The question we get asked most here at The Clever Copywriting School, is this:
‘I’m just starting out as a copywriter, what tips and advice can you give me?’
So, in this post we’re going to share with you our TOP TEN tips for newbies.
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Build a decent website
If you want to win serious clients, you need a serious website. Some rubbish thing your sister-in-law’s hairdresser knocked up isn’t going to cut it I’m afraid. Be prepared to invest $3k-ish (2014 prices) in a logo and simple WordPress website to get you started.
(If you’re struggling to find a good developer, contact us and we’ll point you in the right direction.)
2. Write – a lot!
Of course, you need to write the content for your website pages, but you could also set up a blog and start blogging on industry trends, giving tips and advice – anything!
These days, it’s not so common for copywriters to have a ‘book’ or portfolio. Most people will choose a copywriter because they like the style of their writing on their own website. So, fill your site with wonderful words!
3. Write free of charge
When you’re first starting out, you obviously need to win clients. Clients equal testimonials; testimonials equal more clients.
So, be willing to do the odd freebie to start the ball rolling.
Say, for example, you find a website for a window cleaner in Sydney, and the copy is absolutely awful; why not rewrite a page and send it to them? If they use it, you can ask them if you can feature the work on your site. Perhaps they’ll even give you a testimonial. Some might even pay you for it, even though they didn’t order it.
When you’re not earning much money to start with, it can seem insane to outsource anything, but the sooner you hand off the tasks you’re not good at, the sooner you can hone your copywriting skills.
Need design done? Find a designer. Struggling with your books? Get a bookkeeper.
Just because you can do it yourself, doesn’t mean you SHOULD! Instead, focus on what you do best and you’ll end up making more money.
5. Lower your expectations
Perhaps you’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men, and picture yourself as the next Don Draper. But let’s face facts: most copywriters don’t earn a huge amount in their first year, especially if they’re going it alone. Think of your first year in business as an investment and lower your salary expectations.
This freelance copywriting infographic is a great indicator of what you can earn in your first year.
6. Suck it up, sweetheart
Perhaps, until now, your writing has just been for you, or you’ve written the odd piece of copy for family or friends. If so, it’s unlikely you’ve been at the receiving end of any BRUTAL criticism. But now, you have paying clients, and it’s their right to pull your copy to shreds. Don’t take it personally, instead see it as an opportunity to improve your skills.
7. Learn to self-promote
Although a lot of writers I know are introverts, you’ll need to put on an extrovert smile if you want to succeed as a copywriter. Networking, oversharing on social media, emailing old friends and contacts, connecting with randoms on LinkedIn – it’s all part of the process of getting your name out there.
8. Become financially aware
I wish someone had told me the benefit of investing in a decent accounting application. It will save you a heap of headaches when it comes to paying BAS, organising GST, issuing invoices and keeping track of payments. At TCCS we have a love-hate relationship with Xero; but although it’s annoying at times, it has saved us a heap of hard work and cleaned up our accounting act.
9. Create some decent templates
If you’re setting up as a copywriter it’s a good idea to create some set document templates. At the very least you’ll need:
1) A copywriting brief
2) A proposal document
3) A copy deck
If you don’t have time (or can’t be bothered) to create your own, you’ll find some downloadable templates here.
10. Read, read, read
We’re often asked which are the best copywriting books to invest in, but the truth is you can find 99% of what you need to know online. Struggling to write a great headline? Google ‘how to write a great headline’ and you’ll find a wealth of info.
Or you could invest in a webinar or ecourse with The Clever Copywriting School.
I’m sure you know that working as a copywriter is a great career. Although it may seem like a struggle at first, keep on pushing!! You’ll get there.