Follow the Money If You Want the Lifestyle
Freelance copywriting is a wonderful lifestyle, but only if you're actually making money at it.
The great thing about being a writer is that few people love writing as much as we do, and even fewer bother to learn how to write good copy. This puts you at a tremendous advantage over the vast majority of freelancers competing for jobs.
But all the training in the world means squat if you can't find writing gigs. My advice to you is simple: Follow the money.
Where The Money Isn't …
I've found that the big time entrepreneurs of the past decade are broke or getting there. Baby boomers are still spending money, but the companies who sell to them are changing how they do their marketing.
In the mean time, Gen's X, Y and beyond are coming into their own … and the companies who market to THEM understand that the game has changed.
Where The Money IS …
Forrester Research recently reported that "interactive marketing" spending will reach $25.6 billion this year, up 11% over last year -- and that's in a down economy. At the same time, they report that 40% of marketers expect to cut their direct-mail budgets this year; 35% will cut newspaper ad spending; and 28% will slash magazine advertising.
What's a freelance copywriter to do?
Follow the money, of course. Here's my take on where the money is, and how you can prepare yourself to follow that money:
The Money is Online.
That more marketing dollars are going to be spent online in the future should be obvious. As a freelance copywriter, you should learn how to get in on this lucrative game. Here's how:
1. Know where money is being spent.
Right now the majority of marketing money being spent online is on social media, with search engine optimization taking a close second, followed closely by landing page creation, web copy, and content creation.
Companies are spending huge amounts of money on their social media and online marketing campaigns … and most of them haven't a clue what they're doing.
2. Adapt your skills and knowledge.
The good news is that you don't have to become a social media expert, but it helps to understand social media from a marketing standpoint. Some good sources for information on social media are at http://www.mashable.com, http://www.marketingprofs.com. There are hundreds of E-books, courses, and even conferences available today on social media.
Here's my secret to making money in this market: focus on social media MARKETING and not social media networking.
Social media is simply a set of tools that enable conversations to happen. You use some of these tools to network with others (Twitter, Facebook), and some to share information and knowledge (Delicious, Digg, Social Median, Wikipedia).
The networking part is easy. Where you can get in on the action as a writer is by helping with the marketing. Adapt your skills and experience to the online world. Learn about:
- Search engine optimization through content syndication. You create valuable content and "syndicate" this content through various social media sites. That is, you get "buzz" on your content. This helps the company by improving their search engine ranking AND through direct traffic to the site from the social media outlets.
- Landing page creation. Gone are "home pages." Now, you'll create landing pages – essentially short sales letters for specific products or services.
- Opt-in page creation. The goal should be lead generation. Get targeted traffic to an opt-in page, and write compelling copy that leads the visitor to "opt in" to a list.
- Special report or video script creation. Many companies still use special reports to entice visitors to join their list. The future, though is with video. Learn to write video scripts and you'll be a shoe-in for many lucrative jobs.
3. Build a sample base and get some work.
Here's an easy way. Go to your local Business Journal web site (www.bizjournals.com). Buy their "Book of lists" – lists of companies in your region. Randomly select a few and look at their web sites. Create some content … re-write their web pages into effective landing (sales) pages … create a list of ideas for lead generation reports or videos …
Then, use these as examples of what you can do and land a couple of gigs, even if you're underpaid. This will provide you with a few good examples with which you can get other work.
See? You've already got the necessary skills to follow the money, even if you're completely inept at online marketing and web sites. It's all just good writing in a different medium. At a bare minimum, you can easily do a MUCH better job at writing web copy than the average business marketer.
What's holding you back?
The Professional Writers’ Alliance
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