What Inspired Copywriters To Enter The Market
As an experienced copywriter, I’m passionate about writing high-quality, well-researched content that matches the tone and style of my clients.
It’s always been a passion of mine, and I couldn’t imagine having another job. However, the more experienced I become in the copywriting and content space, and the more I delve into the market, the more I find it to be a challenging and strange place.
From answering questions from budding copywriters on Quora and other Q&A sites to reading my fellow copywriters’ comments on social networking sites like LinkedIn, I’ve noticed how competitive and tough the copywriting market can be today, particularly for corporate copywriters like me. For freelance copywriters, it’s even harder, with the freelance market so precarious.
There are many different types of copywriters, content creators and journalists out there, but I’m focusing on business copywriters and content managers who write for organisations across the corporate landscape.
While I adore writing reviews of fun stuff, like food, lifestyle, books and puppies, I’ve had to specialise in business content, B2B marketing and search engine optimised website writing.
As such, this article is about my experience in these markets, and how potential copywriters who want to enter it can succeed.
If you want to find out more about the challenges that copywriters face, and the reasons why they still love their jobs, then read on.
What Is The Copywriting Market Like Today?
Copywriting and content creation is a highly-competitive market, with many budding copywriters out to get their start and many veterans trying to remain relevant in an ever-evolving niche.
Freelance copywriting is particularly popular among creative individuals who need flexibility, as it offers them the chance to ‘be their own boss’, as the saying goes. They can set their own hours, choose their clients, set prices and more- or so you might be led to believe.
However, becoming a freelance copywriter does come with a lot of challenges, including instability, the admin that comes with running your own business and the challenge of getting customers to pay up for the services they’ve received.
With so many individuals competing for work, being a freelance copywriter and finding copywriting jobs can be tough too. Many development firms have exploited this by creating freelancing platforms, where freelancers can bid for jobs and get themselves noticed.
Some of the platforms might be useful, but in general, they’re difficult to build a career on because they devalue writers and drive businesses to focus on paying as little as possible while expecting high-quality content.
Many of them also charge freelancers for the opportunity to pitch clients and get work, meaning you’ll make even less money in the long run.
As such, becoming a freelance copywriter can mean that you don’t have the freedom that you desire. You might find that you end up with just as many commitments as an in-house member of staff, but without the security and perks such as holiday pay and office drinks.
That doesn’t mean that every writer should jump on an in-house job. Even in-house copywriters face challenges: many companies have unrealistic expectations of creative teams, and often they’re reluctant to invest money in their development and growth. I’m fortunate to be working for a company that values me and my contribution, but I’ve worked for several that don’t and try to make writers feel like a burden.
As a result, you end up working long hours for very little money, and feeling lousy along with it. You also find that your writing quality deteriorates, and you’re unable to improve your skillset due to the immense pressure that you’re under. As mentioned before, I’m lucky to be working with a forward-thinking orgnisation, but that wasn’t always the case.
Alongside the creative and practical challenges that copywriters often face, there are also many different elements to consider. In today’s digital-driven marketplace, copywriting is also closely linked with SEO, thanks to the rise of online platforms and digital marketing, so writers no longer focus exclusively on words, grammar and semantics.
Now, they’ve got to include even more in their work and show customers that they’re not only great wordsmiths but also SEO experts who can help them to generate leads, reach the top of their target SERPs and much more. Adding keywords into content can compromise its quality, so writers often face a balancing act to ensure that their content appeals to both readers and search engine algorithms.
As all of this shows, writing can be challenging, and it isn’t necessarily lucrative. It can take a lot of money, software solutions and other resources to become a copywriter. It can also be hard to find high-paying jobs, at least when you first start your career. Often, you have to earn a strong reputation and some great repeat clients before you can start making the money you expected.
For some time, you might find yourself working for free just to build a portfolio, or taking on an in-house job that you don’t enjoy. However, the same could be said for most careers, and over time copywriting can become a highly-rewarding profession.
Why Do Copywriters Start Writing?
With so many challenges facing them, you might be surprised to hear that becoming a copywriter is still an incredibly popular career.
Many individuals try to become writers, offering their services on platforms such as LinkedIn, as well as freelancing spaces.
When I was hiring in-house writers for previous roles, we would always get incredibly talented applicants with advanced degrees, who had been blogging and writing for free for months or even years. Often, the jobs were low-paid, entry-level roles, but they would still put their all into getting them just to get their foot on the writing ladder.
So, why do they do it?
Personally, I became a copywriter because I love writing and reading. I’ve always been passionate about words, so writing was always something that seemed like a good way to earn a living.
I entered the copywriting market relatively naïve about what it entailed, but thankfully I quickly picked up on what the copywriting landscape is like today and have enjoyed my career ever since. At first, things were tough, but over the years, I’ve improved and grown my portfolio and skillset.
Over this time, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great writers, marketers and SEOs over the years, which has really helped me to enjoy my work. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from the bad experiences and get some really great ones too, so I still love my role and enjoy spending all day, every day writing quality content.
It isn’t as easy as I thought it would be to write about exactly what I want; clients tend to have their own topics! Despite this, I’ve come to enjoy the process of researching new topics and learning about the latest business practices and trends.
I’ve also created my own blog to allow myself the chance to write about what I love, so I’m literally always writing. I love running my own blog, because it gives me the chance to make my own creative choices and write about the topics I love. Also, it’s a book blog, and as a result, I get to talk to great writers and read amazing books!
Finola Billings, a Content Manager who used to be a freelance writer, started for a similar reason to me: she just loves writing and the freedom it brings.
“I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity about the world. Choosing writing as a career path has allowed me to work with people from a variety of walks of life. So far, I’ve cast my “career net” out to an array of fascinating topics: from psychology to education, from travel to technology. Essentially, writing empowers me with a sense of freedom in my career.”
The varied nature of writing and the diversity of the topics you get to write about, is also a draw for many writers. Alison Brinkworth, who is a freelance copywriter and content creator through her company ABC Communications, said:
“I started out as a journalist, so I always realised the power of words. I expanded into content creation and copywriting as a freelancer as the demand for online content in particular grew. I’ve worked with agencies, businesses and charities, who are are all keen to use people with experience in writing clear, concise copy that moves, excites and, most importantly, is accurate. That is whether it’s in print, online or for scripts. There’s a lot of variety in this kind of work, and I still get a buzz from seeing what I’ve created appear somewhere, knowing others will read it, and it could shape their view.”
As you can see, for many of us, writing has always been a passion, and we’ve shaped it into a career we love.
Many of us have had to adapt to what the market wants, but one thing we all have in common is that we love writing and sharing our ideas with the world. There’s something intoxicating about knowing that, in some small way, your words have influenced someone else and helped to show them the world from a new perspective.
What Can Aspiring Copywriters Do To Get Started?
As highlighted above, becoming a copywriter is a fulfilling and exciting career, but it takes a lot of commitment and dedication.
You’ll probably have to work for free at some point in your career. While the creative industry as a whole is pushing back against the idea of working for ‘exposure’, it’s still one of the best ways to build your portfolio and get your foot on the copywriting ladder.
Until the world changes and companies start to understand the value of copywriting, and why the offer of exposure is so insulting to many writers, you’ll probably be caught in the vicious cycle of having to write for free. If you don’t have a strong portfolio, you won’t be able to get good paid roles, but many organisations won’t pay you when you’ve not got evidence of your work. So, for the first few months, you might have to write for free or take on a low paying in-house role to get your start in the copywriting market.
If you’re going for freelance jobs and building your portfolio, then try to find relevant websites that will give you the exposure and support that you need to grow your reach and benefit your portfolio.
Some other tips for aspiring copywriters include:
- Avoid freelancing platforms: As mentioned earlier in this article, many of these platforms attract customers who want to pay the least money, but receive extraordinarily high-quality content in return. The platforms often charge you a percentage of your fee, so you won’t make much money or create content that you’ll be proud to put in your portfolio.
- Create your own website: Instead of using freelancing platforms, create a website for your portfolio and share your latest work on it. If you’re planning on being a freelance copywriter, then you can also use your site to attract potential clients, and share details about the ordering process.
- Identify your niche: Copywriters need to be flexible and willing to write for a wide range of clients. However, it’s also important that you identify a style of writing or an industry to specialise in so that you can target yourself towards a specific clientele and set yourself apart from other copywriters.
- Find related revenue streams: As well as copywriting, you should also try to find related revenue streams to bolster your income and increase your skillset. For example, you could also offer social media management, SEO support or even basic design services. Many experienced copywriters also create online courses or offer tuition for budding copywriters, so consider creating one of these as you gain more experience and skills.
- Check that copywriting courses are relevant before you pay for them: A word on the aforementioned copywriting courses. There are so many out there, some of which aren’t relevant and created just to make money. Courses can help you to boost your CV and learn new skills, but only if they’re well organised and insightful. Try to find a course by an experienced copywriter with an extensive background in writing quality content.
- Network with other content creators: Many copywriting agencies and content marketing managers network with their fellow writers. As such, you could earn yourself some lucrative freelance jobs, or even an in-house position if you network and showcase the high standard of work you produce. Use professional social media sites like LinkedIn to interact with your fellow copywriters and find out more about the latest trends in the market.
- Learn the basics of SEO: Even if you don’t want to write exclusively for the online market, it’s still vital that you learn about SEO. Read this beginner’s guide to SEO to learn the bare bones, then keep yourself up to date with the latest developments in the market to ensure that you’re always able to offer your clients the content they need.
- Check out content optimisation tools: You might not think that you need them, but content optimisation tools, be they for proofreading, inspiration or optimising your content for search engines, can make a massive difference to the quality of your content. They can save you time and effort, as well as showing the added value that you can provide to your clients, so try to find the ones that suit you.
- Keep learning: It might sound obvious, but no one is ever truly done learning in any profession, and that includes copywriting. If you want to not only earn your place in the copywriting market but also keep it, then you need to keep learning all the time. Follow writing blogs to learn new tricks and techniques, and consider updating your skillset by taking online writing courses occasionally.
- Have fun: If you’re looking to enter the copywriting market for the money, then you’re in the wrong business. Copywriting isn’t always as lucrative as other online pursuits, and it can take a lot of hard work and time to earn a reputation for quality in the freelance world, or to land a high paying in-house role. If you’re not having fun, then try something else. If you’re loving writing all day, every day, then keep reminding yourself of why you love it and keep focusing on your career goals.
Ultimately, copywriting, content creation and management are all exciting careers for creative, intrepid individuals.
Becoming a copywriter and working your way up the ladder can be a challenge, and the market is constantly evolving, so if you want to make a true success of copywriting, then you’ll need to be flexible and deeply committed.
I hope this article informs and inspires aspiring copywriters and helps you to see the value in pursuing this exciting career!
Hannah Stevenson is the Content Marketing Manager at UK Linkology, the UK’s highest-ranking link building agency. A former journalist who is now an experienced copywriter, blogger and editor, she is deeply passionate about writing quality content.