I’m relatively new to the world of copywriting and blogging, so a lot of my time is currently spent promoting myself online. I’m learning as I go along, and I seem to be wasting a lot of my time on tactics that simply don’t bear fruit. As I’m a kind and caring sort of chap, I thought I’d share a few of my experiences from my journey to copywriting stardom.
Write About Absolutely Anything
When I first started copywriting, I would turn down work in the belief that it was beneath my level of undoubted skill. When I realised that my skill level was some way short of the UK’s leading copywriters, I realised that I should have written those 2p-per-word blog posts on bras and pay-day loan companies. Not because it would have been a source of income at the start of my copywriting career, but because it would have opened doors much earlier.
I remember spending three hours researching and writing an article on an amateur hockey team in Nottingham. Even talking about it now is bringing my nervous twitch on. For my three hours of toil and mental discomfort, my client bestowed the princely sum of £15 upon me. I would gladly pay £15 to forget about the Nottingham Mavericks forever.
But here’s the thing; I received an email from that same client a month later. He gave me a copywriting gig for a leading holiday website worth £3,000. In those early days of your career, be careful what you turn down, and if you have to refuse work, try to recommend one of your peers for the gig – it could pay dividends in the future.
Practice Makes Mediocre
I trained as a journalist in the 90s, so I thought this copywriting malarkey would be as breezy as Whitley Bay’s sea front. However, copywriting (dare I say it) is a far purer form of the written word. It is also far more complicated, as copywriters are continually adjusting their style to meet the needs of clients.
I wrote in my spare time for two years whilst still in the catering industry. And after more than a million words under my belt, I rose to the dizzying heights of mediocre. Writers need to read, and writers need to write. If you’re trying to break into the industry, never believe your own opinion. There is always a better writer vying for the same job, so when you lose out to more gifted competitors, make them your inspiration.
- Read the work of your competitors
- Use criticism to improve your skills
- Never believe that you’re the finished article – you never will be.
Cultivate a Following
Cultivating an online following is a fantastic way of promoting your services as a writer. Think of it as an ongoing job interview. Prospective employers need to see examples of your work, and they will also want to see evidence that you can contribute to larger projects.
Start a portfolio. If you don’t have your own website (which you should have), use a site like Contently to store your work in one place.
Write guest blogs. You’re a copywriter, so write posts for copywriting, journalism or marketing websites, but remember to include a link to your website. I wrote my first blog for the Huffington Post recently. It was completely unrelated to copywriting, but it showcases what I can do as a blogger.
Complete a Google+ Profile. Read Kate Toon’s blog on Google+, that’s all I need to say on the subject.
Respond to your comments. Not everyone will be complimentary about your work, so don’t get on the defensive unless you are provoked by particularly aggressive comments. Developing relationships with readers will, ultimately, lead to backlinks; quality, meaningful backlinks.
Use Social Media Wisely. Too many content marketers and copywriters flood their followers’ timelines with useless, meaningless posts until they eventually become invisible. You know what I mean, don’t you? You’ve probably ‘unfollowed’ people for exactly the same reason. Use your Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn posts wisely. Try to give your followers value – and never give them the hard-sell.
Once you get just a couple of good clients into your proverbial stable, you’ll be able to use their testimonials to sell yourself. And who knows? Your clients might be so happy with your work they might just recommend you to their colleagues.