No Experience? No Problem.
How I Snared $6,000 in Client Work My First Week as a Freelance Copywriter …
Writing emails is a great way to make a living as a copywriter. The projects are short, often less than 250 words, yet you can make $100-$500 per email, even as a newbie.
But the one thing I hear all the time from my copywriting coaching students is …
"But Jay, I don't have any writing experience to speak of yet. Who's going to hire me?"
Legitimate question — and one I'm sure we all struggled with when just starting out …
However, there IS a way you can completely bypass the whole "experience" barrier and start getting clients quickly.
How do I know? Because that's the way I did it. Let me explain …
Back in January of 2006, I officially launched my career as freelance direct-response copywriter. I gave up a good job to spread my wings and go out on my own, and I was basically starting over from scratch.
Which means I had ZERO presence, ZERO prospects, and ZERO knowledge on how to get either.
So that first Monday, I did what many of us have done — walked around my house with my head in my hands thinking, "Am I COMPLETELY insane?"
(Sound familiar? I'll bet there's a lot of nodding heads out there.)
But on Tuesday, I had an epiphany of sorts …
I put together a list of 11 targeted prospects and sent all of them the same basic message, only changing the name of the recipient. These went out at 9:00 a.m. that morning.
By noon, I had already received THREE responses to my inquiries — an unheard of rate (27%) for this type of marketing, especially in just three hours.
One of those prospects was especially interested. And by Friday of that week, I had secured my first freelance gig for a total projected fee of $6,000.
That job led to more and more work. And over the next few months, I made around $25,000 just from that first client.
Not a bad start, eh?
So let's review:
Monday — clueless and lost
Tuesday — idea and implementation
Wednesday/Thursday — back and forth with potential client
Friday — $6,000 heading toward my bank account
And that all happened to a guy who had ZERO experience as a freelance copywriter.
So how did I do it? Easy …
Instead of focusing on what I DIDN'T have, I focused on what I DID.
You see, I had a more in-depth knowledge of this niche than most copywriters, and I knew I could knock it out of the park pretty quickly if given the chance.
So I crafted my marketing message to focus on my NICHE experience — not my WRITING experience — and the prospects came out of the woodwork to talk with me.
Truth is, most clients could care less about how much you've written or who you've written for or any of that stuff …
What they REALLY want is someone that knows their market inside and out … a writer who can talk to their prospects and customers in a way they can instantly understand and respond by taking action right NOW.
Your prospects don't want to have to train you in their business — they just want to hand you a pile of projects (the same pile they've been staring at for weeks, wishing somebody would take if off their desk) and say, "HERE — now who do I make the check out to?"
See how this works?
Good, now here’s how to become a copywriter. Before you start marketing yourself, think about targeting those niches where you can leverage one (or more) of these three things:
1. More KNOWLEDGE Than Other Copywriters
Look, we all know more about some things than other people, right?
So think about that for a moment — what little tidbits can you mention in water cooler conversation that make people say, "Really? I had no idea!" These could be potential niches for you.
Were you once a circus clown? Did you travel around the world on a sailboat? Or climb Everest? These are things that make a potential client perk up.
And before you say, "Yeah, right Jay — who's going to hire me based on anything quirky like that?" Consider this …
I had a student who once skated in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. And guess who's she writing for now? Yep — the Olympic Channel.
She scoffed when I suggested targeting that niche. But sometimes, that's where you find the hidden gold mines.
2. More EXPERIENCE Than Other Copywriters
This crosses over a bit with knowledge, but think about your current or past job experience and how you can leverage that …
What industry was it in? Did you manage people? Was there technology involved? A special skill set? All these are things you can leverage to catch the eye of a potential client in those same niches …
And before you tell me how you want to get away from that "old world" and do something new, remember — you don't HAVE to stay in the same zone forever.
You can just take a few easy gigs to get going and build some momentum, then you can let those clients slide away while you focus on what you really want to write about.
That's what I did in the beginning stages. I didn't want to make a career in that first niche. But I knew I could get hired a lot faster there.
So I did the whole "grin and bear it" thing for a few months to pay the bills while I marketed myself in other areas. And when those new clients started coming my way, I let the first one go and never looked back.
3. More PASSION Than Other Copywriters
Here's a place that can be both fun AND lucrative …
Think about those things you're really passionate about. Maybe it's a hobby. Or a side interest. Or even a political or religious affiliation. Something you've always enjoyed doing or being a part of, but never really thought about as a niche choice.
For example, years ago, I was really into golf. So I figured, "Why not see if I can find work there?" I made some inquiries and landed a gig with one of the top golf marketers online.
And right out of the gate, I was BLOWING them away with my copy. Why? Not because I was more talented or experienced. But because I was passionate about the game and knew the golfer inside and out. And that translated easily into my copy.
In fact, it wasn't long before I secured a HUGE retainer with this client that lasted for several years. And the best part? In the mornings, I would write about golf. Then in the afternoon, I'd grab my sticks and go play 18.
Talk about the copywriter's lifestyle!
So you see, getting clients when you have no writing experience doesn't have to be a struggle …
All you have to do is leverage what you already have instead of worrying about what you don't. And when you make this simple marketing mind-set tweak, don't be surprised if your copywriting career takes off like a rocket!
You ready to hop on board? Let me know how I can help you get going by posting a comment below.
The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter
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Hi Jay... I'm sitting with the same problem of desperately wanting to resign out of the industry I'm in (might even be today?), so this article was quite encouraging... that said; I've been keeping an eye on your course, but simple can't afford it yet... definitely buying on the next promotion, if I can save up enough in time :) Thanks!
I am BSN, RN, but interested in the vitamin, supplement, alternative therapy arena as well as traditional healthcare. Any Suggestions?
Guest (Paula) –
Hi! So my niches are the realms of the world's religions, herbal medicine, and sustainable living. Where the heck does one go for such out-of-the-box categories??
I am finally answering the years-old call to become a writer, and I greatly look forward to any helpful clue you can give me.
Many blessings to you!
Guest (Asha) –
Eu adoraria contratar todos os cursos da AWAI, porém se tivesse legendas em portugues nos videos e os pdf's seria muita ajuda, pois ainda não falo vossa lingua, não que seja um impedimento, más seria muito mais rápido e prático para mim, pois ter que ficar traduzindo perco muito tempo e a traduçao não é nativa. Estou trabalhando arduamente para concluir barefoot e acelered 6 figures. Nos vemos em breve.
Guest (RICARDO SOARES DE OLIVEIRA) –
I have already purchased this program and have signed up for your class. I am waiting for it to start. Please let me know if it has already started.
Jamie Sax –
Jamie, if you mean the Masterclass, we had our first session on Tuesday of this week. The replay should be up by now. Might want to check your member info page on that...
Jay White –
As far as the niche questions, all of those that have been listed are viable candidates. Just remember to think outside the box a bit and consider products and services that are related as well. Remember the ice skater story from above--she scoffed at the notion of marketing there but it quickly turned into an amazing opportunity. You just have to be proactive and DO IT!
Jay White –
I am looking forward to an exciting adventure. I have written thousands of useful short articles for musicians. I aim to expand my horizons with the artful assistance of the AWAI team.
Roland Bishop –