Looking to become a self-employed copywriter can be a daunting step, especially if you’ve always worked for someone in the past. Sure, being hired to work for different companies and projects has its upside – not having to answer to an unfair boss, variety means that things don’t get boring…
Things can all come crashing down quickly if you’re not prepared. The last thing you want to happen is that six months after you quit your previous job and ventured forth in your new role as a freelance copywriter, you haven’t had any clients and are still waiting for your first income.
So, how do you prepare to become a successful freelance copywriter?
You need to have an A.C.T.I.O.N. Plan.
A = Ability
You can believe that you have outstanding talent, but if other people don’t think that you’re a good writer, you won’t be able to make a living. ‘Ability’ is the first step in the A.C.T.I.O.N. plan for a very good reason – without ability, the rest of the plan becomes meaningless.
Potential clients generally expect to see some evidence of your writing ability. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have an extensive portfolio. When you pitch your services, showing that you know what you’re talking about is the most important thing.
C = Communication
You can’t view yourself as just a writer. You need to be able to develop your communication skills in the areas of marketing and promotion. After all, if potential clients don’t know you, they can’t hire you.
Write blogs and publish them on your website. Set up a Facebook business page and a profile on LinkedIn, adding links to your blogposts. Attend networking events, conferences and workshops. Always introduce yourself as a copywriter. Develop your elevator pitch and practice it whenever you can.
T = Traits
There are several character traits that are essential. The most important of these is resilience. There will be times when you have spent hours and hours writing ‘perfect’ copy, but the client doesn’t like what you’ve written. Rather than taking the criticism personally, listen to their concerns and find a solution.
Other traits include:
patience – sometimes freelance copywriting is a waiting game – waiting for work, waiting for a client to pay
confidence – project a belief in your own ability that will allow you to win business by making the client believe in you
inquisitiveness – always want to know more, to ensure quality – more about the client, the client’s products or services, the client’s industry, the client’s competitors…
I = Intelligence
A copywriter’s IQ can best be measured in how quickly they can successfully react to the everchanging world that copywriters live in. Client’s expectations change, social media changes, industry trends change.
Firstly, you need to be observant – you can’t afford to miss any changes that’ll have major ramifications on your business. Secondly, you need critical thinking skills. When you observe the changes, you need to re-evaluate quickly, decisively and effectively.
O = Organisation
You’ll need to develop some administration skills – to manage your projects and timeframes, maintain financial records and keep up with correspondence and phones messages.
It’s very, very easy for a copywriter to get so focused on the writing side of the business that the organisation side falls away – which can lead to disastrous results. The last thing you want to happen is to miss out on a high-paying client because you were too busy writing copy to answer an email.
N = Niche
Choose a niche. Trying to be a one-stop shop to potential clients and promoting yourself as being good at writing everything can backfire. Specialists have two advantages – they bring in more $$$ and they demand more respect.
So, it makes sense to focus on one or two types of copywriting, at least initially. But if you’re concerned about limiting your options too much, don’t worry. When clients see the quality of your work, they’ll learn to trust you and will often offer opportunities in other forms of copywriting.
If you’d like to read more about the art of copywriting, look out for more blogs in this series. Or if you’d like to share your thoughts, contact me at [email protected].