15 top tips from 20 working copywriters
Finding copywriting clients can be incredibly tough especially when you’re just starting out.
There are a gazillion ‘how to find your first copywriting job’ type posts, but they’re generally super vague, or provide tips so obvious your dog could have thought of them.
So I decided to ask The Clever Copywriting Community how they found their first client. The results were interesting.
1. My personal Facebook Page
“I put a post on my personal Facebook page about supporting my new venture and asked friends to share. My first client was distracted while trying to write a newsletter and on Facebook, and saw my post.”
“Facebook too! I started my (under-populated and much-neglected) business account and an old acquaintance got in touch. He’s been a great client with the most diverse work so far.”
2. Through a friend
“First copywriting client was sourced through a colleague and friend. Had done contra work for her and wanted to build business. Next day she gives me contact. I’ve been on retainer with first client for 4+ years now.”
“My first job came from a friend who ran a web design company. We were chatting and I asked:
“Look, I wanted to get your opinion on something. Is there a need for writers in the web design world?”
At that point, I didn’t even really know what a web copywriter was, let alone that I’d become one.
He said, ‘Yes. And I’ve been looking for someone to help me with my company newsletter.’
He called me later to say:
“I got your newsletter, and I’m thrilled with it. It’s exactly what I wanted.”
3. Via Freelancer.com
“I hate to admit it but when I decided to go freelance full time I used Freelancer.com. The very first job was a press release for a Singapore company. I think I quoted $100 and it was a total nightmare. I got the next two on Freelancer as well – both Australian clients who were really nice, and ongoing work, but I quoted way too low and took time to extricate myself from them when the better clients started rolling in.”
4. From a tweet
“At a networking event. I sent out a tweet saying ‘Looking for some wise words? Melbourne Copywriter attending… Tweet me back.’ I got five tweets back and one serious client, who I still have today.”
5. Friends and cold emailing
“My first copywriting client was from a friend who asked me to write her website, and my first editing client was also a friend. These two experiences made me think about working for myself full time. I got my first working for myself client from cold emailing a publisher.”
6. Online networking groups
“My first client came from an online networking group, actually my first 3.”
7. From a job interview
“My first client came from a job interview – that I didn’t get because I was over qualified – but he loved my work and wanted me to write his blog. Besides him, most of my first clients came through word of mouth from my brother-in-law.”
8. From a web development agency
“I sent a design brief for my website to four web development agencies, one of which came back within 30 minutes offering me copywriting work – two of those clients (website jobs originally) now work direct with me for all their stuff.”
9. Through my day job
“Rather sneakily it was at a business lunch for my previous big corporate job. I was sitting across the table from a lady who was consulting for the supplier we had taken out to lunch. She was talking about her business and how she wanted to launch a new revenue stream but didn’t know where to start with making it sound good. We swapped numbers and it was her job that allowed me to go on Maternity Leave 8 weeks earlier than I had planned. So I had 10 weeks of relaxed working from home for one client before my babe arrived!”
“My first client was through my part-time job; the in-house web designer had to junk $38K worth of outsourced website and terrible copy for a huge and politically sensitive masterplanned development and start from scratch. She asked me to write the copy then recommended me to others who recommended me.”
10. From an email mail out
“I emailed all my contacts from my previous job, and heard back straight away from a freelance marketing consultant I’d worked with briefly who needed copy for her new site. Next few clients were also referrals from her, and she’s continued to refer a tonne of work my way. Love working with her because all her clients come prepared with an up-to-date strategic marketing plan which makes my job so much easier. She’s also a lovely person who’s been so supportive and encouraging during my first year of business.”
11. From my blog posts
“My first client found me. I’d had 2 blogs in the Aus Top 50 for a while and she liked what she saw. She asked me to take over her blogging and off I went. Career born. When I deliberately went looking for clients, I posted in a network I was part of and picked a couple up from there.”
12. Business card drop
“The dark ages way – went slogging around the industrial area of Orange leaving my card!! Got at least 2 good jobs out of that.”
“Mine was the catalyst for Writecopy. Old colleague couldn’t nail a board proposal. One draft and we smashed it, got such a high I had to go back for more.”
“Word of mouth all the way. But then I had been in the small business world for a while with the VA business, so it was much easier to use those connections. My favourite client came from me applying for a job they had open, but they liked the tone of my resume so much they offered me ongoing copywriting work instead.”
“I got a referral from a friend before I decided to freelance. Three years later they’re still a great client.”
14. From Gumtree
“When I was starting out I was still working at an agency and just wanted a little work on the side. I posted a little ad on Gumtree offering my copywriting services (I didn’t even have a website). From the one ad I scored a job working for Isabella Oliver (now a huge global brand) developing their brand copy, slogan and writing their first ever website.”
15. From my masseuse
“My first copywriting client was my masseuse. I recommend just talking to people and telling them what you do, they may have that moment of, ‘oh I need someone to do that for me’ and BOOM, you have a client.”
The moral of these first client stories? There’s more than one way to skin a copywriting client cat!
At The Clever Copywriting School we recommend trying several different methods to attract copywriting clients, and to be aware that many of your early clients will be people you already know.
Over to you
How did you find your first client? We’d love to hear, please comment below: