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How to Succeed in Copywriting

Updated on March 28, 2020
Michael-Duncan profile image

Michael has a degree in international marketing and is currently an affiliate marketer who also works for a global e-commerce company.

Success in Copywriting

So you are at a stage where you have identified the particular sector you would like to work in as a copywriter, be it in a regular sales/marketing field or in a technical field.

However, before you venture into seeking and accepting offers for copywriting jobs, you need to take time and carefully study the industry you have chosen to work in.

What are the requirements involved in this specific line of business? For example, are you sufficiently adept or conversant with computing to create professional technical write-ups required in the information technology field?

If not, then some level of technical training is required first, in order to fill in the gap in knowledge and skills. The same applies to public relations and marketing where those are required in sales.

The good news is that this learning process does not have to be a taxing or expensive affair at all, since there are numerous offline and online resources with which you can refine your skills in the field of effective professional copywriting.

It is also necessary to still keep up with the latest trends and changes in marketing and technology as well as opportunities to broaden your network and source more clients and opportunities.

The copywriting field is one in which the copywriter needs to continuously hone their skills and update themselves with the latest. It amounts to continuous improvement on one hand and continuous learning on the other.

Once you have your intellectual and emotional preparation in place, you are ready to build your network of clients.

Key Guidelines

As you may already be aware, in the freelance world, your portfolio is more useful than your resume. Your educational background, academic achievements and employment record focus on what has been attained in the past. It may not be true of your competence today.

Your portfolio on the other hand, is a demonstration of how you have applied your knowledge and skills to achieve practical objectives and meet desired ends.

Therefore, it does not make a difference whether one has stellar master degrees in communication. If the copy they produce is cheap, erroneous or of low quality, they will still get rejected and their career will go nowhere.

Once you have the intellectual and emotional preparation in place, you are ready to build your network of clients. The following are some useful guidelines:

  1. After gathering a database of contacts, set aside some time to communicate with each one on the list.
  2. Don't shrink back from engaging through cold calls or even sending out an enquiring email to a potential client
  3. Keep it simple, direct and straightforward. You do not need to drive a hard bargain at all.
  4. Introduce yourself and your freelance business briefly, and explain how you can use your skills and competence to meet their public relations requirements.
  5. Remember to respect their time and keep your introduction brief and straight to the point. Plus, avoid exaggerating your abilities.
  6. Get into the habit of chasing down as many freelance opportunities as you possibly can.

1. Reality and Creativity

Creativity is the ability to put forth fresh ideas, concepts, words, phrases, images and fuse them together innovatively for sales letters, press releases, brochures or homepages.

If you only learn the rules and formalities of copywriting and do not go beyond this phase acquire innovative ways of driving your message across to a target audience in a creative way, your impact in this space will be limited.

Your communication will create an impression in their minds that you are still in the foundational stages of learning and have not mastered what is required to serve their needs or resolve their problems.

However, you also do not want to be too creative, such that your communication becomes unreal and you miss the key elements that comprise a convincing delivery and elicits a response. It takes instinct and much practice to strike the balance between being creative and realistic in your copywriting.

Place yourself in the shoes of the client. Pay attention and listen to their true needs and goals without speculating based on your own experience and expectations.

2. Patience and Endurance

As with any other business, copywriting is not without its set of challenges and setbacks.

When things do not work out as per our expectations, it can really be tempting to pull in the plug and walk away or try something else that looks more promising or rewarding.

This is one thing that draws the line between a self-employed person who is willing to take on the risk of being an entrepreneur, and someone who does not have what it takes to walk that road. For the latter, the best advice is to find a day job as someone else's employee and settle to earn a fixed monthly salary.

A freelance copywriter needs to develop a thick skin and have the patience and perseverance to weather the storms.

3. Time Discipline

In order to succeed as a copywriter, deadlines for submitting projects must not only be met, the work submitted to meet those deadlines must be quality and excellent.

If you need a lot of time and must work through several drafts before finally coming up with a top-quality job, then this line of work may not be suited for you.

Bear in mind that there is a ceiling when it comes to clients' patience and they will not be willing to pay to wait around indefinitely for revisions to be completed.

There may be times when emergencies arise and the task must be set aside, or sudden unforeseen circumstances, which may prevent one from completing the work in good time.

However, the copywriter must bear in mind that dealing with clients is not the same as dealing with family, relatives, or friends. There is a limit to what clients can condone. It is therefore necessary to develop strong time management skills.

Create policies right from the start. These are the ground rules and boundaries. Challenge every assumption and set up responses that you will use to cover any foreseeable scenarios.

4. Attention to Detail

The copywriter needs to be meticulous in their proofreading. They need to double-check and confirm that all the facts and details, including numbers and names, are 100% correct.

What may appear to be an insignificant error can prove to be a barrier eventually, not necessarily because of the direct repercussions it has on the promotional effort, but because it communicates carelessness and lack of respect.

For more information on how best to organize your copywriting, check out the following articles:

5. Communication and Empathy

Place yourself in the shoes of the client. Pay attention and listen to their true needs and goals without speculating based on your own experience and expectations. If there is something you do not agree with, or sense could be done better, sit with them and talk through the differences in perception in order to bring about a cohesive agreement.

Before accepting a project, take time to carefully examine it and see if there is anything they expect which is at odds with how you personally think the work should be done. There should be proper communication that explains details and clears away any doubts.

When clients see that you are not simply taking everything at face value, but are going the extra mile to provide insights and even challenge the process to make it as effective as possible, they will develop respect for your opinions, even when those opinions differ with theirs. This has the effect of solidifying your reputation as a copywriter.

The converse of this occurs where the copywriter has a one-sided approach to the relationship and only seeks to please the client irrespective of the situation at hand. This is especially the case when the copywriter is new and is only just starting out on his or her journey in the industry.

Place yourself in the shoes of the client. Pay attention and listen to their true needs and goals without speculating based on your own experience and expectations.

6. Some Practical Steps

To avoid this problem, it is essential to create solid and viable policies right from the start. These are the ground rules and boundaries. Challenge every assumption and set up responses that you will use to cover any foreseeable scenarios.

This will help you prepare to deal in advance with situations where clients become unreasonable in what they demand.

If they make themselves the centre of all your time, have a superiority complex, or often insist that the work has to be redone, you will need to have the conflict management skills to negotiate matters effectively.

It is also helpful to have a trustworthy confidant with whom you can share this journey as well as your experiences, especially one more skilled than yourself. This is someone who can act as a mentor, provide a listening ear and guide you through the process of dealing with clients.

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