4 Simple Strategies I Used to Get My First Copywriting Jobs
I’m here today to give you some good news …
Getting clients doesn’t have to be a scary process.
In fact, in my own copywriting journey, the least scary strategies I’ve used to get clients have ended up being the most successful.
Today, I’m going to share the four strategies I used to get my first several copywriting jobs.
For each one, I’ll discuss how you can use these strategies to launch your own copywriting career.
But first, let me share with you a little of my background …
Fresh Out of Grad School, with Zero Job Prospects
In November of 2016, I finished grad school with a master’s in English literature.
I’d gone back into school thinking I would teach literature to young adults after finishing my degree.
But the more my graduation date loomed, the less I wanted to be stuck in a classroom.
On graduation day, I had to face the facts.
I had no job prospects. More than $30,000 of student loan debt. And no clear idea of what I wanted to do for work.
While staying with my parents that winter, I signed up for AWAI’s email newsletter and invested in The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.
I had so many questions as I went through the program.
Was copywriting really the key to my writer’s life?
Would it be a good fit for me?
How long would it take to start earning real money as a copywriter?
These questions led me to my first opportunity …
Strategy #1: I Worked My Connections to Get Two Flexible In-House Jobs
I wanted to give freelancing a try, but I also knew I needed steady income as soon as possible.
Luckily for me, my family owns a textbook publishing business, and I’d done a few research projects for them in the past.
With my new copywriting skills, I pitched a part-time content writer job description to my dad, explaining why his company would benefit from my marketing help. He agreed, and I started writing articles and emails for them.
A few months later, I moved to Holland with my Dutch boyfriend, still working remotely for my family’s business.
There, I got a second part-time job, this time in administration for the nonprofit that was employing my boyfriend.
The whole time I worked that administrative job, I saw how much marketing help the nonprofit needed. And so, a year after starting the position, I told my boss I wanted to work for the marketing team.
Sure enough, he promoted me to content director — a job I still enjoy and do today.
The reason I mention these two in-house jobs is not that they paid me huge sums of money or gave me the writer’s life.
But they’ve been very important milestones on my journey.
Number one, they gave me practice applying the principles I’d learned in AWAI’s programs. And number two, I was able to negotiate a good situation for myself, with flexible working hours and location.
Plus, both these jobs were surprisingly easy to get, because I only had to approach family and friends to start working as a copywriter.
How to Make It Work for You:
What copywriting opportunities are hiding in your own circle of family and friends?
Try approaching people you know who own businesses, and talk to them about how you could help them through your copywriting skills.
As a next step, let your acquaintances know about your skills through a post on Facebook, or through personal emails. You never know what opportunities might come up!
Strategy #2: I Submitted Specs and Responded to Calls for Submissions
My in-house jobs helped pay the bills and gave me good copywriting practice, but soon I returned to the dream of having a thriving freelance career.
I joined a few of AWAI’s membership groups — Wealthy Web Writer, The Professional Writers’ Alliance, and Circle of Success.
Then in October 2018, The Professional Writers’ Alliance posted a Spec Assignment for Bootcamp. I submitted an article idea, and the editor accepted it.
It was my first freelance writing assignment, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled! Little did I know it was just the beginning.
A similar opportunity came up a few months later, when Wealthy Web Writer put out an end-of-the-year Challenge, with the chance to win a commissioned article.
I sent in my Challenge submission, and within a week or so I got an email saying I’d won the Challenge and would be paid to write an article. Another win, another huge boost in motivation.
Taking advantage of these calls for submissions provided me a bit of freelance income, a lot of confidence, and very valuable repeat work.
And again, they were not very intimidating to try — because I was simply doing what someone had asked for.
How to Make It Work for You:
Take advantage of Spec Assignments, writing challenges, and other calls for submissions as they come up throughout the year, whether they’re from AWAI or other businesses you’re interested in. Bootcamp is a fantastic opportunity, but not the only one.
If you’re hesitant to submit because you doubt you’ll win, remember this — the only way you definitely won’t win a spec is if you never submit one in the first place.
Strategy #3: I Pitched an Idea
Around the same time I got those first two freelance assignments, I listened to an Inside AWAI webinar with Rebecca Matter and Katie Yeakle about getting clients.
One of the strategies they proposed was to send in ideas to companies.
It occurred to me that if Rebecca and Katie were proposing this, then they must be open to hearing ideas from AWAI members.
So I came up with an idea for an article and sent it to AWAI.
I’ll be honest … I was a little nervous about this one.
But I knew AWAI, and I had been following their marketing for a while. So I was fairly confident they would be interested in my pitch.
Sure enough, Rebecca agreed to let me write an article. And there I had my third freelance assignment.
How to Make It Work for You:
The better you know a prospective client, the easier it is to pitch good ideas to them. Pay attention to their messages and their target audience.
Pitching an idea to a company you like and have been following for a while can open so many doors for you. And the better you know a company, the less intimidating it will be for you to get in touch.
Strategy #4: I Took a Training Course and Stayed with It to the End
In January of 2019, I started a training course that ended up getting me my sixth copywriting job.
AWAI gave their first-ever session of Simulated Training, where expert copywriters walk participants through all the steps of working on a sales letter with a direct-response client.
I took this opportunity because I wanted to receive more training and feedback on my work.
But I also knew that if I wrote a strong letter for the program, AWAI might decide to test it … and if so, they’d pay me for it.
While going through this program, it would have been easy to get sidetracked with other obligations. It’s a lot of work to do the research, brainstorming, writing, and rewriting for a sales letter.
But I was committed to turning in the full project by the final deadline.
In the end, it turned out to be my biggest success yet.
I found out at Bootcamp that AWAI had chosen my sales letter for testing — a project worth $2,000 plus royalties.
All because I simply took one of AWAI’s training programs and stayed with it to the end!
How to Make It Work for You:
Many of AWAI’s programs have spec opportunities built into them, and some of their more intensive sales letter training courses give you the opportunity to showcase your work and possibly get hired by AWAI.
If you sign up for a program with a spec, submit the spec! If you sign up for an intensive training course, submit the best work you can — it could very well be a big leap forward in your career.
Getting Clients Doesn’t Have to Be Intimidating — It Just Has to Work for You
Using these non-scary strategies has taken me from a graduate student with zero prospects and $30,000 of student debt …
… to a business owner who’s paid off a third of that debt from writing work, landed my first big copywriting project, and built more and more momentum for my career.
Let me assure you, not everything I’ve tried, or all the ideas and specs I’ve submitted, have been successful.
But strangely enough, out of all the strategies I’ve tried to get clients, these four non-intimidating strategies have proved to be the most successful for me.
Maybe some of the strategies I’ve mentioned are a bit out of your comfort zone — that’s totally okay.
But brainstorm what methods you are comfortable with, and commit to trying them!
So now it’s go time …
Which strategies will you commit to using?
Are there any strategies you’ve used to get copywriting work so far? Share with us in the comments!
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Very encouraging text. You showed me there are ways to get started. Thank you a lot! I will keep paying special attention to your articles.
Guest (Lino Guedes) –
Hey Rebekah! This article helped me land 3 of my 4 first clients simply by using Strategy #1! Bonus: They're all different projects which builds my portfolio!🎉
Jill W –