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How to Stake Your Claim as a Copywriter

Steve Roller here, your guest editor of The Writer's Life this week. Less than five years ago, I became a full-time freelance copywriter. I felt like a frontiersman as I ventured out into the wide-open spaces of the freelance "Wild West." I didn't know exactly how I'd establish my business.

All I knew was that I had a burning desire to forge my own path.

Freedom! Opportunity! Adventure!

They all pulled me in, even more than the income potential. Can you relate?

The only problem was, even though I had developed decent copywriting skills, I wasn't confident about choosing a niche, getting good clients, or following through once I did land a project.

I was a modern-day Daniel Boone, who once said, "I can't say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days."

Well, I wouldn't say I was ever completely lost as a copywriter, but I was bewildered for almost three years. Seriously.

This week, I want to take you on a little journey. We're going to blaze a trail into this frontier land of freelance copywriting. It's an exciting place to be, and I believe there's never been a better time to get in. It helps to have a guide, though, so I'm going to share some insights and advice from my experience.

It starts with some mental preparation. If you're embarking on a new adventure, you need to have the proper mindset, right?

I recommend three things:

  1. Have a two-year horizon. Success doesn't happen overnight, but it also doesn't need to take five years. Even if you have no idea at this point how your copywriting business will unfold, picture yourself a success two years from now. This is more like setting up a homestead and building a business than the 1849 Gold Rush.
  2. Develop a sense of rugged individualism, but realize you have group support every step of the way from fellow AWAI members and copywriters, your family, and others.
  3. Announce, "I'm in." Commit to yourself that you're going to make this work. And don't wait until you're full-time to start calling yourself a copywriter. Do it now.

I want you to stake your claim on this vast copywriting opportunity. It's there for the taking, and this week, I'll show you how to grab your share.

It's one thing to stake your claim. You also have to get noticed and attract clients. Tomorrow I'll show you how to gain a slight edge and stand out from the crowd.

What appealed to you most about the writer's life in the beginning? Is it the same today? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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Published: October 28, 2013

34 Responses to “How to Stake Your Claim as a Copywriter”

  1. Getting the first assignment was the most thrilling experience for me. I learnt that the prospects are willing to work when we show up and offer what we can do the help them. In this case is about copywriting and marketing.

    ZafifiOctober 28, 2013 at 12:37 pm

  2. What appealed to me about the writer's life in the first place? Freedom. I wanted to work for myself, so I could have the flexibility to choose my own schedule and spend my days in ways that are important to me. I'm making a decent living as a freelance copywriter, but I can't say it's been all unicorns and rainbows. I've worked harder than I ever have in my life. And that freedom I was seeking is still eluding me.

    Guest (Deanna Blanchard)October 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm

  3. What appeals to me is the freedom to work from home, and make a living that enables me to raise my daughter w/o the demands of an executive 9-5.

    Guest (Aminci Gora-Livingston)October 28, 2013 at 3:57 pm

  4. For the freedom and income.

    Guest (Mike Robson)October 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm

  5. Freedom, freedom, freedom (by the way, did I mean 'freedom?') LOL. I like the idea of being my own boss and employee. I look forward to joining the 2 year elite. I'm all in.

    GriffinOctober 28, 2013 at 6:29 pm

  6. What's appealing to me?..... How about giving up the daily commute to a very physical job that gets tougher every year, and then having more control of my life!

    Guest (John DeProspo)October 28, 2013 at 6:59 pm

  7. I'm nearing retirement, and I want a steady income stream so I can not only be comfortable, but live my dreams....and I have lots of dreams!

    I'm already an active writer. I write two personal blogs and am a regular contributor to two other blogs. I'm writing a memoir, and have a good start on a novel courtesy of NaNoWriMo!

    As you can see, I'm already wearing my fingers out at the keyboard--so why not turn my writing passion into gold?

    moxadoxOctober 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm

  8. Thanks Steve! Great advice. I learned that this past weekend. I am Copywriter. Very so I will be paid to do it!

    Guest (Dan Fahlgren)October 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm

  9. Freedom from a 40 hour work week appealed to me. I found that freedom in an unexpected way. I created lead generation and web copy for a client,then, seeing his need to convert sales from the leads I generated, I became his sales person (applying the secrets I learned from AWAI to phone sales). I now make 6 figures working 3 hours a day from home qualifying and closing the leads my copy generates. And all I need is an internet connection and a telephone. So I can work from wherever I choose.

    MikeCOctober 29, 2013 at 12:59 am

  10. i kind of think b2b copywriting might be a good fit for me but its hard for me to be sure, i need to get started but i have limited marketing budjet but i look forward to your ideas and expertise

    Guest (ronald)October 29, 2013 at 4:39 am

  11. The excitement of it all was the appealing part for me. A new life with more time for my family and myself, that sounds great. The versatility of it; "to travel or not to travel" that is the question. The money you could make and all the interesting things I may get to see and do. But for me it is all still undetermined; here I still sit 2 years later trying to learn all I can but never moving forward to find out.

    m-hillOctober 29, 2013 at 5:43 am

  12. Steve, AWAI had me at:

    No bosses, no commute

    Al ColonOctober 29, 2013 at 9:16 am

  13. What appeals to me is the power of the written word itself. I was a writer long before I ever found AWAI, and even now I would keep writing even if no one ever read a word. Words change lives.

    With your encouragement, I'm getting on the phone today, with no experience whatsoever, to sell my services to a prospect. I get to call myself "copywriter" for the very first time.

    Wish me luck!

    CamilleOctober 29, 2013 at 3:38 pm

  14. I own my own business and have worked 12-15 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 11 years. Every year the legal restrictions get tighter and the overhead increases. At this point, I am working like a dog just to keep the doors open.

    I want to live my life while I am still young enough to have one! Commercial writing isn't necessarily my passion, but working less than 80 hours a week will give me the opportunity to pursue the kind of writing that is. I might even be able to feed myself!

    PatriciaWOctober 29, 2013 at 5:15 pm

  15. @Steve, you can certainly help. If you wouldn't mind popping over to my main blog bipolarforlife dot me and checking out my writing style, I would love to have some guidance as to which niche would work best for me. I'm hot to jump right into the fray!

    moxadoxOctober 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm

  16. Income and choices about how to use my time. Since I don't commute every day it's given me more time to write and follow through.

    Two years sounds like a good goal to make this a viable business.

    horselovr2October 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm

  17. Mr. Roller, Thirty years ago, I began working in the Criminal Justice field & have gained lots of excess weight & grey hair but, don't have much else. It's hoped that writing can bring me into the middle class & give me freedom from dysfunctional politicians/supervisors. Last month, my dad died which has delayed my studies in AWAI. Is it too late to resume &/or actually prosper as a writer? Once, I was paid to write something. Can it be repeated? Thanks for your help.

    Guest (Jeffrey)October 30, 2013 at 12:21 am

  18. I am already a niche writer but want higher paying assignments. I have set a goal to gross $300k-$400K a year.

    Guest (Wilson)October 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm

  19. I work for the government writing and editing training publications which I'm good at, but it isn't what I would call fun. anyway, with all of the furloughs and stuff going on, I wanted something to fall back on, plus with copywriting I can stick to subjects I like and the freedom and pay sure didn't sound bad!

    Laurie LOctober 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm

  20. I'm still a very new copywriter learning this business (but didn't want to call myself "copywriter" since I haven't accomplished anything yet)...but whats appealing to me is the ability to work from home, make your own hours...and get paid well for it. I am so underpaid/overworked at my current full time job. Thanks for this article, and the kindness and encouragement of everyone Ive met so far. This is a really great community.

    KevinOctober 31, 2013 at 9:54 am

  21. I'm impressed! You give me three things to decide at the start. 1. Have a two-year horison. Then 2. Develop a sense of rugged individualism. 3. Announce, "I'm in". Commitment!!! What a good start. I'm thinking of joining the Circle of Success.


    Carol C Shier

    Guest (CAROL C SHIER)November 2, 2013 at 11:46 am

  22. If I can launch a small business,make enough money to raise my daughters, finish a business degree-2012 AND wor way to hard(self employed) for the last eight years,anything is possible.
    The writing life is at my fingertips, with time freedom now, Writing professionally is what I ALWAYS dreamed of.
    1 Time horizon, two years or less,okay.
    2 Already got the rugged individualism
    3 Commit!! I'm In!
    But I'm delirious with all the great resources. Oh, yes,this is what happens on day 3! Thanks AWAI!

    Cheryl DavisDecember 19, 2013 at 3:39 am

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