The Head Start in Copywriting (You May Not Know You Have!)

Desk showing hands of business people at a meeting and the word B2B

Imagine this scenario …

You're the marketing director of a corporate training business. Your company promotes workshops and events across the country. You need to find a copywriter to help with web copy, emails, ads, blog content, the works.

You have whittled your list down to two possibilities:

The first is Freelancer Jim. He's been a copywriter for years. However, he doesn't have any experience writing for the training industry, so he doesn't have an in-depth understanding of training products and the marketplace. At least, not yet. You have no doubt Jim can get up to speed quickly, but you're still hesitant to hire him.

The second is Freelancer Laura. She's just starting out as a trained copywriter, but comes from a background in corporate training and development. Laura knows, at least generally, all about training programs and services for the corporate sector. She’s been part of the target audience. You're confident she can quickly understand your company's services and its target audience. But, she doesn’t have a lot of paid experience writing all of the project types.

So who are you most likely to hire? Jim or Laura?

Think about it before you answer. Remember, Jim has years of experience as a copywriter. Laura is just starting her freelance business after getting some good copywriting training. (She's a beginner.)

In my experience, Laura is most likely to get the gig.

Why is that?

In my world, where I work primarily with Business-to-Business companies, marketing directors place a high value on industry experience and knowledge. That's because they know that a copywriter who understands their industry is likely to:

  • Get up to speed more quickly on their products and services.
  • Understand their target buyers better.
  • Write copy that is more accurate, on target and persuasive.
  • Not need a lot of "hand-holding."

As AWAI Member Robin Rees, a former marketing director-turned-copywriter, pointed out to me in a recent interview, marketing directors see that kind of copywriter as a "subject matter expert." That simply means they know more about the industry than most other writers.

What does this mean to you as a freelance copywriter?

It means you have a huge head start to getting copywriting clients if you focus on an industry where you have some experience.

I could go on and on. In fact, I know a copywriter who was a commercial truck driver for several years. He now writes for, you guessed it, transportation companies.

But you don't need to have direct experience in a particular industry. If you have a background that's related in some way, that can give you an advantage in getting clients.

Say, for example, you've been a teacher for many years. You could write for educational publishers. Or for training companies. Your knowledge of teaching and working in the education sector is related to both those industries.

Here's another example. Say you've worked as an office manager for several years. You could write for companies that sell to offices: software companies, office equipment manufacturers, office supply companies, etc. Marketing directors of those types of companies will be interested in your writing services because you know their target audience well. You were their target audience!

That's the great thing about writing for Business-to-Business companies. You can leverage your background to give yourself a huge head start in getting clients and making good money.

So how do you use this strategy to start or grow your freelance copywriting business?

Here's what I want you to do …

Create a page with two columns. On the left side, write down all the industries where you have some background. Then, in the right column, brainstorm types of companies that are related to that experience.

Here's an example:

My background:
Management consultant for 7 years

Types of companies I could write for:
Consulting firms
Training firms
Professional speakers (on leadership and management topics)
Companies that train/coach management consultants

Chances are, the types of companies you list are those that will value your knowledge and experience.

Do you have any questions about how you could leverage your experience to write for the B2B market? Post in the comments below so we can get you the answers you need.

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Published: August 3, 2018

9 Responses to “The Head Start in Copywriting (You May Not Know You Have!)”

  1. I would really like to try to start copywriting in the Christian Video Game Industry as well as businesses catering to Start-up entrepreneurs needing certain ecommerce tools, since I am definitely a customer! I am also a huge Lord of the Rings (online game, too) fan... this is very helpful, many thanks!

    Guest (kmc777)

  2. Hello Steve,

    That was a very good and informative article.

    I have a question for you though. I would love to hear your suggestions.

    Based on my background as a former athlete from Pee-wee leagues to the Professional levels and after that, being involved in various types of sales,i.e., from door to door to telephone sales rep, etc. I'm now pursuing direct response copywriting.

    What type of companies do you think I could potentially write for?

    Thank you you for listening.

    Marcellus Greene

  3. I can confirm this to be true.

    I retired from tech and now have an international client. First project, I found a major error in a malware category name. They checked with their engineers and all said I was correct.

    That error upended the entire company. They now need to redo five years of documents, etc.

    They just asked me to review a contract to work with their largest marketing division along with my current work for them.

    Ange Gos

  4. I am a 22 year veteran classroom teacher and I want to write for education and management industries. Any advice on how to start?

    james p

  5. I have been in IT for over 22 years in a couple of different arena's. Not even sure where to begin to find clients in B2B. Any ideas or guidance is always welcome.

    Liz Nellis

  6. I have a lot of different fields of experience. Some work and some hobbies. I think to narrow to a field of two i should find which i am most i defeated in or passionate about. Not sure how to go about that yet.


  7. I have 2 that are top in my list.
    1. Transportation becuase I was a long haul truck driver for a very large company it was my most loved job.

    2. Medical/Health. I had to leave truck driving due to Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. It's hard to drive a big rig when you don't know where your foot is. I have been disabled since 1998.


  8. I have been in IT for over 20 years for multiple business entities:
    School District Banking Construction/Mining equipment Hospital Technology companies (Motorola, Samsung)

    Other industries non IT Certified Nursing Assistant at Elder Care facilities.
    Ins Coordinator for a Credit Union AR coordinator at Coffee Company

    Courses in RE Sales, Appraisal and Home Inspection and have been licensed.

    I am struggling to find the right niche or even one to start with. I need some guidance. Anyone?

    Liz Nellis

  9. Making 2 columns with experience and what industries would be pair with my experience was brilliant! I had actually forgotten some of my experiences until I did that.
    I have actually come up with 2 possible niches and now I need to pick one.

    lee L

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