Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Entering the World of Copywriting

There are many would-be successful writers who miss out on great opportunities, and copywriting is just one of them. For freelance writers and even full-time job seekers, writing copy may be the perfect gig.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting, or writing copy, is the art of marketing. Most copy is intended to sell a product or service, which can run the gamut from diet supplements to car insurance.

With the ever-growing presence of the web, however, the world of copywriting has expanded. Now, you can write copy for web sites to help boost readership or membership, create attractive web content, write ads, compile frequently–asked-questions (FAQ) pages, and develop complete marketing campaigns.

Copywriting can be a very rewarding profession, especially for the talented and, just like writing a novel or short story, is both challenging and exciting.

Understand Good Copy

Skilled masters of copywriting know the art of persuasion. As a copywriter, your job is to persuade and convince readers to buy a service or tangible good. How can you tell the difference, though, between good and bad copy?

Your copywriting career starts right in the heart of junk mail. Start by saving every piece of unsolicited mail and reading them. Everything from credit card deals to subscription offers will serve as part of your research.

As you read your mail, you will begin to understand the power of writing good copy. Pay close attention to copy that really catches your attention, especially ones that make you want to get what’s being offered. The bland and boring ones are also just as important. Ask yourself why it was ineffective and what your inner copywriter can do to make it better. Soon, you will know what makes good copy.

Just a word of caution – skip the ones you have zero interest in and save them for later. You might make the mistake of calling the copy bad, when, in fact, it is excellent.

Learning is Key

When you know the difference between good and bad copy, you are halfway there. You have a taste of what the business is like and you still want to shoot for it - this is a good place for anyone interested in copywriting to be.

Here comes the tough part. You already have the passion, so now is a great time to start learning. Read books and articles to hone your skills, and it’s a good idea to take courses in persuasive writing or copywriting.

If this isn’t an option for you, keep reading your junk mail and practice writing copy. Pick a company or a product, and pretend that you were asked to write copy for them. You want to know certain things about your fake audience. How old are they? What is their level of education? Where do they live? What is their average income?

Be tough on yourself – critique and evaluate everything you write. It’s nice to have an honest friend to give you their thoughts on your work. Writing pretend copy is a great way to enhance your writing skills and prepare you for the real thing.

Make sure you continue to educate yourself through courses, books, articles, journals and the Internet. There is always a way to learn, even with a limited amount of money or time.

Open For Business

When you feel confident in your skills, start your business today! Business cards are all you need to start, an expense of about $15. List yourself in free directories at Yahoo or Excite. A web site is also a must-have. Through a website, you can advertise all of your services and display writing examples. You can get free web hosting almost anywhere these days and many will provide templates to help build your site.

Market yourself to potential clients. It’s a good idea to perform free work for friends and family who own businesses or a web site of any sort. Have them spread the word about your new service. Don’t limit your potential – find every avenue for writing copy. Send e-mails and letters out to business owners marketing your services. These people may have never heard of copywriting, or perhaps they didn’t know how helpful it could be to them. Make suggestions in your marketing letter that are specific to their business.

Don’t stop there – the possibilities are endless. Here is just a short list of what you can offer as a professional:

  • Ad writing
  • Sales letters
  • Reminder notices
  • Debt and late payment letters
  • E-mail marketing
  • eBay and auction sales writing
  • Web content (to draw more readers / customers)
  • Opening pages for web sites and newsletters
  • Slogans
  • Brochures and pamphlets

Keep learning and improving every step of the way. Good luck!

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