How to Compete with All the Newbie Copywriters
Bob Bly here. This week, I’m giving you my take on how to make it as a freelance copywriter today.
On Monday, I gave you the three key items to freelance writing success. And yesterday, I pointed out the two kinds of competitors you’ll face.
One group is 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 may have. And I gave you my key strategy for succeeding despite the existence of this heavyweight competition.
The second type of competition comes from newbie copywriters. And no matter where you are in your career, this big group of newbie copywriters represents competition for you.
If you’re an old pro like me, the large pool of newbies gives clients a cheaper alternative to hiring you, putting downward pressure on fees.
If you’re a newbie copywriter, how do you compete against other newbies with training, skill level, and experience as good as or better than yours?
Here are a few strategies that can help you win work and beat out your competition …
To begin with, as already discussed this week, be a specialist, not a generalist.
Specialists are more in demand and command higher fees. They have an easier time getting assignments and have fewer competitors than generalists.
To be a specialist, you must pick a niche, marketing yourself as a specialist in that niche, and master the subject matter.
Become a copy cub.
A limited number of senior copywriters (and I am not among them) hire junior copywriters in some fashion to work with them. These juniors are called “copy cubs,” a term I find demeaning, but no one asked me. (To be fair, junior newspaper reports used to be called “cub reporters.”)
Becoming a copy cub to a big-name, A-list copywriter can accelerate your career in several ways. First, it’s great training – one of the best ways to accelerate your progress as a high-performance copywriter.
Second, you build a track record and a portfolio you can use to sell yourself to other clients. Caveat: some senior copywriters require their cubs to keep the relationship confidential and do not allow them to present samples or results as their own.
Get a staff job.
Get a staff position as a copywriter at a top company in your niche.
If you want to write financial copy, there’s no better preparation than to become a staff copywriter at Agora.
If you want to write for high-tech, a job as a writer with Microsoft or Dell would be good starting points.
For social media? Facebook is the place to be.
I worked as a staff copywriter for big corporations for a few years before going freelance, and it was a beneficial apprenticeship for me.
The Claude Hopkins secret.
Legendary copywriter Claude Hopkins said the reason he earned more than twice as much as any other copywriter of the day was that he worked more than twice as hard and long.
Putting your nose to the grindstone can place you in an income bracket your fellow copywriters would envy. I became a millionaire while still in my 30s, all from my writing. And I still work 12 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Tell me in the comments which strategy you plan to use to get ahead of your competition.
And then tomorrow, I’ll share what I think is the most important thing you should be focusing on to be a successful freelance copywriter.
Stay tuned …
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.”
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 »