November 1, 2014

Increase Your Chance of Being Re-Hired as an Online Freelance Copywriter

Search for Freelancers, People

The online freelance copywriting industry is growing by leaps and bounds. More and more copywriters are realizing that finding online jobs is a lot easier than finding offline gigs.  This, however, means more copywriters will be vying for the same jobs. The competition is getting stiffer, so your overall work ethic, attention to detail and work habits must be fine-tuned.

Still, there is this sense that online commitments don’t have to be taken as seriously as in-person pledges.  Don’t make that mistake.  Copywriting projects are taken just as seriously by online employers as they are by offline employers

On that note, there are certain chinks in the armor of some freelance copywriters that turn employers off and which may be the deciding factor for rehiring you or recommending you over an equally qualified and similarly priced copywriter. Those bad practices include the following:

•You ask questions when the answers have already been laid out in the job posting

Read the job description and comments carefully before you ask the employer questions.  If it’s unclear or can conceivably have more than one meaning, then ask away.

•You ask for an extension at the last minute

Stuff that we can’t control happens to all of us. However, if you find that needing an extension has happened to you more than twice, forgo the gigs where the time constraint is likely to be an issue. You hurt the employer and you’ll begin to chip away at your reputation in the freelance arena.
•Offer to email an assignment long before a deadline to impress an employer, and then renege on that promise because the contract said you had more time.

 If you want to complete the assignment early, then do so, but don’t say you will unless you are going to follow-through. If your employer takes you at your word and schedules something based on that promise, you may be putting him in a bad position.  Yes, contractually, you have until the written deadline, but ethically, you’re wrong.  You don’t want that to be what an employer remembers about you. The same way freelancers discuss employers; employers compare notes when it comes to recommending freelance copywriters.

•Ask for half up front, do part one, then slack off for part two

Every leg of your project must be your best work.  Some freelancers have been known to put their best foot forward, initially, get paid, then slack off for the remainder of the project. Remember, the entire project represents your freelance brand.

•Ask basic questions that someone of your claimed expertise and skill set should know

If you hold yourself out to be a Tweet copywriter, then you should be very familiar with how Twitter works and with Twitter stuff.  Asking what he means by “hashtag” is not a good look.

•Hand in well-written fluff work product with filler phrases

Don’t use fluff, well-chosen words filler words and esoteric turns of phrase to meet a word count requirement because you don’t feel like exerting the energy to come up with something of substance.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking that just because you’ve included some and a few esoteric phrases, an employer won’t see through it.  She may not say anything to you about it, but in her mind, she’s saying, “never again.”


Request to be rated when your employer seemed dissatisfied

If your employer has demonstrated that you’ve disappointed him, especially more than once, don’t bug him to give you an online review or rating. What he has to say about you may do more harm than good. However, you have to clean up your act so that such work habits don’t become a permanent part of your routine.

  

Employers come to us because they can’t do it themselves or because they don’t have the time.  Let’s not disappoint them and risk our reputations by providing substandard work or by not living up to reasonable expectations.  Even if it is a pro bono assignment or an assignment for which you now feel underpaid (after contract), excellence is all you should be thinking and giving . . . nothing less.

Start Your Freelance Copywriting Life Off Right

Start Now ButtonIn June and July of 2006 I committed to doing three things: (1) buy and read Bob Bly’s book The Copywriter’s Handbook, Third Edition: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells; (2) buy and read Steven Slaunwhite’s book Start& Run a Copywriting Business; and (3) start a freelance copywriting business by September 2006.

And I did.  Starting my own freelance copywriting business was easier than starting a small business typically is because I started off right – emotionally and managerially.  I quickly embraced my new reality – that launching and running this copywriting business was going to be a fun and challenging experience, but that starting off right meant, I needed to fix my mind-set.  Although this business was going to be a big and important part of my life, it was going to have a life of its own; it would be my freelance copywriting life, and I needed to be prepared for everything that promised to come with it (you know, the highs and the lows:  the first huge client payment of $2,500.00; then the frozen computer on the day of a “can’t miss” deadline; the ecstatic customer with the glowing testimonial about your work and who sings your praises to powerful decision makers; then the late arrival of your business cards before your meeting with JP Morgan Chase’s marketing team . . . and you have none left – you know that stuff).

So there.  Strapped with my borrowed, yet reliable mantra “Just do it” and these few tidbits, I stepped out on faith:

•Don’t let poisonous folks whisper in my ear, even the well-meaning ones;

•Develop and follow a simple strategy and stay focused;

•Don’t let things get overly complicated and stay focused;

•Allow only one captain to steer the ship – me – and stay focused;

•Keep tweaking things along the way when they need modifying;

•Launch this thing, and learn the rest along the way . . . WHILE STAYING FOCUSED.

And I did.  And I still am.

Following are practical business reminders I learned that helped me tremendously in starting my freelance copywriting life off right and keeping it right, and I am confident you will find them helpful too:

Your Passion . . . Not!

Don’t wait for that mythical fixation called “your passion.”  Some of the most happily successful people have found it.  Most happily successful people, it’s safe to say, have not.  What the two groups of happily successful folks have in common, however, is: they have a knack for what they do and they find enjoyment in some aspect of what they do.  If you wait for this passion thing to materialize, you may never get that freelance copywriting business off the ground.

Perseverance and the Threat of Rejection

One of the most common hindrances to perseverance is fear of rejection.  I don’t like guarantees, but this one is unmistakable, so I’m going to share it. You will experience rejection in one form or another.  If dealing with rejection is a challenge for you, then from the outset, you have to find a mechanism to help you cope with it.  It could be anything from Yoga to meditation, from training for a 5K to venting in a supportive online community.  Whatever you choose, just monitor the strategy, because if it’s not working, you need to tweak that plan.  And, speaking of supportive online communities – there are loads of them out there for copywriters and freelance copywriters from linkedin copywriting groups to warriorforum copywriting threads.  It behooves you to join one or more. Besides being comforting, they can be quite informative,  and great places to get educated feedback on copy drafts you’ve done, or to simply hang out, “coffee clutch” or network.

Make Good Habits a Habit

Contracts

Unless you are crafting a flyer for your grandmother’s church picnic, use a contract.  An elaborate contract is the safest bet, but a simple contract can work also, provided all of your bases are covered. Heck, if her church has a board of directors, you may want to use a contract for that church picnic flyer too.  Nothing personal grandma!

At the very least, your contract or agreement should contain:

♦the date of the agreement;

♦your name and address, the name and address of the business hiring you and the signer’s name;

♦a detailed description of the project, including the medium and format of the work;

♦the number of pages, if it’s a print document;

♦the various parts and stages of the project;

♦the number of edits and revisions you will allow;

♦the dates of delivery for each stage of the project, if more than one stage;

♦your fee and its due date(s);

♦a list of terms and conditions; and

♦both parties’ signatures.

Keeping Records – Phone Calls

No one remembers everything, especially when you are busy.  When you speak to a client, particularly if you verbally agree to do or not to do something, it is a very good idea to memorialize the phone conversation in a follow-up email. This serves a number of different purposes. It jogs yours and your client’s memory. It solidifies what was said. It helps you recall what you said you’d do or not do. It creates a paper trail in the event something happens and you need proof.

Keeping Records – Billing

If you do nothing else, spare yourself some stress by having some place to drop your receipts and records of incoming payments. If this is too much of a hassle for you and the thought of even doing this much organizing stresses you out, then use as few ways to make purchases as possible.  For example use one credit card and one Intuit Merchant or Paypal account. This way, when it’s time to sit down with your accountant, all of your financial information is in only one or two places. The ideal solution is to keep your files organized in off-line or online folders, categorize them and use one of the gazillion simple accounting software programs out there like Lessaccounting.

Networking and Marketing

Yes, I used to hate this too – networking.  But, I soon learned that I was really good at it. I still don’t love it, but it works wonders and brings me in a lot of business, sometimes more than I can handle alone.  Whether you do it online or off-line, marketing your business is a must. And don’t be fooled into thinking you only need to market when business is slow.  Any self-respecting freelance copywriter will tell you that the optimal time to market your business is when you have customers coming in the door.  This way, you are more likely have  steadier stream of income.   And, by the way, marketing your freelance copywriting business needs to be a big percentage of the time you spend on your business – around 35% of the time.

In addition to networking, there are myriad ways to market your business:

-Article marketing.  Write and publish a few articles on sites like ezinearticles.com or goarticles.com.  Include your URL in your resource box.  The resource box is a section at the end of published online articles where you get to promote yourself and your business;

-Bartering.  You can, for example, offer to consult with a business that agrees to plug your freelance business in their newsletter;

-Cross-promotions.  You promote a local business on your site in exchange for them promoting yours;

-Distribute a press release on a few free press release directories like Press Method (www.pressmethod.com); Free Press Release Centre (http://www.free-press-release-center.info/); SB Wire (www.sbwire.com);  or PR.com (www.pr.com), just to name a few;

-Free classifieds (e.g., craigslist); and

-Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin).

Stay Relevant

Take your eyes of the marketing media road for more than a month and you may feel completely lost when you turn your attention to the trends again.  Between social media, mobile media, cloud this and cloud that, the marketing media environment is growing by leaps and bounds!  It’s imperative that you keep learning. As a part of your routine, subscribe to (and read), a few newsletters or blogs that keep up with the trends of copywriting, freelancing and best small businesses practices. To keep on top of what’s trending, you can monitor Twitter hashtags like #smallbusiness using any number of free tools like Hootsuite.

 

Check Yourself

Check your site and make sure your information is still relevant. Make sure your links all work. Sometimes, unbeknownst to you and for a number of reasons, a link will suddenly die. This happens with WordPress blogs on occasion, so check them periodically just to be sure everything’s in working order.

Check your online business image.  Make sure you’re not tagged in that photo you took at your cousin’s wedding with the chandelier on your head where you’re drunk and dressed only in your bra or boxers. Put security limits on the accessibility of your personal Facebook page(s) so that only folks you want looking at it can see it.  Business people will definitely go searching for your personal Facebook page. So, if you’re doing anything on your personal social media page that could offend your customers and make them go elsewhere in search of a different copywriter, put some blocks in place.

Part of checking yourself, includes checking your competitors.  You want to stay a  step ahead of them or appear to anyway. There is competition out there for almost every copywriter, but particularly for narrowly niched ones. If you are one of 10 copywriters in your niche, definitely keep your eyes on your competition. One way to legally spy on them is by using Google alerts and Twitter alerts by signing up with sites like Tweetbeep.  You can use these sites to have emails sent to you when Google or Twitter finds things like web pages, news articles, blog posts,etc. that match your search item (i.e, your competitor’s name and the name of their business).  It only takes about 3 minutes to set each of them up initially, and they’re both free.

Oh yeah, and do this: Unfollow small fries who aren’t following you back on Twitter. Don’t look socially desperate.  If they don’t respect you enough to follow you back, unfollow them.  You don’t want to be one of those Twitter members who is following 500 people, but who only has 90 people following them back. Businesswise, that’s not a good look.

Even with its ups and downs, the freelance life, as so many people will testify, can be a great experience, and the best way to do that is to start out right. Go in with the proper mind-set and with realistic expectations.  Decide you are going to give it your all, but that you are not going to lose yourself in it.  Whether you choose to do it full-time or part-time, if you have the knack for it and enjoy copywriting and want the freedom that comes with self-employment, get your mind-set, make sure you have a plan you can live with . . . then JUST DO IT!

Happy writing,

Stacey

P.S. Some of the blogs and websites that keep up with the trends of copywriting or freelancing or small business best practices are as follows:

http://contentverve.com/

http://www.nickusborne.com/

http://blogs.targetmarketingmag.com/

http://www.marketingwords.com/blog/?cat=4

http://www.WonderBranding.com/

http://www.seocopywriting.com/blog/

http://blog.crazyegg.com

http://www.awaionline.com/blog

http://directanddigitalmarketing.com/

http://www.psychotactics.com/

http://blog.smallbusinesscopywriter.com/

http://contently.com/blog/

http://www.perrymarshall.com/

http://simplystatedbusiness.com/

http://sparksheet.com/

http://thewordchef.com/blog/

http://www.mpdailyfix.com/

http://www.webinknow.com/

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/

http://www.copyblogger.com

http://blogtyrant.com

http://smallbiztrends.com/

http://www.startupnation.com/business-blogs/

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/

http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com

https://be.freelancersunion.org/blog/

http://freelanceswitch.com/blog/

http://freelancefolder.com/

http://www.warriorforum.com/copywriting-forum/

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Harrison Amy Copywriting

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Men with Pens

The Well-Fed Writer Blog

Words That Begin With You

The Freelancery

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Dr. Freelance

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Guerilla Freelancing

Ajeva Freelance!

http://www.creativefreelancerblog.com/

Are You Out of Work and Considering Freelance Writing Jobs?

Freelance Industry Report 2012

Have you been wondering whether or not you should become a part-time freelance writer while you look for full-time permanent employment?  Or, perhaps you’ve been thinking about pursuing freelance writing jobs on a full-time basis.  To be effective at either option, you will need some guidance. Before you make such a serious commitment, you’ll want to explore the field and see if, in fact, it’s the right decision for you and your family.  The 2012 Freelance Industry Report is just the guidance you need to answer probably the vast majority of the questions you’ll have.

The study surveyed 1,491 freelancers to grasp who freelancers truly are.  You can use the information in this report in a variety of ways, including to see how you stack up against your colleagues and learn what areas you need to work on.

As stated in the 2012 Freelance Industry Report, when you read this report you will find:

• The most common professions for freelance work.

• Key demographics such as age, gender, location, experience and work status.

• The biggest challenges freelancers face and how those challenges differ by

profession, location, experience and other factors.

• Attitudes toward freelancing, self-employment, running a solo business and the

economy, as well as freelancers’ business outlook for the next 12 months.

• Income trends, hourly rates, billable time, how different freelancers price their services

and structure their fees, and the impact of the economic downturn on those fees and

rates.

• Lifestyle choices, including average number of hours worked, the importance of free

time and flexibility, and attitudes toward reentering the traditional workforce.

• How freelancers attract clients today, how much time they spend promoting their

services and what marketing strategies they’re planning to implement over the next

year.

• An analysis of displaced workers who have given up their job search in favor of the

freelance path: what challenges they face, how they feel about self-employment, their

lifestyle changes and their likelihood to remain self-employed.

Whatever you decide in the end, after reading this report, you will certainly walk away with a better idea about the freelancing field and whether or not it is the style of employment that fits you.

 

CHECK OUT THE 2012 FREELANCE INDUSTRY REPORT

Just Click the Pic Freelance Industry Report 2012 Cover

 

 

Stacey

I’m a Damn Good Copywriter! Why Do Employers Keep Posting Job Ads Specifically for Digital Writers and Copywriters?

Let me start this post by countering an all-too-common offense taken by traditional copywriters who tend to rise up when they hear terms like “digital copywriting.” Employers who specify “digital writer” or “digital copywriter” in want-ads are not implying that traditional copywriters cannot write for the new media or that writing for the new media requires some magical or secret expertise over which digital writers have dominion. Nor is it a term copywriters created to show that they have a specialized skill. The vocabulary is engendered by technological and social media advances.Digital Writing in a Digital World

Recently, in a copywriting group discussion on linkedin.com, members asked the following questions and follow-up questions (housed in their comments):

Writing for a Different Medium

Question: On a job searching spree, I learned that there is a new term very much in fashion these days, DIGITAL WRITING. How is it different from the rest? Isn’t it just writing for a different medium?

Answer: It is writing for a different medium, but for efficiency purposes, employers want to make sure the writer has a working knowledge of all the other stuff that doesn’t typically come into play in traditional copywriting.

For example:

(a) Traditionally, copywriters write to persuade prospects and customers. In today’s consumer-controlled marketing environment, your text will more than likely have to engage your target audience – an audience that is simply not interested in being sold to. And you need to know how to do this or should I say, how to finesse this, which usually comes from having done it already. Major corporations are still trying to wrap their heads around how to engage their audiences; it’s easier said than done. To me, marketing messages almost have to have a sort of tribal appeal that they did not have to have before. Actually, this seems to be turning into a standard all around;

(b) You need to know what to do to make certain groups of people inclined to share or talk about info/sales/content/contests/events/ coupons, etc. For example, in social media, you run into things, e.g., where certain target audiences have a key influencer, the alpha type person(s) to whom a company may need your text to appeal in order to get the sharing/WOM ball rolling, etc.;

(c) If you don’t understand how “keywording” and other SEO techniques are effectively applied, your knowledge of copy is of less value than a “digital writer’s.” This is very important for a variety of reasons;

(d) Then there’s just the basic stuff, e.g., knowing that “read more” works better in email marketing than “click here” in certain instances or knowing how and where to distribute the words “pay now” on a sales page and knowing what not to put in a subject line to increase an open rate or ways to increase an ads click-through rate . . .

(e) Do you understand how to use metrics to assess performance of campaigns and where to start to improve results or how to exploit promotional structures on a website and drive traffic to ensure a site feels continually updated or how to analyze and document detailed online content with an eye for optimizing user experience?

What about Writing Adaptability?

Question: Isn’t it a matter of decoding the brief and adaptability?

Answer: I think it’s more than that. I don’t know if decoding a traditional brief would give you the appreciation you need of the value of things like social media integration and the direction you need to effectuate that or to offer constructive strategies, e.g., to incorporate online and offline approaches involving an sms text/FB promotion or a Twitter campaign . . . along with all the little annoying things you need to know about the best practices of each of these tools.

Filtering Out Old School Writers

Question: Does it mean that the term is coined to filter out the old school writers?

Answer: It’s coined to filter out copywriters who aren’t aware that the media landscape has been completely transformed and who don’t get that consumers just don’t experience or interact with brands the way they did back in the day, albeit “the day” was only 3-5 years ago. It’s coined to filter out copywriters who are still trying to fight the fact that, good or bad, times have changed, and the copywriter’s landscape is changing.

My take for myself: Even if things are moving at the speed of light, I think it’s my job to keep abreast of and keep up with the trends of my industry and profession, and it behooves me (and my clients) to stay relevant. I don’t always get it right, but it’s nice to get vastly more right than you get wrong, and that only happens when I keep up. But this is what it is, and, well, whether I like it or not, these are the realities of my passion.

Comment: . . . “a great radio or long copy copywriter can rule the digital realm.

Response: Great copywriters already rule the digital realm. And, yes, a great TV or radio writer can write great digital copy. Simply put, I am saying that these employers who ask for digital writers probably specify “digital” because they want someone who can demonstrate that he or she understands the new media, is up to speed and can jump right in WITH all of her or his other writing talents. These employers are not saying you are not a great writer and can’t adapt; I think they just want to be confident that you to have a grasp of the digital environment already. No, it’s not rocket science, but sites like marketingsherpa.com don’t exist for nothing.

IN OTHER WORDS, DIGITAL COPYWRITING IS DIFFERENT IN MANY WAYS FROM TRADITIONAL COPYWRITING.

These are just a few of many, many things copywriters in the digital arena already know and it’s why employers ask for digital writers and digital copywriters as opposed to writers and copywriters. They need to know that you understand the nature and mindset of the digital environment. The same goes for mobile copywriters. Writing for mobile is not merely Internet copywriting. There are different rules when writing for apps, or SMS Text promotions, which you want the writer to have an understanding of coming in.

Yes, conventional copywriters can learn digital copywriting, but it helps the employer (and his client, if any) tremendously if the writer is already aware of all these differences and nuances, and knows how to incorporate all this as they go along, etc., especially for time-sensitive promotions and campaigns.

No one has time for folks to learn this stuff on the job, when you need them to hit the ground running.

Let’s not even talk about what happens when the writer doesn’t even know that he or she needs to know this. And many copywriters don’t.

Traditional Copywriters – If you saw the following job description for a “Digital Writer,” could you jump right in and get started?:

“Need Digital Writer Who Understands Social Media Strategy As Well As SEO”

Primary Responsibilities: Write for search engine optimization; evaluate existing content assets and feeds based on target audience and business objectives and make recommendations for content migration; wireframe content for use in design discussions; provide rationale for all recommendations; ensure content management systems meet publishing and legal requirements (this is especially true with mobile); utilize metrics to assess performance of campaigns and know where to start to improve results; understand how to exploit promotional structures on a website and drive traffic to ensure a site feels continually updated,; analyze and document detailed online content with an eye for optimizing user experience.

No matter how great a copywriter you are, if you are not up to speed in the digital realm, it’s not like learning what text goes on which panel of a brochure. There’s a method to this stuff and even the absolute most talented copywriters in the world don’t learn this osmotically and it’s why employers request “DIGITAL” writers.

They’re not asking you to learn it; they’re asking you to know it.

 

 

 

 

 

FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

 

Write and Grow Rich . . . Really

My colleague, Bob Bly, author of 70+ books and the man McGraw-Hill calls “America’s top copywriter,” shows you how quickly and easily you can . . .

“Write and Grow Rich!”

Write and Grow Rich (Pens with Golden Dollar Sign)If you’re thinking about starting a freelance copywriting business now or have started one already, you’re in luck. Bob Bly, in his infinite marketing wisdom, has developed a proven and systematic way for writers to build a successful freelance business . . . just as he and many of our colleagues have done.

You’ll see in a moment Bob Bly’s best-selling writer’s manual Write and Grow Rich is much more than just your run-of-the-mill writer’s guide. It’s brimming with practical methods you can use to quickly and easily start and run your own well-paying freelance writing business.

Bob walks you through establishing your own manageable, lucrative writing practice . . .

Read More

Getting a Copywriting Job in London

Posted By Guest Blogger: Tim Green-

I was told that copywriters need to be creative, have a love of language and be adaptable.  I was all of these things so surely it was a perfect fit. Indeed, having studied journalism and with a love of books and writing, I figured this should be easy. London Underground - Getting a Copywriting Jobs in London

The reality was a little different. Getting a copywriting job was not as easy a task as I had thought it would be.  Most people like to think they are good with words and most are able to speak English.  But a good copywriter requires a host of other talents beyond this: attention to detail, ability to work to tight deadlines, adaptability, good communication — these traits are ones which anyone going into the business must have.

Freelance

I initially pursued the job by doing some freelance work. Luckily I had a few friends in publishing who required corporate articles and advertising briefs for their sports blogs or for online magazines. This was not overly glamorous or well-paid but it did help me to build up a portfolio and make contacts. And the experience was invaluable—writing an advertorial on sportswear one week, a pitch for party planning the next— I was learning all the time.

Recruitment Agency

After I built up a decent portfolio of work I sent my CV to a couple of big London recruitment agencies. It was a tough market to begin with.  While they liked my work, they reminded me that copywriting is a competitive business and places didn’t come up very often. But one day a friend of mine recommended me to a specialist recruitment agency in London.

They had a link to many of the more interesting companies around. Luckily, they liked my portfolio and my determination to find a job in the industry. They also liked that I had shown initiative on my freelance work and the diversity of things I had written about.

Be Persistent

I learnt that it is as hard to find a good copywriter as it is for copywriters to find a good company.  In the end, I was put forward for three interviews.  The second one I went for offered me a job as a trainee.  In the last year I have moved up and now handle a couple of client accounts myself and work on others with more senior colleagues.  It can be very rewarding work, learning about new industries and meeting and liaising with a diversity of interesting people. I’ve worked with fizzy drink companies, telephone makers, banks and fashion agencies. You need to have good writing skills, creativity and work to tight deadlines to succeed. Registering with a good agency is also a pretty good avenue to pursue in my experience. Just remember to be both patient and persistent! It will work out.

 

______________________________

Tim Green works as a copywriter at a marketing company in London. He supports http://www.yellowcatrecruitment.co.uk/

 

Tags:  Advertising copywriter, copywriter salary

Why Do American Companies Only Want Freelance Copywriters Who Are Fluent in American English?

American English (Flag) Hitting TargetCopywriters of all stripes are eager to jump on the American copywriting bandwagon. That’s a wonderful thing, since, compared to many countries, particularly emerging nations where many new copywriters come from, American companies pay well and there’s enough work to go around.

Quick Story: I recently placed a few ads on some online employment platforms and specifically requested that the applicants be fluent and able to write in “American English” simply because the vast majority of my target audience speaks American English. I received a number of responses from offended, foreign candidates who basically told me I should consider all English speaking applicants, that I was being unfair and that not hiring them was my loss . . .  What’s more, the respondents were not really fluent in English (of any dialect). For some reason the responders believe there is no difference between American English and all other English dialects. However, there are differences.  Very meaningful differences, especially when it comes to writing copy.

 

 American English – What’s the Big Deal?

Just like copywriters who speak American English, copywriters whose native (writing) tongue is not American English have to meet certain basic communications standards.  To be effective as a copywriter, you have “to get it.” You have to communicate in the vernacular of the American audience, which means having a sensitivity to the nuances,  knowing the transitional terminology, the idioms, spellings, usage, and phraseology that American markets are accustomed to reading in copy. There are also implied meanings that have power when you place them in the context of a few well-chosen words. “Just do it” is an example of this. It needs absolutely no more explanation other than those three words, yet Americans just get it.

Copy Must Sound Natural

Another factor is authenticity, sounding natural. American copywriters already struggle with pulling off authenticity, and marketers know this. So, imagine hiring someone whose second language is English and there’s no immersion in the culture to boot. Time is of the essence in marketing, advertising and copywriting, so there’s not a whole lot of room to catch writers up on the basics of American English and what I dub, the language-culture while you’re facing a deadline.  And, if a marketer has to then get someone to rewrite passages simply for American customers’ understanding, they have now hired two people to do the job of one; it’s counterproductive.

You only have seconds to grab a prospective customer’s attention. You then have to hold their attention.  There is a higher chance of generating copy that does not resonate with the target audience when they are stuck trying to interpret what the text actually means.  If the customer is spending those few precious seconds trying to grasp your meaning, you’ve lost them.

To my fellow copywriters who would like to get more copywriting projects from American businesses, marketers, ad and PR folks, I would simply recommend studying basic English and intermediate American English.  In doing so, you can also pick up cues on the culture, including the faux pas.

As to the free route to improving your American English, I would suggest that you:

 

●Listen to and study American song lyrics, but not rap, because the language is too trendy and esoteric, unless your niche market is hip hop.

●Read American blogs

●Read American popular culture online magazines (People, TimeOut NY, Vanity Fair, etc.)

●Join and participate in LinkedIn groups. There are many LinkedIn groups that cater specifically to copywriters, but you don’t have to limit yourself to groups for copywriters.

I don’t recommend Twitter and Facebook because the slangy, abbreviated words and the intentional misspelling writing style would only be more confusing. It confuses Americans too.

Some Good Sites to learn American English Include:

 

http://www.learnamericanenglishonline.com/

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/

http://www.englishpage.com/

http://www.englishdaily626.com/idioms.php

 

Books on American English

The following books come highly recommended from my colleagues – American copywriters on Warriorforum.com and other American writers:

 

The Elements of Style (4th Edition)

Speak English Like an American (Book & Audio CD set)

The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment

McGraw-Hill’s Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, 3rd Edition

The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed

English Grammar: Language as Human Behavior, Second Edition

 

Grasping American English like an American Can Be Done

One writer I know, who I was eager to hire is Hungarian; she lives in Hungary, and Hungarian is her first language.  However, she writes American English better than a lot of American copywriters I know.  My point is, it can be learned. My other point is, however, “learned” is the operative word.   It can’t be faked.

Money-Making Tasks To Perform Separately When Clients Can’t Afford Your Freelance Copywriting Services

Cutting Costs of Freelance Copywriting ServicesFreelance copywriting services often come with a hefty price.  And, unfortunately, not all clients can afford the full monty.  When you have a client or prospect who cannot afford your copywriting services, there are alternatives that can fit within this potential referral source’s budget and that meet your financial needs as well.

For example, I once had a small business client who wanted her website revamped, but could not meet all the costs of a copywriter.   My range of tasks when rewriting a website for clients includes preparing a full analysis of their current website before starting the work.   To arrive at a price that was reasonable for me and doable for her, I charged her for the time it took to perform the website analysis.  I also factored in the time I spent writing it and making it presentable and easy to follow.

What she got was a valuable copywriting services tool – a detailed report in pdf format, including, among other things, advice on how to improve many aspects of her website, social media recommendations, SEO keyword suggestions and some “how to’s.”   This way, if the client wants to overhaul her website on her own, she can.  Often, in their attempts to apply my suggestions, clients realize all the work, time and energy the project entails and end up turning the project over to me to handle. They simply find the money in their budgets.

Having said that, below is a list of supplementary copywriting services that you may already provide, but which can be segregated and charged for separately.  These copywriting services include:

Web Site or Landing Page Analysis and Feedback Report

A web analysis or landing page analysis can be done in a variety of ways, using a number of analytics tools, including:  Google Analytics, JAWStats, Clicky, Hubspot Marketing Grader, GoingUp!,  W3 Counter, Piwik, TraceWatchWoopra, Snoop or W3Perl.   You can then synthesize and translate this information into a more laymen-friendly pdf presentation. To make things easier, you can orally record your take on this site, then type it up and organize your notes into a nice neat report.

Sales Copy Critique and Redraft

Clients are too close to their products to see how their self-crafted copy is negatively impacting their business.  There is a need for sales copy critique to rescue them from themselves.  As an isolated copywriting service, you can review an e-mail marketing campaign, ads, sales letters, landing pages, or direct mail packages. You select and enhance the right elements to boost sales and prevent them from unselling their products.

To simplify things for yourself, you can create a two column chart with several rows.  The rows in the left column could list copy items including things like:  compelling headline; sell the solution, not the product; use sub-headlines; build desire; talk about benefits often; give reader multiple chances to take action; offer a guarantee; show, don’t tell; address potential objectives; create a buyer’s environment; reader should be nodding “yes” as they read your copy; use emotional words; use short, easy-to-read paragraphs; use a powerful P.S., etc.  The rows in the right column could contain a one to sentence critique and suggestion for each copy item.

These results, of course, get packaged into a handsome report which you can create using the design features and templates in MS Office or any other program you have.

Blogging Tips and Strategy Consultation

The blogosphere sees millions of blogs published daily.  Many of these bloggers are business owners and mid to large companies that are blogging because the gurus and thought leaders said they should.  But, most of them have no clue how to leverage this tool. Here’s where your copywriting services come in. You can run an SEO analysis using one of the above-mentioned analytics programs, then review the SEO results of their blog posts vis-a-vis their ultimate blogging goals.  You could then come up with a campaign strategy for achieving that goal, suggesting things like where they can find readers, etc.   You can also compare their blog and blog results to their competitors’ via an abbreviated audit report.   Your report can identify key performance analytics based on your client’s goals, or it can cover: blog strategy, relevant content for the blog, integration of the blog with their website or other social media platforms, research, target marketing tips, appropriate design (from a copywriter’s efficacy perspective) or traffic generation ideas.

Bonus: Get Leads from a Copywriting Services Training Session

You may not be a 5-year veteran, but as a copywriter with some projects under your belt, you are aware of basic copywriting practices that many businesses are not aware of and you could offer to teach a class to small business owners (e.g., hosted by your local chamber of commerce).  You can give your course a compelling headline and sign small business owners up to hear you speak.  To fancy things up, you can create and run off copies of the training program highlights in a handout with your logo and contact information at the bottom. From such a training sessions any of the above-mentioned prospects could result.  It’s also a great referral source; audience members will spread the word about your copywritng services.

 

In this economy businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs.  Offering creative solutions via your freelance copywriting services is certainly one valid way to please prospects and clients while not losing their business altogether.

 

Good luck,

Stacey

P.S.  You can get very creative in what you choose to provide to your client in the report. As with any of these ideas, you can provide copywriting services reports in the form of a CD or MP3’s as well.

 

A Web Designer Asked: How Can You Tell If You Have Either a Good Copywriter or a Bad One? Copywriters of All Stripes Raced to Answer This Question

A web designer recently asked a question in “Advertising Copywriting” and “Copywriter’s Beat,” two very popular copywriting linkedin groups.   He quickly received a large number of answers.  The question was:  “How can you tell you have either a good copywriter or a bad one?”Good Copywriter versus bad Copywriter

I combed through all the answers in each group and pulled together a list of my 10 favorite responses.  I believe this will be quite helpful to new freelance copywriters as you develop your portfolios and your copywriting skills.

1-“A track record of delighted customers who are happy to recommend the writer to you.”

2-“Are they reaching your target audience? It’s good to keep in mind that your internal people/colleagues may be good at evaluating the copy from the ‘representation of the business’ perspective, but not necessarily from the customer perspective. A good copywriter will be able to balance that delicate line. Also, response to feedback and if you don’t understand something, they should be able explain in a non-defensive manner. As with any subject, you’ll get what you pay for, as well!”

3- •”Talk to them about your target market to see if they understand it.
•Evaluate their work in the medium you want to use. There are slightly different writing requirements for print and social media, for example.
•Take up references, preferably in a similar industry.
• If you like what you have seen so far agree on a small, paid assignment. When you brief them, if they are any good, they will ask lots of questions about things like your target audience, the messages you want to put out, the offers you have, the style that’s most appropriate, the word count etc. Personally I put a lot of work in at this stage to make sure I really understand what is required
• Evaluate the copy you get back. If the copywriter is good I would suggest it should be at least 80% what you are looking for. Your time is valuable. You want to be able to brief the writer and let them get on with it, rather than getting involved in orchestrating lots of rewrites.”

4-“Everything you need to know about a copywriter will be evident by their portfolio. If their work is good. They’ll be good. And vice versa.”

5-“A good copy writer is first of all a good listener.”

6-“I, personally, think empathy towards clients and consumers is one of the most important prerequisites for a strong copywriter, and it makes them genuinely curious about the world around them. Conceptually, this should help your creative tailor specific messages for specific audiences. I would go through their portfolio and then decide whether or not you actually like their work. Is the messaging effective? Last, I’d look at their styling.”

7-“I think every communication you have with a copywriter tells you about him or her. Are they clear, concise and thoughtful in their email messages, for example? Or are there misspellings, improper punctuation, wrong tense, etc? If it’s there, that’s going to tell you something about the product they’ll deliver for you.  I have samples of many different types of projects on my website, covering everything from trade show presentation scripts to press releases. But I also like to remind my clients that EVERYTHING on my website (with the exception of clients’ testimonials) is my writing. I want them to see not only how I sell for my clients, but how I sell myself, as well.  In short, a good writer is a good writer. You don’t turn in on and off. You do it in everything you do, or you just don’t do it well enough.”

8-“Read things the copywriter wrote. Did you get to the last line? Did you want more? You found a good copywriter. I speak to this on my homepage at www.feldmancreative.com and offer what I feel is an insightful paper on the subject. ‘Find the Right Copywriter.’ ”

9-“Good copywriters can sell themselves first, sell you second, and sell your product third.”

10-“I would say, no such thing as a stupid question, if a copywriter is asking, then they are trying to fully understand your brief and needs, and may just raise things that you haven’t though of or realised.”

There are just so many wonderful and valuable reasons to be a part of linkedin.  It’s not simply a social media site to use when you are out of work.  This list is just a tiny representation of the plethora of helpful information linkedin has for new and veteran copywriters.  Register, join groups and join the conversations!

 

Stacey

9 Groups in linkedin.com that Welcome Job-Hunting Freelance Copywriters

Being a copywriter means being creative.  Not only should copywriters strive to be creative in the projects to which they are assigned, but you should be equally creative when searching for gigs.  I have come across 9 linkedin.com groups that post jobs and have compiled those with specific request for copywriters.

Target Marketing

Read their profiles, in their own words:

1. Advertising Copywriting – This is a group for advertising copywriters and everyone interested in the copywriting craft.

2. Advertising Creatives – This group is for all creative advertising professionals -  Art Directors (AD),  Copywriters (CW),  Creative Directors (CD),  and professionals who work in creative media, creative planning, or anything else creative.

3. Marketing Communication – Marketing Communication is defined as messages and related media used to communicate with a market via advertising, social media, branding, direct marketing, graphic design, affiliate marketing, packaging, promotion, publicity, sponsorship, public relations, sales, sales promotion, online, mobile apps, crm, seo, search, events, pr, tv, cim and marketing jobs. The group is for Marcom professionals.

4. MarketingProfs – MarketingProfs is a community of marketers centered around smart, quick, and actionable know-how and discussions.  More than 360,000 subscribers read their newsletters and blog, attend their events and seminars (both live and virtual), and participate in the MP discussion forum.  All marketing professionals are welcome to apply to join.

5. Copywriters – This group is all about how to find copywriting jobs.

6. Digital Marketing – Digital Marketing is one of the most exciting and dynamic groups on LinkedIn for digital marketing professionals. Group discussions cover the depth and breadth of the digital marketing landscape and include topics such as social media marketing, mobile marketing, search engine marketing, online PR, email marketing, online advertising, measurement and web analytics, best practice digital marketing and more. They provide updates to the latest white papers and industry reports to keep you updated on trends, innovation and best practice digital marketing.  They also organize an exciting events program of  conferences, social and networking events to bring the digital marketing community together.

7. E-Marketing Association Network – This is the largest and most active Marketing Group with 396,000+ members. Managed by the eMarketing Association, the worlds largest Internet marketing association, it is open to all interested in Internet Marketing.  They focus on social, eMail, search and web marketing.

8. Copywriters Beat – This group is for copywriters and bloggers or anyone interested in the art of marketing copy.

9. Copywriting Classifieds – This group is a subgroup of Advertising Copywriting.  It was created exclusively for the purpose of advertising skills and services.  The discussion board of this subgroup is open for any posting about a blog, services, upcoming events. In short, it is the perfect forum to market yourself.

Keep in mind that these groups, as with all social media are designed for just that – to be a social networking tool.  So, take time to add to the discussions, offer advice, ask questions, become a part of the mix. You’ll get something of value out of it. I do every time I participate, and so do the other members.

Additionally, I know I said this is about groups on linkedin.com, but I have found that Twitter is also a great source when looking for freelance copywriting jobs.   Just remember to enter your search as a hashtag, e.g.,  #copywriter.  There should be no space between the # and the word “copywriter.”   You can also enter #freelancecopywriter.   Again, there should be no space between “freelance” and “copywriter.”  Lastly, when you use Twitter for business, be mindful of the Twitter protocol.

Happy job hunting guys and good luck!

 

Stacey