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I received the following email from an attorney who has left his job with a law firm and would now like to try his hand at becoming a freelance copywriter. I thought I’d share his question and my response to potentially help others embarking on their own freelance writing career.
Even though this particular individual is interested in the legal copywriting niche, the information I provide can easily be applied to any other specialty.
– Susan Greene
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I am a lawyer licensed to practice in New York and New Jersey. I quit practicing a few years ago when my children were small. Now that they’re getting older, I find I have more time. And while I’m not quite ready to return full time to a position with a law firm, which usually requires 60+ hours per week, I am interested in trying my hand at legal copywriting as a freelancer working out of my home.
I can write about any subject related to law and in any genre, from blog posts to feature articles to marketing copy.
My question to you: do you have any idea where I could find leads on this specific field? What would be a good place to start?
I appreciate any guidance you can give.
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I have a couple of ideas for you to explore in launching your new career as a legal copywriter. First, you can check sites like www.elance.com, www.fiverr.com, www.odesk.com, and www.copywritercollective.com. Even Craig’s List sometimes has copywriter jobs.
You can also look for copywriting gigs here and subscribe to their newsletter for updates, http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/category/writing-gigs/
Those sites are good for starters. However, you will soon find you are competing with copywriters from all over the world. And it’s easy for a writer in India or the Philippines to bid low on a job and win the project. Sometimes though, you have to take on low-paying projects to build a portfolio that you can then show to prospective clients. And you may have an advantage in bidding on projects that fall into the legal copywriting genre.
What you should do sooner rather than later is build a website that promotes you as an expert in your legal niche. You have a neat specialty. You should use it to stand out from other generalist copywriters (like me).
A website that showcases your talent and work is a necessity. You should use SEO to target your niche so that someone searching online for a legal copywriter is more likely to find you.
Once you have your website, you should start doing some targeted mailings to law firms offering your services. You can also seek out marketing firms that specialize in marketing lawyers. I’m sure they exist. They could be a source of sub-contract work.
You could even do some cold calling, which as we all know is no fun, but sometimes that’s what it takes to get those first few clients. At least if you have a website, you can then follow up with an email to anyone you speak to and refer them to your website.
You should find some legal blogs and offer to do guest posts on relevant topics. At the end of the post you would include a brief paragraph that explains who you are and what you do. It would of course include a link back to your copywriting website.
Finally, you should seek out some local organizations that cater to or at least tend to attract lawyers. Perhaps your city has some sort of law association that meets monthly, a Chamber of Commerce group, a professional networking group or even a women-in-business club. While networking takes time and commitment to be effective, it can be a great way to establish a new business like yours without spending a lot of money on advertising.
Once you get a few copywriting jobs under your belt, you’ll be better able to determine what path to take in positioning yourself in the market, building your brand and the business model that works best for you. As always, there’s no substitute for old-fashioned hard work. The more effort you put in, the faster you will see results.
One last piece of advice. Don’t spend so much time researching your new venture that you never actually start it. Even if you don’t have all the answers — and probably never will — you should take action. As in any field, including copywriting, the best way to learn is by doing.
Hope that helps. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor to become a legal copywriter.
Susan Greene, Marketing Copywriter