If you’re a writer looking to chuck your full-time j-o-b so you can pursue your passion full time, becoming a professional copywriter may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
(Or, maybe you’ve already dumped the day job, but you’re not quite as busy as you’d like. Or, maybe you’re looking for ways to improve your writing before you ditch your 9-5. This article is for you, too.)
Copywriting, also known as business or promotional writing, can do more than put a few extra bucks in your wallet—it can also help you develop as a writer.
Here are ten reasons why you might consider becoming a copywriter:
1. Copywriting pays well.
Actually, it can pay very well. (Like six-figures-a-year well.)
As a copywriter, you can charge by the hour rather than by word or page. Beginning copywriters usually start at $25 or $30 an hour, but if they’re good (or good at asking for what they’re worth—a rare trait in writers, but one definitely worth developing), they can quickly move to $45 to $75 an hour. Senior copywriters charge well over $100 an hour.
Now, you probably won’t start at $100 an hour, but even a few small jobs at $30 an hour can really boost your bottom line.
2. Copywriting provides payment before you even begin working.
Yes, you read that right. You can actually ask for a deposit before you start writing. (What other kind of writing allows you to do that?) Moreover, your clients will EXPECT this ask.
Deposits range from one-third to one-half of your estimated fee. You can also arrange it in a way that provides payment throughout the process—i.e. one-third in the beginning, one-third with the first draft, and one-third when you deliver the final product.
3. Copywriting fits into your schedule.
Don’t want to do it full time? Simply take on jobs when your other writing work is slow, or when you need the extra cash.
Now, to land jobs, you’ll of course have to do some networking, but believe me, that’s a good thing. As a full-time freelance writer, finding ways to connect with the rest of the human race is a constant challenge. Going out and networking can be the answer to the secluded, sometimes-cut-off life of a writer.
4. Copywriting improves your writing.
Good copy consists of clean, crisp, powerful writing. It means explaining products and services clearly. It means organizing ideas to make the biggest impact. It means knowing how to edit your own work—including being able to recognize your writing flaws—and fixing them.
Personally, copywriting has definitely strengthened my fiction and other writing. I’ve completed five novels since starting my business six years ago. In fact, trying a variety of writing styles has helped me discover and intensify my writing voice.
5. Copywriting teaches you about marketing.
What’s the essence of copywriting? Using words to sell.
As a copywriter, you also have to learn about the different marketing vehicles and how to write for each of them (i.e. writing website copy is very different from writing a 30-second video script). You learn about target markets, goals, and marketing plans. All of this will all help you market yourself and your other writing, too.
6. Copywriting helps you develop regular writing habits.
Clients give you deadlines. Deadlines mean you have to produce regardless of what your muse decides to do.
You want to get paid? You get the work done.
Also, picking up a few extra copywriting jobs means you’re writing more. The more you write, the better you’ll get at writing, AND the better you’ll get at just sitting down and putting words on paper regardless of your mood.
7. Copywriting helps you develop a professional attitude about writing.
There’s nothing that makes you feel more like a professional writer than having people pay you to write.
Also, as a professional copywriter, you’ll need business cards, a website, desk, office supplies, etc. You’ll have to start introducing yourself as a professional writer, too, and all of these things work together to help you cultivate your image as a “serious” writer.
8. Copywriting can boost your ego (not to mention your bank account).
Unlike other forms of writing where kudos are few and far between, copywriting clients are usually pretty good about telling you how much they like what you wrote and how much they enjoy working with you. Many times, you’ll even be thanked (I know, amazing concept).
Best yet, you can take advantage of all that goodwill and ask for testimonials, which you then put on your marketing materials to boost your credibility. (You can even re-read them on those really bad days when you wonder why it ever occurred to you that you could write in the first place).
9. Copywriting can help you learn how to handle criticism.
Okay, I know I just finished telling you about all the compliments you’ll receive, which you will, if you do a good job. At the same time, you will be asked to make changes.
It’s a fact of life.
Sometimes those changes are very minor, but you almost always go through a second or third draft (and sometimes even a tenth draft, but we won’t talk about that right now).
However, and this is important to remember, your clients can and will still love your writing even while asking you to make changes. After all, you don’t know their business or their customers the way they do, and there will be things you’ll need to adjust as you learn.
Because these changes are usually completely separate from your writing style, they’re a lot easier to hear and a lot easier to make then, say, someone who hates one of your novel’s subplots. And if clients do want to make a change you don’t agree with, feel free to discuss it with them. You are the expert. Clients hire you because you know how to write, and they don’t. They’ll listen to you, and even if you end up making that change, at least you’ve discussed it.
All of this is good practice. After a while, you’ll learn to separate constructive criticism from nasty criticism, and eventually learn not to take even the nasty feedback personally. I’m not saying criticism won’t still hurt, but all of this will help you develop a professional attitude about it.
10. Copywriting can increase your knowledge.
Not only will you learn about different businesses, but different industries and niches, too. You’ll learn about problems, challenges, and successes—all of which you can use in your future writing.
If your dream is to become a professional writer or author, adding copywriting to the mix is a great way to make your dream happen faster.
There’s actually more than just ten ways copywriting can help you as a writer (think sharpening your interviewing skills and beefing up your email list, to start). The bottom line, though, is that the skills you hone and new information you learn as a copywriter can also help you become a better writer in general.
And if you’re ready for some copywriting training, check out my Love-Based Copywriting books.
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