I love being a copywriter, even when people ask if it’s to do with copyright law, which happens a lot. However, I never tire of telling people I write words that play with emotions and makes people do my bidding.
Okay, that sounds sadistic, but if I write something that makes a person act, in my book, that makes me a bloomin’ wizard!
I’m still working the 9-to-5 grind, but working for myself is hurtling ever closer.
- I’m nervous
- I’m petrified
- I think I must be nuts
So, pretty much like every other self-employed person before me then. But most of all, I’m excited. I want to take that step – I just need to pay off my wedding first.
I might not be able to talk about my scary first week, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t hit roadblocks or had breakthroughs working part-time. That’s why I’m speaking to those of you who, like me, are considering leaping into the unknown.
Here are five things I’ve learned during my time as a copywriter, some great, some frustrating, but all part of the learning curve:
1.Winning clients is tough.
Winning clients can be tougher than unscrewing the top off a jar of pickled gherkins. The first person you contact won’t just drop a shed load of work in your lap (unless you’re lucky).
Like many things, winning people around to your way of thinking isn’t easy. There are plenty of problems, like:
And why would they be?
You’ve chased them, not the other way around. I’ve won clients and found work. I’ve also been called a “spamming t**t.”
It’s part of the job. Some don’t see writing as essential to their company – unless it costs £20 for two hundred hours worth of work.
Writing is the most important part of advertising a business, but if you’re not a writer, many see it as a needless expense.
Is another reply you’ll get used to hearing. I’m not, honestly. For a copywriter, I’m quite competitive. No matter how silky and persuasive your words are, you can’t win them all.
But it’s not all bad.
2.Keep trying, you will hit gold.
There are a lot of people looking for a copywriter like you. Sadly, there’s no magic forum where they all hang out. It takes time and effort, but by building time into your day to contact prospective clients, you’ll find them.
The best way to win clients is to:
- Show how what you do benefits them
Chucking out cut and paste emails is pointless. Research who you’re contacting. Make the e-mails personal. Tell them what they’re doing is great but, crucially, let them know how you can make it even better.
They’ll see your value and that initial price you’ve quoted won’t seem so much after all.
3.Blog like no-one is watching.
I’ll bypass the bit about creating a website. If you haven’t got one go and do it now, then come back.
So, you’ve nailed the essential: who you are, what you do. Maybe you’ve already done some work, so stick your clients and testimonials on there too. Lovely.
Now start a blog.
Yes, at first not many people will see it, and you may be unsure what to talk about. You might be great at writing pieces for clients, but you’re not alone if you run dry when thinking about what to write about on your blog.
Start making notes, see what other writers are talking about then start writing. I’m no blogging genius, but I had an idea to talk about what I’ve found out since I began – hence I’m posting this.
But I’ve also posted stuff about Christmas jumpers and being hit on the head by a seagull.
Keep it fun, show a bit of personality. This is the real you. Go crazy.
And make sure to share it on social media, groups and forums.
4.Network like a professional.
Hand on heart, I didn’t do much networking when I started. I lobbed some stuff on Twitter, threw in a hashtag and carried on playing FIFA 18. That’s not networking, it’s ignorance.
Networking with writers and businesses is one of the most important things you can do.
Because word of mouth sells better than any cold call can ever do.
It helps to speak to people in the same boat as you. Writing is a lonely job, so get on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Find writers, join groups, stick your pennies worth into conversations or ask for help. Writers are some of the most helpful people you’ll ever know. There’s very little ego, and you’ll find almost all are willing to pass on their knowledge.
Check out local networking groups. There are plenty about and you’ll be meeting real contacts in person.
Also, make use of Twitter hashtags. I live in Liverpool but come from Manchester. A quick search on Twitter shows me some hashtag events taking place at specific times.
Saturdays between 1-2pm is #MerseyHour. Then there’s #SeftonHour on Tuesdays between 9-10pm. There’s #StHelensHour, #LiverpoolHour and #ManchesterHour – the list is endless.
Here I can speak to other businesses and creatives, make contacts and friends. By making connections early on, you might end up with a gem of a job.
5.Learn to say NO!
How can I afford to do that?
Because sometimes you’ll be messed around.
It’s a shame when you’ve been speaking to a client for a few weeks, got to know them well and just when it looks like they’re ready to give work they mess you around. You’ll learn how to sniff out those who genuinely want you to weave your magic words and those who’ll string you along for months.
Don’t be afraid to pull the plug and walk away.
You’re better than that and wasting time on somebody who goes AWOL, won’t answer your calls or emails and, when they do, avoid your question like a politician, isn’t worth it.
Find the people who are.
Thanks for reading!
Well, that’s just five of the many things I’ve learned since I started, but there are so many more. If you’re a new copywriter, or you’re starting your own business in another field of expertise, get in touch in the comments section or by social media.
Don’t wait to find your first contacts – I’m here for you already.