This post was written by TCCS member, Claudia Bouma
Want to know what it takes to become a successful copywriter?
Is there a secret formula for becoming a successful copywriter?
How about a comprehensive checklist you can tick to make sure you’ve covered everything?
Well, yes. And no.
You’re probably thinking about qualifications, degrees, and years of professional experience.
But while they definitely play a part, they’re not the most important elements of building a successful copywriting business.
Instead, focus on the following 10 qualities to hit the mark.
1. Put integrity first
It takes a lifetime to build a strong reputation. But it can disappear in an instant.
Harvey McKay put it like this:
“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”
Like I said, integrity matters.
And here’s how C.S. Lewis explains it:
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
Operating your business on a set of values and principles is vital.
You want to work with people who have similar values and principles.
It’s also an effective way to avoid PITA clients.
Take the time to formulate your own principles and values, and then communicate them on your website and in all your marketing collateral.
2. Learn to listen
Let’s be honest: We like to get in there and prove to potential clients that we’re cut out for the job.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to make the mistake of focusing solely on our own qualifications and experience.
Winning jobs is first and foremost about understanding the client.
The client needs to know you’ve taken the time to read their brief and research their business.
The other thing to keep in mind is that while you’re talking, the client can’t.
Now’s the time to ask the right questions and encourage your client to share information about their business and the specific project they need help with.
A copywriter who learns to listen is well ahead of the pack.
3. Develop a can-do attitude
Your attitude can make or break your business. Is your glass half empty or half full? The way you answer this question affects your likelihood of becoming a successful copywriter.
Running your own business is like a rollercoaster ride, full of ups and downs.
It’s how you navigate the challenges that determines how well you can keep building your business, even when the going gets tough.
To be honest, I struggle to remain positive and have to work hard to not fall down the hole of negativity. However, I’m reaping the rewards after many years of forcing myself to look at life with a glass-half-full attitude.
4. Believe in yourself
If you’re anything like me, you thrive on encouragement and affirmation. Positive feedback from a happy client makes my spirit soar. Sadly, we don’t always get this type of feedback.
Quite the opposite.
We can’t rely on nice comments to keep our business running. The reality is that most clients don’t give us the encouragement we desperately want.
It’s crucial to believe in your own abilities and professionalism.
You need to be your own biggest fan.
Believing in yourself will help you navigate the hard times, and make it easier to deal with criticism when it comes your way.
And believe me, it will.
5. Deal with criticism
We can make the mistake of identifying with our copy. In other words, when a client doesn’t like our copy we take it personally. However, the client is simply letting you know that what you’ve written isn’t what they wanted. It’s important to distinguish between you, the copywriter, and your writing.
Your life doesn’t end when a client criticises your copy. The earth doesn’t swallow you up. And you certainly haven’t failed as a copywriter.
Keep the conversation going with your client by using your listening skills. Did you misunderstand the brief? Or does the client have unrealistic expectations?
Whatever the case, criticism from a client isn’t the end of the world.
6. Overcome the imposter syndrome
Ever feel like a fraud?
When I started out as a travel writer more than a decade ago, I couldn’t shake that feeling for a long time. Even though I had articles published in mainstream Australian travel magazines, I struggled to see myself as a professional writer.
In 2017 I completed Kate’s Recipe for SEO Success course and ventured into the world of SEO copywriting. I vividly remember the first website project I won, and doubted myself the whole way through. The client wrote me a raving review, but it didn’t erase my doubts.
The truth is, imposter syndrome is an ongoing battle for us copywriters. You have to learn to deal with it and give it its rightful place.
You are a professional copywriter.
You have what it takes.
You can do this.
7. Forget about perfectionism
Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to want to do an excellent job. In fact, it should be your goal for every project.
But some people, myself included, get carried away and refuse to send a
draft until it’s perfect. I’m talking about the type of perfectionism that stops you from hitting ‘Send’ because it isn’t good enough.
Perfectionism can also hinder your creativity because you’re so focused on not making any mistakes.
Finding the balance between producing exceptional work and perfectionism means you don’t have to get everything right the first time.
8. Ask for help
Why is it that some people equate asking for help with weakness? You’re not supposed to know everything about every topic or industry.
In fact, asking for help can be the smartest thing in many situations.
In the Clever Copywriting School Community, we have experts in pretty much every field imaginable. Why not pick their brains and get their professional input for the benefit of your client?
And learn a whole heap of new stuff in the process.
A by-product of asking for help is getting more understanding and potentially learning new skills.
9. Build perseverance
When you make a commitment to build a successful copywriting business, you’re in for the long haul. You’ll have good times and − you knew it was coming − you’ll experience downturns.
Running your own business isn’t a walk in the park.
Don’t let yourself be defeated when enquiries are down and your cash flow isn’t what you’d like it to be.
It’s part and parcel of being a small business owner.
Find ways to grow during the challenging times, and take the opportunity to improve your mindset. You can learn valuable lessons, especially when it’s a struggle to get from one day to the next.
10. Be yourself
I saved the best till last.
There are zillions of copywriters out there. But there’s only one you.
You are unique.
Your story is different from everybody else’s.
There’s a place and a purpose for you in this world.
The greatest gift you can give is to be yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others, and get on with your life and your business.
In summary, these are the must-have qualities for successful copywriters:
- Put integrity first
- Learn to listen
- Develop a can-do attitude
- Believe in yourself
- Deal with criticism
- Overcome the impostor syndrome
- Forget about perfectionism
- Ask for help
- Build perseverance
- Be yourself
Over to you
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Claudia Bouma is an SEO copywriter and brand strategist who works with big and small businesses across the globe crafting copy that engages, compels, and sells.