So, whenever someone asks me what I do, I reply that I’m a content writer. Quite often, they aren’t sure what that means, and for good reason. It’s not the most descriptive job title in the world, but that’s because content writing has to remain as open and flexible as it can; content writers wear a lot of hats. Ask 10 different content writers what they do during the day, and you’ll most likely get 10 different answers. The truth is the job of a content writer is about much more than just churning out articles or blog posts. Let’s take a moment to break down the job of the content writer, and see if we can develop a more thorough understanding of just what we content writers do – and why you probably need one.
The easiest way to get started is to apply to write content for a content writing service or freelance job board. Content writing services create business relationships with companies that need content and provide writers to write that content. Freelance job boards are sites that allow writers to make individual profiles and vie for jobs posted directly by the client.
Since reading your stuff I can’t help but do #1 (exericise #1 that is…..) when I see ads. Our local newspaper just started a campaign on the newsstands that I just don’t understand. It’s their logo, a photo of a loaf of bread, and the copy “The best thing since sliced bread.” WHAT? How on earth does this warm me up to buy a newspaper? And the cliche!
I got my first writing gig on Upwork, helping a guy rewrite some content for his ecolodge website. The pay was only about 5 bucks each, but after I’d helped him with a few pages and blog posts he asked me to help him respond to his customer reviews on TripAdvisor for $125. I’ve gotten a few more clients since then, and not one of them has come from my website; it’s all either been through Upwork (mostly small-time) or from talking to friends and family (much more profitable).
I guess I’ve never had a real gig yet… I’ve written website content for clients many, many times. I’ve also had gigs writing SEO content. But I’ve never really truly had a copywriting gig yet. Thanks for this article. To be honest, I’ve only buzzed through it quickly just now (#MeWantsTShirt), but it actually looks really good and I plan to re-read it carefully, following all the helpful links (especially the ones on the copywriting resources… I really want to be good, no… GOODER, at the art of written persuasion), and bookmarking it. (By the way, offering a paid service to rewrite websites is brilliant. I’ve offered to review and improve websites from a CRO perspective… but I never thought of offering a “better copy” only approach. Nice!
I was 15 when started blogging about politics and education, then at college I started to write essay per week + two reflections (300words each)/week,. Then I gradually became obsessed about copywriting, mainly thanks to you Neville (I honestly have no idea how have I discovered you), then I got to list building , and every other possible online marketing thing.
I got my first writing gigs by responding to a craigslist ad for a blog post writer. The pay was horrible, like $5 per post, but they only took about 15 minutes to write so that is $20/hour which according to one of Neville’s posts that is about average pay for a freelance copywriter. Good experience in that it showed me what companies were looking for in word counts, topics, SEO. It also forced me to work quickly.
Now, you’ll have a much easier time crafting copy that their target audience will resonate with. If you do your research right, you’ll end up having a much easier and faster time writing copy that works for them. Plus, with all that research, you’ll write copy that could potentially solve your prospect’s problems, and you’ll create copy they’ll be genuinely impressed with.
But one thing I feel is share worthy is when I went for the meeting, I did the “briefcase method”. Basically did my homework and prep before the meeting, added value and suggestions on how to boost his business and highlighted how I helped my own business make money before. (I was selling gold and silver investing advice in 2010 before the great crash.)
Competitor research is important, but you also have to be extremely familiar with your own product or service. Rolls Royce was one of the first major accounts Ogilvy won when his agency was in its early years. In his book, he talks about spending a full three weeks reading about the car to come up with one simple headline: “At sixty miles an hour, the loudest noise comes from the electric clock.” This might not seem like the type of detail that would take you three weeks to find, but sometimes you need to give your brain time to let the information soak in.
Use a newspaper article from a local publication or an online publication and break it down based on the upside triangle structure of a typical newspaper article. Does the article conform to the traditional structure or does it use a different structure or form? Does the writer seem credible and believable? Does the article use reputable sources and quotes to support any arguments in the article?
Very nice article. I’ve been writing and traveling the world, full-time now, for three years. I can’t think of an easier way to make money than writing. No costly inventory, no expensive website, and little investment needed. When I started all I had was a gmail address, and a small portfolio. I would cold contact 10-15 websites a day offering my services. Three years later I’m farming out the small jobs, and still have repeat business from when I first started. It’s a great way to live.
And to think I was trying to make my first $10,000 by this summer. Reality check. I just finished reading your suggested books by Halbert & Sugarman in 3 days. No long story here but on my blog this month, I will be thanking you and noting Sugarman’s advice. Just get ’em to read the first line of your copy. I am AWAI trained & needed to see what else was out there in the universe. I will follow you on facebook…….