Copywriting as a career

by Hive
19 replies
Hello, dear warriors!!

I'm a psychologist, and I'd like to get copywriting as a career, the power to move people into action through words is so cool.

I'm not scared of practicing like mad and reading my books (i'm already doing this).

But there's a couple of questions question that bug me...

1-How does one build a career in copywriting? There should be more than just practicing and learning, there's a point where one has to earn a living.

2-Once I have some skill... Where can I get hired, besides here?

3-Which companies hire copywriters to work online?

4-How was your story getting into this profession?

5-What are good things to have in your curriculum in order to get hired?

Thank you mates!! I've been lurking these forums for a while, and finally made the decision to join your ranks. I hope to be as helpful in the future as you're being to me in the present.

It is nice to return favors, so whatever question you have about psychology in your threads, if I can answer, I will
#career #companies #copywriting
  • Hello Hive,

    First welcome.

    Secondly when you enter the forum you will see a series of 7 topics at the very top. Each topic begins with this word, "Sticky". This is where newcomers, such as yourself are directed to go to first.

    Every question you asked are answered in the "Sticky" topics plus more.

    As a copywriter research will be the most taunting task, but the most rewarding. So for your first assignment go through each "Sticky" with a fine tooth comb approach. If there are links inside any of the threads dig through them.

    This should take you several days but once you emerge from it, one of two things will happen.
    1. You will leave copywriting behind
    2. You will write your first piece of copy for us to review and critique.
    Now that you have your first assignment we will wait to see what you do with this simple assignment.
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    • Profile picture of the author Hive
      Thanks ThePromotionalGuy!!!

      I'm already working on the stickies!

      Sorry if this post was redundant, I just wanted to get some insights from people already working in the industry. Opinions from seasoned people.

      Anyway, got work to do here with the stickies!! You will see a bit of my job as soon as I get a grasp of the dynamics the forum!! Thanks for your response!!
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Originally Posted by Hive View Post

    Hello, dear warriors!!

    I'm a psychologist, and I'd like to get copywriting as a career, the power to move people into action through words is so cool.

    I'm not scared of practicing like mad and reading my books (i'm already doing this).

    But there's a couple of questions question that bug me...

    1-How does one build a career in copywriting? There should be more than just practicing and learning, there's a point where one has to earn a living.

    2-Once I have some skill... Where can I get hired, besides here?

    3-Which companies hire copywriters to work online?

    4-How was your story getting into this profession?

    5-What are good things to have in your curriculum in order to get hired?

    Thank you mates!! I've been lurking these forums for a while, and finally made the decision to join your ranks. I hope to be as helpful in the future as you're being to me in the present.

    It is nice to return favors, so whatever question you have about psychology in your threads, if I can answer, I will
    When you say moving people with the power of words...reminds me of every guy that's had his girlfriend tell him his love letter was awesome. Straight BS when it comes to copywriting.

    I was one of the original marketers that worked with NASCAR...back when they were trying to build an audience. The things we experimented with and tried helped make it what it is today. So many brands I've worked with...yet I don't attribute it to just words. It was ideas.

    I've posted many times on this forum about the need for imagination and creativity.

    You need to be creative.

    Dumb ideas often work because they're creative. Smart ideas fail a lot of the times because they're ho hum.

    Don't assume because you have a degree in something you understand the market. Madison Avenue and even people like Makepeace and all the other top people are still trying to understand the market. It changes daily and with each news story.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
      Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

      I've posted many times on this forum about the need for imagination and creativity.

      You need to be creative.

      Dumb ideas often work because they're creative. Smart ideas fail a lot of the times because they're ho hum.
      Reminds of me of great athletes.

      People like Ali, Jordan, Ruth, Agassi, Montana, etc. all had a genius about them.

      They saw things nobody else could.

      They DID things that made their peers wonder, "What the hell?!?! How'd he do that?"

      It's not much different in the copy game.

      You either see creative hooks and positioning that nobody else does... or you await instructions for how the owner wants the copy to read... and do your best to make it happen.

      The fact is...

      It's one thing to write "good" copy. But it's something else entirely to have a creative genius that makes your copy connect with the audience you're targeting... and CONQUER the competition.

      Two words...

      "It's toasted."

      Mark
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      • Profile picture of the author Hive
        Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

        reminds me of every guy that's had his girlfriend tell him his love letter was awesome. Straight BS when it comes to copywriting.

        ...

        You need to be creative.

        ...

        Don't assume because you have a degree in something you understand the market. Madison Avenue and even people like Makepeace and all the other top people are still trying to understand the market. It changes daily and with each news story.
        Humbling, blunt and honest. I know I don't understand any market at all in my current state, and that right now I'm a helpless noob. I just wanted to state that I have a (very small) grasp on what goes on inside of the people's heads, if that could help a little.

        Nonetheless, good advice! It's clearly given from a person who knows his job, so it's very valuable to me right now. Also, I love the fact you humbled me from the beginning: one has to know where he is to start moving elsewhere.

        Thanks a lot!

        Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

        Hope that helps...
        It will, for sure. This was the kind of response I was looking for, apart from the tips from max5ty.

        Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post


        It's one thing to write "good" copy. But it's something else entirely to have a creative genius that makes your copy connect with the audience you're targeting... and CONQUER the competition.
        Of course! I assumed this since the beginning! Indeed, I see this job as a double job, since you don't only have to promote your clients products, but also yourself!

        I love the fact I'm receiving tips from people above me, this is good. Thank you all for everything!!
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        • Profile picture of the author KreativCopy
          Originally Posted by Hive View Post

          Humbling, blunt and honest. I know I don't understand any market at all in my current state, and that right now I'm a helpless noob. I just wanted to state that I have a (very small) grasp on what goes on inside of the people's heads, if that could help a little.
          You are not a helpless noob as you are curious enough to read up on the subject and brave enough to come on here and ask questions. Plus, you are not that ignorant of the market as I am guessing you have been persuaded by good copy yourself to buy something...we all have.

          In that sense, as 'consumers' we are all experts...we just don't know it :-) So you do know what makes people tick. Plus being a psychologist I think this gives you a great starting block for copywriting.

          Like other people have commented, read, read and then read some more. No one knows all the answers and all good copywriters are always learning. There is no magic pill, what works for one audience does not necessarily work for another. Good luck
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          • Profile picture of the author Hive
            Originally Posted by KreativCopy View Post

            There is no magic pill
            Sure there isn't. Wise words, thought. I'll do my best!!
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      • Profile picture of the author max5ty
        Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post


        It's one thing to write "good" copy. But it's something else entirely to have a creative genius that makes your copy connect with the audience you're targeting... and CONQUER the competition.
        I don't worry about it much anymore...use to I'd worry about my creativity when it came to some of the brands I was doing stuff for. Now I own my own stuff and could give a crap...but then it was hoping I didn't go too far.

        I have my own ideas about stuff, and I know you do too cause I've talked to you before.

        I still think you shouldn't use the Mad Men thing because you know the whole show was based on me. It's disgusting you'd steal my thunder
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        • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
          Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

          I have my own ideas about stuff, and I know you do too cause I've talked to you before.

          I still think you shouldn't use the Mad Men thing because you know the whole show was based on me. It's disgusting you'd steal my thunder.
          Nobody can steal your thunder brother.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    I was talking with an agency copywriter out of SF yesterday. He's making about $90,000-a-year, but desperately wants to break away on his own.

    He's been mostly writing ads and short commercials for the last 5 years or so and feels like his skills are atrophying. He asked same basic question, "How do I get hired?" (His portfolio is NDA.)

    Here's a keypoint to adopt as a copywriter...

    You. Are. The. Leader.

    So step one: Develop your confidence and leadership skills.

    If you're asking other people how to do something, how the hell are you ever going to be taken seriously when you tell a product owner, "You've gotta retool the ebook. I'll write the copy to convert... you need to make sure the product reflects it."

    When clients hire you, your services aren't their only investment. There are a lot of moving parts to make a campaign, direct response or not, convert. (They're following YOUR lead. So make sure you know what you're talking about and speak it confidently.)

    Step two: Brand & positioning

    Okay, now...

    Everything you do to advertise yourself demonstrates what you can do for potential clients.

    It's not a matter of just throwing up a website or For Hire thread here on the forum. You've got to really think about who your ideal client is, what's their budget, how much experience do they have in marketing, have they been successful in selling products before, how deeply do they want to collaborate with you, what's their mentality about copywriters, do they produce extremely unique and valuable products?

    All these questions are answered in the way you brand and position your copy.

    Step three: Develop your own product, receive mentoring... and document your rise.

    Your story is also something people will likely want to know about.

    So if you feel like your story is lacking, start telling a new one RIGHT NOW.

    For instance...

    You need experience writing copy, right?

    Here are a couple options...

    Create your own product, write the copy for it, design it all (or outsource,) and market it on cold traffic (Facebook and Google Network.)

    What are you initial conversions? What did you tweak to start pulling in a profit?

    Make sense?

    Or...

    Approach some copywriters on this very forum and get some mentoring. You could be given an assignment to write an email swipe for a popular control... or the chance to help him or her develop a hook for a new campaign. Whatever it is, it'll give you a quantum boost in your skillset - if you can take, digest and apply blunt criticism.

    Either way...

    Your story is revealing your tenacity to learn and grow as a copywriter.

    Now...

    The way I created a career was two-fold...

    I created my own product, marketed it and brought in six figures in less than a year... from nothing. Not a dollar spent on advertising (except website hosting.)

    My 2nd technique... and one I still use to this day to get high-quality, long-term clients is something I won't give away here. It's actually covered in Rick Duris' latest product for copywriters.

    Hope that helps...

    Mark

    P.S. There's a lot more to it. But these are, IMO, critical steps to be aware of. I could write a book on this.
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    • Profile picture of the author IDoTheLegWork
      Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

      I created my own product, marketed it and brought in six figures in less than a year... from nothing. Not a dollar spent on advertising (except website hosting.)
      How did you get six figures worth of traffic without advertising?
      Signature

      ..and you WILL contribute a verse.
      Indifference is the enemy that must be conquered.
      Appeal to the crowd by addressing the person.

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  • Profile picture of the author DougHughes
    Hi,

    Okay, hopefully this advice will help launch your career. Don't be discouraged by some of the posts you read here. Everybody started somewhere.

    Your questions:

    1-How does one build a career in copywriting? There should be more than just practicing and learning, there's a point where one has to earn a living.

    My son was considering a career in music and had a similar question. Here's the deal. If you can write reasonably well, like doing it, and can get into the minds of prospects you can most likely make it as a copywriter.

    In music, sports, and every field there are people making a living at all levels. For instance, some musicians make it big and play sold-out stadiums, others make a living playing bars, still others as studio musicians. Copywriting is the same. There are various tiers and types of copywriting where people of various ability make a living.

    If you want to start getting paid you have to start approaching people. Peter Bowerman wrote an excellent book for freelance copywriters called "The Well Fed Writer." Follow his advice and you will find work.

    Personally one approach that has worked for me is...specialize in a certain type of writing. Google "________(type of copywriting) copywriter" for instance "white paper copywriter".

    Go to each of the pages you find and look at their client lists. Then simply contact the companies, locate the person who hires freelance copywriters, and ask if they would consider you the next time they have a need.

    This works for agencies too. Contact the agency, let them know your specialty, send them samples, your press kit, etc... and ask if they have any pending projects or would keep you in mind for future projects. If not, ask if you can follow up in a month or so. This really works and a couple of agency or corporate clients can keep you busy beyond full time.

    2-Once I have some skill... Where can I get hired, besides here?

    As I said, I advise being a specialist rather than generalist. Once you have a type of copy you like writing and are good at find the type of companies looking for this type of work and contact them.

    Don't worry about being a burden. I have been on both sides of the phone line. Managers who are under deadline to get projects done, short staffed, lacking specialist writers, or who need fresh creative ideas will likely be open to discussing your services. Don't stress, it's no big deal. You are offering a valuable service.

    3-Which companies hire copywriters to work online?

    PM Me and I will send you a copy of a book I wrote with "101 Places to Write for Money."

    4-How was your story getting into this profession?

    People always told me I was a good writer. After working some years as a Park Ranger I felt I needed a change. I attended grad school for Journalism. I ended up working for a company that did a lot of direct marketing and ended up creative director. When the company experienced some financial problems I jumped ship and struck out on my own with zero clients.

    With a lot of hard work, calling, networking, following up on leads, and doing everything I could to let people know I was out there I managed to earn slightly less my first year as a freelancer than I had as a CD. The following years much more.

    At one point I took a break for a year and decided to start again. This time I contacted agencies and clients in the markets I specialized in using phone calls and direct mail. The results within three months I was earning more than I ever had and considerably more than I would in equivalent salaried positions.

    Keep in mind though, I wasn't lazy.

    5-What are good things to have in your curriculum in order to get hired?

    After doing this for a while now, and having hired a number of writers over the years, things in your CV are less important than A.) Being able to do the work and show samples B.) Having specialist knowledge and a client base of similar clients in my industry. C.) Obviously good references help.

    Hope that helps. Good luck.
    Signature

    I write copy. Learn More.>>

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    • Profile picture of the author KreativCopy
      Originally Posted by DougHughes View Post

      Hi,

      Okay, hopefully this advice will help launch your career. Don't be discouraged by some of the posts you read here. Everybody started somewhere.

      Your questions:

      1-How does one build a career in copywriting? There should be more than just practicing and learning, there's a point where one has to earn a living.

      My son was considering a career in music and had a similar question. Here's the deal. If you can write reasonably well, like doing it, and can get into the minds of prospects you can most likely make it as a copywriter.

      In music, sports, and every field there are people making a living at all levels. For instance, some musicians make it big and play sold-out stadiums, others make a living playing bars, still others as studio musicians. Copywriting is the same. There are various tiers and types of copywriting where people of various ability make a living.

      If you want to start getting paid you have to start approaching people. Peter Bowerman wrote an excellent book for freelance copywriters called "The Well Fed Writer." Follow his advice and you will find work.

      Personally one approach that has worked for me is...specialize in a certain type of writing. Google "________(type of copywriting) copywriter" for instance "white paper copywriter".

      Go to each of the pages you find and look at their client lists. Then simply contact the companies, locate the person who hires freelance copywriters, and ask if they would consider you the next time they have a need.

      This works for agencies too. Contact the agency, let them know your specialty, send them samples, your press kit, etc... and ask if they have any pending projects or would keep you in mind for future projects. If not, ask if you can follow up in a month or so. This really works and a couple of agency or corporate clients can keep you busy beyond full time.

      2-Once I have some skill... Where can I get hired, besides here?

      As I said, I advise being a specialist rather than generalist. Once you have a type of copy you like writing and are good at find the type of companies looking for this type of work and contact them.

      Don't worry about being a burden. I have been on both sides of the phone line. Managers who are under deadline to get projects done, short staffed, lacking specialist writers, or who need fresh creative ideas will likely be open to discussing your services. Don't stress, it's no big deal. You are offering a valuable service.

      3-Which companies hire copywriters to work online?

      PM Me and I will send you a copy of a book I wrote with "101 Places to Write for Money."

      4-How was your story getting into this profession?

      People always told me I was a good writer. After working some years as a Park Ranger I felt I needed a change. I attended grad school for Journalism. I ended up working for a company that did a lot of direct marketing and ended up creative director. When the company experienced some financial problems I jumped ship and struck out on my own with zero clients.

      With a lot of hard work, calling, networking, following up on leads, and doing everything I could to let people know I was out there I managed to earn slightly less my first year as a freelancer than I had as a CD. The following years much more.

      At one point I took a break for a year and decided to start again. This time I contacted agencies and clients in the markets I specialized in using phone calls and direct mail. The results within three months I was earning more than I ever had and considerably more than I would in equivalent salaried positions.

      Keep in mind though, I wasn't lazy.

      5-What are good things to have in your curriculum in order to get hired?

      After doing this for a while now, and having hired a number of writers over the years, things in your CV are less important than A.) Being able to do the work and show samples B.) Having specialist knowledge and a client base of similar clients in my industry. C.) Obviously good references help.

      Hope that helps. Good luck.
      Brilliant advice and nice and friendly too! We are all in it together guys
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    • Doug,

      Not only do you give sound advice but you are living in my home town.

      To quote Randy Newman "I Love L.A."

      ECHO PARK BABY!!
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  • Profile picture of the author elmo033057
    Doug,

    Outstanding Ideas!

    Mark
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  • 1-How does one build a career in copywriting? There should be more than just practicing and learning, there's a point where one has to earn a living.
    There's like a million bajillion ways. You could get a job at an ad agency. You could sign up for a site like Elance or Odesk. You could cold call. There's no one size fits all package.

    2-Once I have some skill... Where can I get hired, besides here?
    Ad agencies. Info marketing companies. Other copywriters. Yourself.

    3-Which companies hire copywriters to work online?
    The list of potential clients is honestly way too long to name. The big ones for Direct Response Copywriting (the kind of stuff we discuss here) are Agora, Boardroom Inc, and others like that. But there are literally thousands of agencies around the world that hire copywriters of one kind or another. And a lot of copywriters don't even work with dedicated "employers," many just present themselves as "marketing consultants" and pitch services cold to random businesses. Financial advisers, real estate agents, and mobile app developers are just some businesses that could have a need for copy services.

    4-How was your story getting into this profession?
    I started off as a journalist but I eventually branched out into writing copy for businesses. I just cold-called and sent out emails, there was no magic formula to it.

    5-What are good things to have in your curriculum in order to get hired?
    This isn't really one of those things where people want to know where you went to school. It probably helps a little with brand agencies to have some kind of bachelor's degree. For IM type stuff, look into AWAI courses like the Six Figure Copywriting Course.
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  • Profile picture of the author JonMills
    My advise.

    Buy some lube. The first 5 years you are going to be walking around with a sore butt as people are going to try to shaft you on jobs. Including those who know what they really should be paying.

    Once you have a body of work. You can start commanding a decent pay and the game is reversed.
    Signature
    http://www.thecopywriterwhisperer.com/ Persuasion at it's best!
    http://www.affiliateorganizer.com/ Organize your entire online business - Super affiliates give it the thumbs up!
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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by JonMills View Post

      My advise.

      Buy some lube. The first 5 years you are going to be walking around with a sore butt as people are going to try to shaft you on jobs. Including those who know what they really should be paying.

      Once you have a body of work. You can start commanding a decent pay and the game is reversed.
      If you had to do that for five years, you did it wrong.
      Signature

      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 CyberQuill
    My greatest mistake as a copywriter was underselling myself. I thought my writing skills were average.

    I would advise you to stretch yourself and charge professional rates for your writing.

    Also - you will discover that reading about every topic will enhance your writing. The library offers endless possibilities without filling your office with stacks of books.

    I wish you the best.
    -- Mialei
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