They will be very vague when it comes to giving you mission direction, they will expect you to have all the answers and to then carry out inumerable re-writes FOC until the concept they never gave you is realised, and you will be expected to come up with crisp clean prose which shows off the clients product or service in as positive a light as possible, and all for a dollar a time.
I'm serious. If you are looking at elance or similar markets as a source of your copywriting income you need to spend some time reading there before throwing yourself into the arena and fighting the lions.
The sad fact is the copywriter isn't really recognised in the UK as it is in America and beyond even though there are countless web designers out there who all hit the same wall when it comes time to populate their latest project.
The Copywriter So with all that said, why even bother to become a copywriter in the first place? Thats easy. Because its a great job and no two days are the same.
Last week I was assigned to complete articles with varying word counts, on Aquaponics (5), Vehicle Reversing Systems (1 - thank god) and Self Sorage (10).
This week I am a fully fledged aquaponics expert and I know a bit about storage too.
One of the real assets a copywriter has is a thirst for new knowledge as well as an ability to soak it up like a sponge, ready to spill it all out again when you need to give this knowledge a little squeeze on behalf of a client.
Don't get me wrong there's only so much fun stuff in reversing beepers and flashing lights, but that was one job, and the next one? Well who knows it could be on absolutely any topic. Which is the real beauty of copywriting for a living.
So how do you find that elusive first customer? Thats the easy bit. Go and see them.
Vistaprint offer a service online with which you can get business cards, brochures, letterheads everything in fact the determined copywriter could wish for. And although the cards are not brilliant, they do pass muster so for 30 or 40 quid you could arm yourself ready to hit the street and knock on some doors.
Prepare your material well in advance. Material to have to hand as well as samples? Use search stats, news articles, other online stuff which shows the move over to online searches is gathering pace and if they ain't involved..? Well you get the picture.
Write a blog for yourself and cover all the steps you are taking in your marketing. Need a blog? Or web hosting? Drop me a line.
Use the blog to show off your work to the very best of your ability. Mention the people you have spoken to. Sometimes its the only backlink that website will see. And the person who is in charge of that website will know about it by way of their tracking software.
Target locally. For the reasons above. Its way easier to go have a coffee with someone three miles away then it is to do the same thing with someone at the other end of the country.
Be available. I cant stress the importance of this one enough. Punters want to get hold of you now, not in an hour/day/week. When people have a spark of an idea and call you thats the time to speak to them as they are defenceless to your powers of persuasion as you describe in minute detail how you can realise their idea for them.
Most important of all, be positive.
"Can you give me 5x 500 words on astro physics?" asks the client.
"Yes I can" says me, even though I don't yet know what astro physics is.
In the coming months and years the 'art' of the copywriter will become recognised for what it is. Its a real kraft, which only precious few people can do for any period of time.
The good news is in the UK at least those nice people in the government will give you some money in the early years to help you get started so take advantage of everything you can get. Because if you tough it out now, the days are only going to get sunnier as the web based copywriter finally comes of age in the UK.
Other copywriting 'gigs'?
Beyond a simple 'About Us' page people are at a loss generally when it comes to verbage. Especially if its meant to sell a product or service. So populating websites on behalf of other people is a good market to target.
Guest Blog Poster
The jury is in on the advantages of having a regular blog posted to a website. The fact is google loves nothing more than lots of fresh 'on topic' content which is written by humans for humans. The data is out there if you take the time to find it. Reproduce that data in your marketing literature and tell other people about it as well. Its a deal closer.
Press Releases There are plenty of websites out there on which its easy and straightforward enough to get a press release published on the giant Google News machine. Just don't tell anyone else!?
Its an easy 25 to 50 quid in your pocket just for getting a news article syndicated for someone using your industry 'contacts' so add it to your tarif menu.
Copywriting is a little like facebook. We don't really know what the next big thing is because it hasn't happened yet.
Which makes it a really exciting industry to be in.
But a get rich quick scheme, its not.
You have been warned.