The People Behind the 5 Phases of Your Copywriting Success
It's Pam Foster again — your guest columnist for this week's articles for The Writer's Life.
Yesterday I mentioned my peer-power group and how lucky I've been as part of a super helpful group of fellow aspiring copywriters.
Today, I want to talk you through the 5 phases of growing and succeeding as a professional copywriter.
What do I mean by "5 phases"?
You may be thinking that there's really just one aspect to becoming an effectively highly paid copywriter: learning how to write, and keep writing.
However, to turn copywriting into a livelihood where you're working on projects that bring in great results and revenue … you'll need to round out your copywriting skills with several other components.
For instance, the way you position yourself is a huge deal because you'll be looking for the RIGHT clients, not just tire-kickers who have no money. Right?
In that case, you want to be a well-rounded expert who not only knows how to write excellent copy, but also knows how to attract great clients and land exciting, lucrative projects … and keep the best clients coming back to you again and again.
So, the road to six-figure copywriting encompasses a multi-faceted approach.
But before I reveal the five phases, I have to provide an important note.
To make serious progress through all five phases … you want to surround yourself with people who are on this path with you.
Yes, each of the five phases I'm about to describe is extremely valuable, but in addition, having a "support team" is the extra oomph that will help you advance through each phase as quickly as possible.
Consider how a peer group can help make the following five phases a breeze for you.
PHASE 1: Master the skills that WORK
That's a given no matter what type of copywriting you choose to offer, from direct mail packages, email campaigns and online video sales letters to websites, landing pages, and just about any other type of marketing copywriting.
You gotta have the goods. This means you need to continually study the fundamentals of headlines, leads, offers, tone, emotional appeal, calls-to-action, etc. so your work gets better and better. (And you can command higher fees.) This is the first priority.
(A peer group can support your success in mastering skills by giving you feedback, encouragement, tips, and overall support along the way. For example, as you learn to improve your skills in writing great headlines or leads, you can ask peers to weigh in on your first drafts and revisions.)
PHASE 2: Show proof that you're a high-end professional
You may already be aware that there are thousands of so-called copywriters willing to write articles for $10 on "project bidding sites." Sadly, when copywriting is seen as a commodity that goes to the lowest bidder … clients don't value the skills you've developed.
Instead, you want to rise above the "bidding pool" and build a reputation for top-quality work that's worth so much more to clients who understand and appreciate the value. That's where your portfolio comes in. You'll want to pull together strong writing samples and testimonials that wow prospective clients.
(A peer group can give you a gut-check on your portfolio work. Also, you can share ideas on how to present a portfolio, collect testimonials, promote them on your website and in your marketing, etc.)
PHASE 3: Create a focused plan for your career path
These days, you can't just be a general copywriter. It will be too hard for clients to find you in the sea of other general copywriters. It's much more effective to focus on a single niche industry that's loaded with clients eager to find you. There are dozens of super-strong niche markets available to you today, such as health, financial, self-help, software, and the green/eco market. The choice just depends on your interests, experiences, affinities, and other factors that fit you and your writing style. Plus, you need to position yourself that way so clients find you.
For example, if you want to write for the medical software or IT industry, you'll want to make a plan to name your business along those lines, set up a website that talks about your services for that industry, and get involved with industry trade groups. Plus, you'll want to make decisions about the types of copywriting services you offer, the hours you work, and so forth.
(This is where a peer group can give you confidence about the niche you've chosen and how to promote yourself to that market. You can poll the group on different names you're considering for your business. You can ask for feedback on your logo and your website design and content, etc. Plus, as you provide feedback to your fellow peers, you'll gain confidence as an advisor on what works best. This is great practice for working with clients.)
PHASE 4: Get set to launch!
As you're learning how to master your copywriting skills while considering which industry you'd like to focus on, at some point you need to pull the trigger and declare that you're open for business.
But what does that really mean? It means you'll want to prepare a website that goes live on a certain date. You'll want to have a growing portfolio of samples, a list of prospective clients, and an overall game plan on how you're going to bring in new work starting on a certain date. Then, on that magic launch date … you're ready to dominate the world!
(Once again, your fellow peers can help keep you motivated as you make your final preparations for launch. Once idea is to trade website proofreading services with each other. You proofread a peer's site and he or she proofreads yours. With this fresh review, each of you can ensure that there aren't any typos, broken links, etc. You may even want to write each other's websites since it can be hard to write about yourself.)
PHASE 5: Continue to build your momentum
Quick question. Do your learning and self-promotion efforts stop after you get your first clients? Heck, no! If you want to keep growing, you'll want to dedicate yourself to the steady, continuous pursuit of strengthening your skills and bringing in more business.
You'll want to take new assignments that "scare" you, knowing you have support and resources to jump in and do a great job. And, as you grow, you'll want to have a team of peers who are growing as well, so you can cheer each other on and share ideas.
(I know from personal experience that the path to a six-figure writing career takes patience, persistence and steady progress. Along the way, I've been fortunate to have peers who were in similar situations … and therefore we supported each other long after the initial launch of our businesses. Years later, we're still in touch and we still send copy samples, questions, and encouragement to each other. It's a never-ending journey that's much more enjoyable as a team!)
There you have it. The 5 phases of your brilliant life as a copywriter — all achievable alone, but amplified and accelerated with peers at your side. Think of your peer group as a think tank that supports you every step of the way.
Can you identify where you are in these five phases? And, is there someone in your peer group who can possibly help out during these phases? Make a list of potential peers … and think about how to meet others.
Also, be sure to leave a comment about where you are in the five-phase journey. We'd love to know!
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