19 replies
Hello,

Such question: is it reasonable to start my copywriting career from such a point?

If yes, where can I get such a client.

If no, where can I get my first paid client?
#copy #free
  • Profile picture of the author Chriswrighto
    No I don't think that's a good idea.

    People want copy to make them money...

    They won't see the value in a freebie.

    What's your standard of copywriting now?

    I ask because you can easily set up a thread on the Warrior For Hire section to attract paying clients... But if you haven't put the work in to be able to write something which converts, then you shouldn't be offering your services out at all.

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  • Profile picture of the author JohnRussell
    Originally Posted by RedChamomile View Post

    Hello,

    How do you think, it is reasonable to start my copywriting career from such a point?

    If yes, where can I get such a client.

    If no, where can I get my first paid client?
    Considering you said 'How do you think', my guess is that your free copy would be very expensive in terms of opportunity cost for your client.

    Unless you want to write in a different language?

    If you want to write in English I'd keep practicing before taking on any clients - even for free.
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    • Profile picture of the author RedChamomile
      If I'm not mistaken, I didn't ask to criticize my English, did I?

      Nevertheless, thx for the correction.
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  • It's a tough one.

    It can be really tempting to do work for free when you're starting out and need some samples. Especially for something results-driven like sales copy.

    But chances are you won't get much out of it.

    For one thing, a client who can't budget for even a cheap newbie copywriter isn't likely to have the skills to send relevant traffic, so you won't have an opportunity to demonstrate conversions anyhow. Still no results to show...

    If you just want to practice writing sales pages and pull together something to show so that prospects believe you at least understand the basics, consider just tossing together a sales page or two on your own domains. You can use them to pitch your services, sell an imaginary product, or build a list - just a few ideas.

    Yet another idea might be to contact people who have crappy sales pages and offer to rewrite them. If you can beat their existing copy, they keep it. If not, they take it down.

    If you're doing this for free and they actually take you up on it, chances are their existing page will have to be pretty bad. And again, make sure they're already getting traffic or it may not be worth your time.

    I agree with JohnRussel too; you don't appear to be a native-English speaker. If that's the case, it presents a huge problem in itself...

    EDIT: I just saw the response about the English criticisms.

    Unfortunately, it's very relevant in this discussion, whether you like it or not. Maybe you were just being careless and wrote that quickly, but keep in mind that people are more willing to give out advice to people they think can run with that advice, which your OP did not suggest was likely.

    Personally, I think it's a sign of respect to other warriors to put time into writing clean posts. They don't have to be perfect, and there's always the chance you're not writing for English markets (all you have to do is say so).

    It's nothing personal if English isn't your first language, but in a copywriting discussion, writing skills are bound to be scrutinized.
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    • Profile picture of the author RedChamomile
      Of course I'm not native English speaker. I'm from Ukraine.

      And my future clients are from Ukraine (or Russia). I'm rather good and fluent both in Ukrainian and Russian. That's why my level of English has nothing in common with the subject of the topic.

      Thank you for good advice
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnRussell
        Originally Posted by RedChamomile View Post

        Of course I'm not native English speaker. I'm from Ukraine.

        And my future clients are from Ukraine (or Russia). I'm rather good and fluent both in Ukrainian and Russian. That's why my level of English has nothing in common with the subject of the topic.

        Thank you for good advice
        I said this in my post:

        "Unless you want to write in a different language?"

        All you needed to do was answer 'yes'. If you were going to write in English then your English writing is very much relevant.

        But since you are not writing for the English market then your errors are not relevant. But the chip on your shoulder might be.
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  • if you want to go down the freebie road why not at least ask for cut of the sales. ?

    if you have studied any copywriting material at all, you are streets ahead of most people, so you have some value.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
    It's no crime to start your career off by working for free. I did. You can too.

    Just get some results for that client. Forget about YOUR money. Make THEM money.

    GET RESULTS.

    Then leverage those results into paydays for yourself.

    Results will get you paid. Do whatever you have to do to get them. In the long run, they are the be all and end all.

    --- Ross
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  • Most people around here will probably say that's a bad idea.

    I'd also agree it's a bad idea to create something like a full length sales letter just to give out as a freebie.

    However, I think there can be some merit to the idea of rewriting a prospect's web copy (just one page) or autoresponder emails (again just one) as a sample to get your foot in the door.

    The genius of this approach is, if the page you write is radically different from the style of the other pages on their site, they'll need to hire you to write the other pages or else consistency will suffer.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
      Originally Posted by The Copy Warriors View Post

      Most people around here will probably say that's a bad idea.

      I'd also agree it's a bad idea to create something like a full length sales letter just to give out as a freebie.

      However, I think there can be some merit to the idea of rewriting a prospect's web copy (just one page) or autoresponder emails (again just one) as a sample to get your foot in the door.

      The genius of this approach is, if the page you write is radically different from the style of the other pages on their site, they'll need to hire you to write the other pages or else consistency will suffer.
      It's not a bad idea to do a sales letter for free when you are starting out. So long as you think there's a good chance it will get you results you can then take to the bank.

      --- Ross
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeffery Moss
    As others have suggested, offering a free first copy to a client won't really help you gain long term customers or win credibility as it devalues your copywriting services. Potential clients will wonder why you would offer the service for free if it's really valuable. Others may suspect you are desperate to build a portfolio. A better idea would be to offer a free critique of your client's current copy (just one page or sales letter) to new sign ups to your mailing list. This should only take five minutes of your time and will win you a subscriber with whom you can talk later. You could offer some simple pointers on the page being evaluated. This might be valuable to a potential client and a good way to show your expertise in copywriting, rather than giving away valuable content.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
      Originally Posted by Jeffery Moss View Post

      As others have suggested, offering a free first copy to a client won't really help you gain long term customers or win credibility as it devalues your copywriting services. Potential clients will wonder why you would offer the service for free if it's really valuable. Others may suspect you are desperate to build a portfolio. A better idea would be to offer a free critique of your client's current copy (just one page or sales letter) to new sign ups to your mailing list. This should only take five minutes of your time and will win you a subscriber with whom you can talk later. You could offer some simple pointers on the page being evaluated. This might be valuable to a potential client and a good way to show your expertise in copywriting, rather than giving away valuable content.
      Forget about gaining long term customers when you are starting out. That comes naturally when you get results for people.

      And if the easiest path to getting results is to work for free (or virtually for free) at the start, then do that. It's called HUSTLE. It's called doing whatever you have to do to get the only currency that truly matters: RESULTS FOR REAL CLIENTS WHO SELL REAL PRODUCTS & SERVICES.

      Question: If I (or anyone else) wrote a sensational letter for FREE this week (even if I actually PAID the client for the pleasure of writing it for them!) ... and then next week that letter created $1 million in sales. Would I be able to comfortably command a high-four or five-figure fee for my next project? Be it with that same client, or another who got wind of the big win. The answer is "Of Course!" unless you don't know what you're talking about.

      --- Ross
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      • Profile picture of the author Will Compton
        John Carlton (the most ripped-off writer on the web) calls it the "Shameless Whore" stage where you are taking every job that comes your way for cheap - or free. In The Freelance Copywriter's Course (pg. 19) he says:
        "...I recommend you take every single "little" job that comes within your reach. Don't worry about fees - take every job... seek jobs out among the local businesses around you, among friends, colleagues, friends of friends... do as much as you can, so you're writing every day, learning about choosing the right words, about dealing with clients, about meeting deadlines..."
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        • Profile picture of the author Jeffery Moss
          Originally Posted by Will Compton View Post

          John Carlton (the most ripped-off writer on the web) calls it the "Shameless Whore" stage where you are taking every job that comes your way for cheap - or free. In The Freelance Copywriter's Course (pg. 19) he says:
          "...I recommend you take every single "little" job that comes within your reach. Don't worry about fees - take every job... seek jobs out among the local businesses around you, among friends, colleagues, friends of friends... do as much as you can, so you're writing every day, learning about choosing the right words, about dealing with clients, about meeting deadlines..."
          It's a tough call. And, when you put it this way, then it makes more sense that you are just trying to build the portfolio. For a struggling copywriter, just starting out, there are no huge contact lists of potential clients to call on; no proven marketing campaigns to refer to; no winning sales letters. So, how can the potential client trust their money to this unproven person? Most likely, they would not. And, that's where the strategy really pays off. And, getting those first two or three really good campaigns to work on to add to the portfolio would go a long way to establishing the copywriter's credibility. If this were just an initial strategy, then it actually makes more sense as he's explained it. However, just to put yourself back in control of the situation, I would actively seek out successful people to offer this 'freebie' service to, rather than accepting a random client. After all, having your work displayed on a winner's site is far more convincing than just picking any home town hero site to add to your portfolio.
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    It depends on how good you are. Without knowing that, I wouldn't advise you either way. I can tell you this...

    ...convincing someone to pay you isn't much harder than getting them to be a free test subject.
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  • Profile picture of the author rawandrew
    The best thing would be for you to start working on a percentage of the increased sales you generate. That way you will get clients and you will also make money if the copy you create generates sales. Plus it is a whole lot easier to sell and it is not for free.

    By working on a straight commission at first you will get to generate a portfolio and testimonials from your satisfied clients. And you will also get the initial clients to pay you more in the future because they already know and trust your skills.
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    • Profile picture of the author Samuel Adams
      Originally Posted by rawandrew View Post

      The best thing would be for you to start working on a percentage of the increased sales you generate.
      This sounds relevant and a new idea compared to what has already been suggested. But, how would you guarantee the site owner would actually pay you the percentage once you have delivered?
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  • Profile picture of the author Nick Logan
    Of course you can. I think it is a good idea. People want to know how good you are before they spend their money. Besides, you can expect much better response that way.
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  • Profile picture of the author GrandPlaton
    i think its a good idea too...why not?!try!
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