Young man seeks your advice

by jkhdsf
28 replies
If you were my age (25), and you were just starting out as a copywriter, where would you go? What would you do?

I'm feeling intimidated by the unfortunate truth that there are a lot of incompetent marketers out there and the last thing I need is to set out working with someone who is going to fill my head with nonsense that'll need to be unlearned down the road.

Now before we continue, will you let me set the tone and give some context?

... My goal is to become a freelance copywriter. I want to earn my living creating direct response campaigns. Eventually, I want to work remotely from whatever country I happen to be in, without being confined to an office or one particular city.

Now, I don't know; is it best to look for an individual who is already doing what I want to do and seek mentorship with him? Or should I find an agency or direct mail house and immerse myself in that environment?

I'm young, and have no ties. I will fly to any place in the world and if working for free is what it takes, I will do it happily.
#advice #beginner #beginning #guidance #man #rookie #seeks #young
  • Profile picture of the author svedski
    Have you gone through John Carlton's course on how to become a freelance copywriter?
    Dan Kennedy has one as well. Both recommended.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8377655].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Shazadi
      I'm 23 and work at an ad agency. I progressed from a ~3 month internship during college and got hired afterwards. I actually quit school to work since it wasn't doing me any good. You really just have to put the word out. When I started browsing for an agency to take me in I wrote to 3 different places and they were all interested (hey, it's free labor).

      During that time you just have to prove yourself and really take your supervisor's advice to heart. If you want to transition to a full-time position be sure to mention that in your initial inquiries - i.e. if you work for them for x amount of time would they strongly consider you for a position afterwards?

      That being said, I taught myself a LOT before I even started looking for a job. I read over a hundred books and posts on copywriting from the greats, their modern counterparts, and otherwise lived and breathed marketing for nearly a year. I also freelanced beforehand so I had testimonials and samples to show off.

      You need to be the one bringing something to the table. You likely don't have to dive into things as intensely as I did... but definitely read and re-read some books on copywriting and create a few spec (sample) pieces so that you have something to show. Of course I learned during the internship and grew as a writer, but I also had a solid foundation to work off of. These places get plenty of people throwing themselves at their doorstep, so make sure you can differentiate yourself.

      It's all about drive; best of luck!
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8377693].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author verial
      Originally Posted by stolpioni View Post

      Have you gone through John Carlton's course on how to become a freelance copywriter?
      Dan Kennedy has one as well. Both recommended.
      Dan Kennedy has one? The course I took with Dan Kennedy was for people who've already started their copywriting careers...

      Also its price range was considerably more than what a new copywriter would be willing to pay.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8381795].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author elmo033057
        Originally Posted by verial View Post

        Dan Kennedy has one? The course I took with Dan Kennedy was for people who've already started their copywriting careers...

        Also its price range was considerably more than what a new copywriter would be willing to pay.
        Yes Dan Kennedy has one for beginners. It was taped at a workshop he did years ago. I got mine from eBay for $25;never buy directly from the source, it is way too expensive.

        You should also get a copy of The Ultimate Sales Letter book by Kennedy. Buy it used from Amazon for less that $5.00

        God Bless!

        Elmo
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8551086].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Originally Posted by jkhdsf View Post

    Now, I don't know; is it best to look for an individual who is already doing what I want to do and seek mentorship with him? Or should I find an agency or direct mail house and immerse myself in that environment?
    Depends on how much training (self taught or otherwise) you have. Are you at ground zero, just starting out, or do you already know some things about direct response copy?

    Alex
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8377957].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jkhdsf
      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      Depends on how much training (self taught or otherwise) you have. Are you at ground zero, just starting out, or do you already know some things about direct response copy?

      Alex
      Good questions, i'm not at ground zero. I've been reading books and taking marketing courses for 2 or 3 years now.

      I worked as a one-man-marketing-department for a small business here in Vancouver last year. That involved writing emails to sell events, tracking response, growing the mailing list, writing press releases, calming upset customers, and managing social media.

      Also, i'm in the middle of Gary Halbert's "Hands On Experience" course

      I would still consider myself a novice though because I have never put an actual direct mail campaign together from start to finish.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8386444].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author DavidMoore557
        I would highly recommend the Gary Halbert "Boron Letters" if you are just starting and as knowledge enhancers if you have some experience.

        - David M
        Signature

        DaveMike

        Debt Free since 2017!

        Well a guy can dream, can't he?

        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8767688].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author SEOJunky
    John Carlton's a good bloke to follow/connect with. Likewise, read anything written by Dan Kennedy, David Ogilvy, Roy Williams (the Waizard of Ads), and Bob Bly. But before you do any of this, read the Gary Halbert letters, all of which you'll find online. George Parker's blog ADSCAM is also worth checking out: it's a riot, peppered with profanity, and brutally honest, which in the world of advertising copy is rare.

    I'm happy to put together a longer list of resources for you if it'll help.

    As for working in an agency or going it alone, if your goal is to write direct response copy you might want to steer away from the traditional agency background. Most advertising is simply not ready for the real world grit of direct response.

    The real secret? It's this: just get down to it and write. Look at existing ads and ask why they're crap or why they're so awesome. Look at OLD ads from the 1880s and through until the late 1920s. A lot of advertising went of the rails after World War I and didn't really get back on track (in terms of talking to the reader about his or her real needs) until Bill Bernbach and David Ogilvy opened their own shops in the 1960s.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you need any other suggestions.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8378016].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Hugh Thyer
      Bust your arse doing anything it takes to get good. Take on any job you can and blow it out of the park.

      Then get onto the big guys, send them your stuff and tell them you'll work for them, write early drafts, research etc.

      Go to their courses and meet them. The #1 quality you possess, and that they look for is enthusiasm, and of course some indication of talent.

      The secret is in the hussle. Write out a list of the 10 people you want to work for, get their stuff, study it and get in front of them.
      Signature

      Ever wondered how copywriters work with their clients? I've answered that very question in detail-> www.salescomefirst.com
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8381719].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jkhdsf
      Originally Posted by SEOJunky View Post

      John Carlton's a good bloke to follow/connect with. Likewise, read anything written by Dan Kennedy, David Ogilvy, Roy Williams (the Waizard of Ads), and Bob Bly. But before you do any of this, read the Gary Halbert letters, all of which you'll find online. George Parker's blog ADSCAM is also worth checking out: it's a riot, peppered with profanity, and brutally honest, which in the world of advertising copy is rare.

      I'm happy to put together a longer list of resources for you if it'll help.

      As for working in an agency or going it alone, if your goal is to write direct response copy you might want to steer away from the traditional agency background. Most advertising is simply not ready for the real world grit of direct response.

      The real secret? It's this: just get down to it and write. Look at existing ads and ask why they're crap or why they're so awesome. Look at OLD ads from the 1880s and through until the late 1920s. A lot of advertising went of the rails after World War I and didn't really get back on track (in terms of talking to the reader about his or her real needs) until Bill Bernbach and David Ogilvy opened their own shops in the 1960s.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if you need any other suggestions.
      Thanks for your help. My gut tells me that you're right, and an agency is not really where I belong.

      For now, I am up to my ears in study material recommended by Gary Halbert.

      What I would love to know from you is if you have any suggestions of real independent professionals in the direct response world who I might have some luck with contacting about an apprenticeship.

      I don't need to be working with some big name celebrity guru, just someone who knows their stuff and has experience enough to be a good mentor.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8386454].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author St Pierre
    If you haven't done any freelance work yet, I would suggest using online sites like iWriter and text broker where you can easily find jobs that pay off quickly while also building your skills as a writer. A good deal of the earlier assignments you will take on these sites are promoting different products and services much like a copywriter. The best part is you need absolutely no experience, only a pay pal account to accept your payments.

    If you already have a good foundation in freelance work, do what Hugh Thyer said. If practice initiative and persistence, success will eventually find you. Best of luck in your career my friend!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8382457].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author SEOJunky
    Hmmm ... an apprenticeship? I'd try Bill Glaser and Dan Kennedy. I'd also approach Luke Sullivan Luke Longstreet Sullivan | SCAD.edu.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8391033].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author SEOJunky
    P.S. Glad my last note was of use.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8391035].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author ReferralCandy
    Agreed with Hugh and SEOJunky.

    I always advise people to start blogs, regardless of the field that they're working in. Chronicle your journey, your thoughts, your work. Analyse good copy publicily. Try to dissect it. Try rewriting and improving on things, and share it publicly.

    Don't be afraid of being wrong. Assume that you know nothing, and that everything is provisional, temporary, to be replaced. Aim to make mistakes in the right direction.

    Keep at it for a while and before long you'll find somebody commenting or sending you an email with a job offer.

    Worked for me.
    Signature

    Measure, manage and incentivize customer referrals with ReferralCandy.

    PS: Looking to get more repeat customers for a physical store? Check out CandyBar's digital loyalty cards!

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8391835].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jkhdsf
      Originally Posted by ReferralCandy View Post

      I always advise people to start blogs, regardless of the field that they're working in. Chronicle your journey, your thoughts, your work. Analyse good copy publicily. Try to dissect it. Try rewriting and improving on things, and share it publicly.
      Thanks man, this is a great idea. I'll do it!
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8549216].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author BambiFox
      Originally Posted by ReferralCandy View Post

      Agreed with Hugh and SEOJunky.

      I always advise people to start blogs, regardless of the field that they're working in. Chronicle your journey, your thoughts, your work. Analyse good copy publicily. Try to dissect it. Try rewriting and improving on things, and share it publicly.

      Don't be afraid of being wrong. Assume that you know nothing, and that everything is provisional, temporary, to be replaced. Aim to make mistakes in the right direction.

      Keep at it for a while and before long you'll find somebody commenting or sending you an email with a job offer.

      Worked for me.
      Definitely start a blog.

      Preferably one where you get feedback from people who are assiduous about the topic your blog deals with. You will learn tremendous amounts from the authorities in your field, language styles (HUGE ingredient in copywriting) and maybe even clients down the road.

      Bambi
      Signature

      “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”
      ― Arthur Schopenhauer

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8616674].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author TryBPO
    Hey OP!

    Hmmm...I think I have an opportunity for you...

    We're currently offering an apprenticeship from SEAsia (Philippines) where you'll come out to us, work with us on our business, and have your expenses paid for (plus some spending cash) It's the Marketing Apprenticeship position on our blog and worth checking out.

    Additionally...I know a copywriter that's around your age, started about 18 months ago and is crushing it. Check out John @ DropDeadCopy - he's doing what (I think) it is you're looking to do and he's doing it very well...

    There are quite a few interviews with him floating around that you might want to have a listen to.
    Signature
    Website Brokers - We can help you sell businesses making $500 to $50K per month.

    Free Website Valuation - How much is your website really worth? Find out here, free.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8401630].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jkhdsf
      Originally Posted by TryBPO View Post

      We're currently offering an apprenticeship from SEAsia (Philippines) where you'll come out to us, work with us on our business, and have your expenses paid for (plus some spending cash) It's the Marketing Apprenticeship position on our blog and worth checking out.
      Thanks Justin/Joe! I'm gonna send you a PM.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8549220].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Jason_V
    Jobs at Agora, Inc. | Careerbuilder.com

    Since you're young and with no ties, you could probably move to those locations advertised.
    Signature
    "When you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something."
    -Andy Warhol
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8557113].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jkhdsf
      Originally Posted by Jason_V View Post

      Jobs at Agora, Inc. | Careerbuilder.com

      Since you're young and with no ties, you could probably move to those locations advertised.
      Wow thanks! I actually plan to approach Agora when i'm finished the course mentioned above, so this link is very relevant. I'd love to work with International Living magazine.

      Do you know anyone at Agora?
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8561019].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Jason_V
        Originally Posted by jkhdsf View Post

        Wow thanks! I actually plan to approach Agora when i'm finished the course mentioned above, so this link is very relevant. I'd love to work with International Living magazine.

        Do you know anyone at Agora?
        I do not know anyone at Agora, however, in a recent email from Ben Settle, he says he made contact with someone at Agora.

        If you buy his monthly print newsletter, you will be invited to a private Google group. Within the group there is an archive with job postings from Agora and a way in which to get the attention of someone with an inside track there.

        The man's name is Ryan McGrath. I just Googled him, he does have a LinkedIn page. So, that may be a solid lead for you when you get your self sorted with the training.

        If you want to read the full post from Ben, go here:

        I’d Be On This Like White On Rice

        By the way, according to Ben, even if you're a newbie to copywriting with no reputation, they do have positions open to people.
        Signature
        "When you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something."
        -Andy Warhol
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8566299].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author jkhdsf
          Nice! Thanks Jason. I'm in conversation with Agora now.
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8579394].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author Jason_V
            Originally Posted by jkhdsf View Post

            Nice! Thanks Jason. I'm in conversation with Agora now.
            Good for you, keep us posted!
            Signature
            "When you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something."
            -Andy Warhol
            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8587440].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Chetr
    Hi, "Young man..." my heart goes out to you. I came to copywriting by a strange and unduplicatable route....HOWEVER, IF I WAS YOUNG AND STARTING FROM SCRATCH...I WOULD:
    1) Take the intro copywriting course at AWAI...it has a modest monthly payment, and you will get training from people who really know their stuff.
    2) Join groups and masterminds, and meet people with the objective of finding 3 people who will let you write copy in return for testimonials...try to get one landing page, and one sales letter, and one set of e-mails.
    3) Then market, market, market! Or, as John Carlton told me: "Go out there and get bloody!"
    4) Read, study, and continute training...to become a better writer....
    5) Start a copy swipe folder...and nab every letter you like and analyzie it--what works what doesn't etc...
    By all means follow all the advice above....BUT...you can get lost in the reading....for years!

    What I have given you is the shortest, structured path for developing a solid foundation...it's a life long endeavour...so start smart, start fast, and keep at it.

    Hope this helps...PM me for any questions, tips etc...I've got a lot in my tool box...but resist overwhelm, and consider taking those few simple steps...

    Chetr
    Pro Copywriter/Consultant.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8560089].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author jaredmast1
    Check out the Appsumo Kopywriting Kourse...it's pretty solid and is straight to the point.

    Also, Craig Garber has some really good stuff.

    If you want to become a high paid freelancer from anywhere in the world I would

    1) Offer your services for really cheap or free to a few clients in order to build a portfolio and develop your skills.
    2) Build a solid website showcasing your portfolio and what you have to offer
    3) Market yourself like crazy

    Best of luck to you
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8560163].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author jkhdsf
    I have good news to report.

    I'll be starting work at Agora Financial in January.

    Thanks to everyone who offered their advice and assistance here!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8766079].message }}
    • Originally Posted by jkhdsf View Post

      I have good news to report.

      I'll be starting work at Agora Financial in January.

      Thanks to everyone who offered their advice and assistance here!
      Good job. Do you have to move cities?

      For anyone else looking for a job, here is an anti-approach. Not sure if it would work:

      Do Not Hire Me
      Signature
      Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
      - Jack Trout
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8766148].message }}

Trending Topics