Copywriting is the art of composing compelling sales or marketing verbiage. In a nutshell, copywriting can be any words you see in a:
- Newspaper, magazine or billboard advertisement
- Direct-mail package
- Magazine subscription renewal form
- Company newsletter or website
- Fundraising request
- Sales flyer
- Mail-order catalog
- Promotional display stand
In other words, copywriting is everywhere! And that's good news for folks who are looking for copywriting jobs. If you are a freelance copywriter working from the comfort of your home, the Internet has opened up the entire world (literally) to potential clients. It's a great way to find a job. If you prefer the comfort of steady, full-time office jobs, there are positions for you, too. For example you might work for an advertising, marketing or public relations agency helping to create sales material for various clients. Or you could work in-house for one specific business or company doing the same thing.
Here are some different ways to get your writing career started and find copywriting positions:
- Internet job postings. Craigslist is the granddaddy of freelance writing jobs; it lists full-time staff writing positions as well. Look out, however, for scams, and non-paying positions. Some companies will ask for a copywriting sample, and then take your copy and run; others say that you can write sales copy for them "for the exposure." That may be fine if you're just starting out in the industry, and trying to get some of your words in print, but it's not going to help you pay the mortgage! You'd be better off simply composing some sample sales copy on a product, local restaurant or business if a potential employer is interested in seeing some of your work.
My hands-down favorite place to find a succinct listing of copywriting jobs is Deb Ng's Freelance Writing Jobs blog. She does all the work for you: searching a number of job-posting boards and compiling a list nearly every weekday. In turn, she asks you to "pay it forward" if you found a job lead through her listings; you can also give her a small token of your appreciation via PayPal. If you want to search boards yourself, visit Journalism Jobs, About Freelance Writing, Media Bistro, Monster.com or Online Writing Jobs.
- The business down the street. Nearly any business in your hometown needs copywriting. The local restaurant needs someone to update its menu. The pet store needs to advertise its annual sale. The massage therapist wants to create a sales flyer. A local caterer wants to clean up her website copy. The nonprofit organization needs help with a fundraising letter.
It may be intimidating for you to cold call local businesses, but if you have business cards, an updated resume, and some samples of your work, you're ready to promote your freelance copywriting services to other businesses. Simply make a phone call to the business owner, or visit in person, and explain what you can do for them-increase their business, improve their online presence, help them make more money. Be prepared to discuss your rates; consider offering an "introductory" fee in order to get their business. Oftentimes, one local client can lead to others via word of mouth.
- Local advertising, marketing or public relations companies. Whether you're a freelance copywriter looking for some extra work or you need a full-time staff job, talk to local ad agencies. Perhaps they took on more clients than their in-house staff can handle and could outsource some writing work. Or a staff member just quit. Get your resume and writing samples in the hands of the company president (or hiring manager) and you'll be the first person to call when they have work available.
- Newspaper job classifieds. Yes, you can find copywriting jobs advertised in the local papers, but then there will be dozens (hundreds?) of others in your area competing for the position. It's better to cold call companies (see above) and let them know about your services before they are hiring. Then you'll be at the top of the list, and perhaps they won't even need to run a public ad.
- Networking. This term can scare off shy copywriters. It doesn't mean you need to shout about your services from the rooftops, attend expensive conferences or seminars or bore anyone and everyone with your career ambitions. It simply means that if you're at a cocktail party, and someone asks what's new, you might say, "Actually, I'm taking on more copywriting clients. Can you think of anyone who might need my services?" Then hand your friend or acquaintance a business card, and ask him or her to please keep you in mind. Similarly, send a friendly "I'm looking for work" email to friends and family. Also look into local business networking opportunities; these can be fun events, where you'll meet other like-minded folks who are often happy to share job-hunting tips. Good luck!
Now you know how to get paid to write! Get out there and start your professional copywriting career!