How to become a copywriter – tips & advice

copywriter

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what it means to be a freelance copywriter, let’s take a look in some more detail at how to become a copywriter. This advice applies whether you’re just taking your first tentative steps in copywriting, or you’re looking to grow your freelance business.

How to become a copywriter – the basics

Once you’ve learned the skill of copywriting by learning from example and practising, it’s time to make some money! The first thing you’ll need is clients. Yes, you heard me – before you even have a website in place, you need to get yourself out there and start working with people. If you’re still growing your business, clients aren’t going to come to you. There’s time to work out how to attract clients to your site later, but for now, you’ll want to see the first fruits of your labours.

The easiest way to get those first clients coming in is to register with one of the many freelance job sites out there. We’ve found that peopleperhour and Upwork are two of the best. It’s easy to get yourself a profile and start bidding for work, but it’s worth realising that this is going to be hard work. In order to win bids, you’ll need to play the numbers game at first.

Until you have some positive feedback, it’ll be difficult fighting off the competition, but don’t lose heart. Get some examples of your work up there, and take your time to craft attractive proposals that are tailored to each job – don’t just copy and paste! Many clients buy in bulk regularly from these sites, and with so many candidates out there, they’re skilled at spotting generic proposals. Use yours to stand out from the crowd.

Behave professionally and they’ll keep coming back

To become a copywriter, you need to act professionally from the beginning. Complete your work on time and to your client’s requirements. Also, remember to be personable when you’re talking over the project with them! A large part of repeat business is gained by being easy to work with and making it seem like nothing is a hassle. Do this, and you’ll start getting positive feedback.

Positive feedback starts a chain reaction – once potential clients can see that you’ve completed work successfully, on time and to a high standard, they’re much more likely to hire you. Make sure you get feedback, recommendations and testimonials from clients that you can use to attract others in the future.

Now what?

Now that you’ve got your first clients under your belt and you’re getting some repeat business, there are two things you want to do – secure your foundations, and grow!

Part of securing the work you’ve done so far is managing your time. Once you have a few projects on the go, it’s easy to get in a muddle. Deadlines cross each other, you mix up clients with the wrong projects – we’ve all been there. The easiest way to solve this is time management.

One tip for keeping everything in order is to steal an idea from the blogging community. Since it’s likely you’ll be doing some blogging work as part of your copywriting, you may as well make it work for you!

If you’re using WordPress for a lot of your work, download the Editorial Calendar plugin. It’s free and scores a huge five stars. Once it’s installed, you can use it to plan out your own blogging, which will come in handy later. However, it’s also a great way of planning out your working month.

Create draft posts for each of your copywriting jobs, and you can just drag and drop them around the calendar. These can be tagged or categorised depending on the client, topic and such, and you can remind yourself regularly of what work needs to be done.

Another tool we love here at Recruit Write is Meister Task. There are so many todo and project management web apps out there, and we’ve tried them all. However, Meister Task is intuitive, looks fantastic, and even has a built-in time logging function so you can easily invoice. You can have separate projects, each customised to suit your needs and the whole package works like a great combination of Asana and Trello. Best of all, it’s free!

Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to be a copywriter, it’s time to grow your business. Next time we’ll cover how to improve your web presence and start attracting clients to you.

 

 

 

So, what does a freelance copywriter do all day?

 

You’ve probably had that conversation before. Someone asks you what you do for a living and you say, “I’m a freelance copywriter.” They scrunch their face, shrug and say, “So you just sit at home all day? Great, want to go for a coffee? I’ve got the day off!”

You sigh and stare off into the distance, thinking about how many deadlines you still need to meet…

Working as a freelance copywriter has lots of benefits, but it can be hard work too, especially without plenty of planning. We’re starting off a series of blog posts about becoming a freelance copywriter with an explanation of what copywriting is, and the basics of being good at copywriting.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some tips on planning and using an editorial calendar to track your work, how to adjust your tone of voice to suit your clients’ audience, and more!

What is a copywriter?

Copywriters, broadly, write promotional material. Whether it’s a brochure for holiday, a restaurant menu, an advertising billboard or a branded website, you can bet that the words used to explain and advertise the product or service have been written by a professional copywriter.

“Copy” is the name for the text written within all kinds of promotional literature. It’s an art form in itself, designed to make readers sit up and do something – the so-called “call to action”. Advertising is useless and promotion pointless unless it inspires the consumer to take action, whether that’s buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, downloading an e-book or becoming a member.

Why are copywriters important?

Copywriters are the heart of your promotional campaign if you’re a brand looking to engage with the public. Poor copy doesn’t just result in inaction, it can actively put someone off your brand – a killer reaction that you want to avoid at all costs.

How many times have you picked up a promotional leaflet and seen poor grammar or spelling and just slapped it down again in disgust or worse, laughed at it? You walk away remembering the brand for all the wrong reasons. For a while, anyway – it’s soon forgotten again amid the static of so many other brands looking for your attention.

Good copywriting, on the other hand, not only represents your brand well, but can invoke trust, engender good feeling, invite the reader to engage and, most of all, inspire them to take action.

How do you become a good copywriter?

Thankfully, you don’t need a qualification to become a copywriter (although some formal training in language can help, even if it’s just a short course or online training). What you really need is a fantastic grasp of language and an understanding of how words can inspire action.

You need to be able to get across an idea with the minimum of fuss, getting straight to the point. You also have to be able to modulate your tone of voice to suit your client. You don’t want a breezy, informal voice when you’re copywriting for a law firm. Equally, if your client is a fashion blogger who enjoys a light relationship with her readership, you don’t want to write in tedious, jargon-filled legalese.

Knowing the difference isn’t something you can necessarily be taught, although you can definitely pick up tips from others. Instead, the best way to learn to become a freelance copywriter is to read! Read blogs and other literature that reflects the client you’re working for – read their competitors’ literature,

and develop a sense of what’s working and what’s not.

Be prepared for hard work!

Working as a freelance copywriter is a fulfilling career, where you can be your own boss and adjust your workload to suit you exactly. However, if it’s to be a rewarding one, be prepared to put in a lot of time, effort and especially planning. We’ll touch more on planning in a blog post within the next couple of weeks, where we’ll share some tips on how to manage your time and plan your editorial calendar to make sure you deliver the best work you can!

 

The Pros and Cons of HR Software

Technology such as HR software has made huge advances in recent years, with the potential to add efficiency and productivity to the HR department. Recruitment software, or candidate management systems, in particular have improved, and mean that the whole recruitment process can be management online. The candidate journey can be tracked from start to finish.

However, as with all new technology, it’s worth considering the pros and cons before deciding to make the change to a new system or process. Here are the top benefits and drawbacks of CMS.

Pros and cons of CMS suites

Benefits

Faster pipelines

CMS can speed up the shortlisting process by almost 50%. As everything is streamlined and actioned from one central point, processes become easier, and with most CMS today you can move from advertising the job to booking the shortlisted candidates for interview. This can all be done online, with the ability to send emails, appointment dates and application forms online.

Better tracking of performance

CMS allows you to carry out A/B testing on recruitment ads as well as easy tracking of which ads perform better in different locations. With continued use, this means you can streamline your recruitment process even further. Customisable templates mean that you can upload new ads without copywriting each time.

Shortlisting improved

It can be easier to shortlist with HR software. Keyword matching, scoring and minimum requirements mean that the software can effectively weed out unqualified candidates before you ever see their CV, saving time that you can use to concentrate on creating a better shortlist and talking to candidates.

Reduces cost-per-hire

In today’s economy, businesses are watching every penny. Many of you will know from harsh experience that HR and recruitment often isn’t considered a profit-making part of the business (even though we all know this isn’t the case). If you’re feeling the squeeze in your department, CMS can reduce the overall cost-per-hire, saving money by increasing productivity and reducing manpower required for each hire.

Reduces HR workload

In many industries, recruitment is an everyday process. Turnover and lack of retention can mean that you never get to the end of that constant recruitment pipeline, and that eats into time you’d prefer to spend on other things. Reducing the time per hire means you can focus on employee engagement and training.

Drawbacks

Impersonal

CMS can be an impersonal mode of recruitment. Since most of the sorting work is done by the software and most appointment booking is done by email, it can be tempting to bring candidates to interview without ever speaking directly to them. This can affect the quality of your shortlist, and also the recruitment experience for the candidate.

Diversity

CMS can cause issues in terms of diversity of recruitment. As the software sorts by keyword or score, there is no personal touch that can ensure a balance of gender, race, ability, sexual orientation and the like. You might find that the original candidate pool was diverse, but the software has unwittingly sorted a shortlist that lacks proper diversity.

Human skills

Nothing beats experience when it comes to recruitment. Years of training and experience, coupled with an instinct for quality, mean that when you look over applications you can probably make good, snap decisions about your shortlist. If the software is doing this on your behalf, the impersonal nature might mean that you’re losing out on quality candidates for interview.

person-woman-desk-laptop

Possibility for manipulation

Candidates are increasingly shrewd in a competitive marketplace. CMS systems can be “gamed” by candidates who have experience of them, or who have done their homework. Using predictable, high-ranking keywords can get them through the door and into that interview slot regardless of their actual suitability.

All of which means you could be missing out on some of the best candidates out there – they’ll never hear from you, because you’ll never see them.

Making the most of HR software

As with most things in the world of recruitment and HR, balance is key. If you decide to use HR software, we’d recommend doing so carefully. Streamline your processes by all means, and follow the candidate journey online – it will increase productivity, and the ability to track is key to shaping recruitment plans and forward planning, particularly for operational departments that rely on you for this.

However, we would advise a human element at every step of the process. Check random samples of unselected CVs, gauge the effectiveness of scoring, and compare the output of the software to your own decision-making to ensure that you know it is working as you need it to.

In the end, HR software is like all technology – when used as a tool to supplement existing processes it can be extremely beneficial in saving time and reducing cost, but don’t depend on it to do your work for you.

If you’d like more information on how we can help you to work with your CMS system to headhunt or shortlist candidates, contact us at Lyndsey@recruitwrite.com.