Every day, I fall down on my one good knee and thank God for the freelance copywriter job.
It is truly a great way to make money. In just a few years, I went from being a poor high school dropout to being a millionaire. It’s done the same for many other writers I can think of.
However, not everything an online guru tells you is always the truth. Right?
This is why these people are mostly selling something. They also write copy. There are times when they get a little too excited about selling their books, courses, and conferences, so let’s just say that.
There are a lot of big, fat lies being spread about this freelance copywriting thing online, so let’s take a look at three of them.
How to Become a Freelance Copywriter?
“If you can write a simple letter, you can become a great copywriter.” Nonsense. We don’t write. It turns out that many of the worst copy cubs I’ve ever worked with were English majors. The worst was an English teacher.
As a copywriter, your job is to persuade people to read your sales messages, agree with your point of view, believe that your products do what you say they do, and then buy them right away.
It doesn’t have to be complicated to be a good copywriter. All you have to do is write good copy, and only promote things people want.
To make a lot of money, you’ll need to go one step further: You’ll need to learn how to make people want something they don’t already want.
How do you learn these skills? There are a lot of things you can do to start: If you want to learn how to write, study sales. A sales job during the evening would be even better. Maybe at a used car lot. Insurance or vacuum cleaners could be sold door to door.
Learn how to deal with objections before they happen. Learn how to think about how your product helps people in both a practical and emotional way. Work on lowering the price and getting better at asking for the sale.
I know that it will help you become a better copywriter because I’ve seen it work for other people. Why? Because I’ve done it. In grade school, I sold greeting cards to people who came to my house. In my teens, I sold memberships to buying clubs by going door-to-door and telling people about them. Early on, I worked at a Chrysler dealership in Tulsa and at a video production company in LA.
It will make you a better copywriter than any book, course, or conference ever will.
So, learn how to sell. Because they were not good writers, the best copy cubs I’ve ever had were not very good writers. Some of them were terrible at grammar, spelling, and punctuation. But they were good at persuading and making people want to read their work.
As soon as you’ve learned these two important skills, you’re 99 percent of the way there. The rest can be taken care of by a proofreader.
It’s a lie: “Copywriting is the way to make money for the lazy.” Come again?
A lot of people these days try to sell copywriting courses and conferences by painting a picture of the copywriter as a gentleman or lady of the house.
It doesn’t matter who you work for, what hours you work, or what rules you follow. Get rich writing at home in your underwear or on the beach in your Speedos drinking a mai tai. You can start when you want, stop when you want, and take a day, week, or month off when you want.
It’s time for a reality check.
It takes years of hard work to become a great copywriter. First, you have to learn how to write good copy; then, you have to sell yourself to a client; and finally, you have to use what you’ve learned in the real world.
It’s also crazy that you can “be your own boss.” There will be more bosses than you can shake a stick at if you work as a freelance copywriter. Every one of them will want to get their hands on you.
As a starting point, every person at every company you’ll ever write for is desperate to get his or her hands on your work. This is because they want to read what you’ve written.
I don’t know who said this first:
Most of us don’t want air, water, food, or sex. We want to be alive.
It’s the desire of one person to change the copy of another person.
Office politics are the reason. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain if they mess with your copy.
If a hireling at a client’s company changes your copy and it does well, they can take the credit. A big promotion or raise, a corner office, a new job, a new car, and an uber-hot personal assistant could be right around the corner.
If they make a change and your copy doesn’t work out, they’ll pay for it. The copywriter is to blame because he or she is the one who wrote the text. See? They don’t have anything to lose!
As a copywriter, your job is to be polite to all of your bosses, but don’t let them mess up your sales copy or change its clarity of vision.
If you want to do that, you’ll need patience like Job, diplomacy like Kissinger, and you’ll have to kiss a lot of butt.
What you need to do if all else fails, is to be as hard-nosed and fierce as a pit bull on steroids in the defence of your vision.
As for that “work when and where you want,” there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, every month, a postal worker who isn’t happy shoves a bunch of envelopes called “bills” into your mailbox. These have due dates on them. Make sure each of them gets paid before that due date.
Whether or not you feel like it, you’re going to have to go to work for it.
As a second thing, every one of your clients is in love with “deadlines.” A deadline is a date that they give you on or before which you have to finish your copy. As soon as they don’t get what they ordered, it messes up their promotional plans for the whole year.
You won’t get many new jobs if you don’t meet deadlines and then say you were having fun with your “copywriter’s prerogative” to work when and where you want.
To write good copy, you need to be a floor trader or an air traffic controller with a lot of energy and a lot of work ethic.
There are a lot of things you can do, but I can’t.
Gary Bencivenga sent me an email at 4:30 in the morning a few months ago, and I answered right away.
“Isn’t it interesting that two of the best copywriters in the world are already at their desks at this time?” The Great Gary said.
Interesting, to be sure. Surprising? You can do that.
#3: “You’ll start making money right away.” Maybe, but most likely not.
The only way you make money as a copywriter is when you help other people make money, right?
People who hire or copy your work are going to spend a lot of money when you start.
Sorry, but let’s be honest: To hire a new person, there are only three reasons:
He doesn’t know what makes good copy.
Second, he doesn’t want to pay what a copywriter with a real track record would charge him.
Three) If the client is a copywriting expert himself, he may see some promise in you and hope that the hundreds of excruciatingly painful hours he or she will spend reading, critiquing, and editing your copy will pay off in the long run.
Your work in this process isn’t worth six figures a year, and it’s not worth seven either.
It doesn’t work that way: If the world were a fair place, you’d be paying for the education you’re getting right now.
Think about this for a while… Then decide what you think.
For years, Gary Bencivenga worked as a junior copywriter for David Ogilvy and then Dan Rosenthal.
As a new copywriter for The Franklin Mint, Arthur Johnson made very little money at first. He now makes much more money than he did at the start of his career.
As in-house copywriters at marketing or advertising agencies for a long time, Jim Rutz and Kent Komae and Brad Peterson and David Deutsch all worked as freelance copywriters for a long time.
In the beginning, Carline Anglade-Cole worked as a marketing director at Phillips Publishing. She wrote sales copy for the company before going out on her own.
There’s no doubt about it: I worked as an in-house copywriter at a Los Angeles agency for years before I started my own business.
The best thing to do if you can’t find a senior freelance writer to be copy chief is to get a job.
I’m telling the truth. In the direct response field, there are a lot of companies and agencies looking for good staff writers. You might have to move. You might even have to take a short-term pay cut.
>> You’ll be writing and marketing all day, every day.
>> You’ll have your copy checked out by people who know what they’re doing and can teach you a lot.
Then you’ll have a lot of real-life promotions that will help you find freelance clients later on and…
In this job, you’ll learn a skill that could be worth a lot of money to you for the rest of your life.
To get a job at a direct-response company or agency, I’d do all of the above, and I’d start applying at every direct-response company and agency I could think of.
Do what it takes. It’s worth the money!
A ray of sunshine today?
If I rained on your parade, I’m sorry. But the truth is that becoming a copywriter is not a way to make money quickly.
If you decide to become a copywriter, it could be the best thing you ever did.
In 1974, I was broke, out of work, and married with two kids. I got a job at an agency and for five years, I earned enough money to live on.
First month on my own, I made more money than I did in a year at the company.
There were two or three years later when I was making more than $250,000 a year, as well as getting royalties from books.
When I was 15 years old, I was making a million dollars a year.
Other people have done it faster. As I’ve said before, Carline Anglade-Cole made six figures her first year as a freelance copywriter. She now makes about $800,000 a year as a copywriter.
So, no matter what you do, don’t be discouraged. Keep in mind how far you’ve come, and all the things you learned about a year ago.
Make a promise to do what it takes in the short term to get the long-term benefits. Stay with it. Make more of an effort. Refuse to accept anything but a good grade.
You can trust me on this:
Once you get paid six figures for two weeks of work, you’ll be glad you stuck with it.