The Two Things that Boosted Eric Lynch’s Career
AWAI member Eric Lynch is a pretty typical up-and-coming copywriter … meaning there’s nothing “typical” about him. Before starting to build this new career, he had a number of interesting and unusual jobs, including being a blues singer. And now, in less than a year, he has written copy for two paying clients … with the promise of a long-term business relationship with one of them.
As with any savvy freelancer, Eric doesn’t rely on a single strategy for finding clients – but there’s two that has been particularly successful for him. We interviewed him recently in his Atlanta office to find out more about it.
TGT: Eric, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you did before becoming a copywriter.
ERIC: I live in Atlanta with my wife and daughter, where I still work as a freelance software designer while building my copywriting business. Before getting into that field, I was in sales, fought in the first Gulf War, and worked as a professional musician (mostly rock and blues). Of course, I also had my share of odd jobs when I was much younger.
TGT: Why did you decide to change careers?
ERIC: I’m a bit of a vagabond, and I like being able to leave a job if I don’t like the environment or work. Well, in 2001, the software industry was in a slump. I realized it could no longer offer me the freedom I really wanted. So I actively started thinking about changing careers.
At the time, I didn’t know what copywriting was. Then a buddy at church gave me the “Can You Write a Letter Like This” letter. Copywriting seemed perfect. You can do it anywhere, and you have a tremendous amount of freedom. I love the Atlanta area, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life here. Once my daughter finishes college, I’d like to move my wife and me to a small town with less hullabaloo.
TGT: You’re now working for some good clients. How did you get them?
ERIC: Personal networking. My resume is like anybody’s who is starting out – kind of thin. But my Rolodex isn’t. I talk up what I do to friends and people I meet in various settings. I’m not afraid to say things like, “Hey, if you know of anybody who could use a good writer …” – and then I hand them a business card.
In fact, I hand out a lot of business cards, and I buy a lot of lunches. And it’s paid off. One of my first clients came through a friend I would never have expected to be a lead to a job. But I asked anyway. And he introduced me to a friend of his.
TGT: What was that first job?
ERIC: I’m very committed to my church. The first assignment was writing copy connected with that passion. It’s a website selling a program that shows businesspeople how they can incorporate their religious principles into their business … and increase profits by doing so.
The contact on that assignment helped me get my next gig. I’m currently working on sales copy for an alternative health book. The client likes what I’ve done so far and has promised steady work when I’m finished with this job. And higher pay, including royalties on some of it.
One thing that’s really helped me with these first assignments is working with a mentor. He keeps me focused on the principles of powerful copywriting that I learned from AWAI. We started working together on Web copy I’d written for some of my own websites. He showed me where it was weak in hitting emotional hot buttons and helped me strengthen it. From there, he’s worked with me on the assignments from my clients. I feel strongly that having a mentor has done a lot for my early career.
TGT: Any words of advice for our readers?
- Get good at personal networking. Most people are very shy about approaching people they don’t know and talking about themselves. I took a Dale Carnegie course to help me get over that. Or try Toastmasters or AWAI’s new program with Ilise Benun.
- Get a mentor. Like I just said, I feel strongly that having a mentor has given my career the boost it needed.
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