What I Learned My First 30 Days As a Freelance Copywriter
A culmination of being business savvy from owning my own and managing others and having writing and marketing skills to put to use put me on the path to becoming a knowledgeable copywriter. On-going education and field experience play a significant role in the business. No bull and fast, quality delivery of effective writing are the commodity sought after by businesses to assist them in selling their product and services. After establishing a mentorship and getting my feet wet with a few courses, I was ready to start building my writing portfolio with real assignments. This is what I learned.
Service auction sites are full of scam artists
You might be encouraged by your instructor to bid low on auction sites for work commissioned by businesses and start ups. Although this is a great place to start, there are scams you might fall prey to if you’re not careful. Like me, you’ll quickly learn that you are being underbid by people outside the U.S. Very few of these writers are legitimate, although their profiles make them seem like the glorious and obvious choice for the seeker’s project. Their profiles seem almost over-educated and very impersonal and these accounts are both bidding on jobs and posting jobs even though they are marketing their profile as a writer. This is because they are fishing for real writers to do the work that they’ve bid on. If you agree to do the work within the site, you may actually be paid (but very little, an agreed upon price) and if you agree to do the work off site, you may not be paid at all. To insure you’re making a business relationship with someone of integrity, keep your business on-site for multiple assignments and be sure you are paid promptly after each one. If off-site, you may consider meeting via video on Skype and agreeing to a payment agreement you are comfortable with (such as through PayPal and after each and every assignment). Offer samples of work relevant to the assignment, but never offer them the assignment without an agreement.
Network, network, network
Copywriter’s brands are often just their name, personality and expertise. I have business cards always on hand, taking advantage of conversation opportunities to help a business person in need. I also read the local paper for opportunities to reach out to local businesses and charities to get real-world experience and local coverage/word of mouth. I write reviews on local restaurants and shout out to them via social media and have even traded services with a local business already. I think this is the most validating approach to growing roots in the business. It feels good to make friends and relationships, and portray your business image publicly, rather than online only. In addition to having an online presence conveying what you have to offer others, tap into what others can offer you by joining relevant writing groups and signing up for additional free trainings.
All learning is applicable
Once your search engine and social media accounts algorithm, you’ll notice that you’ll be targeted by other businesses’ advertising. Often times it will be free training seminars and mailing lists in writing, real estate, affiliate or work from home/multi-level marketing models. These are great and symbiotic opportunities! I sign up for a lot of them because it adds to my knowledge bank of things I’m able to write about and gives me deeper languages to speak to clients with. That can give them the confidence in me to make me responsible for their project, no matter the industry.
Spend more time writing than advertising that you are a writer
After I built my brand in social media, my website and marketing tools I quickly grew tired of keeping up with the marketing part. This is a great sign. Most successful copywriters aren’t spending a lot of time marketing themselves, because they are busy actually writing and marketing others. And to get busy marketing others, you must get busy marketing others! Even if you are working for free, for cheap or for yourself (creative writing, e-books, publishing articles, etc), building a portfolio is more important than building the mask. Too many business people are successful looking, and not successful. Know what you are talking about and have the experience to back it by gaining the experience and see the value and investment you’re making while working, if even for little to no money.
Don’t be discouraged
This is a career that’s built over time, time in experience and training. You will jump over obstacles or fall on your face at times. Turn those negatives into positives. The more experience you have (even the bad), the closer you are to a successful career in copy-writing. It’s a profession full of approvals needed and feedback given, of waiting too long for your next assignment or for being slammed with too many with short deadlines. Be honest, yet confident when selling yourself to new perspective clients and do what you know until you’re comfortable stretching to uncharted territory a little at a time.
In so many facets, become timely. Your wages depend on you writing quality content, quickly because you’re often working for a per assignment payment. It’s also important to know how quickly you can turn different assignments so that you can schedule your time appropriately. Especially in the beginning, you should keep a weekly calendar to record your assignments or time you are allotting to marketing yourself, bidding jobs or continuing your education. This keeps business momentum, keeps you reliable and keep clients returning to you for future work.