A Shortage in Copywriting Clients?

Christina Gillick here … with a confession.

I worry – a lot. One of my biggest fears used to be that the copywriting industry would change and there would no longer be enough good-paying work to go around.

After hearing Bob Bly speak at Bootcamp last year, my perspective completely changed. I realize now that we never need to worry about a shortage in copywriting clients or projects.

But I also realize you may still be worried about it. Bob said he gets a call or email at least once a week from a copywriter or an aspiring copywriter. They say, “I read your book Secrets of a Freelance Writer; can you really still make six figures as a copywriter in today’s market?”

Bob says you can still do it, and in fact, in some ways it’s easier to make a six-figure income as a freelance copywriter today. The freelance copywriting business is changing, but so is every other business.

Jewelers, for example, used to be consultants. You would go in and they would tell you what to look for in a diamond ring. They were relied on as the experts. Today, you can go online and you can figure out the cut, carat, and quality. Bob’s local jeweler says, “People come into my store, they know exactly what they want down to the last spec, the grade and so forth, and they’re just looking for a price.”

At Bootcamp, Bob shared how things have changed for copywriters since 1979. Today, I’ll share four of his points with you so you can see how these changes are making it easier, better, and more profitable to be a freelance copywriter today – and how the work is not going away.

1. The number of freelance copywriters.

In 1979, there were very few freelance copywriters. When a client approached Bob, he knew he was often the only copywriter they called. They just didn’t know where to get another copywriter. That’s how scarce they were.

Today, it’s safe to say, if the client is talking to you, they’re talking to at least one or two other copywriters. That’s not necessarily bad, but you need to be aware of it because it affects how you approach them, your price, and your terms. For example, your rates should be comparable with what others are charging.

However, because there are more copywriters, copywriting is more understood and more companies realize they can use a freelance copywriter. As you’ll see, more copywriters is a good thing for you …

2. Copywriting education.

In 1979, you provided your own copywriting education. There was no AWAI, and very few schools covered it. It was hard to learn copywriting, except through experience, so it took a long time. The learning curve was longer.

Today, copywriting education is plentiful, and AWAI is at the forefront of it.

3. Cost of marketing.

Marketing used to be very expensive. But today, thanks largely to the Internet, it’s much cheaper.

It’s a lot less costly to put up a website than it is to print and design an annual report. With the low cost of marketing, clients are marketing more (which means more work for us).

A client might approach you and need an autoresponder written, but they might also need other emails, a landing page, a web page, and several other things. Because of this, it’s easier than ever to turn a $1,000 assignment into a $10,000 assignment.

Also, because the cost of marketing is lower, companies can afford to create more products. Each of these products needs emails, landing pages, sales pages, etc. That’s even more available work.

4. Copywriters do more than write copy.

In 1979, the only service Bob provided was copywriting. Now, there are many related services, including copy coaching, copywriting training, copy critiques, copy editing, copy rewriting, and marketing consulting.

The options for a copywriter – and the projects they take on – are pretty much limitless.

So, yes, things are different now from how they were in 1979, but I think they are better. There is more work than ever, and it just keeps increasing. What do you think?

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Published: July 27, 2012

2 Responses to “A Shortage in Copywriting Clients?”

  1. Thank you for sharing your ideas here. I really enjoyed reading your article.

    Over the years, copywriters have had to change into more versatile solopreneurs.

    Instead of a niche specialist, copywriters are now called upon to be generalists.

    By generalist, I mean they have to be able to multi-task and have a multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approach toward learning and education.

    They also need to be aware of the power of advertising and public relations to help market what they have on offer.

    Archan Mehta

  2. I know there's more work out there, but knowing how to get it is my biggest problem. I have a web-site but I need to drive more traffic to it.

    Many copywriters do broaden their services. It depends a lot on your personality. I'd rather concentrate on writing. I can't cram 48 hours into 8, like some people can (or appear to).

    I'm not worried about getting rich, I just want to get out of the working poor rut, pay off my bills and have enough money to do the things I can't afford to do now.

    Flying Writer

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