Find a Void in the Marketplace and Fill It
We've been talking all week about getting inspired by big ideas, taking advantage of the new model of working, and adopting a "youthful" outlook on your future.
I've given you evidence for why this is a good time to embrace the freelance lifestyle.
The fact is, there's a ton of work out there for freelance copywriters.
You don't have to be an expert to grab your share. And you don't need years of experience to get started.
The challenge for new writers is that it's wide open.
When I first started, I knew without doubt that I wanted to become a copywriter.
I was completely indecisive, however, about what direction I wanted to go in.
B2C (business-to-consumer) or B2B (business-to-business)? Get a staff position with a publisher, like some copywriters I knew, or go freelance? Specialize in long-form sales letters or short web copy? Within B2B or B2C … what area?
Too many decisions. I was overwhelmed because everyone was telling me I had to pick a niche right away.
If you're feeling the same concerns, let me offer you a few suggestions:
You don't have to settle on a niche immediately. If you can, great, but it's not imperative to start getting work. As you get more established and discover what area you like most, then pick your niche.
Look for voids in the marketplace. Don't follow the crowds. There's a lot of demand in niches like financial, alternative health, and self-help, but they also tend to be very competitive.
What I did instead was look at the world I knew from past experiences, business and personal acquaintances, and subjects I was familiar with.
As a result, I got projects early on with a sales training business, a fundraising company, an executive life coach, and a real estate broker. I didn't have writing experience in those areas, and they didn't care. They just wanted someone to help them grow their business.
Help those businesses find a "slight edge." You don't have to create a complete new idea or strategy from scratch. That can be a daunting task when you're new.
An easier approach is to improve upon what your client is already doing. For example, I worked with a company that sold Pilates videos online. They were having some success with online video marketing. Instead of trying a new approach, I simply rewrote their video script using direct-response techniques, and their response went up by almost 50%.
Another example is a life coach who had a decent website but wasn't getting any organic search engine traffic. Easy solution. Through a one-hour consultation, I discovered that she had a unique specialty within the vast area of "life coaching." I rewrote her website content using targeted keywords, and she started getting traffic and leads.
The bottom line? You don't have to know everything to get started. Just slightly more than your potential clients.
Read my article "Light a Fire, Take Action, and Chart Your Own Course" to find out three ways to take advantage of this new economy now. I'll also tell you about the single key factor that helped me transition into the writer's life.
The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter
The AWAI Method™ combines the most up-to-date strategies, insights, and teaching methods with the tried-and-true copywriting fundamentals so you can take on ANY project — not just sales letters. Learn More »
Steve, slight differences DO matter. In the Majors, a .250 hitter makes $1 million a year. But the .300 hitter makes $10 million a year. A few more hits create 10 times the income.
I don't have to know everything that my prospects know about their business. I just have to write copy well enough to enhance their business and grow sales. What's exciting is that the idea behind the copy can come from a new writer or a seasoned writer. The clients don't care, and it's all about results...
One thing I keep seeing from all of you is the comment, "There is tons of work out there". In order for you to make that a true statement, you have seen it. Soooo....why can't anyone tell us with who and where? Or is this just a general statement with no spefics?
Dale Buckeridge –
Great article Steve. You have confirmed something that has been swirling in my mind over the last day or so.
Guest (Tasia) –
@RNin2013 - As an avid baseball fan, I like your analogy. Think about that - just one more hit out of every 20 at bats makes a huge difference. The key for us as copywriters is to get more "at bats" - which requires more marketing, and then closing more projects, or more "hits" - which requires some selling and proposal-writing skills. Great point.
Steve Roller –
@Dale - Good question. Essentially any business with a website or any business that does any type of marketing and advertising is a prospect. Check out the "Article Archive" here on the AWAI website for many pieces on getting clients. The clients you hear about are the big ones, marketers that come to Job Fair, for example. If you look at DirectResponseJobs.com or any number of project sites like Guru.com, you'll find thousands of projects. I've even worked with many local mom and pop stores.
Steve Roller –
Hi Steve, My passionate niche is helping humans learn to live peacefully among other species, from brutalized pets/lab victims to wildlife at risk. I know more can be accomplished with words reaching more eyes and wallets than one person collecting dimes outside a store. Do you know anything about this field and fundraising/grant-writing, etc?
Any info re your real estate gig welcome, as I have 30 yrs in that field. Might put bread on the table while I establish lifework above. Thanks
I've got a different issue. I have been a copywriter in the corporate world for over 20 years and I am over that dynamic. Now I want to jump out to freelance world and shift gears, but I must replace my income (at least)and have yet to choose a niche. It all seems overwhelming exactly where to get some traction to actually start...
Hey Steve and thanks for the helpful article. I've bought every Course -(there all so good!) and so far have mastered none! Finally got down to Cause writing which I'm determined to complete! Then see which others can supplement it best.
Guest (Bill) –
Steve - always enjoy your articles & comments Book you recommended awhile back still valued.
Thought I'd found my niche, only to run into possible conflict of interest issues with current full-time employer. Can't quit yet either. Depressed & demotivated? Oh, yeah. Floundering? You bet. Couldn't make Bootcamp (but bought Homestudy). CoC - can't do. Back to being indecisive - what do I do next? But in this article you've given me more hope. Thanks!!
@Christie - I don't know anything about that niche, but I have gone through AWAI's Fundraising program, which is really good. I have the grant writing program but haven't used it at all. So I'm not much help here, but I think you're on to something. The more specific your niche, the more you can quickly become an in-demand expert.
I can tell you more about the real estate project but not enough space here. Contact me privately (Google "Steve Roller copywriter") Thanks.
Steve Roller –
@Steve99 - My advice would be to take a deep inventory of your experience, your likes, your passions, and your skills. While you're figuring that out, dabble in a variety of projects that you're comfortable with to pay the bills. As you get more work you'll naturally gravitate toward one area that you can then throw yourself into all the way. Best wishes, and let me know if I can be of further help.
Steve Roller –
@Bill - Your problem is a common one. After you finish the Cause Marketing program, which is great and has applications in many different niches, find one other program you can pair it with. Don't start another one until you put into action at least a few ideas. It's easy to keep reading and absorbing good information, a lot harder to actually implement stuff. Keep me posted on your progress.
Steve Roller –
@Judy B - Good to hear from you again! One of these days we'll connect in person. Here's one cure for your floundering and de-motivation: Dive into that Home Study course like your life depended on it! Seriously. It will breathe new life into you. Pick one or two ideas from all the sessions and do what I told Bill above - put a few ideas into action. The other thing to know - for every success story you hear, you don't always hear the back story that involved the same floundering you have.
Steve Roller –
@Tasia - It's good when the "swirling" can settle in one spot! Glad this article helped. Let me know if I can do anything for you.
Steve Roller –