Copywriting can be an extremely rewarding (and lucrative) career. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was starting a copywriting business of my own. I still remember the overwhelm that came with netting my first clients. If only I could get back the hours I spent doing things wrong as I tried to get freelance copywriting jobs.
Breaking into any industry is no easy task, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. In an effort to help save you time and frustration, today I’m sharing some of my tried-and-true job hunting tips to help get you started – the
write right way.
Job One: Get Jobs
If you want to be taken seriously as a copywriter, you’ve got to build a portfolio. Not only because you need to make some money and gain experience, but because potential clients may ask to see examples of your work prior to hiring you.
In my experience, some of the very best copywriting jobs are found through:
- networking, especially within your marketplace/niche
- legitimate job boards
- recommendations and referrals
- and by using the old fashioned method of pitching any potential clients/companies directly
Understanding your niche is as crucial to a copywriting business as it is to any other. Once you know who your right people are and what you truly want to accomplish as a writer, get yourself in relevant conversations. Leave comments on blogs, in forums, and in social groups online. The more active you are in social circles (both in person and online), the more likely it is that your name will become a ‘front of mind’ choice for those seeking a writer. Think of it as ‘silent advertising’.
Not sure where to start? There are plenty of online groups on social media venues. LinkedIn and Facebook have a huge variety of groups to choose from. While you’re there, you can network not only with potential clients, but with colleagues. Some may even be considered competitors, but I believe there’s plenty of work to go around. Fellow copywriters can benefit from one another by sharing tips, exchanging ideas, and even offering leads on jobs that weren’t a right fit for them.
You can also network locally through The Chamber of Commerce or by mingling at events. Attend trade shows in your industry. Go to meetings. And whatever you do, don’t forget the business cards!
II. Check Job Boards
Job boards are online ‘want ads’. Here are some really good ones in the copywriting arena:
American Writer’s & Artists, Inc. (AWAI)
Copywriter Jobs Central
Get Copywriting Jobs
ed2010: Whisper Jobs
All Indie Writers
Freelance Job Openings
Be aware of the hidden virtues of the boards.
Aside from offering quality work opportunities, job boards also offer several other benefits such as:
1. Trend Spotting: You’ll inevitably begin to notice common themes in requested content. The ability to see what topics are popular/trending right now. By writing on a ‘hot topic’ is a great way to boost the chance your piece will be a winner. Just make sure it’s a topic you’re comfortable and familiar with.
2. Price-points: Pricing can be tricky, especially when you’re starting out. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you don’t want to work for peanuts. Perusing legitimate job boards will give you a good idea of the average going rate for this sort of work, which can take the edge off the prickly price dilemma.
3. Validity: Boards can also unwittingly help you to filter out sketchy opportunities. For example, I’m always leery when I see the same post by the same company time and again. It smacks of Craigslist-style marketing and almost ensures they’re price shopping. My advice on that is to move along to something more exclusive.
In your online quest, don’t neglect the big boys, like Indeed.com and Monster.com. Great possibilities can be unearthed there, too.
Have A Professional Bio.
Job boards can work both ways. Sometimes the potential client proactively seeks out writers on their own- and your profile may come up in their search. Be prepared by having a stellar author attribution/bio on your author page, including a professional headshot. Your profile should briefly share who you are and what your ‘writing topics of interest‘ are. Include any brag-worthy pieces you’ve done. If you don’t have any yet, no worries- a basic overview of your experience will suffice. They’ll reach out if you spark their interest.
III. Recommendations and Referrals
Referral business is always some of the best. Referrals are somewhat ‘pre-vetted’, in that you have come recommended as someone else’s ‘trusted source’ as opposed to being introduced cold. Whether you’re being referred by a friend, family member, former client, or just someone who happened upon your work or profile and thought you might be a good fit- you instantly go from being an option to being a real consideration.
And don’t wait for the recommendations to come to you! When you’ve wrapped up a job for a client, don’t be afraid to ask for new business. In the ‘thank you’ note you send them upon completion of the job (yes, you should absolutely do that!), let them know that you enjoyed working with them and would love to be considered for any future projects they may have coming up. You can also ask them to refer you within their own circles. Happy (current and former) clients make great brand ambassadors because they’re proud to let others know what a great job you did for them. And we all know that a recommendation laced with personal experience is far stronger than a mere suggestion.
You can also sign up with HARO. Help A Reporter Out , (aka HARO) is a fantastic way to get yourself in front of a lot of people, fast. Sign up for their mailing list and connect with reporters seeking sources for their stories. You just may be the source they’ve been waiting for! Lucky contributors have found themselves featured in The NY Times, Forbes, and other popular publications. Help a reporter out and help yourself to great writing opportunities.
V. Pitch Companies Directly
Be Proactive. Pick a few venues or clients you think you’d like to write for and approach them. Don’t let your grasshopper status hold you back. We all started somewhere. You may be surprised by how many businesses out there are searching for content creators. (This site included!)
Important to Note:
When writing to a website, pitch an idea – not yourself. In other words, don’t send them your resume (or an email that comes off as one) trying to convince them what a great fit you’d be. Instead, send them topics or article titles you’d like to have considered. This allows them to very quickly decide if you’ve got something they’re interested in. It opens the conversation portal and gets your foot in the door.
As a writer myself, (unless the company expressly asks for them) I hesitate to send full articles on the initial email for two reasons. First, you need to wait until you hear back from them before you send the same piece to another potential publisher. You certainly don’t want two companies saying, ‘yes!’ and having to choose between which one you’ll allow to publish it. Second, a lot of companies don’t have time to read every article that happens across their desk. Offering topic ideas gives them a quick glance at your thought process or angle and let them decide if it’s something they want to pursue.
Know that when you’re getting started, you’re going to send out a lot of pitches. And you’re going to get a lot of rejections. Don’t let it stop you. And don’t take it personally. Chances are your ‘thanks, but no thanks’ response has nothing to do with you. They may already have someone on staff who writes on those topics, or maybe they may have too many articles covering that subject, or perhaps they may not be in the market for new content. So don’t get discouraged- just keep plugging along.Companies appreciate go-getters. So go get ’em.
Words to the Wise
Know Your Worth.
While the lure of a quick buck may seem tempting, make sure the jobs you’re applying for are worthy of your time. Whatever you do, don’t get roped into content mills and work for hours for a few bucks. I won’t name names here, but based on the rates they’re proposing alone, you’ll know them when you see them. These venues seek writers who will churn out copy for embarrassingly paltry reimbursement. I’ve found that the sort of clients who expect you to work for peanuts don’t value your time. As such, they’re also infamous for expecting more work that reaches beyond the original scope of the job. Steer clear.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short.
Avoid jobs that require heavy research unless the job is compensating you for that additional time. You’d be surprised at how many hours will be frittered away when you delve into a topic you’re less-than-savvy in. Unless it’s something you’re expressly familiar with, it’s best to avoid those.
Sometimes, It’s OK To Work For Free.
Bartering exposure for monetary reimbursement is a very common practice in the copywriting world. Some sites (like ours) do not compensate for pieces. This is, in part, because they boast high rankings, healthy traffic, and a loyal following. The idea is that your ability to get in front of thousands of targeted eyes and capitalize on that exposure is worth more than the one-time payment you’d receive for the piece.
Writing is about more than your experience in the profession. It’s about perspective -your perspective- and that’s something only you can offer. Understand that the sum of your experiences coupled with your unique vantage point gives you a voice like no other. And that has real value. So, get yourself out there. The world is waiting to hear what you have to say.
Want to write for us?
The Mogul Mom publishes pieces from industry professionals and freelancers. While we don’t accept all submissions, it’s certainly worth your time to send us a piece to consider. Learn more, here.
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