Starting out as a copywriter? Then you will want to know how to land your first copywriting gig, right? Well, here’s a great copywriting tip for you, don’t look to the freelance sites. In part one – copywriting gigs on your doorstep & don’t do free samples.

I’m sorry to say, a lot of freelance job sites demean the copywriting profession. Just take this recent job posting from Copify…

copywriting tip

Don’t over rely on freelance to boost your profile.

…That’s the equivalent of £1.00 for every 100 words. This is a post from the 28th January, 2015 giving a two day deadline to factor in research, compile the text, send the work for review and make amendments. Don’t get me wrong it can be done, but £15.00 for two days work, wow.

Why do these sites thrive? There’s always someone willing to do the job. At first, I was one of them, I was a sucker. I sold my soul to the freelance sites when actually; I could have earned more being on the dole.

What I find quite ironic about Copify is that they pay so little, but have a section on their website pointing you in the direction I’m going to take you.

TheHow to Become a Copywritersection on the Copify website actually tells you the best place to start, before portraying themselves as an on par option for finding copywriting work.

Here’s what they have to say: “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.”

Copywriting Tip – Do Start on Your Own Doorstep

I do agree with at least part of Copify’s mantra; start with independent businesses in your area. Write House is based in Wolverhampton and once I’d realised that there’s very little money to be made, and too much competition on freelance sites, I quickly turned my attention to independent businesses in every sector across Wolverhampton.

Rather than focusing all your efforts on writing bid proposals, only to see 400 people with more experience than you vying for a £25.00 job, focus your energy on the local community.

Copywriting tip for canvassing local businesses – I’ve developed a very unique method of approaching local businesses. Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  1. Check if the business your approaching has a website
  2. Does the website have a blog? If so, when was the last post made
  3. Get business cards printed. Use Vistaprint to get 500 free.
  4. Compose a sales letter. This is your opportunity to showcase your copywriting skills.
  5. Visit the business and hand your sales letter & business card to the owner, personally. First impressions count and it makes you memorable.
  6. Ask to try out their product or service and offer to write a free review.
  7. Discuss their website and blog content with them and tell them you can manage them if they don’t have time.

Independent businesses usually have a small number of staff and a small marketing budget. Therefore, time and cost are usually the deal breakers in terms of hiring a copywriter. On the one hand, they don’t have the time to blog or re-write website content, nor do they have the money to hire a copywriting service.

However, offering to write a short review on a product or service, for free, gives them a small degree of marketing and gives you a chance to get to know a product or service better.

You’ve committed to them by offering a sample of your writing and they’ve committed to you by giving you the opportunity. The key to landing the gig is building the relationship. Show that you can do a good job and they’re more likely to give you a shot at doing their website content or writing blogs on a monthly basis.

All of a sudden, you’ve got a regular monthly gig and the great thing about this formula is that you can use it on any industry sector. This approach has landed Write House gigs with an immigration law firm, a beauty salon, a website development company, a marketing company and even an award-winning manufacturing company.

Yes it takes hard work and perseverance and yes, you will face rejection, but the clients are there. At the end of the day, people buy from people. So, if you put yourself in the face of a business owner and show that you can care about their business through your copywriting, they will hire you.

Copywriting Tip – Don’t Do Free Samples  

Yes, I’m very aware I said give a free review of a product or service in the last section. However, that’s different; you’re also getting to use a product or service for free. Clients posting jobs on freelance sites are very savvy now and know they have freelancers over a barrel.

They know loads of people will be treading on their grandmothers to land a gig. Therefore, they will make writers jump through hoops, demanding a writing sample from every writer that applies, usually on a different topic. Before you know it, 100 writers have applied; they’ve got 100 articles and not paid a penny.

Guess what, you never hear from them again. In my early career, I was suckered into this game, spending two-three hours on a 1500 word sample, only to be shafted. Be mindful of using the word ‘free’ when pitching for a gig.

Another copywriting tip is to realise that your most valuable asset as a copywriter is your rate, stick to it. It’s your job as a copywriter to help a client understand the value of your writing.

I recently had this with a business who told me my copywriting rates were too high. So, I challenged the CEO. I said: “OK, if you haven’t increased your website leads and revenue by 20% after three months, I’ll slash 50% off the cost of the project. If you do increase them you have to pay double, but it will still be less than what you make as a result of increasing conversions.”

I am extremely confident in my ability as a writer, why? I’ve been doing it for over 11 years and have come to grips with what works and what doesn’t. Anyway, three months elapsed and I must admit this project exceeded my expectations. The business in question had seen leads soar by 57%, 42% of which led to sales.

The client happily paid double and said: “It doesn’t even make a dent in the profit we made.” The moral of the story is, if you know your rate is right for your copywriting ability, the copywriting tip is – don’t budge.

Look out for Copywriting Tip – Best Ways to Get a Copywriting Gig – Part Two