Anyone Can Be a Copywriter … But Not Everyone Should!

Mindy McHorse

We’re talking this week about the top five myths that perpetuate the copywriting world.

Yesterday, we debunked the idea that what a copywriter does is “just” write. Because, as a copywriter, you hold tremendous power to use content to accomplish things … from shoring up donations for a natural disaster to bringing in millions through a subscription-based e-newsletter.

Today, we’re tackling an idea that’s both fact and myth: That anyone can be a copywriter.

Here’s what I mean …

Yes, anyone can become a copywriter. You don’t have to have a fancy degree (or any degree for that matter).

You don’t have to live in a certain part of the world … or have a specific skin color … or have experience in any particular industry.

You don’t have to come from money or have pre-existing contacts … you can start at any age … you can have a day job, or not. You can be retired, or not.

You can be established in a totally separate field from writing, or you can come into the profession without any credentials to your name.

Over the years, I’ve met hundreds of people who come from every background imaginable. They’ve tailor-built copywriting careers that work for their interests and lifestyle.

And, many make a ton of money doing what they do.

But that’s where the flipside of this myth comes into play: Not everyone is or should be a copywriter.

Copywriting isn’t just writing. It’s not about stringing pretty words together. It involves structure and technique, plus an understanding of persuasion, of needs and wants, of what content works best in which marketplace, and so forth.

This is an important distinction when it comes to pricing your services and working with clients who value you. Because, while some business owners can successfully apply the techniques used by professional copywriters …

Sometimes, and more often than not, the smartest business move they can make is to call in a professional.

I’ve had to learn that distinction myself as it applies to non-writing projects. For example, I enjoy graphic design. I can make a decent infographic or logo … but it could take me as much as 20 hours, whereas it would take a professional graphic designer just two hours. Plus, I’d have to research at length which colors mean what and what styles are appropriate where, and how to use the latest graphic design software …

It’s something I can do for fun in my spare time, maybe for a home party invitation, but not something I’d do for my writing business.

Same goes for the art of copy editing. I know where commas and semi-colons can go … but everything I put out always goes through a copy editor who’s trained at a professional level to spot things I don’t notice.

What’s the take-home message here? Like the myth itself, it has two parts:

  1. If you’re considering a writing career, but you have doubts about whether you can do it because you don’t have “this” or “that” in your background … don’t worry about it. You can do it; you just have to commit to learning the fundamental principles of persuasion. Everything will build from there.
  2. If you’re already working as a professional writer, remember this is a specialized profession. Don’t sell yourself short by trying to perform every function of your business. Focus all your attention on the craft of writing good copy, and only write for those who already value what you do.

I’ve spent countless misdirected hours trying to convince someone I really wanted to write for that they should hire me and pay my chunky fees. But it’s a lot easier, more time-savvy, and far more lucrative to connect with those who know they need a good copywriter. Those are the people who will honor the time you take to learn this skill.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions on this … please share below.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with Myth #3, which breaks down the idea that all forms of copywriting are created equal.

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Published: September 29, 2015

19 Responses to “Anyone Can Be a Copywriter … But Not Everyone Should!”

  1. Why is it necessary to pay for the opportunity to work? Periodically I have checked Barefoot on AWAI and the fee will range from 2 figures to one as the fee to use your services. It's the employer that benefits considerably by the work accomplished by the employee. The employer should pay for marketing for the employee (The Writer). When I need a job opportunity most and my cash is dry, I can't go to work unless I pay a fee to a third party that doesn't make the decision for the employment. This is primarily the case on all internet opportunities. It is frustrating! Thank you for your article.

    Guest (Tom Ryan Sr)

  2. Mindy, thanks for the updates but my prob is motivation and I need review of the fundamentals of persuasion writing. I want to write about several topics (how to cook with herbs/spices; spelt flour and others. But, I want to be sure about fundamentals of persuasion writing. Thanks for any suggestions.
    Sincerely, Viola

    Aunti Vi

  3. Mindy McHorse, I have read nearly everything that you have put in front of me, and I appreciate you being here.

    I am continually conflicted, bouncing between one interest and the next. My intent is to work B2B, eNewLetters: and as best I can stay away from the HEAVY promotional letters (Hype usually lives there).
    I "see" that most readers are human, so "human value" (not 100% stuck in this industry, but crossing into real life too) will be of interest to them as well.
    I see an eNewsLetter that can host guest writers, possibly from within the client company itself (all sanctioned by the client/host) of course.
    How is my aim? Will this work?

    Guest (Dale - NoMoHype)

  4. Hi Mindy, I would like to take this opportunity to express how much I appreciate you took your time to send this information. I indeed know all the steps anyone should take to become a good writer. I come from a very interesting. Full of European blood and Ancestry history, but happened to be born in Venezuela. Earned a degree in International Business, never had used it to some extend because I became s Pro Surfer the same year of Grad, traveled extensively around the world, competing ans surfing the best waves

    Guest (Jorge A Kamkoff)

  5. competing ans surfing the best waves. Traveled to over 18 countries, representing my sponsorship that I had back then. Coached as well a young talented kid, name Andrew Doheny... Learned so much about different cultures, values, and beliefs. I also worked as a head Valet Attendant Manager for almost ten years. I must quite honest and frank with you, you are the reason why I am here with AWAI.. I loved your video, it inspired me so much, and my wife as well. We are now facing the worst situation we have ever had financially, we could only afford the $49.00 for the Barefoot Club, and that's

    Guest (Jorge A Kamkoff)

  6. we have ever had financially, we could only afford the $49.00 for the Barefoot Club, and that's all we could afford that day and today. I am not earning any income as today. If I had an extra saving funds or any other source of money, I would totally invest on anything added to what I have already. Just as Rebecca said on the webinar, I have many ideas to provide you. After all, I have a BA in International Business, and surfing has blessed so much, that I learned my 3rd language... Thank you

    Guest (Jorge A Kamkoff)

  7. Hi Mindy,

    I've been seeing a lot of low-ball "opportunities" to write on the cheap, and I'd rather find good clients, if possible. Is there any advice you'd offer for finding clients who value good writing and are willing to pay a fair price?

    Thanks, Joe

    Joe Norden

  8. Well! Well! First and foremost, thank you Mindy for your bits of expertise. However, My desire is to get started copywriting. How do I do that? I've been studying all the emails, paperwork, and the like since 2012. There's seemingly a charge to even start working. How did you become so successful? Now, I'd like to put my little knowledge to the test. Thanks.

    Guest (Lynn)

  9. I have done the accelerated programe way back in May this year. I have a flair for writing. I am a published writer in Inida. My opinion is, that anybody, if he/she thinks to become a writer can become at any age as you have mentioned. One should get the proper training. After doing training the problem comes in getting the prospects. This is unlucky for the people who never get to prospects to get income. There are thousands of writiers but are all having fortune?

    Guest (Mahesh seelvi)

  10. thanks for your all help i love this and i know i can do this i will copywriter so give me all you have and i will work at it some day iwill be a writer annie thanks to all

    Guest (annie l)

  11. De la manera mas atenta y respetuosa, me encantaría platicar con usted personalmente porque estoy seguro que me puede enseñar mucho de lo que necesito aprender, esa es la manera mas conveniente que asimilo los nuevos conocimientos, dígame a donde debo de ir y ahí estere.
    Hugo Aguilera.

    Guest (Hugo)

  12. Mindy, just want to let you know that your information is keeping me focused and on the right track. Thanks a bunch! ;-)


  13. Aloha Mindy!

    I'm enjoying your series and looking forward to 3 more installments.

    I'm not trying to embarrass you -- this is a serious question.

    Your sentence: "We’re talking this week about the top five myths that perpetuate the copywriting world." To be continued ...

    Guest (Jon)

  14. Part 2. What this means is that the myths are what keep the copywriting world going. What did you mean to say? Not trying to be snarky-- this is a serious question. thanks, Jon D. Pike, Kailua-Kona, HI

    Guest (Jon)

  15. Great job, Mindy. Everything we do has a cost-- generally up front, but always a cost. I spent tens of thousands of dollars on education to be a mental health counselor and earn a good hourly wage. Now, my current situation keeps me from practicing. I work in retail. I just walked in and took the job. Some would say I haven't paid for that. I'd say I pay for it everyday with crazy hours, diminished lifestyle, and family limitations. In several years I could become a manager live above the poverty. That's a cost.

    Guest (Mark)

  16. I find all of this information very interesting and very helpful. I thank you.
    I plan on taking a copywriting class so I can improve my writing skills. I would love to sign up with everything you have to offer, but I just can't afford it.
    In your email, you stated that connecting with people who will honor your desire to learn the skill of writing g. Well, my question to you is: Once you learn this skill of copywriting, where do you go to get clients who will be more than happy to hire you and pay you well?

    Guest (Bee)

  17. Hi Mindy, it sounds like you are saying that copywriters should pay a copy editor to edit all of their work instead of doing it themselves. That seems very unrealistic, time-consuming and expensive. People like you who are editors working for AWAI or other corporations can hand that over to staff; but, the majority of freelance copywriters, especially newbies don't have that luxury. Please clarify if this is what you believe is necessary to be a successful copywriter. Thank you.


  18. I have tried just about every at home company that interests me. However, none of them produced the income for me that was talked about. My question is, after paying to join the club what else do you have to pay for before earning the income that is very frequently talked about? Before I become a member, I need a guarantee that I would be able to make money before going broke trying to.
    Thank you.

    Guest (Wanda)

  19. The myth and fact combo that anyone can be a copywriter is 'spot on' in this article. Thanks for the valuable insight. :-)


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