Where does a new copywriter begin?

18 replies
Hi all,

My goal (isn't everyone's?) is to eventually have a nice steady income stream, partly from copywriting assignments. I've done a little copywriting in the past - mostly for a wedding retailer - but that assignment dried up quite some time ago. Where do you think the best place to begin is for a copywriter? Should I try to find assignments in my local area? Or does that even matter?

Thanks for the advice!
Christina
#begin #copywriter #copywriting #freelance #freelancing #home business
  • Profile picture of the author AnabelleFlorida
    Hi Christina!

    I started with a subscription to AWAI's The Barefoot Writer, which gave me access to some basic copywriting PDFs, and a couple of other copywriting courses including some great niche information.

    At the same time I was reading (and continue to read) books and eBooks by Dan Kennedy, Bob Bly, Joe Sugarman, Ben Settle, John Carlton, and more ... listening to copywriting interviews by Michael Senoff, and anything else I could find related to copywriting, including YouTube videos!

    Look also at the sticky threads above, lots of great information!

    I see you joined here 7 years ago. Was copywriting something you were interested in before and are just now getting back into?

    If you're beyond all this and just want to get some work ...

    I do recommend local artists and businesses!

    You'll begin noticing copywriting opportunities everywhere, the local clothing store, a favorite restaurant, maybe an email or facebook/twitter campaign for a local band, flyers or handouts for a local jewelry maker, self-defense or martial art schools ... just look around, tons of opportunities! Their current copy is usually so bad it's very easy to convince them to hire you by showing a couple of samples of what you could do for their business.

    It's how I started and I still do this today on occasion!

    Get some business cards and start communicating!

    Feel free to send me a message or email, I'd be glad to give you further help.
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    “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” ~Oprah Winfrey

    “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~Ayn Rand
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  • Happyslob,

    You could check out elance. There are also a handful of content providers online that sometime look for good writers. Once you build a name for yourself you can start commanding some higher prices.

    Best,

    Shawn
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  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    Hey Christina,

    Congrats on getting into the copywriting field a bit more in depth.

    First thing you'll want to do is focus on getting some real-world samples circulating and getting feedback/results.

    Your future clients will come from your past results... so you'll want to get samples out there, getting conversion stats.

    That way, you can show future prospects some of your results.

    Do you have a web page that promotes yourself and what you've done/can do?

    Also, would you mind sending me some samples?

    I'm getting ready to hire a few copywriters for my agency in the next week or so, I'd love to see what you've done. I could possibly provide you with some work, but I'd like to see some samples first!
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
      Originally Posted by shawnlebrun View Post

      Hey Christina,

      Congrats on getting into the copywriting field a bit more in depth.

      First thing you'll want to do is focus on getting some real-world samples circulating and getting feedback/results.

      Your future clients will come from your past results... so you'll want to get samples out there, getting conversion stats.

      That way, you can show future prospects some of your results.

      Do you have a web page that promotes yourself and what you've done/can do?

      Also, would you mind sending me some samples?

      I'm getting ready to hire a few copywriters for my agency in the next week or so, I'd love to see what you've done. I could possibly provide you with some work, but I'd like to see some samples first!
      Now that's what I call going the extra mile to help.

      Regardless of what happens, I applaud you Shawn.
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Grace
    Many people say go to live events and network. The guy who taught me did that his first year and made about 80K from just one event.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
    I wouldn't focus on LOCAL anything.

    Two reasons spring to mind: the odds of your perfect clients being within driving distance are pretty low. The Internet Age allows you to quickly find clients the world over who will value you.

    And...

    Local folk do not see you as "the expert from afar"...

    You're just the lady from the next town over... or "that girl from down the street"... so they won't want to pay you what you're worth and they won't value your work. It's just a harder sell to local folk and you don't need to struggle through that. Not when you can make easier connections with people who will value you online.

    --- Ross
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    • Profile picture of the author AnabelleFlorida
      Originally Posted by Ross Bowring View Post

      I wouldn't focus on LOCAL anything.

      Two reasons spring to mind: the odds of your perfect clients being within driving distance are pretty low. The Internet Age allows you to quickly find clients the world over who will value you.

      And...

      Local folk do not see you as "the expert from afar"...

      You're just the lady from the next town over... or "that girl from down the street"... so they won't want to pay you what you're worth and they won't value your work. It's just a harder sell to local folk and you don't need to struggle through that. Not when you can make easier connections with people who will value you online.

      --- Ross
      I respectfully disagree, Ross, here's why ...

      When You're Starting Out You Need To Get Experience.

      Many local businesses desperately need a decent copywriter, you can get your experience there, tons of places to practice and perfect your skill ...

      Sure, they're not going to pay what you "think" you're worth, but you'll be much better prepared for those bigger clients and businesses who eventually will.

      This is how it has worked out for me anyway, I found out that personal contact beat internet contact most of the time. It's the advice I can give.

      I have a Thai restaurant as a client, this is how I was able to become their copywriter, still am ...

      I love Thai food and this is my favorite place in the area. I noticed one day that they were trying to grow their list with an awful sign near the register that read ...

      "Please leave us your email for news"

      Needless to say, the paper attached to a clipboard under the sign was nearly empty.

      I talked to the owner about it, super sweet guy, I discussed some ideas with him and asked if I could make a new sign with a new strategy. He agreed.

      Since then, most local people who go into that restaurant are willing to leave their email behind.

      I gave him that as a freeby, though he declined to let me and two friends pay for our dinner one night and will continue to do that on occasion.

      I don't make a lot of money from this client, but he pays me regularly to post new items and discounts on the restaurant's facebook page, his weekly text message campaign, his email blasts, and his commercial ads. It all adds up nicely.

      He's happy, I'm happy.

      And I got lots of experience working with this one client alone.

      The Thai restaurant is just one of 5 local regular copywriting clients I have right now and all of them arrived pretty much the same way.

      These local clients have helped me get many other copywriting jobs all over the country and even Canada!
      Signature
      “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” ~Oprah Winfrey

      “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~Ayn Rand
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      • Profile picture of the author goindeep
        Originally Posted by AnabelleFlorida View Post

        I have a Thai restaurant as a client, this is how I was able to become their copywriter, still am ...
        Yes, but does the Thai restaurant pay you between 10K and 30K for piece of copy?
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      • Profile picture of the author IMBlest
        Originally Posted by AnabelleFlorida View Post


        I have a Thai restaurant as a client, this is how I was able to become their copywriter, still am ...



        I don't make a lot of money from this client, but he pays me regularly to post new items and discounts on the restaurant's facebook page, his weekly text message campaign, his email blasts, and his commercial ads. It all adds up nicely.
        If you don't mind sharing, how much do you charge your Thai restaurant client to do all the work that you mentioned above in your post.

        You don't have to give an exact amount, just ball park figure. I just wanted to get an idea how much to charge.

        Thank you.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
      Originally Posted by Ross Bowring View Post

      I wouldn't focus on LOCAL anything.
      I don't personally like to work with local businesses and entrepreneurs.

      Having just recently moved into a larger area than my 3,000 population town, I've been approached by a few businesses that I frequent about ramping up their marketing.

      It's just not something I'm into. I like being somewhat anomymous.

      To each thier own.

      If you live in a town or city that's large enough, you could definitely market your copywriting skills locally and make a killing.

      I just don't personally see any reason to limit yourself in that way. The internet makes it so easy to connect with people all around the world who NEED your help.

      Mark

      P.S. I recently attended a local business mixer. I was bored. I felt like checking it out. And I will say, whenever a copywriter is surrounded by people who want to amp up their profitability, you're kind of the most popular person in the room. I talked with a LOT of people. Again though, I didn't take anyone on as clients. I didn't even pre-qualify them. But there's potential galore at networking events for a copywriter to make a killing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Insightful91
    I recommend you to check out Fiverr and oDesk, they offer quite a nice platform for newcomers to launch off. You can always ask some of your friends to make you the first order just to launch you up at Fiverr.
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  • Christina, you seem like an outgoing happy slob, although one with an explicable penchant for centering bullets. So this comment may not apply to you: One thing local businesses provide is the opportunity to practice walking in cold and introducing yourself. There are hordes of different types of firms within a stone's throw of your hamlet, so you can get lots of practice for no cash outlay.

    Many, many, many writers find this a terrifying experience, one that is best overcome by doing it several times. Once you return from a few walk-in cold calls with all your body parts attached, and no obvious bullet holes, stab wounds or dog bite marks, you'll find it is relatively painless and a good way to get a few assignments when you are starting out.

    More importantly, it will benefit you when you go to conferences or conventions. You'll have no problem walking up to strangers and telling them about yourself, and you've got some wins to show.

    Assignments will rain from the copywriting heavens, and you'll be the happiest slob in town.
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    Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
    - Jack Trout
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  • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
    Annabelle, I see your points.

    When I started out I was looking for experience too. And had I encountered a way to get it locally, I would have taken that opportunity.

    Because all you need is one result you can leverage into bigger and better things.

    My concern is people not looking to leverage a result beyond local horizons. For instance, I work out of coffee shops a lot and I'm friends with a couple web designers who hang with me as I'm being awesome.

    The focus of their prospecting is local. And all they do is complain about having to chase people to pay them, about people always trying to haggle them down in price, about people not showing up for meetings, etc.

    Some of his has to do with weak positioning. But much of it is simply because they are choosing to fish in a very limited pond.

    My advice is if you get that first result locally, fine. However you get that first result doesn't really matter. The key is then to leverage that result. These days it is so easy to put an offer up for $20 in the WSO forum for example, and reach people worldwide.

    And I live in constant amazement about the quality of marketers who lurk on this forum. If you think the WF is full of people who won't pay you, you're wrong.

    The worldwide pond of prospects contains folk who will agree to your financial stipulations without argument, respect your talents and be a positive impact on your life and business. For reasons I outlined in the post above, I think those people are harder to find locally. And by it's nature, you lose much of your "expert aura" just by being a fellow local.

    And Mark, your experience at events mirrors mine. You get accosted very quickly when you open your mouth about the results you've helped people get. But the pool of fish is small and it's less about attracting people to you in a wider marketplace, and more about having to sort through whatever people happen to be there.

    Usually that means a low % of folk are suitable clients or partners. I've got lucky ONCE of late when I met a guy who had an established biz, a great product, and was someone who I could work with. But that is RARE for me to find, especially at in-person events.

    Hence why, I'm an advocate for tapping the bigger pool and using strong positioning to stand out and attract dream clients, rather than settling for whoever happens to run a biz down the street.

    Joe, I getcha. Strong in-person prospecting and phone skills are critical in this biz and in life in general, and if prospecting for consultative work locally gives that, that's a good counter-point to why someone should give some time to pounding the local pavement. I would just recommend that focus is at the start, when seeking that first result. Not when trying to leverage that result.

    And of course, as Mark mentioned, there is a geographical context to consider. Because if your "local" is NYC, Philly, London or LA, etc, your local pool is bigger and the odds of finding decent clients locally increases.

    --- Ross
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  • Profile picture of the author Racquel_McFarlane07
    Banned
    Hi Happy slob,

    My best advice is to build up a portfolio and set up a website advertising your services. You will find many opportunities to begin writing even right here on the WF. After you have some more experience under your belt, don't be afraid to go offline and start prospecting for clients. My offline copy writing business has been my way of income for the past year and a half and I never regret it. Best of luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author sidneyng
    Its much easier to find local clients for a start.
    Initially I got sold to the idea of a virtual life and finding clients from different parts of the world etc etc.

    But unfortunately its much easier to get local clients for a start.
    To build your sample list.
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  • Profile picture of the author rosyhyden
    Hey Guys....
    At the same time I was reading (and continue to read) books and eBooks by Dan Kennedy, Bob Bly, Joe Sugarman, Ben Settle, John Carlton, and more ... listening to copywriting interviews by Michael Senoff, and anything else I could find related to copywriting, including YouTube videos!
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  • Personally I think you should have a "mix" of local and worldwide clients.

    "Worldwide" inevitably means the interweb, where (often) clients struggle to get enough visitors to their site (despite promising that "traffic is no problem") and wonder why they aren't rolling in money.

    "Local" means small to medium bricks and mortar businesses and you can determine the circulation of the promo. But the business owners frequently scream at the "tactics" needed to make an Ad successful (not least, an irresistible offer, guarantee and magnificent customer service).

    But the good news is - there never has been, and never will be a shortage of clients (because every business on land or virtual needs good Ads) - you just pick and choose the best people.

    The ones that "get" what makes a promotion work.

    You'll often have to explain this to them, and if they say "Aha, now that does make sense" - you've usually got a good client.


    Steve


    P.S. So what's all this got to do with a "mix?"

    Hedge your bets and get the best of both worlds.

    It's great to get an email or a call from a faraway client saying "great response, the orders are pouring in"

    And it's just as good to walk into a local business and see the smiling faces. And the praise for the epic masterpiece that got the results tends to travel faster locally than it does across 5 continents.

    As far as pricing your sensational services, you get the same "objections" face to face or by email.
    You just handle them either verbally or in writing.
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