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How to get started as a copywriter with zero experience?

Discussion in 'Copywriting' started by markinternet, May 27, 2015.

  1. #1
    Hi

    Can you share your experience on how you started as a copywriter and how you got your first client.
    SEMrush
    Thanks

    Mark
     
    markinternet, May 27, 2015 IP
    SEMrush
  2. SCookAAM

    SCookAAM Active Member

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    #2
    Well, there is a process. The best way to start - to start almost immediately earning money, is to make use of the freelance sites, such as upwork (formerly ODesk).

    But you need to start there with samples in your portfolio. You can use website copy you've written, blogs, articles, etc. if you haven't done any writing at all - then I'd suggest writeing and publishing some articles on ezinearticles and other sites. Find someone you know with a website and offer to re-write their content for them.

    The point is that when you go onto the job sites, you have 3 or 4 ready items in your portfolio. Then go after the lower-end of the scale, acquiring jobs and working your way up the pay ladder.

    I can give you much more detailed advice... but I don't want to blatantly self-promote.
     
    SCookAAM, May 30, 2015 IP
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  3. ADNattan

    ADNattan Active Member

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    #3
    I started using the traditional method. As a university graduate, I managed to get a position as a Junior Copywriter with a marketing company. I spent 12 months there before joining an SEO company as their SEO copywriter, before becoming their communications manager. As you can imagine, that gave me a hell of a grounding in the field and a decent portfolio.

    On the side, I built my reputation with a copywriting blog (I had it page one for "copywriting blog" for a few years) and got a couple of clients off the back of that. As of March this year, I set up my own website, and thanks to AdWords, some early SEO successes (hovering between positions 8 and 13 for "Digital Copywriter") and networking on forums, I've got a nice little conveyor belt of clients.

    As of this month, I'm working for myself, and I'm planning a bit of direct marketing to attract local clients.

    I know the initial career path isn't really repeatable unless you're at that stage of your career, but everything I've done since is. Build up a presence, learn how to market yourself, and build steadily over time.
     
    ADNattan, May 31, 2015 IP
  4. markinternet

    markinternet Member

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    #4
    Thanks for both your comments I found it very useful indeed. I shall get to work immediately and build up a portfolio of work one by one. Thanks again.
     
    markinternet, Jun 10, 2015 IP
  5. Vincentas

    Vincentas Member

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    #5
    Well you firstly need to get notices somehow, right? As for the beggining I would suggest you two options:

    1) Start your blog so that you would have some material to show which would define on how good you are.
    2) Try guest blogging - this will give you an opportunity to post your texts in some well know websites that accepts guest blogs. You employer will be surprised to see you writing in those websites.
     
    Vincentas, Jun 15, 2015 IP
  6. KylieSweet

    KylieSweet Active Member

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    #6
    I'm not a professional writer but i can write through my own signature and its just relying on other trusted sources, getting ideas, forming opinions, and most of all how can you create more interesting and engaging from the original content without duplicating it.
     
    KylieSweet, Jun 17, 2015 IP
  7. prasun27

    prasun27 Member

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    #7
    If you have the zeal to work then there are plethora of opportunities.
     
    prasun27, Jun 18, 2015 IP
  8. Katherine Huether

    Katherine Huether Greenhorn

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    #8
    I would jump in and start bidding on jobs right away, even if you don't have samples to show anyone. It can take a long time to get your first gig, and a lot of that has to do with how you phrase your proposal.

    Set a goal to do a certain number of bids per day. I set my personal goal at 5 bids a day and it took me over a month to finally get my first job. While you spend time bidding, you can begin building your portfolio. I learned a long time ago that you don't need to make it complicated. Start a hubpages account and write ten articles and use your profile as your portfolio.

    Whenever I would apply for a job, I write some articles related to the topic in case the buyer clicks on your link. This is essentially how I built up my portfolio over time. I would create my sample pieces as I went along in order to show the client. Back when I got started, print copywriting was still pretty common (it was 2002) and I would sit and rewrite adds, direct mail, etc that came in my junk mail. I would show them to clients during in person meetings! For you, I would think about the type of writing you want to do and create sample pieces based on that.
     
    Katherine Huether, Jun 23, 2015 IP
  9. wheelstb

    wheelstb Member

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    #9
    I'm in the same boat as the original poster. Does anyone have advice on submitting proposals?

    I imagine they need to be concise while solving the client's problems.
     
    wheelstb, Jun 25, 2015 IP
  10. rahil4u

    rahil4u Member

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    #10
    I also started with zero experience. It was in August 2009 when I came across Freelancer.com, formerly known as GetAFreelancer.com (GAF). After bidding on several projects, I managed to win one. I was paid $0.50 per 300 words rewrite.

    Too low i must say, but i was determined. I knew I needed good feedback from my employers to prove to others what I can do.. After completing few projects at this rate, I started getting better offers. From $0.50 per 300 words, i managed to get $1 and then $2 and now I am finally able to make $3 per 300 words.
     
    rahil4u, Jun 25, 2015 IP
  11. ADNattan

    ADNattan Active Member

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    #11
    A penny per word. Living the dream.

    This forum is so depressing it's untrue.
     
    ADNattan, Jun 26, 2015 IP
  12. cwvps1

    cwvps1 Greenhorn

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    #12
    An absolute must for any copywriter is having your own website. This should be professional, specific to your copywriting work, and not linked to your personal web presence in any way. You should also have completely separate social media for your professional work (and make sure your personal accounts are completely private if there's anything on there you wouldn't want a potential employer to see). LinkedIn and Facebook profiles are always professionally useful, and you can use any social media to link back to your website. You could start by looking for small local businesses in your area, price your services competitively, perhaps even offering a page or two for free. Deliver your work on time and to a great standard. View every new acquaintance as a potential contact; you never know where you might find an opportunity. On the internet, market your own website to find leads and also take advantage of crowdsourcing sites such as Copify, which can help you to earn a steady income and gain experience.
     
    cwvps1, Jul 15, 2015 IP
  13. PatrickReeves

    PatrickReeves Member

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    #13
    I used to play online poker for a living and met some affiliates. After online poker was shut down in the USA, I began creating training videos and content for a few casino affiliates. I had never before wrote or done anything like it. I found that I enjoyed it and began searching for other jobs.

    My GF at the time was getting accounting jobs off oDesk and pointed me there. I started writing for insanely low money just to get established. I made my way up to $.01 a word after a month or so and started getting more and more jobs by word of mouth.

    Mind you I was new to writing and thought that getting $5 for a 500 word article that didnt take long to complete was awesome. I soon found that I was way underpaid and had my first offer of a "real" paying gig about a year into my venture. I was getting $25 for a 500 word article. Once I got a taste of decent money for an article, I looked for more.

    Ive been lucky that I havent had to search for work all that often. Most of it came through word of mouth. I dont have a website as I usually have more work than I can handle.

    If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now. I would definitely create a site, more to show my resume and possibly get more work that I could outsource to fellow poker players and writers. I would have also not worked for such a low amount from the beginning.
    But we all have to start somewhere.

    Perhaps the most important thing I learned was that a site owner needs me just as much as I need them. I was a bit desperate at times for work, fearing I was always charging too much. My first experiences in writing were off oDesk where people write for almost nothing at times. Trying to compete with someone who will work for $1 an article is basically impossible.

    But, instead of allowing my work to speak for itself and wait for the right client who understood that you get what you paid for, I would lower my rates just to get work. I was basically begging for someone to hire me for cheap.

    I've changed the way I look for work due to this. I make it so the client feels like they need me and that my rates, while still fairly low, are well worth the price. I interview them when looking for work. I let them know that I want to make sure we would be a good fit for each other. This makes them feel like I may not take on their work. And once they see a sample, they know I am good enough to do what they need.

    I take my approach based on the old Playboy Clubs of the 60's. They were an exclusive club that picked and chose who could enter. This gave it an allure to men that they had to get in. They had people lining up to pay absurd amounts of money just to go to a bar. Not because it was amazing, but because it was exclusive. Being accepted meant much more to them than the actual experience.

    When you sell yourself as being "exclusive" and hard to get, most clients want you more regardless of the price.
     
    PatrickReeves, Aug 5, 2015 IP
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  14. jessegilbert

    jessegilbert Peon

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    #14
    It's tough. I would probably spend a few weeks creating swipe files and then use software like http://jessegilbert.com/brainstormpro/
    to help you develop original concepts. A lot of copy-writing depends on the product...so either find a product you really believe in or create one on your own.
     
    jessegilbert, Aug 9, 2015 IP
  15. ChazB

    ChazB Member

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    #15
    There's some great advice on this thread which I won't tread over again (hard work, build a portfolio, etc...)

    Speaking from experience, if you're having trouble getting your foot in the door because of the old Catch-22 - you need experience to get the job but the job to get experience - then you could try what I did. Straight out of University I knew I could write well enough to do it for a living (essays at Uni should give most people this skill...) so I began calling every media and marketing company in my area and asked if they were looking for copywriters/office juniors. Most office junior roles will involve some writing so it's a good avenue to try.

    After about a week of this, I happened to ring a company just at the right time (their current writer had just quit). I know this is involves a huge chunk of luck but it is still worth making the calls and letting companies know you're available should they suddenly need you. Sending a CV is good, but a phone call is far more personal.
     
    ChazB, Aug 19, 2015 IP
  16. WritingConsultation

    WritingConsultation Active Member

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    #16
    Persistence and consistence. Something that I learned from my early days.
     
    WritingConsultation, Aug 26, 2015 IP
  17. PatrickReeves

    PatrickReeves Member

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    #17
    This is a good tip. Source every outlet possible. Think outside the box and don't be afraid of someone "No".

    I was picking up my Chinese food the other day and while waiting I decided to ask the owner if they needed a website or a new one. Turned out they did and got a new client.
     
    PatrickReeves, Aug 26, 2015 IP
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  18. Splash Copywriters

    Splash Copywriters Peon

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    #18
    Firstly, it depends on whether you're qualified academically. You don't have to be, but if you're not, then you're going to have to get more creative with how you get started.

    Write loads. Read loads. Try to carve out a niche for yourself and then a good plan to ask people/businesses if you can write for free. Like guest blogging.
     
    Splash Copywriters, Sep 1, 2015 IP
  19. Daniel Donovan

    Daniel Donovan Peon

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    #19
    Is there an online service available to create a portfolio, or would you just create a simple website to showcase examples of your work?
     
    Daniel Donovan, Nov 15, 2015 IP
  20. salahuddinripon

    salahuddinripon Greenhorn

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    #20
    This Slide You Provide with tips & ideas related to each of the qualities that a successfully Unique ARTICLE writing must have.
     
    salahuddinripon, Dec 12, 2015 IP