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Start and Run a Copywriting Business: a Review

Updated on August 3, 2009

Start & Run a Copywriting Business 2nd edition, by Steve Slaunwhite, published by Self-Counsel Press is an excellent introduction to the commercial copywriting business. It is well written, accessible, practical, and concise. It is largely for freelance copywriters but would be a good introduction to the business for the agency writer as well. This should be one of the first books aspiring freelance copywriters should read and keep.

Getting Started

The initial chapters, naturally, are all about getting started in the business. Slauwhite defines what copywriting is and how it differs from other forms of writing. He is upbeat about the demand for good copywriters and the potential for such writers.

He also asks the kinds of questions of the reader that a good job counselor would ask, helping the reader determine if the profession is right for you. He goes into the pros and cons of the business, what is good about it and what is not so good about it, including items like demand for services, the sometimes lack of recognition, the problems and benefits of working from home as well as important items like the lack of a regular paycheck and more mundane issues like the potential for not getting much exercise. He also discusses the very important topic of samples and building a portfolio.

One nice feature throughout the book are a series of checklists, samples, and worksheets. These help the reader to visualize the reality of the business.

Selling Yourself

Of course in any profession or job, you have to have business to earn a living. Slaunwhite's next series of chapters are about just that – how to get business and clients. He helps the reader discover where the markets are for copywriting services, how to get clients in those markets, how to prospect, as well as what sales methods to use. He goes into the importance indirect marketing methods like referrals, a fulfillment package and its use online, along with ways to stay in touch with past clients and working to keep your services in front of them for when they have another need.

A very important topic is the art of quoting, and the author delves into it adequately for the purposes of this particular title.

How to Write

Slaunwhite continues with a short series of chapters on actual writing. How do you approach any project with headlines, addressing the competition, talking benefits, offering proof, reducing buyer risk, making buying decisions easy, and the call to action.

He goes into very specific advice on particular copywriting projects from websites to long copy letters to marketing collateral. He also discusses writing for media.

He has a full chapter on the general steps that you should take to complete a project. He details product sheets and submissions forms. He then offers general advice on running the business from when and how to work to staying organized to invoicing and even to collecting past due accounts.


He then finishes the book with an examination of the some of the problems you might encounter as a freelance copywriter and some worthy advice from old pros in the business like Bob Bly.

CD Rom

One of the nicest features of the book package is a CD Rom with a group of both checklists and worksheets to help you make decisions about copywriting and to help you manage your business and stay organized.


While not for the advanced commercial copywriter, Steve Slaunwhite's book is a worthy introduction to the topic and a welcome addition to the first-year writer's reference library. It is worth the purchase price.


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