The Copywriting Business


Discover New Opportunities

Become An Expert – When you focus your efforts on mastering how to write copy for a specific market or media, your value increases – specialists can usually charge more than generalists. 

Do What You Love – With so many varied opportunities in copywriting, there’s a market for you to tap into that will excite you. Be adventurous and try different types of projects to get a feel for what suits you best.

Media Types

Landing (Squeeze) Page Copywriting – Create highly-specialized Web pages that motivate a visitor to take immediate action of some sort, usually to enter their email address.

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White Papers – Create special reports that address specific challenges, as well as inform readers how to solve them, and make informed decisions. White papers tend to be more informational than promotional.Related Searches:

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Press Releases – Write announcements that are submitted to various news organizations in order to inform and publicize upcoming events, product releases, and promotions.

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Email – Write individual email announcements or a series of emails in a way that gets people to open and read them, and take action.

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Twitter – Help companies use Twitter, or other social marketing tools, to connect and communicate with their communities.

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Video – Write compelling and emotionally engaging scripts for videos.

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PPC/AdWords – Create short ads for companies to promote their products and services.

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Markets

Technical – Write copy that is geared more towards engineers, managers, and other technical people who require very specific, and often complex information.

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SEO/Web – Write copy for Websites, product pages, emails, or other online resources.

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Health – Specialize in copy that appeals to people that are very interested in health-related topics – supplements, weight loss, alternative health, and so on.

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B2B – Write to the needs of business people, and their challenges to build and maintain profitable businesses.

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Travel – Write about places, experiences, people, and cultures in a way that captures and holds the readers imagination.

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Market Your Business: Your Message

Remember That YOU Are The Product – While your experience and client list are important, your most important marketing asset is your most unique asset – you! You need to determine your personal strengths and find a way to create a marketing messages that bridges the gap between those strengths and the value you can provide to a client.

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Answer WIIFT – Employers, just like other prospects, want to know less about you and your accomplishments, and more about WIIFT  or, what’s in it for them.

Be Consistent – Decide on a message, identity, and personality for your business – use them consistently in all your marketing materials. This will help position you as the person known for X, and is an important part of establishing your brand.

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Keep It Positive – Make sure your marketing materials convey confidence and positivity.

Show Your Personality – If you portray yourself one way in your marketing, and another way in real-life, potential clients will pick up on it and begin wondering why. If you work from your rural home, enjoy the country, and have a lighthearted personality, don’t try to come across like a city-dwelling, corporate shark in your marketing material. Simply be who you are!

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Market Your Business: Your Business Cards

Go Double-Sided – Choose a double-sided design. Use the front of your card for your company name, your name, and contact info (phone, email, URL), as well as a tagline (if you have one). On the back of the card include a headline with a link to a special report or white paper, or list your services, benefits, and some testimonials.

Keep Them Simple – Don’t fill your card with a lot of clutter. Identify the core message of your business and convey that. A link to your Website can be used to fill in the details.

Make Them Unique – The best business cards are the one’s that people want to show others, because they’re so unique. Without going overboard, try to come up with a creative way to make your card stand out, either by its shape, the material on which it’s printed, or the message it contains.

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Include Them In Your Mailings – Add a couple of your business cards with mailings you send out, especially invoices. This can be a great way to encourage satisfied customers to spread the word about your products or services.

Always Carry Them With You – Because you never know who you might run into while you’re out and about, stuff a card holder with a stack of your cards and place it next to your car keys. That way you’ll always remember to take your cards with you whenever you leave your house.

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Give And Get – Whenever you give your business card to someone, it’s considered proper etiquette to ask for theirs in return.

Be Generous – No one says you can only give a single card away per person. Give 2 or 3 away to each person who is willing to take them.

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Market Your Business: Your Business Name

Brand You – Choosing a great business name can be as simple as using your own name. You are unique, your name clearly identifies you, and by using your personal name it shows that you’re willing to stake your personal reputation on the quality and service your business provides.

Have A Tagline – In all your marketing materials, include a tagline with your company name – Identify your USP, and use it.

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Avoid Cute, Clever Names – If your business name makes people laugh, that’s how people will see your business. 

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Market Your Business: Your Portfolio

Put It Online – Focus on building an online presence for all your portfolio pieces. An online portfolio can be accessed by interested parties at their convenience, and you save money by not having to send samples via snail-mail. Check to make sure all your portfolio links are working.

Showcase Your Skills, Not Your Client List – If you don’t have ‘real’ client examples, then create some. You’re goal is to showcase your writing skills, not the number of clients you’ve had. Just remember not to imply that a sample was for a company unless it really was.

Show Your Versatility – Provide a variety of examples in your portfolio to showcase the versatility of your skills.

Front-Load It – Design your portfolio so your best work appears first, followed by your second-best, and so on. 

Use The End-Result – Ask your clients for copies of the final materials that are sent to their prospects/customers (print or digital).

Add It If You Wrote It – Everything you write should be considered a portfolio piece – sales letters, blog posts, articles, personal promotions, etc.

Remove The So-So Examples – Don’t include a project just because you have it, and you can. If it’s not your best work, then leave it out.

Highlight VIP Projects – Highlight any work you’ve done for notables, such as heavyweights in an industry, celebrities, notable companies, etc.

Schedule A Time For Updates – Pick a date once a month, or every quarter, when you will update and maintain your portfolio. Be consistent with this process so that your portfolio always reflects the quality and high standards of your business.

Draw Inspiration From Other Copywriters – Go to Google and do a search for copywriting | copywriter portfolio. Click on some of the results to see how other copywriters display their portfolio. Use the best ideas you discover for creating your own portfolio.

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Improve Your Skills: Maintain A Swipe File

Appreciate The Importance Of A Good Swipe File – A swipe file provides inspiration and ideas for those times when you’re faced with writer’s block. It can also help you complete projects faster, as you can draw from facts and research that’s already been discovered.

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Collect Success – Maintain a swipe file of million-dollar sales letters, magalogs, and other successful ads that you discover.

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Watch Infomercials – Infomercials may be annoying to most people, including you, but as a copywriter, you should appreciate that you’re actually watching great copy come to life with video. Study infomercials, and think about how they are emotionally appealing, demonstrate benefits, and how they flow from beginning to end.

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Look At Magazine Covers – Magazine covers are some of the best resources for great headlines. They’re designed to capture a person’s attention, and draw them into wanting to pick up the magazine to read more, which is exactly what you want to learn how to do. Celebrity, teen, money, travel, and health-related magazines display some of the best ideas.

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Subscribe To Swipe – Subscribe to publications and newsletters that consistently create great copy.

Order Catalogs – Request catalogs to be sent to you from businesses such as JC Penny and SkyMall. Catalogs are typically full of great copy ideas!

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Study digg.com Headlines – Visit digg.com and pay attention to the headlines for the most popular stories. Model your headlines on them – figure out what makes them work. Try substituting the topic within a good headline with yours, using word-substitution.

Build A Virtual Swipe File – Use Web-based note-capturing tools (try www.evernote.com) for grabbing online copy that you find inspirational.

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Keep Your Swipe File In Order – You can organize your files by the type of product being sold (merchandise, subscription, etc.), product categories (travel, health, etc.), or the type of offer (cash, bill me later, etc.)

Maximize Your Use Of Your Swipe File – Review your swipe file any time you need ideas for a headline or bullets, or for the structure and flow of your copy.

Pay Attention To Bullets – Find common ideas and bullets found in multiple letters within a niche and make sure your copy includes those. They are hot-button elements for that niche.

Stick With Your Niche – Swipe from letters and ads that sell to your target market. In other words, don’t swipe a financial letter or ad for ideas on writing copy for a health product.

Don’t Plagiarize – Swipe ideas and concepts, NOT the actual copy!

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Improve Your Skills: Practice

Be A Student Of Great Copy – Study content, flow, styling (colors, fonts, bolding, underlining, etc.), use of bullets, Johnson boxes, graphics, etc., of great copy used in print, TV/video, and radio/audio).

Get Into The Minds Of Great Copywriters – Hand-write great sales copy, word-for-word. This practice will help put you in the same mindset as the original writer and greatly improve your skills.

Dissect Great Copy – As you read great copy, make notes with your observations in the margin. Ask plenty of ‘why’ questions; Why is this here? Why is this effective? 

Dissect Bad Copy – Go through bad copy and determine what’s missing, or what you would add or change to make it stronger.

Practice, Practice, Practice – Write a 50-100 word lead every day.

Improve Your Skills: Other Ideas

Write With Passion – If you’re not excited about what you’re writing, don’t expect your reader to be. You must develop a passion for your current project, even if it’s temporary.

Experiment A Little – Following ‘accepted’ copywriting rules will only get you so far. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new styles and ideas, even if it means taking some criticism.

Welcome Feedback – Learn to thrive on criticism. You might learn something!

Master These 3 Elements – Focus on mastering these 3 key elements of great copy:

Discovering ideas that excite your readers

Expressing your ideas clearly and simply

Proving your ideas beyond a reasonable doubt

Managing & Growing Your Business: Finding Clients

Fire Liars – If a client ever asks you to lie in your copy, drop them instantly! If they have no problem being dishonest to their customers, they’ll have no problem doing the same to you. Working with a client like this could also lead to you becoming involved with something that could easily damage your personal or business reputation.

Find Clients – The Step-By-Step System

Do Some Research – Research 10 companies you think you’d like to work for (target companies that would recognize the benefit of copywriting), then narrow your list down to your top 3.

Get The Right Contact Info – Find out the name and contact information for the person that hires freelancers.

Analyze Their Needs – Research your top 3 companies – their needs, market, current marketing materials, and their competitors.

Discover Their Weakness – Define an area of weakness and determine what solution you would be able to provide.

Provide Them With The Solution – Send a personal letter to the person in charge of hiring. Offer something of  value to them – a white paper, report, or free consultation – related to your solution.

Talk Less, Listen More – When you’re contacted, do more listening and less talking. Discover their needs and offer some of your ideas for solutions.

Let Them Know What You Can Do For Them – Offer to send a proposal of your services and fees. Don’t offer a price over the phone.

Say Thank You – Send a personal thank you. It’s best if it’s handwritten.

Don’t Be A Pest – Once you’ve sent your proposal and thank you, then give your potential client plenty of time to respond on their own. If you follow-up every day, or every other day, you’ll accomplish little more than annoying them.

Find Clients – Other Methods To Try

Post An Ad On craigslist.orgcraigslist.org is one of the largest sources of classified ads on the planet. Many writers post ads advertising their services. Why don’t you?

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Search craigslist.org For Jobs – Since craigslist.org doesn’t allow you to search all locations at the same time, go to Google and enter the search: site:craigslist.org freelance copywriter | copywriting. You discover a number of recent freelance copywriting jobs with this technique.

Do A Google Search – Go to Google and search for freelance copywriting jobs. Explore the many results that appear and bookmark any resources that stand out. Many services you find will provide the ability for you to sign up for email alerts of new job listings, so look for those.

Provide Help In Forums – Visit forums that cater to the types of clients you want to attract. Post useful information and answers. Don’t directly promote your services, but use your forum signature to offer a free report or link to a tips page on your business site.

Look For Local Opportunities – Regularly check your local paper for news about companies that are announcing new products, services, or partnerships. Every story is a potential opportunity for you to build your business.

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Managing & Growing Your Business: Your Fees

Charge By The Project, Not By The Hour – Charging an hourly rate is too subjective and opens up your fee to ‘negotiation’ when the client feels your time estimate is wrong. Charge by the project, then figure out ways to streamline your copywriting process in order to maximize your profits.

Get A Raise – Raise your fees when you have so much business that you can afford to lose clients unwilling to pay your new rates.

Don’t Post Your Fees Online – Fee amounts posted on a Web page are captured by search engines and can be shown in search results many years after you’ve raised them.

Be Flexible – If you’re just starting out, it’s OK to be flexible with your rates in order to land some business. Just don’t sell yourself too short.

Make A Value Estimation – Consider the value of the project to your client when charging for a project. It makes sense to charge more money for projects that can potentially make your client a lot of money.

Start Small – Consider initially charging a smaller rate for a client that has potential long-term value. After you’ve established your worth to them, begin charging more.

Always Get What You’re Worth – Never ask for less than what you’re worth just to get a job. Never sell yourself short!

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Managing & Growing Your Business: Negotiating

Ask Plenty Of Questions – Get to know your potential client, what they want, what they do, and the outcome they expect. The greater your clarity, the better you’ll be able to deliver the results they want. 

Deliver Results, But Don’t Promise Them – Never promise a client a specific results. It’s impossible to guarantee a specific response or result. 

Get Half Now – Get at least half your fees upfront, and the other half upon delivery of the copy manuscript. Most reputable clients will have no problem with this.

Get It In Writing – Only perform work after you have a signed contract/proposal for the project. Don’t rely on verbal commitments.

Be Specific – Make it clear in the proposal what you agree to deliver – nothing more, nothing less.

Give Yourself Plenty Of Time – Ask for at least a week more than you need for each project. Something almost always gets in the way of a deadline. If you can deliver it before then, your client will think you’re amazing.

Always Explain The Value Associated With A Fee – Remember your skills as a copywriter when delivering your invoice. Make sure you’ve clearly defined the value the client has received for the fees you charge. 

Managing & Growing Your Business: Keeping Clients Happy

Keep Correspondences Short – Your clients are like everyone else, they don’t like wasting their time on emails that are full of a lot of unnecessary fluff. When communicating with your clients, don’t spend a lot of time on small talk – get to the point quickly.

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Under-Promise And Over-Deliver – Anything you can do to make your client feel as though you went way over what was expected will not only impress in their minds your true value to them, but likely create a sense in them to reciprocate by giving you more work.

Keep Your Complaining To Yourself – Most clients have no interest whatsoever in being a shoulder for you to cry on. If you’ve had a lousy day, you’re sick, or your refrigerator just quit, be sure to keep it to yourself. Instead, be as positive and upbeat with them as you possibly can.

Don’t Brag – You may be one of the top 3 greatest copywriters in the Midwest, and you may be personal friends with the other 2, but constantly bragging about what you know, and who you know, means very little to your client after they’ve hired you – you’ve convinced them already. After they hire you, all that matters are the results you achieve.

Be Respectful – Clients say and do some crazy things from time-to-time. Unless you sense that they’re trying to be funny, don’t laugh at their ideas, or belittle their efforts – they don’t like it!

Be Consistent – If you provide a client with great service, then miserable service, chances are, they’ll remember the miserable. To keep your clients happy, you need to consistently provide great service – they need to know they can rely on you every time.

Be Timely – If your client has a problem, and they email you or leave you a voicemail, then get back to them as soon as you possibly can. There are few things that are more frustrating to them than to have to wait on a response from you when they’re in a stressful state.

Remember To Say Thank You – After completing a project for a client, always be sure to send them a personal thank you. This does a lot to help create a trusting, favorable relationship.

Ask For Feedback – If you want to improve your client’s experience when working with you, there’s no better way of learning how to then to ask them for feedback and suggestions. Ask them directly for feedback, or send out a survey. 

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Send Them An Email – Occasionally sending a short, simple email to a client to see how they’re doing is a great way of reminding them you that you care, and that you exist, which may be just the trigger needed for them to consider hiring you for a project they have in front of them.

Give Them Something Valuable – Send clients a free ebook with valuable information (top 10 tips, trends, mistakes to avoid) or provide a link to a site that contains something they might find useful. Whatever you do, don’t make what you send them a promotional tool in disguise. Use Google Alerts to be notified whenever something relevant is posted online.

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Recognize Them Publicly – Thanking your clients publicly, such as on your Website, blog, or newsletter, allows you to express your appreciation for their business in a way that reflects positively on them someplace where everyone can see it.

Shoot For Quality Over Quantity – It’s better to service a small number of clients really well than it is to service a lot of clients so-so.

Always Deliver Quality – Everything your client receives from you should be of the highest quality – documents should be well-formatted, spell checked, and links should work. 

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