So, you’ve been honing up on your copywriting skills. You’ve written some practise letters for made-up companies. You’ve read the works of Dan Kennedy, David Ogilvy and Joe Sugarman. You’ve spent months posting on writing forums. You’re now ready to start looking for jobs. The question is, how?
Well, I’ve never been a huge fan of step-by-step formulas. I find they tend to oversimplify processes that should unfold organically. But because it would be impossible to list ALL the conceivable ways to find jobs right here on my blog, I’m going to outline a simple process that (I think) would land a budding copywriter some well paying gigs quickly (providing the requisite skills are in place, of course).
1. Put Together A Portfolio.
Since this article assumes you’re starting out with zero experience, your portfolio will of course initially consist of made-up pieces, or pieces you wrote for companies that never actually hired you to write anything for them. It’s not really so important that your portfolio be backed up by references, as that the quality of the work has to be good. So, put a lot of effort into assembling a portfolio, then publish your portfolio online. The website “Writer’s Residence” offers a simple portfolio template you can upload to a web server pretty easily:
2. Write A Solid Resume.
Resumes aren’t ALWAYS necessary when pitching clients, but they often help, and they never hurt. Check out jobsearch.about.com for some excellent tips on how to write a good resume. Remember to mention any writing experience you have, even if it’s just a student newspaper. Any little bit of experience helps.
3. Contact Advertising Agencies First.
I recommend that you start pitching by contacting any advertising agencies in your city, because these places are used to hiring freelance writers and won’t be surpirsed at all at your inquiry. You’re more likely to get a response from these people than from corporate communications departments, so you’ll have better experiences pitching them, which will help build confidence. Approach with a thoughtful cover letter stating your intention (to find freelance writing experience), and include your resume along with a few samples. Try not to be too formal in your approach, because agencies tend to have a fairly “lose” and creative type of atmosphere about them, which they will expect their writers to be able to relate to.
4. Create A Profile On Relevant Freelancing Sites.
The topic of freelancing sites is somewhat controversial among writers. On the one hand, there are writers who praise the readily-available work, fast payments, and guaranteed earnings. On the other hand, you have writers who lament the tendency of freelance sites to drive down wages. I’ll say right from the get go that I get at least 50% of my own work from freelancing sites, and I find them to be an invaluable resource for getting work fast. I also think that most of the claims about “low pay” are overblown; generally speaking, the clients on freelance sites who expect ridiculously low rates from their freelancers are really just looking for SEO fodder, not real content. Most of them also aren’t real businesses, just “weekend warrior” entrepreneurs who read The 4 Hour Workweek. In my experience, most “serious” clients pay rates commensurate with what agencies pay.
So, needless to say, I think it’s worth your while to sign up for Elance and Odesk (the two major freelance sites), upload a few samples, and start applying to jobs. I don’t expect you to make your entire income on these sites, but I do think you should at least keep your eye open for job openings that meet your needs.
5. Create A Website (Ideally A Blog), Publish Articles Regularly
I already sort of touched on this in the “portfolio” section, but I feel it deserves a second mention because there is much more to a good freelance writer’s website than just a portfolio. What you really want is a blog, full of articles that not only show off your writing chops, but also give readers an indication as to your thoughts on subjects like advertising, marketing, etc. This will show clients that you are not only a good writer, but also actively engaged in the world of marketing. Plus, once you get enough articles published, you’ll start getting found in Google, which may lead to you getting some nice leads!
6. Post On Messageboards Relevant To Topics Of Interest To You; Include A Link To Your Website.
Finally, I want to include one last tip that has been INCREDIBLY helpful to me. There are lots of freelance writing boards out there populated with freelance writers sharing tips and tricks on how to land jobs, while also sometimes sharing some nice juicy job leads. Post a link to your website in your signature file and you’re sure to land some jobs. Here are some links to these sites.
The Warrior Forum Copywriting Forum: An internet marketing forum with dozens of copywriters and HUNDREDS of potential clients. Very quick and easy source of jobs.
Absolute Write: A freelance writer’s forum, mostly dedicated to fiction writing but with some copywriting work going around as well.
Work At Home Moms: You don’t need to be a mom to post on this excellent freelance messageboard. Freelance writing jobs a-plenty can be found here!
Writer’s Weekly: Another great freelance writing board.