As you may know, I’ve suggested that you call yourself a “marketing copywriter”, because the term “copywriting” is being thrown around lavishly and applied to any text, rather than sales writing alone. That said, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been contacted by several writers who want to get into copywriting.
The most common question is: how long does it take to build a copywriting business?
As I said in this article:
Although it took me years, it won’t take you nearly as long to set up your business. I started writing copy way before the Web; communications was via phone, fax and postal mail. Those of my students who have marketing and writing experience have set up their business and have money coming in within a month.
You want to build a marketing copywriting business…
Copywriting is selling. I shared my PFA formula in this article:
Here’s the simplest copywriting formula ever, PFA. Once you learn it, you can manage any copywriting task:
Oddly enough that same PFA formula works to get business.
You find prospective clients who have a problem, you let them know you can fix it, and then you ask for their business.
So, who do you know who wants to sell something? Local organizations are often happy hunting grounds for new copywriters. Go to your local library, and ask whether they have a book, or a database, of local organizations. Depending on where you live, there will be just a few organizations, or dozens of them.
Sit down, and either pick up the phone and call people, or send email messages. The more people you contact, the better.
Should you work for free when you’re launching your business?
I have a simple rule: if it’s free, it’s for me. In other words the only free writing I do is promotional writing for my own business. I belong to several organizations however, and I occasionally do pro bono promotional material for them.
A tip: never, ever, EVER write for free on spec.
Here’s what I mean by that. Someone has contacted you, and the person wants you to do some work on spec, or as a “trial”. Delete those communications. Or you’ve seen an ad somewhere, and the poster says he’s giving copywriters a test, or a trial, or similar. If you spot such an ad, click away immediately.
That said, when you’re just starting out, you can OFFER to do something gratis. Or you can just do it, letting virtue be its own reward… Well, virtue, and a writing sample for your portfolio.
For example, let’s say you’ve spotted an advertisement in a magazine, and it’s a horrid ad. Rewrite the copy. You can send your version of the copy along to the company which is promoting the product if you wish. Or just keep both versions — the published one, and your version — in your portfolio, to act as a sample of what you can do with a piece of copy.
So, in summary; it can take you very little time to start getting copywriting clients, and making money. When I’ve discussed this with other copywriters, or with my students, it can take a month before you start working regularly with clients. Have fun!
I adore copywriting, it’s a fascinating career, and each and every client is different.
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