How to Compete with the Top Pros in Freelance Copywriting
Hi. Bob Bly here for Day 2 of The Writer’s Life. Yesterday, I boiled down the keys to freelance writing success to just three items.
Today I’m back to share some advice from my 36 years as a copywriter (33+ years working freelance).
It’s important to recognize that, as a freelancer just starting out, you’ll face two kinds of competitors.
The first is a large pool of other newbie copywriters with experience, training, and skill level roughly equivalent to yours. I’ll address those competitors tomorrow.
The second, which we’ll discuss here, are the old pros – senior copywriters, many of them A-level and the rest solid B-level, with much more experience and better credentials … a large client list, great testimonials, good track record of results … than you.
Here are some tips for competing with freelance copywriters who are more senior and experienced than you.
To begin with, so many newbies today focus on the highest-paying niches of health and financial – to their detriment, in my humble opinion.
Reason: health and financial are two of the most competitive copywriting niches … perhaps the most competitive.
Therefore, the clients in these niches are bombarded by pitches from copywriters who want to write for them. There are simply too many writers competing for this work.
Worse, the clients in health and financial know and already work with all the top A-list senior copywriters. And, if you’re just starting out, your chances of beating these senior writers are slim to none.
The solution, especially when you’re first starting out, is to go with niches that are less crowded and not as flooded with senior copywriters already doing the work.
When I launched myself as a freelance copywriter in 1982, for a couple of years all I did was write sales brochures and print ads for companies in the chemical industry. Why? Because that was my background – I’m a chemical engineer.
Let me give you a few more examples of specialized niches that have proven successful …
One of my colleagues, DH, specializes in marketing for small industrial manufacturers. It’s a lucrative niche she enjoys, and there’s little competition, especially from senior writers. She gets great results for her clients, and they’re incredibly loyal.
PS specializes in an off-the-beaten-path niche that gives him a handsome living. He creates advertising for audiologists selling hearing aids. Not one copywriter in a hundred works in or even knows about this niche.
AD specializes in ghostwriting technical articles for pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients who place his articles in scientific and medical journals. Virtually none of the big-name A-list copywriters is qualified to do this work or would want to.
Therefore AD has the field to himself with no competition from top copywriters. But because his clients are large companies with deep pockets, he’s one of the better-paid freelance copywriters working today.
That’s the secret to competing with the top pros out there today, who may have more experience than you. When you’re starting out, pick a niche rather than be a generalist. And, the more oddball the niche, the less competition you’ll have.
So, what oddball niche will you create for yourself this year? Tell me about it here.
Coming tomorrow … I’ll show you how to gain an edge over the large pool of newbie copywriters entering the marketplace today.
Until then …
About the Author:
Bob Bly has been a copywriter for 36 years, is the author of 85 published books, has a BS in chemical engineering, and writes both B2B and consumer direct response. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s Top Copywriter.”
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