Do you want to know how to break into copywriting?
Copywriting is all about writing text that’s meant to persuade or sell. The text or ‘copy’ can be virtually used everywhere from brochures and newsletters to social networking websites and other online media.
This is the best time to join the world of copywriting as more and more businesses are realizing the need for excellent content and thus, seeking copywriters.
If you have a love for words and a motivation to pursue this passion professionally, then here are a few steps you need to take to break into the field of copywriting.
1. Start Looking for Writing Opportunities
As a copywriter, you need to master the skill of writing for a specific audience. You will only be able achieve it if you start hunting for opportunities. In the beginning you might have to settle for a meager pay or no pay at all but it’s the experience that counts.
A great way to gain experience is by joining crowdsourcing websites such as Copify, Helium, textbroker. These websites give you the chance to write for a variety of different copies and writing styles. You can find your favorite topics and develop a personal niche.
Reaching out to blogs and websites for writing guest posts can also help you try your hand at writing on various topics. You can team up with small business owners or non profits to generate web and social media copies for them too. All of this can later be used as evidence to your skills.
2. Build Your Personal Blog
It’s important to display your talent and experience before you start seeking clients. In this case, an online portfolio or personal blog comes in handy.
It’s easy to get this job done by using websites such as WordPress that enables users to make their own websites and blogs. When approaching clients or agencies, you can share the link to your online portfolio. It also makes you look more professional and gives you a competitive edge.
Another effective way to highlight your capability is to ask for reviews from the clients you have worked for even if they were unpaid assignments. Positive reviews and feedback from your clients will help you stand out from the sea of copywriters and also make your potential clients feel much more confident when taking you on board.
3. Don’t Try Your Luck with Just a Single Job Search Method
Don’t take just a single job search angle when you’re trying to get into copywriting. It can make you lose out on a lot of other opportunities. Make use of a variety of search avenues for finding copywriting jobs.
There are a lot of online job boards available for finding copywriting jobs such as Reddit, BloggingPro etc. that provide excellent resources to break into copywriting. Besides these, you should also start getting in touch with small to medium scale businesses via email, attend business and trade events for networking and use professional websites such as LinkedIn to help you out.
4. Become a Networking Pro and Learn from People in the Business
Reach out to people who are already in the business of creative writing and designing. LinkedIn can be a very useful tool to do this. Get to know them, their day to day work and schedules, how they started off their careers etc.
At a later stage you can request them to review some of your work and provide valuable feedback. You can also politely ask them for copy documents or creative briefs to study and learn about minute details that can make all the difference when you approach clients or sit in job interviews.
Even if you see a few professionally written copy documents, you will understand the writing style and formatting requirements. It will give the impression that you know your work well.
5. Gain Early Experience in Marketing, Advertising and Sales
If you’re still in college or a fresh grad, start looking for paid or unpaid internships in marketing agencies, advertising firms etc. This will help you gain valuable insights and experience about how companies attract clients and create marketing campaigns and strategies.
These skills will be of a lot of help later when you want to step into copywriting. Even working a part time retail job can enhance your resume as the job entails selling products and working with people.
6. Consider Getting an Education
Even though there’s no specific degree required for most copywriting jobs, it’s a good idea to at least get a bachelors degree with a major in fields such as business writing, marketing or journalism.
If you have an unrelated degree but a passion for copywriting, consider taking online courses to polish your skills. There’s a plethora of online courses available teaching copywriting specifics such as search engine optimization (SEO), digital marketing and selling, persuasive writing etc. Online learning platforms such as Udemy and Coursera provide some great copywriting courses.
These online courses are beneficial to even those who already have formal education in the related field or those who are experienced in the field. These courses offer plenty of new skills and techniques to continuously upgrade yourself as a copywriter.
Also, get your hands on the best books that can help you learn copywriting.
7. Grammatical or Spelling Errors Can Be a Sin
Whether it’s your CV, writing samples, blog, online portfolio or any other piece of writing that goes in front of potential employers or clients, make sure they are free from any spelling mistakes, typos and grammatical errors.
Carefully skim through any material that you’re sharing or have somebody else do it for you. These mistakes can cost you your job and put off potential employers. You can also contact professional resume writers to build the perfect resume for yourself.
If you have been approached by a copywriting or digital marketing agency for a job interview, chances are that they will ask you to write a test piece. So keep yourself prepared for it. They would be testing both your writing skills and speed.
8. Practice Good Interview Skills
Whenever you’re called for an interview for a copywriting position, start preparing yourself and practice powerful interview skills, after all, it can help you land the right job.
Do some basic research of the company, its business, clients, history and culture by checking out the company’s website, employee profiles, social media handles etc. Dress appropriately for the interview and use your body language to convey confidence.
Other than that, be prepared for questions related to business writing such as knowledge of different editorial styles, commonly confused business words or phrases, SEO copywriting practices etc.
You can be expected to give a grammar test and write a short sample on a given topic. Most grammar tests focus on punctuation, verb, and conjunction usage so brush up those areas. For the writing test, take your time to write a good and relevant article that doesn’t contain any grammatical errors. Do proofread it in the end.
9. Start Freelancing
If you’re facing difficulty finding a stable copywriting job in the beginning or if the idea of an in-house job doesn’t appeal to you, you can keep your resume free of gaps by freelance copywriting. This is the most common strategy for people who want to break into copywriting and are searching for a full time position.
Again, crowdsourcing sites, such as Copify, can help you get freelance writing work and you can work with various clients on a case to case basis, charging a particular fee for your services.
This is not to say that finding freelance work is easy. It’s just as competitive and requires effort and hard work to find good opportunities and gain experience.
One way to source clients in the beginning is to offer discounts on your writing. Reduced per word for the first 2000 words, a free blog post or a discount for clients who recommend you to a set number of other clients will all be useful.
10. Don’t Specialize in the Start
Copywriting is a highly diverse field. From writing about “fun stuff” like food, fashion, beauty to writing for highly technical industries such as finance, law, healthcare, copywriting covers them all.
In the beginning of your career, don’t decide on a niche. In fact develop your expertise for a variety of industries especially the tough ones like law, insurance, IT, telecommunication as these can open up far more opportunities for you.
Once you’re in the game and have established your reputation in the market, you can then work on a specialist strategy as per your preference and abilities.
11. Be Prepared to Get Rejected a Lot
No matter what anyone tells, copywriting is not an easy way to make good money. It requires skill, hard work, perseverance and commitment. It’s unlikely that you get lucky straight away so be ready to face a lot of failures and rejections.
As long as you show confidence in your abilities and are ready to work tirelessly for getting the best opportunities, then there’s no reason for you to give up.
12. Hone Your Creative Writing Skills
It’s also important to get into the habit of reading quality works of fiction and non-fiction to understand what good writing looks like. Great writers have diverse reading diets including blogs, newspapers, social media ads, novels etc. The broader your reading list, the more quality work you’ll be able to produce.
13. Take Inspiration from Other Online Writers
There are so many expert online writers out there who are known for their high quality and high impact content. You can go through their work and pay attention to details. Neil Patel, Seth Godin and Jeff Goins are few of the best online writers.
Along with that, you should always take a pause whenever you see ads on facebook, instagram etc. Use it as a learning opportunity and consider the language, length, style and target audience
Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to kick starting your copywriting career. Just remember, it will not happen overnight so be ready to work hard and just go for it.