5 Ways Not to Begin Your Freelance Copywriting Career
Albert Einstein said it best, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
Remember that first day of school? The threshold of the unknown?
Well, if you’re a rising copywriter — it’s that first day of first grade all over again.
Luckily, you are a bit older, and know how to deal with beginnings. You do, don’t you?
Want to begin your copywriting journey on the right foot?
Avoid these five common mistakes:
1. Assuming that “being good with words” is enough.
As an award-winning copywriter Bruce Bendinger puts it, “Copywriting is a job. A skilled craft. Verbal carpentry. Words on paper. Scripts to time. And one more thing. Salesmanship.”
Does he mention talent? No.
In fact, oftentimes established copywriters are not natural-born wordsmiths. “Being good with words” doesn’t hurt, but it’s not a prerequisite of being a copywriter. To call yourself a “verbal carpenter,” you have to study the craft of copywriting first.
Check out American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) and Copyblogger — in addition to investment-worthy products, both companies offer tons of free educational resources on copywriting.
Check them out today.
2. Expecting an “overnight success.”
Successful careers aren’t built overnight.
Successful copywriting careers are no exception.
You have to show up, and put in many hours, days, and months of hard, and often boring, work; before you start landing clients, and making money.
According to Joshua T. Boswell, an AWAI success story, going full time in copywriting takes anywhere from eight to eighteen months; and in case you suspect there’s a big IF attached to the estimate, you’re right.
Not everyone makes it to the finish line. That’s fine. That’s what competition’s about. You have every chance of being a winner.
Be realistic. Be persistent. Be patient.
3. Working for free.
Working on spec isn’t the same as working for free.
If you write on spec, and your client uses your copy, you should get paid. At the very least you should be able to add your copy to your portfolio as a sample. You should get a nice testimonial, and one or two referrals from your client. But that’s a lot of “should” that doesn’t always apply to the real world.
If you do write on spec, make sure you get some kind of tangible compensation for your work.
It’s your time. Your effort. Your “words on paper.”
4. Working for peanuts.
No, this won’t do.
You’ve invested your time, effort, and quite possibly, money, in acquiring copywriting skills. You’ve put together a few strong samples.
You’ve worked hard to market yourself. So when potential clients come knocking on your door, charge for your services accordingly. “You’re inexperienced,” a potential client might say, “Peanuts. That’s all I can offer.”
Walk away. Don’t waste your valuable time.
Concentrate on clients that are willing to pay you for your work. Charge a reasonable, but fair price from the very beginning. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to charge more.
Once again: respect yourself.
5. Doing it alone.
Come out of your shell.
If you can afford going to a conference — go. Or mingle for free from the comfort of your own home.
Join professional groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, and contribute to discussions. Visit sites such as e-Books India, Copyblogger, and American Writers & Artists Inc.; and don’t just read an article, and leave — stay awhile.
Introduce yourself. Ask a question. Share a story. You’ll discover a supportive community of like-minded people. You won’t feel isolated. Before long you’ll start building connections.
One of those connections may help you land a great copywriting gig someday.
It’s kind of like meeting other kids on the first day of first grade.
Remember butterflies in your stomach, a tingling mixture of fear and excitement? Remember how you walked up to a kid you’d never seen before, and said hi? How great it felt?
Beginnings aren’t easy. But they are wonderful. You’ve embarked on a new journey. You’re bound to make mistakes. Good for you. Strive for your own, unique, mistakes, though.
Learn from mistakes that have been made by others. Those, old, mistakes are treacherous spots already marked on your road map to success. Avoid them—you’ll get to your destination faster.
Image credit: Pixabay