When you’re starting your copywriting business, it can be difficult to know where to begin. You have plenty of options when it comes to marketing and advertising your business – from traditional magazine advertising to online marketing and social media. But where should you begin? How can you make the most of your time and money? What will make your clients trust you and your opinion?
Often, the decision to work with a copywriter is made after a company has struggled with lackluster SEO and lackluster (or non-existent) online reviews. The fact is, having crappy SEO and an empty online presence is a road to nowhere fast. If you want to be taken seriously as a copywriter, you have to prove to potential clients that you’re capable of creating high-quality content for their benefit, and that you’re the best person for the job. That’s where this article comes in. Let’s dive into the steps you can take to get your first copywriting client and begin building your business.
Step One: Work Your Own Trove
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know where I stand on the subject of sourcing copywriting work. I believe in working your own troves (i.e. utilizing your own connections) first and foremost – building your portfolio by pitching to existing clients or companies is a fantastic way to build your reputation and gain experience. When you’re starting out, nothing can be more invaluable than having an expert look over your shoulder, helping you find your feet, and pointing you in the right direction. So, don’t hesitate to contact existing publishers, journalists, bloggers, and other media figures to see if they have anything open for editorial – or pitch them on a freelance basis. The best way to find a copywriting job is via word of mouth or referral from an existing client. By all means, feel free to approach larger companies, who may have in-house PR teams, to request editorial coverage. But unless you’re living in a dream world, you’ll rarely, if ever, get exactly what you want. Existing media figures may not feel obligated to help you land the job you want, especially if they already have an established relationship with the company you’re pitching to (keep in mind: they have to feel like they can trust you).
Now, don’t expect to walk into any situation and land a five-figure deal. That’s not how it works. Building a reputation as a dependable and high-quality writer takes time, and it starts with your work. The more you churn out, the more you’ll be able to charge. So, don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately score a high-paying client. In time, you will. Just keep working, building your portfolio, and eventually, you’ll be able to negotiate higher rates and land bigger and better deals. To begin with, use online marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, or Amazon Mechanical Turk to find and negotiate with remote freelancers. Or, if you’re looking for something more traditional, submit a proposal to a magazine or media organization, outlining your qualifications and experience, and begin building your portfolio.
Step Two: Build A Reputation
Having a nice pitch deck, a well-written proposal, and a beautiful website are all well and good, but they won’t do you any good if you don’t have a reputation to back them up. After all, people don’t necessarily click on the pretty graphics or read the smooth pitches in business magazines – they usually read the editorial or click on a link to learn more about a product or service.
So, how do you establish your credibility as a copywriter? You do that by consistently publishing high-quality content – both for this blog and across social media channels, like Twitter and LinkedIn. Even when you’re pitching a client, you can still establish your credibility by demonstrating that you’re capable of creating compelling copy for other companies. The more you produce, the more you’ll be able to charge for your services. And, the more you charge, the more you can budget for marketing and branding. Plus, the more you promote, the more people will want to work with you.
Another great way to build a reputation is by independently verifying the accuracy of your content. You can do this by contacting the original source of the information you’re quoting – whether that’s a publicly available company document, an interviewee, or an academic paper – and verifying its accuracy. This not only creates trust with the reader, but it also shows that you’re committed to being as accurate as possible. Readers will often cite your work, knowing that you’ve vetted it carefully, and it will also establish you as an expert in your field. Checking facts and getting quotes right will also make you a more valuable writer. As a copywriter, you’ll soon learn to hate inaccuracies and errors. Finding the right expert to verify your information is crucial; make sure you find someone who’s qualified to do so, and who has the time to do so thoroughly. For instance, if you’re citing an academic paper, make sure that they’re citation-ready before you send it to be reviewed.
Step Three: Create A Portfolio
A portfolio is simply a collection of your work that you can use to demonstrate your credibility. Ideally, you want to create a portfolio that’s as extensive as possible, featuring everything from editorials to web content, to short-story collections and blog posts. The more you have, the better; it will serve as a great source of material for new and existing clients. Plus, it will prove to potential clients that you can write in a variety of styles, and that you’re capable of taking on any project – regardless of its size. A good portfolio will also make your work stand out from the competition. Most importantly, a good portfolio will serve as a proof-of-concept – it will show potential clients that you can tackle their project with the same level of skill and expertise as they could bring in-house.
You can use a website like Portfolio to manage your portfolio, displaying your best work in a cohesive and easily accessible manner. There are a number of services offering a similar function, like Canva’s Business card creator, which allows you to create and print professional-looking business cards, or HubSpot’s Business plan software, which can be used to create marketing and sales flyers, business plans, and more – all without needing to be an expert.
Now, you don’t necessarily have to have a business card to benefit from this article. You can use the information you’ve learned to write up a proposal for a potential client, or to pitch an idea to an existing client for their approval.
Step Four: Find A Name
Once you’ve built a reputation, it’s time to find a name for your business. Ideally, you want to find a name that’s easy to spell and pronounce – something that will also serve as a great brand for your copywriting business. You can also utilize the Internet to do some research on the preferred naming conventions in your niche, and then incorporate those terms into your own business. Once you’ve found a suitable name, take time to find the right business registration forms and begin the legal formalities.
If you’re looking to brand your business, there are a number of options available to you. You can hire a company that specializes in branding and marketing to help you find the right name, create a logo, and develop a strategy to attract potential clients. Alternatively, you can hire a designer to help you create a branding identity for your business, using the information you’ve learned about your niche, as a guide.
Step Five: Promote Your Business
At this point, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. You’ve learned a lot, managed to land a few clients, and are now ready to promote your business. Before you begin sending out your first pitch, take some time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the industry. This means learning the conventions and ethics of the trade – as much as you can know them, anyway. Familiarize yourself with the different publications and the types of pieces they usually publish. Furthermore, it would be wise to take some time and learn key phrases and industry-related words, as well as the proper way to spell them. Using the right terminology, along with the proper spelling and capitalization, will not only make it easier to establish yourself as an expert in your field, but it will also help you communicate with other professionals more effectively.
As you begin to promote your business, you’ll find that individuals and companies in your niche are eager to connect with someone new, who they think will be able to help them with their needs. With a little bit of research, you can find a ton of websites, forums, and blogs that can help you find potential clients and make valuable connections. But, don’t be shy about proclaiming your expertise. Clients are looking for someone who can solve their problems, and you’re just the person they need to speak with.