Look Like a Pro from Day One

Kathryn Aragon here, joining you for an exciting week at The Writer’s Life.

This week, I'm going to talk about a subject that every new copywriter struggles with: coming off as a professional when you don't feel like one yet.

For me, this was one of the most stressful things about marketing myself when I was starting out. And to be honest, it's still a worry whenever I decide to take my business to a new level with bigger and more challenging projects.

This week, I want to show you how easy it can be to look like a pro from the get-go, so you can enjoy real success right away.

Is it really necessary to look professional?

In a word, yes. The best-paying clients think in terms of profit and loss. They realize that copywriting is an investment. They're looking for someone who can give them the best return on their money. In other words, a professional.

Before I explain further, let me tell you a little about myself …

It's a little embarrassing to admit, but for years I refused to consider corporate-style writing as a profession. I'd studied writing since I was a girl. I'd worked in my university's public relations office. But to me, I was only a "real" writer if I wrote and published a novel.

Sad, really.

It took me years to accept that there's little-to-no money in fiction. So, if I was determined to be a novelist, the writer's life would mean working twice as hard as everyone else, holding down a day job while squeezing in my "art" on the side.

Then I realized that I could earn an above-average income and call myself a “real,” professional writer if I started writing copy.

That was in 2005, when I tried to go freelance the first time. And, it sure was a learning experience! You see, I didn't have a clue about how to run a business. Sure I could write, but I didn't understand marketing. And I didn't know how to sell myself, or to whom.

Fortunately, the few samples I accumulated during that first round of freelancing were enough to get a corporate copywriting job — and there I discovered an amazing truth. You see, the biggest and most professional companies only use a handful of communication formats to do the bulk of their marketing and sales:

  1. Website
  2. Special reports, or "bait pieces"
  3. Direct-response marketing and advertising
  4. Content marketing
  5. Customer communications

As freelancers, we can use these same types of communications to look as professional as the big guys — even while we're getting started. And as a member of AWAI, you have all the resources you need to be confident you're doing them right.

This week, I'll tell you how you can use these five communications formats for your own business, as well as the order you should focus on them. That way, you can look like a pro right away.

So, where do you begin?

With your website.

Don’t worry, it doesn't have to be a complicated site with lots of pages. Something simple is fine to start. What’s important is that you get something up as soon as possible.

If you've read Michael Masterson's book, Ready, Fire, Aim, you know what I'm talking about.

So, start by writing a sales letter to promote your copywriting services. Use the techniques taught in the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting to make sure it's as persuasive as possible. Then, just post the letter online. At first, this one page will suffice. Down the road, you can add more web pages.

If you want more details, look no further than Build Your Freelance Website in Four Days. It'll guide you step-by-step through the creation of your own professional-looking space on the Web.

The important thing is that you get it done. Your prospects are searching online for your services, and they won't find you until you get your website up and running. So make it a priority.

Just don't get bogged down …

  • Samples are great, but your website itself (even if it’s just a sales letter) is a sample of your web copy skills. You can load project samples after you start getting work.
  • Articles or a blog are nice, but that will come in time.
  • Lots of pages would be terrific, but you can start with nothing more than an online page with a simple sales letter.

So, what are you waiting for? Your goal is simple. Create at least a one-page website to promote your services. Once your website is up, send me a note by posting a comment below.

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 »

Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: March 12, 2012

3 Responses to “Look Like a Pro from Day One ”

  1. Hi Kathryn -

    I love the series concept for this week! I struggled with our initial website because I wanted it to be more polished, and that meant holding off on publishing it. Now I have it out there, but I'm not sure I like it. I still want to add tabs for portfolio pieces and photos (I'm doing stock photo work as well) but the bones are there. I'm sure others don't release theirs because they want them to be 'perfect' as well! Thoughts on this?


    Yvonne K

  2. Excellent article Kathryn! For the longest time I was also worried about what to write on my website. When I started marketing myself, it didn't even matter what I had up there originally. I was always testing and controlling my own sales letter (home page); I still do today also. I can't tell you how often I've rewritten the thing. You're advice is perfect when you said to get something up as soon as possible. Hope people read that twice.

    -Chris Hallenbeck

    Guest (Chris)

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)