Are you creative, have a passion for writing and have an excellent grasp of spelling and grammar? Then becoming a copywriter could be for you.
Copywriting is a flexible and potentially lucrative career that could enable you freedom and variation in your working life – you can choose your own hours, and you’ll often have the opportunity to work with a large number of brands from all sorts of industries.
But what does it take to become a writer? Well, while you don’t technically need any formal qualifications or experience to get started, you will need to put in a significant amount of effort to get your career off the ground and get those copywriting gigs regularly rolling in. Approximately 40 per cent of freelancers do not have regular clients, so the profession requires ongoing effort to keep the work steadily flowing.
To become a writer, everyone should go through these steps:
Step 1: Understand what copywriting is
It might seem obvious but, before you start out as a writer, learn what copywriting is and what prospective clients will be looking for. Copywriting is essentially knowing how to phrase sentences towards a particular audience and purpose, and what words and terms to use to position a product or company in the best possible light.
But it’s not just about knowing how to write…
In today’s world, where pretty much everything is published online, companies can find it increasingly difficult to stand out and to drive traffic to their website. Therefore, a large number of copywriting jobs are aimed at helping companies to appear prominently in search results. A big part of this is by creating content on their websites featuring specific keywords and phrases – something called search engine optimisation (SEO) copywriting. Understanding SEO is one of the most important aspects of copywriting for many online jobs and is one of the most crucial skills you should master.
Step 2: Practise your skill
Being a good writer comes easier to some people than others. First and foremost – although it sounds obvious – you need to get a near-on perfect grasp of the basics. There is no excuse or leeway for poor spelling, punctuation or grammar in the writing profession; we are paid to produce perfect copy, and all writers take great pride in being able to offer this universally needed skill.
If the basics come naturally to you, you are likely to already have the foundations needed to become a good writer. But you should always practise your skill on a regular basis in order to keep improving and generate ideas. There are a number of free tools on the market that are great for helping writers to practise their trade, including:
750 Words – A brain dump exercise that encourages you to write down your thoughts and analyses your writing skills and sentiment.
Daily Page – Encourages daily writing and reminds you every day you don’t write at least a few words.
Blog Topic Generator – Great for thinking of new topic ideas.
Hubspot Composer – A new writing tool that helps people turn their writing ideas and notes into blog posts.
Step 3: Learn how to write for different purposes
There are many different reasons people and businesses require writers. Just some types of copywriting include:
- Press releases
- Web pages
- Email newsletters
- Magazine articles
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- Advertising copy
- Marketing material
- Reports and whitepapers
- Research pieces
- Product descriptions
Each type of copy requires a completely different approach. First and foremost, the writer needs to understand the purpose of each piece, e.g. is the purpose to sell, to inform, to excite? Second, know the audience – is it internal staff, customers, investors, journalists? If customers, what is the democratic – young, older, professional, parents, students? Once you know your purpose and your audience, you can tailor your writing style accordingly.
Step 4: Develop a portfolio
You don’t need a fancy website to garner work as a copywriter – just a few of your best pieces that are easy to for people to view. Don’t just show the piece itself – show the results. Did your piece lead to increased sales? Was it highly commended? Did it get published in a newspaper or journal? Did it increase social media followings or traffic to a website? Read our blog post on how to create a portfolio.
Step 5: Promote yourself
These days, a large social media following puts you instantly in a more powerful position. But don’t just gain followers for the sake of it. Focus on building a targeted follower base – people that could potentially lead to more writing gigs, e.g. businesses, other writers and people within your industry.
Once you have a following, you essentially have a captive audience. Then, post information that is both useful to your followers and shows off your skills as a writer or knowledge of your industry.
Step 6: Develop a specialism
As a freelance writer, you are likely to be able to write about a wide variety of topics. But everyone has their niche, and establishing this early on can help you to gain credibility within a specific space, and can also enable you to build on the quality of the work you are completing.
Once you have a specialism, you will find it much easier to bag new gigs and complete your work with consistency, knowledge and flair.
So, there you have it. These are the basics to get you started. But there is always more you can do. Read books on writing, sign up for courses and read blogs from other freelancers to keep your knowledge up to date. Here are a few ideas for handy reading:
KopywritingKourse.com – Run by esteemed copywriter Neville Medhora, this is an in-depth guide to how to write compelling copy, while raking in the cash.
Grammarly.com – Blog posts on grammar, punctuation and spelling – as well as writing tips.
Grammar Girl – Tips from a professional writer on how to correctly use punctuation.
Main image credit: Bich Tran
Image credits: Pixabay, Pixabay, Tobias Dziuba