So you want to be a copywriter. Right now, it could well feel like a jungle out there. Where will I find work? Do I have the right experience? Is my writing good enough?
If you’re hesitant about taking a leap into the unknown, here are five things you should know to help launch your copywriting career with a roar not a squeak.
The Power of a Network
As a freelancer, you’re likely to start your copywriting career sat in a home office or at your kitchen table. Sadly, clients won’t be ringing your doorbell.
No clients and you’ll be struggling to keep the wolves from that neglected door.
Instead, focus on nurturing your network and turning into a powerful beast that will provide people, projects and potential.
Your network will work on multiple levels: everyone you know in the ‘real world’ and your social connections online.
That means getting out and meeting people as well as cultivating your social media presence to showcase your personality and professionalism.
My best advice for networking?
Be nice, be useful and be interested.
Remember that you might not necessarily be selling to the person you’re chatting to, you could be selling through them. By listening to what they want, rather than trying to squeeze in your 30-second pitch no matter what, you’ll come across as present and positive.
They don’t need a copywriter but know someone who does. They need a web designer, you know a great one.
Be genuine and the like, know, trust cycle will begin. You’ll gain a reputation for being reliable and connected. The wider your network, the more people will vouch for you. It will build and build and reach a critical mass.
Back when I started out, I didn’t realise how powerful that network can be.
I now work with people I met at uni, people I met while travelling, people I met while standing awkwardly in a room full of strangers.
Nurturing these relationships is such a positive thing to do.
There are plenty of truly awesome people out there. Go find them.
Use Your Business Experience
Think about your career experience and how you can use it to help forge your new one.
Having business experience provides invaluable context for the job ahead. You’ll be helping other businesses tell their stories through your writing, so understanding what it’s like to work in one is hugely helpful.
You’ll appreciate what the commercial drivers might be, the role copywriting plays in a marketing strategy and be able to wrap your head around the bigger picture.
It doesn’t matter what sort of company you’ve previously worked at, you’ll be in a position to relate to the people you’re talking to and to increase the value of your work.
Always Be Learning
If you’ve been persuaded that you have to know everything before setting up, then I can reveal that’s a big fat lie!
No-one likes a know-it-all and in copywriting, you can’t afford to be one.
Having an attitude of curiosity is crucial in any creative industry and the opportunities to learn from the people around you are endless.
I’m learning all the time: through my training, from my team of writers, from blogs, from studying other people’s copy. It’s a lifelong journey.
If you’re new to copywriting, and even if you’re not, I totally recommend you boost your learning journey with “Everybody Writes” by Ann Handley. It’s a really cool introduction to copywriting and a fantastic read.
You’re Never Ready
If you’re waiting for the perfect moment to become a copywriter, there isn’t one.
No really, there isn’t.
Most aspiring copywriters I speak to are never quite sure if they’re good enough or if they’re going to make it or if this is really want they want to do for the rest of their life.
I don’t think there’s ever that certainty.
But I do think that taking a risk, making the leap and having the guts to try is totally worth it.
If you can take that first step into the jungle and play with the opportunities that are in front of you, you’ll discover so much about yourself and life’s possibilities.
So what’s the easiest first step?
Write stuff. Actually write stuff.
If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer. If you are writing, you are. Even if nobody’s reading it, you’re still a writer. Right?
Let people know that you’re writing and that you want to do this as a career.
Make it real and go for it.
Edit to Get Better
Adopting a critical attitude to your own and others’ copy is a fantastic way to finesse your writing.
Take a look at a great piece of copy. What would you have done differently if you’d written it? Can you improve it? Does it include tricks and techniques that you wouldn’t have thought of? Have you realised that you’ve been misspelling a word all your life?
If you’re able to edit other copywriters’ work, this gives an amazing insight into how to craft your own writing and get even better at what you do. Remember, you never stop learning.
Every Wednesday at 8pm, I run a short Facebook Live from my page, Incredibble Marketing. We discuss all things copywriting and field questions from the audience. Curious about being a copywriter? Like my page to be notified.