The Dilemma New Copywriters Face

Bobby's dad drove him to his first Little League ball game.

All the way to the ballpark, Bobby sat quietly in the back seat of the station wagon. His gaze was split between looking out the window and staring at the floor.

The closer they got to the field, the more restless he became.

Dad parked the car and walked around to open the door. He knew what was going on in Bobby's mind.

Smiling, he asked, "What's on your mind, son?"

"Dad, after all the practices I've been to, what if Coach doesn't put me in the game? What if I sit on the bench the whole time? I'd feel like a fool."

He peered down at the ground, kicking the loose dirt dejectedly.

"Son, is that all it is?

Bobby looked tearfully up at his father. "No, Dad. There's something else."

Taking a deep, quivering breath, he confessed, "What if he does let me play, and I'm not good enough? What then?"

Sound familiar?

Acknowledge your fears and move on

Bobby's experience totally matches my early days as a freelance writer.

One minute I was worried that I'd never get hired to write. The next … I was worried about what would happen if I did.

If I never got hired, I would never realize my dream of the writer's life. But if I did, I might fall flat on my face. My dream would go up in smoke again!

What a dilemma!

But after finding the solution, my fears began to dissipate, and the awareness that I could be a successful freelance writer became real.

Once I accepted the reality and worked to make it happen, clients did start finding me. I did write successfully for them. And one more thing happened that really boosted my confidence.

Clients began referring to me as a professional.

That's going to be the thrust of the rest of this article. We'll look at getting found, and then getting good.

The reality is that both of these scenarios are fixable. Let's start with the first one — getting found.

Two forms of self-marketing

Getting found by prospective clients requires that they know you exist. You need to market yourself as a copywriter. No way around that.

There are two forms of marketing for anything that is sold or offered:

  • Inbound or passive marketing means that the prospect or buyer comes to you.
  • Outbound or active marketing is when you reach out to them.

Both have advantages and disadvantages. But one thing they have in common is that they're more effective if you have selected a niche or target market. Finding a niche is something many new writers struggle with in the beginning.

But targeting your efforts to a focused market improves your results.

Inbound marketing takes time and effort

Two major components of inbound marketing are your website and a LinkedIn profile. Because you're not connecting directly with your prospects, they have to find you. That said, if you consistently send out the right signals, they will find you. Let's look at these two methods of inbound marketing.

Your copywriter website

Your website is more than just an online business card. It is:

  • Your online base of operations.
  • Your online portfolio (with or without samples).
  • Your online means of connecting (contact form, phone number, email address, etc.).
  • Your way of getting found online by being indexed and ranked by the search engines. Indexing means the search engine has found your site and read it. Ranking is the "weight" or value it places on your site as compared to other, similar websites.

Your site must be written well since it may be the first impression prospects get about your writing. And we all know that first impressions count. The website must engage and speak to your readers for you.

As mentioned, SEO is writing your content and copy for the search engines. I use a different acronym for writing your site effectively for readers: REO.

REO stands for Reader Engagement Optimization. There is really no plug-in for good, compelling, and engaging copy. It's all up to you.

But for SEO, there are many plug-ins available for a WordPress website.

I recommend using WordPress for your website platform, with an SEO (search engine optimization) plug-in to alert the search engines that you exist. I prefer the Yoast SEO plugin. The free version works great, and it's easy to set up.

Adding blog articles to your website shows the search engines that you not only exist, but that you're alive and active.

Your LinkedIn Profile

A LinkedIn profile is like a miniature, one-page website. Much of the information from your website can be used on the profile. And some of the information is really easier to add and display on LinkedIn.

A website is an island in a vast ocean. A profile is an island in a large lake. Since LinkedIn is a platform that's targeted toward business, it's sometimes easier to "catch a fish."

It's important to use both effectively

In both a website and a LinkedIn profile, you get better results with the premium options. For a website, that means paid hosting (the price varies with the web hosting company).

A LinkedIn premium package gives you more information and better contacting options. For a freelancer, I recommend the Business Plus package. This is based on the information given by several LinkedIn coaches and professionals I follow.

While working with inbound marketing strategies is less scary, it's also more time consuming and slower than outbound marketing. But you do need to have your business online.

If you want to move faster, read on.

Outbound marketing is fast

You still need a website and/or LinkedIn profile. Prospective clients will want to see one. It adds credibility.

But developing a list of prospects and contacting them gets the word out faster. And here again, there are two way to do this.

  • You can gather your list by searching the Internet and offline resources and developing your own custom list. However, this can take a lot of time.
  • You can buy a list from a qualified list broker. This may cost several hundred dollars. But you'll get a vetted, qualified list of prospects.

Either one will work. And both will work better if you have a niche to target. What it boils down to is whether you want to save money creating your own list or spend money on a good list and save time.

The question is: How much time do you want to spend before making money?

But, now for the second problem.

"What if they DO contact me about my services?"

Learn your craft

The more you know about something, the more comfortable you feel doing it.

Professional copywriting is no different. Invest in good training materials. The programs at American Writers & Artists Institute are excellent. I'm a Circle of Success member there. And I've spent good money on programs designed to teach me the craft.

Subscribe to sites like this one, B2B Writing Success.

Understand that you definitely need to make an investment in your training. But, let me tell you this. You can get someone else to fund your training. I'm serious. Here's how I did it.

I paid for my first two or three programs out of pocket. Then I used what I learned to get some paying clients.

From that point on, the clients paid for my training. And my website hosting and LinkedIn fees. Learn all you can and apply it, and your business eventually will start paying your expenses. Just don't fall into the "professional student" trap. Take action.

And best of all, when a potential client calls … you'll know exactly what to do next.

Here's to your success!

This article, The Dilemma New Copywriters Face, was originally published by B2B Writing Success.

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Published: April 21, 2016

6 Responses to “The Dilemma New Copywriters Face”

  1. This article tells me what direction to go from here and since I have just started, I have a long way to go. I must learn my craft and I am working on it and I must get into Linekedin and get a profile. Also, I need a niche but I am just starting and now with this working plan I sure will work at it. Thank you Will. Susan

    Capture Emotions help your body healApril 21, 2016 at 8:28 pm

  2. This post is exactly what I needed. I'm taking the Resume Writing course and had several questions that were answered in this post. Thanks!

    Thomas ArillottaApril 22, 2016 at 5:10 am

  3. Great article, Steve, thank you! Investment, strategy, action. A good word.

    Sharon BrodinApril 22, 2016 at 2:10 pm

  4. I like this article for the reason that it deals in specifics such as where to look for creating a result oriented website and Linked in profile.....

    It makes us to become aware of the two dilemmas distinctly and how to go about in addressing them.

    Guest (Krishnan Venkatasubbu)April 23, 2016 at 9:03 am

  5. When placed in a situation that calls for creativity, knowledge etc. to effect a result, we all want the attribute that will give the best result. When we are not sure of all of the correct parameters, we check.
    Of equal ( or greater) importance is what "NOT" to do. "Hey, let's see what happens if we ' turn this pot, throw this switch, fire two people etc. Check before you wreck.

    ElectricfredApril 25, 2016 at 3:37 pm

  6. Steve - thanks for the helpful self-marketing tips.

    I'm a 30 year IT veteran looking to build a part-time copywriting business. If it becomes successful, I'd consider freelancing full-time.

    Would you recommend adding copywriting details to my existing Linked profile or create a second profile dedicated to copywriting? I'd think a separate profile would cause less confusion for potential clients but I'm hoping to get a feel for how other part-timers have done it.

    Jim CarlisleMay 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm


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