Starting a Copywriting business is both daunting, and exciting. This post presents 7 basic tips that will make your life a lot easier.
Do keep a list of the things you need to do each month, and have a plan.
1) Create a "terms of service" document, then mail it to new clients before beginning your work. Here you can outline their expectations as well as yours.
2) Create a nice business card and brochure and use it for direct mailing...yes it still exists. If you target your potential clients first you will waste less time and money. To do this you have to do your research on the client; perhaps even a cold call first.
3) Create a niche and leverage your knowledge.
4) Your website is the most important thing, so make it amazing. You must keep it updated and have a blog. Mine is only once a month because I am too busy. However, I do update the site on a weekly basis.
5) Do loads of research on the types of audiences you will write for. Interviewing is a good way to start.
6) This one's important. Keep your social media platforms up to date and use them only for business. If you do that you will have more readers. Join lots of online groups, and you will get even more readers.
7) Connect with other freelance writers. Most of them will be supportive of what you're doing, don't look to family and friends because they won't understand you...trust me on this one:(
Last, but not least, is to keep learning about your topics, and join copywriting associations. This is where you often get good advice and support about common issues in the practice.
Your skills are in demand, but you need to hone these skills first. Practice with blogs and see how many follows you can get. You can also practice with social media. Don't forget to keep reading and researching what makes great copy.
Here is one path to copywriting. Most professional writers have many different paths to their first writing Gig. Here's one that worked for me. Some people are journalists, and some others have PHDs. There are some good online learning platforms called Mooks. Take advantage of these, some of these courses are even free to audit. I have recently completed some courses from Northwestern University (all on line).
Don't listen to everybody out there that says you can't do it, because you can if you put in consistent work. This isn't a "learn fast and simple rules," kind of career. You have to keep on learning, everyday.
I have benefited from almost ten years of university courses, but I also studied creative writing courses for almost one year before I started copywriting. No matter what your background is, you will have to fill in the gaps somewhere.
Learn About Marketing
The missing ingredient for me was the marketing knowledge, so I had to gain some marketing skills too. If you don't like learning, you will not like Copywriting. I found that marketing was merely a review of many of the Psychology principles I've already learned. Marketing keeps changing, but peoples' needs remain the same. But you can't write copy without understanding basic marketing principles.
Learn Good Grammar
Learning correct grammar is important. I just completed a grammar punctuation course on Udemy with Clare Lynch from Cambridge university. This is a great course even if you think you know all about grammar. linkedin has some good courses too.
You can also read books written by some famous copywriters. One I recommend is "The Well Fed Writer, by David Bowerman. Another book you should have on your shelf is "The Advertising Solution," by Craig Simpson who is an expert in direct marketing. This book has stories by Robert Collier, John Caples, and David Ogilvy, some of the God fathers of writing.
Ever though of writing poetry? Great practice and it's fun. That was one way I started. Writing poetry tightens your prose and you will definitely benefit from this practice. I certainly did.
This is perhaps the most important thing I will write today. Some professionals will tell you that you just have to get out there and put out your writing. That's not entirely true. If you take on tasks that your aren't ready for, it will damage your reputation before you even get started.
In the first course I took, I was told to put up a website, and improve it as you go. You will build traffic while you learn more and more about the profession. You can just put up a simple blog site to start.
Sonia from Copy Blogger also recommends this to starting writers. Why? because you will start to see what works and what doesn't work. Yes, this means everybody can see your work, and your mistakes of course, so make sure to carefully edit your work before you press edit. Blogging is a great way to start. Finally, read other professionals' work and study their methods.
Stay away form sites like Fivr, they will only burn you out. Upwork.com is a good place to start if you can't find your own clients yet. They seem to have strict criteria though. Make sure you have a solid profile, and learn all their terms and conditions.
I have recently just read a quote: "Tomorrow's illiterate will not be the man who can't read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn."
-Herbert Gerjuoy, Psychologist and Educator
Read lots of books and study the craft. Follow the people that you learn from. Join their mailing lists to obtain their free resources. Tweak your own work as you learn.
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The term social media can be misleading. We may think of teenagers talking to each other or friends texting each other while in the same room. Social media is important for businesses too. Find out why.
I know, lots of you don't like to use social media. You may even think its for teenagers. It's important to find the best social media platform that fits your business goals. If you are selling things on Amazon, Twitter or Instagram might do fine. Instagram is popular right now. Pretty much everybody is using Instagram because it's easy and you can keep the messages short. Career type content would likely fit LinkedIn better than Twitter. Make use of LinkedIn if you are a start-up business.
No matter what business you're in, creating an online presence is a must. If you present content that is useful and shareable then your online presence will grow. Consumers today want information on any device of their choice. Remember that consumers control the market today.
Much research has shown that engagement with social media drives more traffic to websites. Hopefully that will lead to more conversions. If not, you still might have people spread the word about your business or your products in other ways. Consumers want information on every device now and they want it on their own time.
It's a good idea to have a strong online profile. It's best to create the same message, profiles, and headlines for all your platforms. They shouldn't be too different from one platform to another. Join online communities, make comments and ask questions. All this helps you to build a stronger brand image. You can also show your human side and how you differ from others.
Your content should provide information and be positive. If you write interesting posts, you will drive traffic to your site. This is a great way to build engagement with readers. Don't post too much "salesy" type content or people will think you are spamming them. Many people think that longer posts won't get much traffic but evidence suggests otherwise. Longer posts are more likely to be shared if the content is useful to the reader and they end up sharing it.
Find out who the experts are in your field or niche and follow them on social media. You will learn a ton of information from them and who their mentors are. You can receive their newsletters filled with valuable tricks and tips. You don't have to be on all platforms but pick a couple and stick to regular posts. Many readers like to read and share stories on social.
Network and engage followers and you will be rewarded. Social media followings are important to your brand. Many of the people you follow will add to your own expertise because they often publish free content.
You can't write for just anyone, so how do you get your content read? Check out the tips on this blog.
Many novice bloggers think that everybody's interested in what they write and post online. No, unfortunately, that's not the case. There is so much competition for people's time, and readers want something quick and easy to read. If you go the longer route, you have to keep it interesting and to the point. If you offer content that is valuable, they may keep reading and if you're lucky they will share it.
It's been shown that longer content gets shared more often. Surprised? I was too. The content must be broken up into sections with subheadings, bullets or numbered lists. It must be easy to read, and formatted so they can skip over things.
Who is your audience?
What is their age, their gender or their education? Are they business people or health enthusiasts?
How you can better engage your Audience:
*Research helps deliver some credibility to your blog. You can use googlescholar.com or pewresearch.org. If you know your topic well, then most readers will find your content both inspiring and informative.
Doing a few of these things well, will help ensure that your content is read and shared. Yes, it's hard to do all of these things on a regular basis. The most important takeaway is to add value to what you write and post...if you want people to like and share your content.
Here's what I have learned from blogging over the past two years. I am going to make this post short and sweet.
Blogging first came about as a way to express yourself and tell stories. The problem is that people are way to self indulgent, and that adds little value to the reader...if any. So what do you write about? Some people blog to get something from others. Human nature is the other way around. People reading want to know what's in it for them.
First, ask yourself why you are writing, and then ask yourself what do you want readers to take away from the piece. If you are blogging for your business, then you might want to ask what information would my customers like to have? What would make them remember my brand or name when they are ready to buy something?
I spent some time on linked In this holiday season. I began to see flaws in my own, and other people's blog posts. Yes...blogging is a process, and you learn as you get more practice. We are inundated with loads of advice. Who is really qualified to give advice?
Having said that, I have found some excellent posts out there, but I have also found that some well published bloggers are doing exactly what I have been taught not to do. It's not that they don't have great information to present, but it's how they do it. You can get information on any subject on the internet, so it's hard to engage readers period.
Here is a short list of things you should consider Not doing
The two big ones for me are, the negative and harsh language (even if you mean well). An example would be "You'll never succeed at blogging if you..."
Remember your purpose for writing is to increase awareness, entertain, and give the reader a takeaway. Tone is something that has to be considered with the target audience in mind. Tone is very important unless you are talking to a 12 year old audience.
If You want to attract a business audience you need to use a certain amount of formal language, but at the same time keeping it conversational. You can do this without abandoning all language skills. If you aren't sure, check out the linked In course by Shani Raja, an editor with the Wall Street Journal. He teaches a really good editing course. You will learn a great system.
Writing has changed over the past ten years. Less formal is more popular. But try not to get sloppy with language, you will insult your reader. Don't make yourself superior to the reader. Make them want to read your next blog.
Marketing is a big topic in today's digital world. Trends change, but basic human nature doesn't change. The type of business you do may dictate the kind of marketing approach you use. See what you may have overlooked.
Many experts believe that you should develop a marketing plan. Personally, I have found that writing down goals is achieved quicker for some reason, even my daily to do lists. You can create specific goals for timelines. Make charts, and put them in a place you can see everyday.
Here Are A Few Tips To Consider:
What works best for your type of business depends on many factors. Don't forget to try something new if what you are doing isn't working. Do some research on pricing strategies, so that you know if your pricing is too high or too low.
Some people engage in social media marketing, but that's not enough. You need a human presence. Blogging is helpful, it certainly increased traffic on my websites. Give readers some value in your posts. I like writing "how to" posts. You might consider guest blogging, or have guest posts on your site.
Create newsletters, they give value to your website. The reader takes away something.
After you make contact, you can mail a brochure with a letter and business card. Peter Bowerman, Author of The Well-fed Writer, suggest that you always give a person two business cards. One may end up in another person's hands.
More About Blogging
I come from an academic background, so I had to make adjustments in my writing style. After blogging for two years, I discovered something valuable.
This summer I published a post that was emotionally charged, and it was something many people have experienced. Guess what? My readership increased almost overnight. I guess it's fair to say, emotionally charged content is good for your blog. As a copywriter, I have been taught that appealing to people's emotions is a valuable marketing tool. So always appeal to the reader's emotions.
You will hear many people out there giving advice about marketing. Different types of marketing work for different types of clients. Check what your competitors are doing. Most of all, keep an open mind.