How to get into copywriting
I’ve been asked many times how to get into copywriting and be a successful freelancer. After multiple chats with different people looking for advice, I put together a summary here that covers the answers to the most common questions. If you have specific queries or would like further advice, feel free to get in touch!
I spent over ten years working in communications; coordinating events, writing press releases, managing campaigns and all that lovely comms work! Deciding to specialise, I took a short copywriting course before completing my diploma with the College of Media and Publishing. I then started working freelance alongside my day-job, and then resigned when I had enough clients.
I started with two very different clients – one multinational tech company and one two-man-band business in the wedding industry. I was lucky to have contacts who were looking for a writer. From there it was word of mouth, letting friends and contacts know what I did and being brave in asking to pitch to them! The main reason I did my diploma was to discover how to bring in clients, but in reality, I’ve found that it’s different for every person. I have only picked up one client through LinkedIn – and even then, they weren’t a connection, it was through a search they carried out.
If you want to be a writer, write. Find a passion, start a blog, get a portfolio and some evidence that you’re good at writing for a range of audiences, and then go after the work. LinkedIn is great for highlighting jobs if you want to take on fixed contract work – set your options and see what’s in the weekly job email. Agencies are another good place to start, you’ll need some references and a portfolio, but then you’ve got someone finding work for you. Alternatively, if you have no experience at all, find an entry level position in a company’s communications or marketing team, and then sell yourself on your excellent writing skills. Position yourself in the team as ‘the writer’ and build your portfolio from there. You’ll also find out what media you like writing for, and what you’re best at.
Once you’re freelance, I recommend taking every job that is offered – find a way of making it work and it sets a good base-level of commitment. You never know where each job will take you – one contact often leads to the next, and you’ll find yourself with a growing client list. Clients will also be more likely to recommend you to others if they know you’re always willing to work.
Freelancing is hard work. It has to be a top priority because it is your income, but it’s also your life; nothing happens unless you make it. I never thought I’d be happy working evenings and weekends, but it’s my business, and it’s only ever for me and my benefit. It makes all the difference. Transitioning from working in a busy office to solo was tough, but the flexibility it provided made it worth it.
A small warning
Artificial Intelligence is gaining pace within the creative world, and already I’ve had one client who wants to shift and take that avenue for copywriting. Bear in mind that AI can only work from existing data, it can’t form opinion, have original perspective or a personal point of view. There will always be a need for a copywriter for this work, helping technical and non-writing experts to convey their thought leadership. It’s a real consideration, however, as I can see my role shifting to embellishing and amending an AI’s work, rather than creating original pieces. We shall see how it evolves…
After some specific advice or more information?
I’d love to chat with you if you have more questions or would like some advice tailored to your situation. Book 30 minutes with me for just £30. Drop me an email and we’ll find a convenient time to video-chat. You can also catch up with my podcast, The Freelancers Club here.