailers. I will say this though, back in 2005, the money came fast and easy, and in large amounts too. Nowadays, it's the complete opposite. What I'm seeing now is it takes two phone meetings just to sell something for $500. Even still prospects fizzle out. I'm thinking business owners/marketing managers are more interested in pumping marketing budget cash into traffic generation.
          Originally Posted by MAJ View Post

          Yes, that is true. Though what I'm hearing is that they (business owners/marketing managers) are almost daily being hit with some kind of offer to increase their sales and leads.

          From what I'm seeing ... if they have a budget of $1,000, they'd rather drop it on more traffic vs a rewrite of their website.
          First I need to put out the disclaimer:

          I am only now starting to formally train in copywriting.

          Now, let me give you an answer that you or any other new copywriter may or may not like.

          Almost every single job I've held in my adult life have been sales jobs. Copywriting, to me, is the art and science of persuasion in written (or today video) form to sell goods, products, or services.

          Here's the thing, unless you've had a sales job before, you probably don't really understand something else:

          No matter what you're selling, but especially if you're selling services, you're not really just selling the services, you're selling yourself.

          With freelance copywriting, you're going to have to sell the potential client on why they need you, at least at first. Because once you start experiencing success, you will be the one deciding if you need the client.

          Because I have had so many sales jobs, this is the way I look at it. If I can't take my previous knowledge of selling to people, and the new knowledge of copywriting, and make myself the "product" and I can't persuade potential clients why they should hire me, then I have no business in freelance copywriting.

          I also look at it as when I start getting some nibbles for my copywriting services, I have to act as if I'm going on a job interview every time I talk to one of my potential clients. When you boil it down, that's exactly what you're doing. You're applying for a "job" for that potential client.

          These are just my opinions and how I view things.

          In sales you always have washouts, swimmers, and stars. In my opinion, being in the freelance copywriting business is really no different than having a sales job, except you are your "product."
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          • Profile picture of the author MAJ
            Jason V.,

            You'd be better off in a sales job that pays big commissions.

            I have extensive sales experience, and sales training from one of the best trainers in the country. Selling copywriting projects for thousands of dollars used to be easy prior to 2008. Just one call close for me. I was doing six-figures, working like a dog. But the market changed.

            If you want to do $150,000 a year, to do that as a copywriter, you will work harder and longer than a sales professional to achieve that goal. That's because you have to prospect, sell, close, write the copy, do client meetings, occassional rewrites, and then repeat the process.

            Selling + Product Creation/Meetings = Cash Money

            Wouldn't it be easier to do it this way:

            Selling = Cash Money

            ?
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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by MAJ View Post

      Maybe I'm way off base on this. But my recent experience is that it's been progressively more difficult to sell copywriting services. Very difficult, unless you're already tapped into the guru network and on the rolodex of the major mailers. I will say this though, back in 2005, the money came fast and easy, and in large amounts too. Nowadays, it's the complete opposite. What I'm seeing now is it takes two phone meetings just to sell something for $500. Even still prospects fizzle out. I'm thinking business owners/marketing managers are more interested in pumping marketing budget cash into traffic generation.
      Sucks for you - not sure what you're doing differently to be struggling. That is definitely not the case across the board though.
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      Aspiring copywriters: if you need 1:1 advice from an experienced copy chief, head over to my Phone a Friend page.

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    • Profile picture of the author ThomasOMalley
      Originally Posted by MAJ View Post

      Maybe I'm way off base on this. But my recent experience is that it's been progressively more difficult to sell copywriting services. Very difficult, unless you're already tapped into the guru network and on the rolodex of the major mailers. I will say this though, back in 2005, the money came fast and easy, and in large amounts too. Nowadays, it's the complete opposite. What I'm seeing now is it takes two phone meetings just to sell something for $500. Even still prospects fizzle out. I'm thinking business owners/marketing managers are more interested in pumping marketing budget cash into traffic generation.
      I would give some serious consideration to this thought: What you focus on expands.
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      • Profile picture of the author verial
        Originally Posted by ThomasOMalley View Post

        I would give some serious consideration to this thought: What you focus on expands.
        What you focus on narrows. If you find yourself expanding, your business is probably tanking.

        You enter university with a major.
        You enter grad school with a specialization.
        You get your Nobel prize for a specific subject in your specialization that maybe 10 people in your field truly understand.

        Successful people don't expand, they niche.
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        • Profile picture of the author ThomasOMalley
          Originally Posted by verial View Post

          What you focus on narrows. If you find yourself expanding, your business is probably tanking.

          You enter university with a major.
          You enter grad school with a specialization.
          You get your Nobel prize for a specific subject in your specialization that maybe 10 people in your field truly understand.

          Successful people don't expand, they niche.
          You miss my point completely...the point is you get more of whatever you focus on...if you focus on the idea it's hard to get clients, it will be.

          If you focus on the idea "I can get clients easily", you will.

          Your response did make me laugh though.
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  • Profile picture of the author Edk
    My experience may only partly be relevant but I'll give it. I began freelance copywriting in the mid-to-late 1990s and had some success with mailshots to local businesses. I followed up my mailing, with phone calls.

    Joe Vitale gives another method. He'd began writing for clients for free, to get his foot in the door.

    I emailed and asked him how many jobs he'd do for free. The answer came back in one word:

    'one.'

    It's not a method I've used, but it came to mind when I saw your question. Hope this helps...
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  • Profile picture of the author verial
    Don't undercut yourself just to "learn" or to "get started."

    If you need to build a portfolio, you might wish to take on a couple free projects for a local businesses. That worked out for me. The fact that you don't charge for your first couple projects benefits you in that:

    1) It's easy to find a project.
    2) Your client will be happy with pretty much anything you give them.

    But from there, I wouldn't start working for peanuts. Start with high prices. What you consider to be high prices now won't be high prices in the future. It's up from there!

    Good luck!
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  • My experience is that the #1 thing local business owners want is more and better leads. If they need to be sold too hard, you are wasting your time. Keep talking to people, and you'll find plenty of clients who are glad to meet someone who can help them market their business properly.

    On the B2B side, a recent major survey showed the #1 thing B2B sellers want is more leads. Companies are adding significantly more sales and marketing content to get those leads amid rapidly changing buying patterns.

    Coca Cola
    , Procter and Gamble, and more are moving hundreds of millions of dollars out of mass media into marketing material: Web pages, white papers, landing pages, email campaigns, videos, sales letters and case studies.

    I told a famous white paper author I was using case studies as a lead-in to getting much more lucrative white paper assignments. He suggested I skip that step--the demand is so strong I should go right to offering $5,000+ white paper writing out of the gate with each client.

    There's more opportunity for good sales and marketing writers now than in the last 100 years.
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    • Profile picture of the author MAJ
      Notice those are Fortune 500 corporations. They have in-house writers and agencies that handle their marketing collateral. The chances of getting consistent $5,000 whitepaper jobs from them is next to nil.

      And try getting 5k whitepaper projects consistently from the typical software company or small to medium sized business. It won't happen. These companies are willing to pay you a fraction of that, if at all. Nowadays, companies have limited marketing budgets which they're putting towards traffic and technology. Take a close look and you'll notice the average company does not use the standard Gary Halbert/Dan Kennedy style print ads, web copy, or direct mail sales letters.
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