Reader Question: Copywriting

      7 Comments on Reader Question: Copywriting

Question: Do you think it’s possible for someone to succeed in the world of copywriting? I REALLY need to get some kind of ongoing writing work going for me this year, and after doing the math, soul-searching and weighing my options based on what free time I can create for it, I’ve decided that copywriting would probably be my best bet. Please let me know your thoughts on this, and maybe even some ideas on how to get started.

Answer: Good question. However, you may not be thrilled with my answer because it’s: It depends.

Copywriting has been bandied around as an easy to crack niche, a way to get create a professional wage, a solid source of steady work. And it is. Kinda… sorta… sometimes.

Thing is, along with the rest of the economy, copywriting is evolving. Gone are the days when you could slap up a website, promote it a little, and BOOM! You’ve got writing gigs. Today you need to be a savvy marketer as well as a killer copywriter to land the big clients with even bigger budgets. In fact, I hear it’s even becoming difficult to land mid-range clients without a fair amount of experience, a great track record, while developing a good working relationship with your client.

Sounds a lot like standard freelancing, eh?

So, here’s my current advice for all aspiring copywriters (heck, this advice hasn’t actually changed in the last ten years now that I think about it): First, build your copywriting skills. Study persuasion, perhaps even a little psychology. Next, start small. Work with local businesses and build your business acumen. Next, make sure you produce good work. Remember, copywriting is all about the numbers. Remember to connect with other copywriters and study the craft together.

Don’t pay big bucks to gurus promising to “reveal secrets.” Nab pretty much any book by Bob Bly (easily available on Amazon) and you’ve got the majority of the deep dark secrets for pennies on the dollar.

Finally, don’t fall for the hype. You can make a nice living as a copywriter but to make a gazillion bucks in a matter of months? Seriously. Really? It’s a career path, nothing more.

Got any ideas? Voice ’em in the comments area.

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  • Christine Cassello

    I read what you said about copywriting and I suspected such was the case which is why I have not enrolled in the AWAI course I get so much publicity about. Are you familiar with it and does it really do what it claims? I am sure there is going to be some risk involved but I can’t afford to put a lot of money into something without at least believing I can get that much back from it.

    • Beth

      Hey Christine,

      I’m familiar with AWAI. While I took their course back in ’99, much of what made their course very good is now no longer in existence. From what I hear, you no longer get personal critiques from working copywriters… this is a huge development. They also do not help you find clients so you’re on your own whether you take your course or not. Also, AWAI is not a school, they’re a direct marketing company so be aware you’ll get many notices for new products, some very expensive. You can get the same information from Bly’s “Copywriters Handbook” without all the upsell.

      Just my opinion for today.

      I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

      Beth 🙂

    • C. Rose

      I take it that at one point you were a paid contributor to the advertisement for AWAI. I also assume that you no longer subscribe to their teaching method or claims. No wait, it’s your claim:
      “I Finally Found a Way to Make a Living as a Writer! I’m averaging about $150 an hour and only work a few hours each morning, leaving me time to pursue my first love: Fiction.” From the desk of Beth Erickson…
      The point I’m trying to make here is that if you no longer subscribe to the declaration can you not demand that they stop using your name to push their product? Or do you still get a royalty for every course bought through websites like, Funds for Writers ? A conundrum I’d say.

      • Beth

        Hey CGRose,

        I don’t receive royalties from AWAI and was unaware they were still using that piece. I allowed them to write that a l-o-n-g time ago. Considering I took their course back in ’99, I’m surprised it’s still in circulation. I’ll have to contact them. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

        Beth

  • Hi Beth and fellow wordsmiths. Just an addition to the comment about copywriting. First, you are right about the number of self proclaimed guru’s out there who will promise copywriting fortunes and then send you and expensive course that says little over and above the common sense most writers already possess. I am pleased you promoted Bob Bly, he is, and not proclomation, one of if not the best copywriter in the industry today. In addition to grabbing as many of his books from amazon as you can I would also go to his site, http://www.bly.com, sign up for his free newsletter and search the site where you will find an abundance of infomation on Copywriting and Marketing your copywriting business.

    Whilst doing that, I would also get a hold of a couple of advertising/marketing books, in particular, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Confessions of an Advertising man by David Ogilvy, considered the father of advertising, plus anything by Sig Rosenblum, Eugene Swartz or Mel Martin.

    One other thing to do is join Elance, http://www.elance.com, sign up for the AWIA newsletter at http://www.awia.com where you will find a plethora of information and blogs from some of the most talented copywriters and merketers in the world, including Bob Bly and Michael Masterson.

    The other name to check out is the man Bob Bly describes as the top earning copywriter in the world, Clayton Makepeace, http://www.makepeacetotalpackage.com. Join Clayton’s newsletter group where again you will discover a wealth of information on copywriting do’s and don’ts.

    Hope this helps

    James

    • Beth

      Hi James,

      Thanks for your comment and links. I hope other freelance writers find them helpful. Only one word of caution: remember when you get into the world of copywriting you’re dealing with MASTER persuaders. Nab the freebie information that’s useful and ignore the rest. By all means, hold tight to your purse strings because I’ve heard of far too many writers who wind up tossing tens of thousands of dollars at these gurus with little to nothing to show for it.

      Seriously. If you want to learn the craft, get Bly’s books on Amazon. Same info at a fraction of the price.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

      Beth 🙂

  • Thanks for posting this, Beth. Very helpful information.