Is establishing a career as a freelance copywriter your #1 goal? How do you get started? Where do you find work?
Check out the email below from an aspiring American copywriter currently living in China.
— Susan Greene
I found your copywriting site to be very helpful. I’m a 29-year-old guy currently teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in China but establishing a freelance copywriting business is a goal of mine. I would like to pursue it, even if it takes me years.
Do you have any tips on how I can network while overseas? I will probably be here for a while. I’m also wondering if there is any other guidance you can give me about becoming a freelance copywriter.
I started doing some content writing for an ESL website to get my feet wet but know I should explore other options as well.
Thanks for your time,
It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for the nice comment on my website. I’m glad you found my articles on copywriting helpful.
Briefly, here’s my advice. You are in a unique situation, and you should capitalize on that. You are in China where there are probably thousands of companies that want to sell products to the global market. To do so, they need English promotional tools. They need English websites, brochures, sales letters, ads, technical manuals and more.
Don’t worry about getting freelance writing jobs from the U.S. It’s too competitive and you’re at a disadvantage being located in China. So get your copywriting jobs from Chinese companies that need your English skills and knowledge of American culture. You certainly have the advantage by being there.
How can you find these companies that need copywriting services? You’re probably better able to answer that than I am. Maybe there are associations or clubs where you can network with business owners.
Perhaps you can find the Chinese equivalent of ad agencies or marketing firms. Then they would take care of the getting the clients and would sub-contract the writing work to you. Find these companies online and send them an inquiry like you did me.
Or find web designers who are building English websites for their clients. They probably run into situations all the time where they’ve done the design but the client can’t provide the content because they don’t know English.
You might even consider building your own website to promote your services to Chinese companies.
Obviously, my understanding of the Chinese market is limited. But maybe something I said will spark some ideas.
I hope I’ve been helpful. Feel free to write back and let me know if what I’ve suggested has any potential.
I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to respond to me with your insight. I’m going to approach launching my copywriting career from different angles, making the Chinese market my main focus.
First, I will have to draft some writing samples to show businesses. I’m asking friends from home if I can provide free samples for their businesses.
Thanks again for your time,
Good to hear from you again. The best way to become a copywriter is to write. You learn by doing. So seek out all sorts of opportunities.
Are there any Chinese businesses in your local area that sell products to tourists or sell overseas? If so, write some English marketing materials for them.
Maybe they need something as simple as a few product descriptions written for Amazon or a catalog.
Or maybe there’s a restaurant that needs their menu translated into “yummy” English.
Or maybe there’s a local university that wants to attract foreign students and needs English materials.
I just completed a bunch of copywriting jobs myself for a university in Malaysia seeking to attract foreign students. Everything had to be written in English since they were targeting multiple foreign countries. They had me write websites, brochures and catalog listings. Best part of all, they didn’t ask for any revisions to my work because they know my English is far better than theirs!
Yes, you may have to do a few jobs for free at first to get some samples, but that’s all part of the learning process.
You’re in a unique position to be able to sell your writing services. Find ways to capitalize on your situation. Feel free to stay in touch. I’d like to hear how you make out.
There is a huge electronics market and many Chinese, as well as expatriates, export the products. This isn’t an industry I’m very knowledgeable about, but maybe that doesn’t matter?
I think for the purpose of providing clarity for customers, some restaurants could benefit from my writing. Usually poor English copy or a lack of it doesn’t deter foreign customers since it is quite common here. But maybe my services could help to attract the expat audience and give some companies an edge.
I will definitely keep all of these ideas in mind and seek out potential opportunities. I would like to keep in touch, and I will give you an update at some point. I know you are busy, so I won’t be flooding your inbox. Again, I really appreciate the guidance.