Five Different Approaches Former AWAI Members Used to Land Their First Client

There are lots of ways you can go about landing your first client. There's no set formula – everyone is different and what works for one person might not work for someone else.

To get your creative juices flowing, here are five different approaches former AWAI members used to get their first client …

  1. Catherine Cairns had a particular interest in self-help, so she decided she wanted to write for companies that sold those types of products. Not only did she set her sights on a particular field, but on a specific company. After making sure that she had the right contact information for that company, she wrote a complete direct-mail sales package promoting her copywriting services. Although she didn't hear from them for a couple of months, Catherine didn't give up – and she now gets a steady stream of work from that client.

  2. Vic Elias went to the local library and photocopied the pages of publishers in Direct Marketing Market Place. He then called the marketing director of each company and promoted himself. He followed up each call with a letter and sample of his work. He then followed up the letter with another phone call – and again offered his services. One month later, two companies offered Vic work.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: A 1% response rate from any direct mail campaign is pretty good. With that in mind, you may need to mail 100 letters in order to get your first bite. Some prospects will be interested now; others will remember you later[.]

  1. Beth Erickson, who lives in rural Minnesota, drafted her own direct mail letter selling her services as a copywriter and mailed it to about 25 local businesses. She got one client from that first mailing – and she's been writing their annual fundraising letter ever since. Every 3 months, she continues to send out 20-30 letters. In her first six months, she picked up another three clients in her area.

  2. Elizabeth Neely received a fundraising letter in the mail – and she knew she could write a better one. She contacted the organization and simply asked for a chance to show what she could do. After they reviewed samples of her writing, she was given her first assignment – and, eventually, four more.

  3. Rich Silver contacted his insurance agent and told him that he was a copywriter. The agent admitted that he needed some marketing help, so Rich volunteered to write a sales letter for him for free. The agent showed Rich's letter to his District Sales Manager … who liked the letter so much that he gave Rich a paid assignment.

When you're ready to start looking for work, try one of these approaches – or come up with one of your own. Either way, if you are proactive, patient, and persistent, you will get the work you are looking for.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: November 4, 2002

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