Someone asked me the other day how I got into copywriting. It’s a long and short story.
Most copywriters start out as authors
Most writers, however, find that for some reason or another, they aren’t ready to write their bestsellers. They know they are good at writing, but they want to do more with their wordsmith talents. They are good with words; they can write one sentence and make it count; they can persuade.
I’ve always been a writer
I got really good at writing flash fiction—stories of 750 words or less—in 2002-2006. Flash fiction is a great way to learn that less can be more. I also developed a love for editing other people’s work at the same time, so I started up an editing business for writers. I learned a lot in those years, but I started to get carpal tunnel and had to stop spending so many hours typing and marking up and commenting.
Copywriting seemed like the obvious step
After editing some god-awful manuscripts, I wanted to give the world something more delightful to read—short, snappy, informational pieces of writing that could make an impact. In offering my services to business (for sales and content strategy) and authors (for their jacket copies and bios), I knew I could make a difference and influence people to pay more attention to good products/ services and books.
The marketplace is full of copywriters, so where to start?
I had written copy for my own e-commerce site, and then I offered to write for free for friends in exchange for testimonials. Once I had three of those, I was able to add copywriting to my list of writing and editing services. My first decent copywriting job was for a client who didn’t really know what he wanted, but working for him helped me to learn more about benefits and features and calls to action. When you jump blind, you need to hang onto anything you can on the way up.
Since then, it’s been a swinging ride.
- Be a good wordsmith.
- Learn how to make a few words matter.
- Start out doing work for friends for free.
- Learn along the way.
I hope you have the same fun on your journey.