From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
Present Yourself as a Professional Copywriter

Hello Pat,

I am desperate for a paying gig, but I’m also extremely new at this. If I were to offer to work on spec “for a low-priority project they might have sitting on the back burner that they wouldn’t mind letting me cut my teeth on,” would that be a turnoff? What’s a better way to say that I want to work, but not get in over my head the first time out?

Rebecca R.

Hello Rebecca,

There is nothing wrong with working on spec. Many great careers have been launched that way. It’s a win-win deal for both you and the client who agrees to give you the opportunity. You get to “cut your teeth on a project” as you say that gives you real feedback and experience, and they get a look at some copy (possibly from the next big up-and-comer) with no commitment.

However (and I’m going to paraphrase Bob Bly here), there is no need to draw attention to the fact that you are new to copywriting. If you have taken the program, done the assignments, and have confidence in your work, present yourself as a professional copywriter.

Use the assignments from the program as samples (if you don’t have anything else). If the prospective client specifically asks, tell him that, yes, this would be your first job … but there’s no reason to make that the first thing out of your mouth when you walk in the door. Let him make his decision based on your samples and self-promotion letter …

(You do have a self-promotion letter, don’t you? If not, start writing one immediately.)

Hello Pat,

I’m trying to finish up my “live assignment” for the Copywriting Program, and I have a couple of questions.

On page 277, there is a box containing a Bonus Tip: “Use Your Guarantee to Dispel Your Prospect’s Fears and Objections.” I’ve read this and thought about it, and I haven’t been able to think of any fears or objections to address in the guarantee. Can you give me any advice on this? I really can’t see what you’re looking for, here.

My second question may be trivial, but … before I send my promotion to AWAI for review, I’m supposed to have it read by three real prospects. Of course, this men’s supplement is not a real product. So, should I tell them that? Or should I present it as a real product?

Jeff A.

Hello Jeff,

Generally speaking, the fears you are trying to dispel/address in the guarantee are more about getting ripped off and whether or not they can trust you than about the product’s performance. (You should have addressed that in the promo.) You might focus on the specifics of the money-back guarantee – like who’s going to pay for return shipping and how long they have to return the product. Remember that the more specific you are the better. For instance:

“ … And There’s No Risk to You

“Take 30 days to look it all over. Start working on the program if you like.

If it’s not everything you imagined – or if you happen to decide copywriting just isn’t for you – return the materials within those 30 days and we’ll send you your $39 back … no questions asked.

“But if you like what you see – and you’re ready to begin your new copywriting career – you’ll receive the rest of the program in 12 monthly installments at $39 each … billed to your credit card.”

This is much stronger than if you just say, “Try it for 30 days and return it if you aren’t happy.”

As for your second question, it’s a good one – and I can’t remember ever getting this question before. I think the best thing to do is just hand the copy to your “prospects” and see what they say. The purpose of the exercise is to find out if they would buy the product based on what you’ve written. So give it a shot without telling them it’s a fictitious product.

That’s it for this week. Thanks to one and all – and keep those emails coming!


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Published: June 5, 2006

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