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Young Woman Weighs Decision: Become a Copywriter or Be a Driver for Lyft?


Seeks Input on Which Direction to Choose

Dear Susan,

I am in the process of deciding my future. I’m trying to get into copywriting ASAP so I can have a better career than Lyft driving.

My finances are heavily strapped now. So I hope you can answer my questions below.

Sincerely,

A. J. Verona 

Regarding the work of copywriting itself:

I think I have decent writing skills, but in order to get clients, I need to improve. What would you recommend?

Like any career skill, you need to work at your craft to get good. Look for opportunities to practice your writing skills even if they’re unpaid.

You can also take a writing course online or a class at a local college. Or you can find someone to mentor you, someone who will review your work and give you constructive criticism.

Is there a certain level or benchmark I should achieve before going into business?

You should get to a point where you feel confident taking on projects. I’m not sure there’s any specific way to gage your capabilities. Start with small clients and keep growing the business. Every job you do will be helping you to get better at your craft. You should always be improving.

I recently read that my copy must contain some sort of argument. What does that mean?

I hate to say you stumped the expert this early in, but I’m honestly not sure what was meant in the article you were reading.  My best guess is that you have to persuade the reader to do something, like buy a product, request more information, or schedule an appointment. Your “argument” would be the key points you use to convince them to take action.

Are there usually tight deadlines for copywriting work?

That depends on the client and their needs. Sometimes they have a launch date or an upcoming trade show or presentation that has a deadline. Other times, they just are anxious to get up and running with their marketing program

If a deadline is unrealistic, I tell the client up front. They can then choose to go elsewhere. It doesn’t happen often. Most clients do, however, request fast turnarounds. The sooner you get their marketing copy written, presumably the sooner they’ll start making sales. Also, the sooner you get the job done, the sooner you’ll get paid, so there is an incentive for you to hustle.

What is the best way to edit my own copywriting from first draft to final product so when the client sees my work it will be flawless? 

I read through my copy and revise it many, many times. I use spell check. And I know there’s also a grammar check you can use, but I don’t have that software. I also often read my copy out loud because you become more aware of whether sentences are too long or too hard. 

How important is understanding SEO as a copywriter?

It’s pretty important these days. The most common copywriting assignments are writing for websites. To do it right, you need to know what search engine optimization is and how to use it to attract visitors.

An area I want to target is writing sales letters. How long should my sentences and paragraphs be in a typical sales letter?

I try to keep things simple. I don’t want my sentences to be too long or complex. I’m thinking maybe 1 to 2 lines. As for paragraphs, I try to keep them to 5 lines or less. Otherwise, they are hard for the reader to follow.

I focus each paragraph on a specific point. So, for example, if I’m talking about gum, I’ll have one paragraph describing the different flavors and how bold they are.

I’ll have another paragraph about how this gum makes your breath fresh and how long the freshness lasts so you get maximum benefit, and finally another paragraph about how it’s sugar-free and therefore doesn’t cause cavities like other gums do, and you can even eat a pack a day without any negative issues.

I know I need to create some work samples in order to be considered for copywriting jobs. And I also need to write copy to improve my skills through practice. How do you get ideas to write copy about? 

Of course, it depends on what type of copy you’re trying to create — direct response, sales letters, web pages, etc. But generally speaking, I often look at blogs for ideas. You can also go on Amazon and find books on a subject you’re interested on, and look at their table of contents. Look at magazines, whether online or printed. Ask friends who have businesses what copy they need.

What is the best way to write copy that I will feel good about and will like doing?

That’s really up to you. It’s a personal decision. I write for businesses to help them grow by selling their products and services. For example, I help realtors write their property listings. I help tech companies explain their products in simple terms to prospective customers. I help a catering company get more gigs. I help a janitorial supply company sell more cleaning products. You get the idea. For me, as long as the company is involved in a legal and ethical business, I feel good about the copy I write for them.

On the business of being a copywriter:

To launch my copywriting business do you think I should create a LinkedIn page and a blog? That way I’d get clients to quickly come to me and desperately want my services. Despite my limited experience and writing skills, I want people to hire like RTHNOW! 

If it were that easy, don’t you think everyone would do it? Building a business, no matter what type, takes time and hard work. I still have to work hard to get clients, even after 25+ years.

Look at my website, www.susangreenecopywriter.com and my blog, https://www.susangreenecopywriter.com/articles.html. I have HUNDREDS of pages to attract clients, and I’m constantly adding more, and I do outreach to get new clients.

The world is not waiting for you to launch your business so they can buy your services and make you an instant success. That’s just not how it works. If you’re not willing to put in the work to build a business from the ground up, you might be better off working for an employer, whether for a job in copywriting or something else.

There’s no such thing as “instant success,” at least not that I’m aware of. Everyone I know who is at the top of their game, regardless of their industry, worked awfully hard to get there.

Can I work from home as a copywriter?

I do it. I meet with my clients either by phone or Zoom, or we use email. I don’t meet with clients in person anymore. I love working at home. It’s convenient and affordable, and you can’t beat the commute!

What do I do if I get approached to do a copywriting job that I don’t feel comfortable taking on? Maybe it’s a client who, due to personal or professional reasons, just does not sit well with me for any reason. What should I do?

You simply say, “Sorry, I’m not the right person for this job. No thank you.” I just had that situation happen a few days ago. It was a vaping company looking for me to write articles on their products. I’m not a fan of vaping so I declined. It’s my business. I decide who I work with. 

What do I need to do to legally set up a work-from-home business?

The biggest requirement is to pay taxes. You have to pay them quarterly or the government gets mad. They don’t want to wait for the end of the year to get their money, just like when you work for an employer and they take out taxes each paycheck.

You should also set up a separate bank account so the money from your business stays separate from other funds. Makes it easier to figure out what the taxes should be.

There may be other considerations such as what type of corporation you want to be and how you do your accounting. An accountant is better qualified to guide you on those issues than me.

What is the best way to get legal help in the event of threats or summons to court of law for any unintentional mistakes written in copywriting materials?

I wouldn’t worry about this. I’ve never had that situation occur. It’s not common. If you have a client who you feel is sketchy, just decline the work. For everyone else, do a good job for your clients and make sure they approve the work. Once they do, it’s on them to be sure it’s accurate.

How do I handle the lack of college degrees and impress a manager in human resources to hire me as a work-at-home freelancer?

If you’re a freelancer, you’re usually not dealing with an HR person. You’re working with a small business that needs help with marketing, and dealing directly with the owner. Clients don’t care about your college degree or lack of one, as long as you show them quality samples of your work that let them see your capabilities. As for working from home, while that may have been a slight issue in the past, in a post-Covid world, it’s hardly a consideration.

Regarding earnings as a copywriter:

How much does a junior copywriter make yearly when starting out?

I don’t know. It’s been many, many years since I did that. I’m sure you can Google it or look at glassdoor.com to get an average or range.

How is it possible to double or triple one’s income from copywriting from home?

I get that you want to accelerate your revenue but you haven’t even started in the industry yet. That’s like applying for a job and asking for a raise before you even have your first day! Sorry, not gonna happen.

Once you’ve got a few jobs under your belt, you can explore different strategies for increasing what you make. Among them: work more hours, get better clients who appreciate your expertise and are willing to pay higher rates,  subcontract out work so you can take on more projects, offer SEO services along with copywriting, etc. As I said before, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Where are the best places to get copywriting clients to work for when starting out?

Friends, relatives, personal contacts, social media contacts and businesses you frequent especially if they’re small and local.

What are the best ways to get paid for work and do I need a business account to get paid?

You should keep your business money separate from personal. As I mentioned earlier, it makes it easier to track your business earnings and calculate the appropriate amount of taxes.

My preferred payment types are Venmo, direct deposit and Zelle, all of which are free to use. I also use PayPal but there’s a fee unless you can talk your client into checking the box “Friends and family.” Then there’s no fee. 

I have found that it makes sense to offer multiple payment options, allowing the client to pick whatever is easiest and most convenient for them. You don’t want to make a customer jump through hoops to give you money. Strive to make the process simple and seamless.

How do I set up the matter of ending a relationship with a client because we don’t work well together?

You finish fulfilling your commitments and then don’t take on anymore work from that client. 

What do I do if a client isn’t happy with my copywriting work?

Offer to revise the copy or give the client a refund.

How can I quickly get work and make $8k – $12k monthly starting out?

Once again, if copywriting was a get-rich-quick scheme, everyone would be doing it. Your goals are lofty. You’ll have to work a lot to achieve them.

I have tried Upwork, the freelancer site, and never heard anything on any of the projects I bid on? Any idea what I might be doing wrong? 

Upwork and similar freelancer sites are highly competitive. Lots of people want to make money as a copywriter. It’s hard to stand out. Clients want the cheapest rates AND the highest quality.

Upwork probably gets dozens of bids on every job, if not hundreds. Many of the bidders also come from countries much poorer than the U.S. People in India and the Philippines are willing to work for low wages, so it’s hard to compete with them for work. 

Do you think I should become a copywriter or keep driving for Lyft?

You’re probably going to make more money with Lyft than with copywriting in the short run. Lyft sends you clients whereas copywriting means getting your own customers, which is difficult when you don’t have a website or portfolio of work samples. Another option is for you to do both. Drive for Lyft, and use any downtime to try your hand at copywriting.

Whichever route you choose, I wish you all the best.

Susan Greene
Copywriter

 

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