Are you passionate about becoming a copywriter? Is it your dream to get paid to write full-time?
Check out the following email from a recent high school graduate who would like to pursue becoming a copywriter. She’s ambitious and anxious to get going on her career. I thought I’d share her questions and my response to help others just getting started.
— Susan Greene, Copywriter
My name is Corey and I’m an 18 year who just graduated high school. I’m interested in getting into copywriting. Writing has always been a passion of mine and numerous English teachers/friends have commented on my prowess with words so I’m confident that this is something I can master.
I’ll be headed to college shortly, but I don’t want to wait four-plus years to get started on my career. I contacted you because I’m currently confused about how to make a portfolio, specifically a mock sales page to show my skills even though I have no actual projects under my belt. Do you have any examples of a general sales page I could use to make my own?
Also, can you also suggest how I might get some actual projects?
I’d appreciate any advice on how to start working toward a career in copywriting.
Thanks for any help you can give and keep up your great work!
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Nice to meet you. Congratulations on figuring out what you like and what you’re good at when you’re only 18. It’s great to have a direction.
I don’t have a mock sales page to share with you. I suppose you could create a one-sheet which would have your contact information, services offered and a brief section on your skills and experience.
I’ve typically sold myself using my website, which includes a portfolio of my work, //www.susangreenecopywriter.com/btm_portfolio.html. Most clients do want to see prior projects to determine if your writing style and level of experience meets their needs.
The best advice I can give you on your journey to becoming a copywriter is to read and write. A lot. The more you learn and the more you practice, the better you’ll get. I know that’s not a revelation, but many people are not willing to put in the work.
I actually had someone write me the other day and say, “I know you’ve been working for like 20 years. I don’t want to wait that long to be successful. So can you just tell me the tricks of the trade so I can get started making money now?” Umm, no. There’s really no substitute for the experience of actually doing the work.
As far as getting clients, you can write clients cold-call letters introducing yourself and offering your services. You can offer to do work on “spec” (speculation), which means you write the copy they request. If they like it, they pay you for it. If they don’t, they owe you nothing. It’s not ideal, but it’s a good way to get someone to take the risk of working with someone new.
You can also network in your local area to meet local business owners and sell them your services. When I was starting out, I joined a local organization of women business owners. They met once a month and it gave me the opportunity to get to know the members, all of whom owned small businesses. I volunteered to write their monthly newsletter. Eventually everyone got to know me and I was asked to do multiple copywriting jobs for some of the members.
Another option is to find companies, such as marketing firms and ad agencies that can subcontract work to you. These types of companies often don’t have full-time copywriters in house and are accustomed to working with freelancers. Find them online and send a letter of introduction.
You can also look at platforms like fiverr.com and upwork.com, which have project postings from clients. You can bid on getting the work. There is, however, a lot of competition, so getting those first few jobs so you have something to show prospective clients can be difficult. I should mention too, that you’re competing against copywriters from all over the world, not just the U.S. Foreign price rates are often lower than ours, which can make it difficult to beat international copywriters in a bidding situation
If you have any hobbies or particular interests, you can search for blogs that target that niche and offer to write a guest post. Some blogs pay for posts; others don’t. But if you get a few posts published, you then have something you can show to clients when pitching their work.
Another option, and the one I used, was to ask friends and family for work. Offer to do the work for free or super-cheap. Get some experience and samples for your portfolio.
In my case, when I was starting out, my dad owned a real estate business. I helped him write sales letters, website copy and newsletters.
One of my neighbors was starting a Christmas-related business. I wrote a flyer for her to use to advertise her services.
My hairdresser wanted to offer her customers a free haircut if they referred a new client to her. I wrote a sales letter for her.
A friend’s husband was job hunting. I helped him write a resume and cover letter.
I wanted to get work writing articles, so I wrote some articles on my own and got them published on ezinearticles.com, which I then used to show clients that I was a published author and persuade them to let me write their articles. I also wrote some articles for a small, weekly newspaper in my town, which was happy to have the free content and published it with my byline.
Get the picture? Look for every opportunity to write. Along with experience, you’ll be gaining confidence and samples for your portfolio.
At the links below, you’ll find some blog posts that are for aspiring copywriters and freelance copywriters. They’ll provide you with additional tips for launching and succeeding in your career.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey to become a copywriter.
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