How to create winning copywriting samples

How to create winning copywriting samples

When starting out as a copywriter, getting enough copywriting samples together to make a portfolio can seem like a mammoth task.

It’s now that the jobhunter’s age-old dilemma comes into play: you need samples and experience to get the job, but you need the job before you get samples and experience!

But luckily, there are plenty of things you can do in order to get that all-important copywriting sample under your belt and start your journey towards working for yourself as a writer. In this blog post, we’ll share some of our top tips for acquiring copywriter samples and building out your portfolio until it looks tip top.

Work for free – at first

When you’re trying to build a business as a copywriter and earn your own way through self-employment, it may seem counter-intuitive to make the conscious decision to work without payment.

How to create winning copywriting samples

But sometimes it’s got to be done, and when done properly it can act as a great way to build your portfolio and pad out your offer to those with the cash available to pay high rates.

Often, leading websites will have so many applicants and writers that there simply isn’t enough money to pay them all. This means that when you appear offering to write a piece for free, you’re likely to be able to jump the queue and secure that all-important byline.

The key thing to do here is to keep your free work in check. You should only accept briefs with no payment very infrequently and with the express intention of getting a byline for your work and including it in your portfolio.

Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of working for nothing on a repeated basis: there should always be something in it for you!

Make the most of online tools

One great thing about being a copywriter in the digital age is that there is a wealth of tools out there designed to help you create excellent copywriting samples.

When it comes to writing for a client, it’s essential that you develop excellent spelling and grammar skills. Although the client’s main aim is always to get a conversion or raise awareness, it’s also vital that they look professional – and there are plenty of tools out there to assist with this.

For spelling, searching for words you’re not sure about in the Oxford English Dictionary is a good bet, while downloading extensions such as Grammarly can also help.

Once you’ve ensured that your copywriting sample is top notch in terms of spelling and grammar, you might also want to make sure that it follows a certain style guide. This is useful for ensuring that any specific usages you go for are used consistently: a common style guide followed by many copywriting agencies is that of The Guardian, so it may be a good idea to familiarise yourself with this.

Here at Copify, we also have a few content creation checklists designed to help you along as you write that killer copywriting sample.

With a little bit of planning and a lot of double checking, your copywriting sample is bound to look great!

Get studying

When it comes to copywriting, some people think that anyone can do it. “All you have to do is slap a few sentences on a page, intersperse a few keywords and then hope for the best,” they may say.How to create winning copywriting samples

But as any seasoned copywriter will tell you, that’s far from the truth. Copywriting is both a skill and an art requiring very specific abilities, and that’s why copywriting samples are so important.

For example, the average visitor only reads around 20% of a web page’s content – so you need to ensure your writing is as appealing and concise as possible to get your message across.

And as the team over at Kissmetrics have pointed out, big brands like Apple often use soundbites or nuggets of information in their sales copy rather than long-winded paragraphs.

As a copywriter, you need to demonstrate specific skills such as these, as well as excellent grammar, persuasive vocabulary choices plus a flair for business and commerce. And if you can’t prove these abilities through your copywriting samples, you’ll struggle to get hired.

That’s why taking a course in copywriting is a good idea. It will give you the skills you need to craft that killer copywriter sample when you start pitching to agencies and businesses, and it will also mean you’ll be able to put yourself inside the head of the client much more easily.

Keep the client’s priorities front and centre

When clients order a piece from a copywriter, they often have a clear set of aims in mind.

Some may simply want to get sign-ups on their mailing list, while others are hoping to target new customers to purchase their products.

SHow to create winning copywriting sampleso when you write your first copywriting sample, it’s a good idea to get a very clear idea of what your client needs. That way, you’re more likely to get positive feedback you can include alongside the clipping!

And when you present your sample either in your written or online portfolio, you should list alongside it what the client’s priority was. For example, if you were crafting an email marketing piece designed to get conversions, you should make this clear.

Create some conceptual work to show off your skills

If you’re finding it really difficult to secure either paid or unpaid copywriting samples, you could also consider drafting an experimental brief for yourself in order to show off your skills.

The beauty of this idea is that you don’t have to have an actual client in place in order to demonstrate what you can do. All you need is a bit of creativity.

Before beginning, you should be clear in your mind what your particular strengths as a writer are. That way, you can mould your conceptual brief around what you’re good at. Just remember to make it clear that the piece was written as an experiment and not directly for a client.

 

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Freelance writing opportunities for beginners

6 freelance writing opportunities for beginners

Becoming a full-time freelance writer is proving to be an increasingly popular career choice for people all around the globe and, at least from the outside, it can look like a pretty cosy job to have. But, in reality, many people fail to succeed or give up along the way because of the difficulty in finding freelance writing opportunities for beginners.

With so much competition for work, it can be difficult to make yourself stand out and to secure clients that are willing to pay you what you know yourself to be worth. Well, the good thing is that plenty of people do succeed and that there is an abundance of opportunities available for budding freelancers looking to gain greater independence and pursue their passions. To overcome those initial first steps and to get your career off to a strong start, here are 6 of the best ways to find freelance writing opportunities as a beginner.

1. Guest post

There’s a reason that guest posting appears first on this list and it’s certainly not because it will start paying your bills from the outset. In actual fact, guest posting is something that you should actively seek and be willing to do for free – even when you’ve ‘made it’ as a full-time writer.

Though it doesn’t bring in money straight away, it offers you the chance to hone your skills as a writer and to get your name and work out in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. In turn, being a popular guest writer gives you more things to add to your portfolio and allows you to reach more potential clients than you can in other ways.

2. Speak to friends and relatives

Freelance writing opportunities for beginners

Unless your inner circle of friends work for major publications, it’s unlikely they will land you the dream writing job you desire. However, you may be able to pick up some smaller pieces of work to keep you going. Also, by letting everyone know that you are looking for writing work, they can recommend you to their friends and anyone they feel might need your services.

At the start, try and be open-minded and take on even minor writing roles, such as freshening up someone’s CV or a covering letter for a job they are applying for.

3. Join a copywriting service

Many businesses want to find top quality copywriters but don’t have the time or patience to post endless job requirements or sift through resumes. In turn, they use popular copywriting services like Copify.

To join, you don’t necessarily need the greatest amount of experience, but you do need to pass some test articles to make sure your writing skills are to the right standard. If you do get accepted, you get the chance to write about a wide number of topics that excite you and give you a breadth of real-world copywriting experience.

4. Join job boards and freelance marketplaces

Freelance writing opportunities for beginners

Another popular route for businesses to find copywriters is by posting job listings on job boards or in freelance marketplaces.

In recent years these have become quite overcrowded and it can be hard to make yourself stand out. But, if you’re willing to work for low amounts to start and to then build up reviews, they may prove a great way to find opportunities that are available and find long-term clients.

Here are some places to get started:

Upwork
Freelancer
Guru
Blogging Pro
All Freelance Writing
Problogger
Student Gems

Note that many of these services aren’t free or may require you to pay a monthly subscription to apply to any more than just a few postings each month.

5. The freelancing community

To be successful from the outset, you need to become a part of the freelancing community. For starters, there is a wealth of information available helping you to become a better writer. Beyond that, it’s a great way to find new and intriguing ways to find jobs and to even have work referred to you.

Say, for example, you build great relations with a writer who is in the marketing industry who receives a request from a client to produce some work relating to health and fitness. If they really have no idea on the topic but know that you do, or if they are flooded with jobs, it is likely they could refer your services instead.

6. Cold pitching

Freelance writing opportunities for beginners

Of course, the ideal freelance writing opportunity for beginners is getting your own long-term clients on board. Finding clients that have a need for a writer is one of the hardest parts and that’s why many turn to jobs boards. But to really exploit all opportunities, you should start cold pitching potential clients.

Cold pitching is by no means easy and most people simply give up after sending out 1,000 emails to various businesses and not getting any feedback in return. The problem isn’t that businesses aren’t looking for writers, the problem lies in how writers choose to approach them. Here are some rules to follow:

  • Don’t send out a mass blanket email to as many email addresses as you can get your hands on. Instead, send emails only targeted to businesses that actually centre around your chosen topic.
  • Don’t send the same email to all of your chosen businesses. An email that has simply been copied and pasted is easy to spot and will rarely get a response; instead, make each email personalised in some way.
  • Don’t go straight in for the sell. In your first email, try to gauge their interest and highlight what you offer and why it could benefit them specifically.
  • Don’t pitch the wrong stuff. Make sure you scan their website to check out what kind of content they publish, see if they have writer guidelines and how they like submissions to be made. Many websites and publications also post calls for submissions on their blog and social media profiles so be sure to follow them – even if just to familiarise yourself with their content and tone of voice.

Cold pitching will take effort and will require you to be patient and not let the “no’s” get to you. However, have a strategy to make it easier. Decide how many and what publications you are going to target over a specific time period and with what ideas to make it easier to track. You’ll also know which ones to follow up on if you haven’t heard back.

Never underestimate the importance of planning and perseverance

As stated throughout this article, finding the ideal freelance writing opportunities for beginners is not an easy process nor is it something that can be achieved overnight. Instead, invest time into planning out a few strategic avenues, focus on achieving small goals and set yourself regular deadlines. Over time, you should start to see results, and if not, then employ more tactics and techniques, such as building one-to-one conversations with key influencers and developing a skill or knowledge in a niche area of copywriting, until you get the results you need.

 

Main image credit: Ritesh Nayak
Image credits: David Swiftwww.Pixel.la Free Stock PhotosAlena Vinokurova/Strelka Institute

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What are the best professional copywriting courses - Copify

What are the best professional copywriting courses?

Copywriting is a skill that can feature in many different industries and business sectors. Whether its SEO copywriting to build up a web page, advertising copy for a TV commercial, marketing materials for an event, or a press release for a new product launch, copy is key.

You could be here because you are already working in public relations, marketing, copywriting, or advertising roles, or because that is a career option you want to pursue, or you simply want to better understand your current role. Either way, the right professional training can build upon your skills, teach you about writing for different platforms, and how to create content that makes an impact.

Here are some suggestions for the best places to find professional copywriting courses, and get started on your training, whatever your current experience.

Adult education copywriting courses

Why not start right at the beginning and learn the fundamentals of copywriting to help you create web content, company sales literature, or explore new career options in advertising or marketing? Adult education courses can be a great start along this road, are held regularly at local colleges throughout the year, and can be an affordable introduction to the world of professional copywriting.

The best professional copywriting course

Courses, like this one at City Lit in London, are led by expert tutors that have a range of experience across journalism, advertising, or marketing. Delivering course content on the fundamentals of copywriting, showing examples of good and bad practice, a look at print and digital media, and writing headlines is all part and parcel of these introductory courses. You can also gain a good understanding of different types of copy, from newsletters, web pages, and long-form copy to digital advertising.

While this level of course does not typically focus on routes into the business, adult education colleges often have a range of business writing courses on offer, so you can move on from a beginner course and continue your professional development.

CIPR training

The Chartered Institute Of Public Relations is one the biggest organisations for PR professionals in Europe. This is an organisation dedicated to setting standards and best practice and they promote on-going professional development and training. These courses are ideal for anyone already working in PR who wants to improve their copywriting skills, particularly if they will be producing a variety of different content.

Their mastering the art of copywriting course is 2 days packed full of knowledge, with a practical exercise in between. Participation is key to get the most out of this course, as you learn the ‘7 stage copy technique’, different copy templates, how to write effective headlines, and reducing ‘waffle’ into succinct copy.

You’ll gain knowledge to write content for different platforms, such as marketing material and email newsletters, and if you wish to take this further, CIPR also runs subject-specific courses. These cover specific aspects of copywriting and communications in more depth and include ‘writing for online audiences’ and ‘writing better press releases’.

Alongside their training courses, there’s also a choice of 3 professional qualifications for those wanting to develop a career in PR which include aspects of copywriting. They are:

Foundation

Entry point to other CIPR courses, and ideal for those looking for entry-level PR jobs. The first section of this course covers practical content creation skills, for both audio and visual platforms, before moving on to the role of PR and a PR firm/employee. This is equivalent to an A-level standard course.

Professional PR Certificate

What are the best professional copywriting courses - Copify

This course is a more in-depth look at PR and is ideal for anyone looking for career progression. This course covers the fundamentals, from media relations skills and how social media impacts PR, to writing for different channels.

Content creation could include blogs, press releases, and mastering the art of writing a high-impact tweet. You’ll also pick up tips on how PR campaigns can be planned and how their success can be measured.

PR Diploma

A course for experienced PR professionals looking for a senior position that involves strategy and planning. Advanced level understanding of content management, PR concepts, media engagement and PR leadership are also included.

Entry requirements vary depending on the level of course you are taking, but each offers professional training across different aspects of PR, and a solid grounding in crafting content for different platforms. Some of these courses are run at accredited training centres, while others are based at several CIPR locations.

Chartered Institute Of Marketing courses

Principles Of Great Copywriting

A great interactive course that provides lots of opportunities to practice and gain confidence in your copywriting skills. Learn about how copy is altered for different target markets, traditional and digital media, writing headlines, and the challenges that you may face writing for different platforms. This course is aimed at those working in marketing and communications who are involved in copywriting, junior level copywriters, or graphic designers who want to gain a better understanding of copy.

Advanced Copywriting Skills

What are the best professional copywriting courses - Copify

A next step up from the principles of copywriting course, with content aimed at those already in a marketing and communications role, or who deal with agencies or in-house creatives.

This course covers marketing briefs and creative responses to them, how words and images work together, brainstorming advertising concepts and copy, how to sustain a brand message across different media, and how to explore tone of voice in your copy.

Deciding on a copywriting course

Distance learning offers a more flexible, often affordable way of improving your copywriting skills, but there are a few things you should look for before you book. These include:

Choose an accredited learning provider – To ensure you get the best quality tuition it’s important you look at the accreditation the learning provider has. Also, research who is leading the course and the experience they have, and whether you get a recognised diploma on completion. If the training provider issues qualifications then look to see if they are their own, or academically accredited and recognised. You can gain from both types of courses, and learn valuable skills, but accredited courses often have more standing in the professional marketplace, when you are looking for employment.

Find a course that matches your needs – Training can be a big investment so think about what you want to get from the course and how it will benefit you in the future. Do you want a general copywriting course that covers writing for different platforms, or would you rather go in-depth on a specific copywriting skill? Some courses will be quite practical and interactive, with assessments to test your knowledge, while others may be more theory led, and focus more on strategy than actual content creation.

Look at the detail in course descriptions – Can the course leaders back up their credentials? For example, The College of Media and Publishing has a list of organisations that have sent their staff on its course, which could help endorse the content before you buy.

Where to find the courses – Check out the business education sections in national newspapers for blogs and articles on copywriting training, visit job sites such as Reed.co.uk, which have course sections, or ask for recommendations through professional and networking sites. Although experiences can be subjective, and everyone has a different perspective, finding out which copywriting courses have provided value for money, and what specifically people have gained from them, can prove informative as you make your choice.

Sometimes there are two questions to answer when it comes to copywriting training: which are the best professional copywriting courses, and which are the best for you?

 

Main image credit: Zoe Zachary
Image credits: ThoroughlyReviewed, Studying, PerzonSEO

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How to write content for a website - Copify

How to write content for a website

When you’re building a website, it’s easy to spend so long trying to get the layout right that content becomes almost an afterthought. The idea of filling those long, empty pages can be daunting and off-putting. If you’ve never written website copy before it can be extremely difficult to know where to begin. Then there is the added pressure of knowing that as soon as you publish your content it will become instantly visible to the whole world, speaking for you and your business 24 hours a day.

It may be important, but it’s not impossible! If you’re stuck for how to write content for a website, you have come to the right place. We’ve written a guide for first-time content writers to put together the perfect copy for their website.

How to write content for a website: 5 steps

How to write content for a website - Copify

If this is your first time, make sure that you know what you want to achieve before you start typing. Planning your article point by point works for some people, breaking down the emptiness of the page first and then going back to fill in the detail after.

Alternatively, you could imagine yourself to be a freelancer, and write a brief as if you were instructing somebody else to do the work for you. Writing yourself a brief is a good idea when you are starting out – it will give you focus, direction and something to aim for.

However you choose to go about it, there are 5 key questions which you will need to be able to answer before you begin writing content for a website: who, what, where, when and why?

1. Who is your audience?

Always know who you are writing for. Have a target reader in mind and imagine that you are writing the article for them. Are they an expert or a novice? What age are they and what are their priorities when it comes to your company? What does your business mean to them and where will it fit into their life?

In the same way that you would tailor a sales pitch to each individual customer, it is important to write copy which is relevant to the type of person you are looking to engage with.

2. What would you like the content to achieve?

What is the call to action from the copy you are creating? If you want to make people call up and enquire about your services, make sure this is explicit in the text and ensure that your contact details are easily accessible on the page.

If you want to lay out detailed information about a product or a service, make sure that you convey everything you want your readers to know.

3. Where are you going to be posting it?

Is the content you are writing destined for a blog or is it going to form established landing pages of your website? Is it being published directly onto the company site, or via a third party?

If you are writing a blog article, then you will want something which is interesting, engaging and shareable. You can use images and links to external sources to keep the content alive. You’ll want short, easy-to-read sentences with less formal language.

If you are writing for the official company website, then you’ll need to make sure that your tone matches the ethos and culture of the company itself. The text will act as your spokesperson when somebody comes to enquire about your organisation, so make sure that it comes across the way you would expect your best employee or advocate to do.

4. When will it be posted, and how long will it stay there?

How often you are going to review your content will change the way in which you write it. How to write content for a website - CopifyWith blog posts, you can afford to write about specific events, holidays and times of year as these are usually posted with a clear publication date and are therefore seen as being snapshots in time.

Articles or pieces of content which are destined to form integral parts of the website need to refer to time more carefully. Avoid using phrases such as ‘we founded our company 12 years ago’ if you know that the content will not be refreshed regularly. Using specific dates instead, e.g. ‘we founded our company in 2017’, will make for content which is much more evergreen.

5. Why should people keep reading?

This one should be answered implicitly. Don’t actively tell readers why they should continue onto the next paragraph, but make sure each point you make is different and more interesting than the last. Withhold some of your information until the end and write as if you are gearing up for something. If you don’t give your readers a reason to keep reading, you’ll have to hope that you said everything you needed to in the first two sentences or the content will be serving for very little indeed.

Once you’ve started writing

If you’ve planned your content thoroughly, that blank page will suddenly look a lot less daunting. Once you get into the flow of writing, here are a few tips to help you stay on track and produce content which really hits the spot.

Read your content aloud

The best check for making sure that your content is natural-sounding and easy-to-read is by speaking the words aloud. Is this the way that you would speak to your target reader if they were sitting in front of you?

Reading aloud is also a great way to check that you are not overdoing it on the keywords. If you find that you are repeating yourself too often, maybe reign it back or use synonyms.

Play the agony aunt

Imagine that you really have the power to solve a problem for someone through your content. Offer solutions, advice and guidance so that readers can engage with the content you are putting out there. The content will only begin to work for you if you let it work for your readers, too.

Ask for help!

Content writing isn’t as easy as it looks! The easiest way to ensure that you end up with truly engaging and informative copy is by hiring a professional to undertake the task for you. Using a reputable and professional copywriting agency will take away all of the hassle and allow you to sit back and relax whilst someone else takes care of the content for you.

 

Main image credit: MadFishDigital
Image credits: Markus SpiskeDaniel Novta

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