I felt compelled to write this article, following my own decision to embark on a career as a copywriter. There are many blog and copywriting gurus, out there, promising to share their trade secrets and help you pave the way to becoming a highly paid copywriter, double and triple the traffic to your blog, or turn you into a famous blogger.
They’ll promise you writing material you can’t buy anywhere or from anyone else and zillions of hours of content and templates, all organized to save you loads of time, and double or triple your blog’s traffic.
There are no shortcuts and no get-rich-quick schemes. The best way to learn to be a writer is by writing, every day and reading what others write. I literally dove into writing overnight. I had been writing short stories, mostly fiction, for my own amusement and for some close friends. About two years ago I left my job of 20 years, in television, and I embarked on a full-time writing career.
How I Got Started As A Copywriter
I took a few grammar and writing tests online, with a couple of agencies. I jumped on board with the first one that let me in, I was eager.
I will be brutally honest. The pay sucks and it is often difficult to get inspired by the client briefs. Although that could have been a personal setback, due to my bout with writing fiction, I made an exerted effort to stick to the task at hand, which was to learn the trade. Client briefs can be totally incoherent, inexistent, or exhaustive. Guess what, it’s the perfect boot-camp experience for any newbie copywriter.
Your Toolkit As A Copywriter
No matter where or how you decide to embark on the copywriting train, make sure you’ve done your homework and honed your skills before you enter the arena.
You must have polished writing skills, know how to write powerful headlines, and have an awareness and empathy for user experience and marketing. After all, copywriting needs to reach the niche needs of consumers.
Every sector has its own language, at times quite technical. It is imperative that you be able to swiftly grasp and synthesize the basic concepts you are to communicate in writing and do so in a way that elevates the brand and user experience. The tone and language you use need to be in sync with the topic, the client’s brand, and demographics.
Copywriting takes on different forms, from copy for advertising, websites, blog posts, UX writing, landing pages, brochures, product descriptions, and reviews, lead magnets, white papers, and more. Do some research and study these different formats. Do get familiar with SEO writing techniques as most web content requires this. Read as often as you write.
Set Goals For Yourself As A Copywriter
You need to set goals for yourself. My goal, starting out as a ghostwriter online, was to get promoted to a higher tier of writers, where I could access high-paying assignments, I gave myself one month to reach my goal. If I could get over 40 five-star reviews and recommendations, I could make it, and I did. There’s something to be said for setting a goal.
In order to achieve this, I needed to get some repeat customers. I managed to secure three loyal clients, who gave me first dibs on their requests. In one instance, it was the client who contacted me after reading the first article I had written. I also tried to pick clients with multiple assignments and write at least two articles for them, this was a good way of starting a working relationship with that particular client. In this manner, I secured two more loyal customers. They were very pleased with the two articles I had written and asked me if I would be interested in writing all of their content.
I love baptism by fire. What I mean to say is, I enjoy learning on the go and under the gun, so to speak. I perform well under pressure. In those four weeks or so, not only did I manage to get promoted to a better pay rate, the most important accomplishment was writing article after article, day after day, for three different clients, whose businesses, brands, and messages had nothing in common.
As a writer, I spend 60% to 70% of my time researching and 30% to 40% writing. Writing 40 articles covering the ins and outs of any topic can be an education in itself. Having a couple of websites where you get to write all the content, is an excellent addition to your portfolio. A writing portfolio and client reviews will give you credibility as a copywriter.
Build A Track Record As A Copywriter
As I mentioned earlier, the pay sucks, but that shouldn’t matter when you are starting out. The reason being, if you are a newbie copywriter, chances are, you have no track record. You’ll need to build a portfolio and get reviews and recommendations. This is the only way to build credibility and gain trust from prospective clients.
This is exactly what I did, working on a poor paying platform, for a couple of months. I wrote for numerous clients, until three of them became loyal clients. They were very pleased with the writing and the turnaround time so I got an exclusive, which also pays a higher rate, although that was not where my motivation lay. My goal was to reach further, one step at a time and move off the platform.
For my first client, I wrote the web content for a Generic Viagra online store, all of it. From the About Page, to disclaimers and a mountain of product reviews. I learned everything there is to know about erectile dysfunction, every possible treatment available, and what works best for whom. It was an interesting assignment, which definitely put my empathy and writing skills to the test. The five-star reviews from this client were abundant and seriously complimentary. His astounding reviews were, in part, what helped me secure my next two loyal clients.
For the second client, I wrote numerous blog articles, as a call to action, designed to attract local online businesses, to their marketing services. I gained a wealth of information researching the material, which in turn proved useful in marketing my own small business. I received excellent reviews both on the writing platform and LinkedIn, and was tipped generously by some clients.
For the third client, I completed a package of 40 articles with a call to action, for an aesthetics clinic’s website. As a result, I now have in depth knowledge of any and every procedure which can be performed on any part of the human body. Laser treatments are trending for anything from hair restoration to vaginal rejuvenation. You may be laughing right about now, or not. The fact is, the client has since offered me an exclusive long term blog writing contract for which I get to name my price.
What To Expect Starting Out As A Newbie Copywriter
Yes at first the pay is sad, but the paybacks are plentiful. You need to have realistic expectations and work your way up. Once you have what it takes, I call it ammunition, then you’re ready to play with the big guns.
To date, I have written articles promoting procedures, treatments and cures for every possible condition that ails humans. Following a mountain of DIY’s and product reviews, spanning from power tools to sex toys, I took a break and whipped up a few Bios for artists. I needed to change flavors. Then I moved on to wellness, which was a booming industry, following global lockdowns, due to COVID-19. Sex, as always, is a heavy contender in the virtual arena and maintains its poll position, so I took an assignment masquerading as an article on eroticism but was in fact a detailed review on different porn platforms. I was flabbergasted at how much porn has changed since blockbuster days. Wrote a couple of landing pages for online Cannabis dispensaries in the USA and Canada and these made me wish I lived there.
I enjoyed the variety and I find it keeps me fit and interested, as a writer. It’s almost as though I’m exercising different muscle groups, depending on what I’m writing about. It’s like wearing different hats and speaking different languages. You don’t need to go about it this way. You may be an expert in a certain area or prefer writing for a special niche and that’s a great way to go about starting your copywriting career.
Since I started my journey, only a few months back, I have secured two copious copywriting assignments on my own, one of which is a long-term assignment, and I get to name the price for both jobs. By my standards, it’s a notable accomplishment, as a newbie copywriter. My secret? Keep it real.
Keep It Real And Take The Lead
If you choose to start copywriting, via an online writing platform such as iWriter, Upwork or fiverr, you should know the competition is fierce but don’t let that get in your way. Not everyone is as good a copywriter as you are, remember that!
Any unoriginal or plagiarized content is immediately rejected. You may write a 1500 word post for a blog and it might get rejected, even though it is an authentic original piece, without you even getting a chance to rewrite. If this happens have a look and see what, if anything, you could have done better and move on to your next assignment.
Sometimes the briefs are misleading or lacking the necessary information. You’ll need to reach out and consult with your client. Maybe their title or the subheadings they’ve requested are not effective. If so, you need to take the lead and propose alternatives that will knock their socks off. Your client will appreciate your genuine interest, commitment and professionalism. This is how you can secure loyal customers for yourself as a copywriter.
The request for written content, whether it is for social marketing or to populate websites, has increased exponentially. The subject matters are infinite and cover every topic imaginable and unimaginable.
If you are serious about being a writer, then you need to write. No one can give you or sell you a magic, out of the box solution that will turn you into a famous, high paid copywriter or blogger, in a short time. It comes with practice, diligence, discipline, and passion. There are plenty of opportunities, to get started, if you are willing to do the work, keep it real and take the lead.
Becoming an accomplished writer is similar to forging a blade. A blade needs to be tempered through repeatedly heating, hammering and folding it, until the blade is fine, strong and sharp. The process can be demanding and laborious, if you want to secure your place amongst the sharpest of writers.