Episode 43: Landing a Copywriting Gig, Fast and Easy
Episode 43 teaches you that not everything about copywriting needs to be difficult. Learn to start small, build your confidence and put money in your pocket. All without spending money. If you want to find your first paying client, this episode tells you how. Yes, I have covered this exact thing before. Some of you aren’t getting it, so it bears repeating.
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Episode 43 Transcript
Note: Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and humans, as such, it may contain errors. Please, double-check the audio file before quoting anything from this page.
00:00 [JT Pledger] Greetings and welcome! For the first time in Season 2, I want to get back to the work from home and copywriting side of things for a bit. So, today I am going to cover some things you can do to get a writing gig that won’t cost you money, or take up too much of your time. Stick around, we will cover all of it.
00:53 First things first. All copywriters are different. Each one of us has a path to take and we all go at different speeds down our selected paths. The advice I am going to offer you today is more or less general advice for anyone that wants to find clients, is looking to make money from their words, or who wants to start networking for future endeavors.
Copywriting is an Umbrella Term
01:22 As you are probably aware, there are a lot of different types of copywriting out there. The term copywriting is more of an umbrella term. The people who write blog posts are copywriters. The ones that create billboard and magazine ads are copywriters. Copy means words. Writing is the act of producing those words. The actual term was originally meant for those that placed the typesets or tiles for printing. Today, it is a profession for anyone that writes, be it through print and digital means or the old-fashioned pen and paper style.
02:03 As a freelancer, you have a lot of options and opportunities ahead of you. You can travel down any copywriting path you want. You can pick your niche, or be broad spectrum. Working for an agency provides a more consistent workflow, but the requirements to get in are higher and your work is pretty much limited. A freelancer, though, especially one just starting out in the industry, has a lot to fight and a long road to go. I can tell you that in the end, it is worth it. As long as you are willing to stick to your game plan and not easily give up.
Make Life Easy For Yourself
02:45 There are a few things you can do to make that road easier to plow, though, and I will give you some of those things now. The first thing I will advise you on is to not be picky. You will hear the old-timers and the so-called guru’s telling you things like, stick with a single aspect. Find your thing and don’t settle for less.
03:09 Those same people also tell you to build a portfolio showcasing your talents, with testimonials from your clients as backup and proof. It becomes a conundrum, doesn’t it? How can you have testimonials and real clients, if you don’t have a portfolio? How do you build a portfolio without real life clients and get their testimonials?
03:35 Something has to give. Personally, I find portfolios a waste of time. I also don’t find a lot of value in websites, either, except that most people expect you to have one in this day and age, so you should. Don’t put a lot of time, money and effort into it though. Hear me now and believe me later, you won’t get many, if any, new clients from a website. It just doesn’t realistically work that way.
To be Better, Write Better
04:07 Not that I am the end-all, be-all, not by a long shot. But as an example for you, I spend about $10 per year on my website. It is half finished and has been for the last 2-years. I check in once a month to do updates so it doesn’t get hacked, but other than that, I find little time for it. You won’t find clients in the admin panel of your website. So stop spending so much time back there.
04:40 It is only by writing that you become a better writer. If you want to practice your skills and hone them, craft them into a viable source of income, you have to start writing words. In the beginning, it will be rough. You will work for peanuts, maybe even for less than you deserve. Never work for free. Ever. If you only come away from this episode with one bit of advice you follow, let it be that one. If someone wants your words, they need to pay for them. Fuck exposure, screw a test piece. You aren’t just selling your words.
05:23 When you are hired, you produce words for a client. Those words don’t just appear out of nowhere. They take time to craft; they take research and edits. This is what the client is paying for. Your time is the most valuable commodity and you should never give it away. The words are the byproduct, and you will do best to remember that. What you put into those words is why you get paid.
Want More Advice?
06:02 Here is another gem of advice for you. Learn to start asking yourself “what’s in it for me?” This sounds harsh. It is harsh. It is also the truth. I am one of the most kind-hearted, caring people you could ever meet, or so I am told. I feed the hungry, clothe the undressed and offer my services when needed to those that can use them. And I never ask anything in return. However, business is business. Just like everyone else, I have to pay for my groceries, pay my light bill and put gas in my truck.
06:48 I can’t go to the electric company, bill in hand and tell the lady at the counter I would like to pay, in full, and pull out my wallet full of exposures. Working for free is the stupidest thing you can do. It isn’t without its attempts, though. People want things for free. Sometimes they get them. In our line of work, though, you get what you pay for. Don’t belittle yourself or your talents by giving them away.
Now We Can Land a Copywriting Client
07:18 So let’s look at how you can get a decent client, a paying client, without spending a ton of money on a website, and without killing yourself or draining your bank account. The first thing is to decide that you are going to get paid for your words. The type of words, or where the money comes from shouldn’t matter as much. Not right now. You have time ahead of you to work out the details of how you want to run the business that is yourself. It takes planning to do so. It takes learning the steps, how and when to invoice, how much to charge, which type of writer you want to be. All of these things will come in their own time, and not a moment sooner.
08:04 That doesn’t mean you can’t get some money in your pocket in the mean time. I focus on advertising now. I build campaigns for companies to introduce new products to the world. I bring customers a product. And paying customers to my clients. I didn’t always do this, though. When I first started, I had no idea what the world of copywriting entailed. I was as green as a pea and looking to make my mark. I also had rent due and was stressing the fuck out.
I Was a Ghostwriter, and I Still Am
08:37 My first stint was as a ghostwriter. I wrote articles for a client for his websites. Product reviews, comparison articles, information articles, and on and on. I no longer have the need to be a ghostwriter, but you know what? I still do it, I also still have this client. He gave me my in into this wonderful writing career and I promised myself that I won’t leave him until he is done with me. I also never asked for a raise. I can’t say that for the rest of my clients. It probably isn’t the normal thing to do, but it’s my way of giving back to the industry that made me.
09:20 Ghostwriting is a viable career in itself. I have plenty of writer friends who ghostwrite and make a damn good living doing so. One of them, and I don’t use names here, earns over $9000 a month ghostwriting. Ghostwriting, according to the rest of the copywriting world, is akin to working at McDonald’s. You still get a paycheck, but the ones on Wall Street are gonna laugh at you.
09:50 Let them laugh. Take your paycheck and the incredible lessons that come along with it. When you start getting paid to write, the world opens up. Believe me, it doesn’t matter where that money comes from. When you walk in that office and pay your light bill, in full, on time, no one cares that you got that paycheck from McDonald’s. And you get to have heat, lights and internet for another month.
How to Bring Clients to You
10:16 Let’s get you a paying client now, shall we? There are several things you can do to get yourself noticed. First are the easy ones, social media. I do want you to pick a niche, if you haven’t already. However, if you haven’t yet, that’s fine. Join Facebook groups. Join copywriters groups because your clients join them, too. Believe it or not a lot of clients think they can learn copywriting themselves and still make time for it. They join the groups trying to learn the ropes. Most of them learn quickly that this skill isn’t something that you just get one day. Once they decide they don’t have the time, resources or desire to continue, they look for others that have. This is where you come in.
11:07 All you have to do is make posts. Comment on questions that other writer’s are asking. When you comment, give actual value. Your responses should be complete, researched and well thought out. Edit them for spelling and grammar. Be on point, but be personable. You also want to make posts yourselves. You can ask questions, of course, you are still learning. Try to make valuable posts that offer help, answer a question, or just to be your normal, thoughtful and sometimes funny self.
11:47 Do this on the regular basis. When your name and profile picture pop up time and again, people will take notice. Eventually, others will seek you out. Do this on Facebook, on Twitter, and on LinkedIn. After a couple of weeks, you will be surprised at the messages, replies and DMs that come your way.
Don’t Sit on Your Ass
12:09 In the mean time, you need to be actively looking for a gig. There are pay sites that promise to hook you up with people looking for a writer. There are so-called academies that will promise to teach you how to write better and then, like some Tech School bullet point, offer to show you the clear path to the clients. Fuck all that. You don’t need any of it. All of the information they offer in exchange for your credit card info is available for free. Learn to use Google.
12:41 There is one site you need right now. Job boards for writers number in the hundreds. Most of them are free. Some want your email address and a few (that you stay away from) want you to pay for access. You’re here to make money, not spend money. You can spend your money later, when you have a stream of income and several thousand paid words under your belt. When you are ready to take the next step and make copywriting a career, when you have focus and a path to follow, then you can pay for more detailed lessons, hire a mentor, or take a class. Until then, you don’t need to spend money to make money.
Here is Where to Look for a Copywriting Gig
13:29 Head over to problogger.com this site has a job board where potential clients need writers. Filter the search for freelance or remote and you will see pages of potential gigs before you. Some will have demands that you send an email to apply, or go to fill out an application on a Google docs sheet. Others will let you apply right through the website. And it never costs you a thing.
13:59 When you read the job posting, make sure you read all of it. Most writers go through these job boards and blankly apply for every thing on there. They have a form response with links to their portfolio or website and barely read the actual application. However, the clients are hip to this. They will “hide” things in the application posting such as “Send an email with the subject line My Favorite Color is Green” or something equally silly. This is just to show that you actually read the posting and aren’t a form-application sending bot or a writer looking for just anything.
14:44 It also shows you read, pay attention and can follow instructions. Read all the postings twice before you start your application process. I found it useful to have certain things in Google docs, ready to copy and paste. A lot of the clients will ask the same questions. Instead of troubling yourself with remembering the exact answers or links to your previous works or other examples, write one up and save it in Google docs. Then, when you find a new job to apply for, copy and paste the relevant parts into your new application. It will save time and effort on your part.
That’s a Wrap
15:28 If you spend your time on Problogger and in your social circles being relevant and helpful, it won’t be long at all before you get an interested client. And who knows, maybe you, too, will find a long-lasting client that you can one day thank for putting your name on the map.
15:47 I will leave you with that advice for now. If you want more, check out the blog posts on ExtraDraft.com and come hang out, say hi or ask me your questions there! I look forward to hearing form you and I applaud your near-future success!
16:05 Until next week kids, have fun; write words.