I’ve got that feeling: Today’s issue will be a little bit of tough love…
This is one of those questions I get a lot. And, it’s a question I don’t really like to answer. Because whenever I do, the answer is unforgiving. Even if it’s in the best interests of the person who is asking the question to take this stance.
It’s Monday. Which means I’m answering questions from the mailbox.
To have your question answered in an upcoming Mailbox Monday issue, send it to me at [email protected] Or just hit reply if you’re reading this in email — which you should be if you’re not!
I want to ask… Do you know any companies that would hire beginner or zero experience copywriter and what type of businesses/niche markets are looking to hire copywriter?
Thanks so much!
Here comes the tough love!
Nobody except YOU has the responsibility or desire to give you experience.
I know when I get a question like this, the person asking the question wants “the list.” They want the list of companies that are ready, willing, and able to hire brand-new copywriters, and bring them up to speed. Not only that, most of the people asking this question are also hoping that’s the same list of companies that are paying six-figure salaries, plus royalties, to even the greenest of green copywriting talent.
BAD NEWS: There is no list!
You know the Spiderman origin story? If so, you’ll recognize the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Titans of Direct Response speaker and memory expert Jim Kwik talks about the lunch he once had with Stan Lee, creator of Spiderman. They discussed that the inverse of that quote is perhaps even more useful: “With great responsibility comes great power.”
You have to be willing to take 100% responsibility for the outcome you wish to create. If you haven’t figured out how to make things work the way you want to, you can’t blame that on what’s going on outside of you. You can’t just go look for the secret outside yourself. You have to look inside, and ask, “What am I doing to create the situation that I’m in now? And what can I do differently to bring myself into a different situation?”
This doesn’t mean that if you’re in a bad situation, it’s all your fault. Rather, you usually can’t do a lot to change what’s happening to you. But you can change how you react to it, in your thoughts, emotions, and actions. And it’s through taking great responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions that you get great power to change things.
What the heck does this have to do with getting a list of clients hiring new copywriters?
If you don’t have experience, you cannot count on anybody else to be responsible for taking you over that threshold.
Even my friend David Garfinkel, who is the world’s top copywriting coach (NOT an empty platitude), will NOT take on someone who isn’t at least making a reasonable income as a copywriter. It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at him, he is unwilling to be responsible for your success.
You have to take yourself from zero to one.
You have to be responsible for going from zero experience, to some experience.
I did this — twice — here’s the really fast version of the story…
When I discovered copywriting, I had some telemarketing and in-person sales experience (selling is really the most valuable experience you can have). But I had ZERO marketing experience, and I was working in a customer service call center.
I didn’t care. I started applying to marketing jobs. And I basically said they should hire me, without experience, because I was 100% open, ready to learn, and ready to do the hard work to succeed. And as proof, I explained that since really starting to understand the field of direct response marketing even just a few months before, I’d taken 100% responsibility for my success. And was giving myself a rapid-fire education by consuming as much good information on results-accountable marketing as possible.
Then, I did something similar to get my first freelance copywriting client. Even though I had some copywriting experience at the time, I hadn’t written a real sales letter. So I actually wrote what I call an “irresistible offer letter” that explained that I would work for free, unless I helped the client make more money. It wasn’t on them to educate me, I put myself on the line.
I told them I would write something, and they could look at it. If they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t have to run it. If they liked it and ran it but it didn’t beat the control, they didn’t have to pay me. Only if they liked my letter, ran it, and it beat their control (making them more money) did I earn my fee. It was impossible to say no, and I had my first client.
Dean Jackson often asks the question, “What would you do if you only got paid after you got your client the result?”
In some cases, he even encourages his clients to restructure their businesses completely around this results-first offer.
That’s exactly what I did to get my first freelance copywriting client.
What you’re doing here is de-risking the proposition.
When you’re selling a service, especially as a NEW service provider, there’s ample risk in the transaction. There’s risk you won’t ever finish service delivery. There’s risk your service will stink. There’s risk you’ll do your best and the client still won’t get result.
There’s a TON of risk.
The question: Who takes on that risk?
It’s very hard to get clients, early in your career, if you want them to take on the risk.
It’s very easy if you take on all the risk, and only get paid after you deliver the result.
Some people will tell you not to do this. Some people will tell you that you’ll get taken advantage of. And maybe you will. Also, maybe you won’t. Either way, you will have had an experience that you learned from. And if you learn from it, you can use it to take you one big step closer to your goal.
Consider the staff copywriter job…
There are a few companies, especially divisions of Agora, Inc., that hire relatively green copywriters as staff copywriters, and teach them long-form direct response.
I never did it. But a lot of really good copywriters came up through this system.
If you want to go this way, you have to be prepared for pain. You have to be prepared to not have your copy see the light of day for months, or even years. But in the long run, their system is designed to churn out really good copywriters, because they make money from copy.
I was geographically-constrained — I lived on Oregon, and all of Agora’s offices were on the East Coast. So I didn’t go that path, even when I probably could have. But I got an in-house marketing job at a small IT training publisher, and took responsibility for my own copywriting education. We didn’t do a lot of direct response, at least not the kind of copy you’re used to seeing, but I learned a lot, because I had my fingers in the entire company. It made me a more rounded marketer and copywriter, because I was focused on a lot more than just words on page.
If you are willing to put aside your freelancing dreams for a while, and go the in-house route, the best way to get on these companies’ radar is by attending the AWAI Bootcamp and Job Fair. It’s an annual gathering of companies that hire copywriters, and occasionally someone that shows promise is picked up and given the opportunity to grab their destiny by the horns and become a superstar.
If I can’t give you names, can I at least tell you about the kinds of companies that hire copywriters?
Yes. It’s relatively easy to see, if you know what you’re looking for.
Look for companies that use the kind of copy you want to write in their marketing.
Once upon a time, I created a spreadsheet that started as a list of all the financial newsletter publishers I could identify.
I subscribed to all their email lists, and looked at what they sent me.
As it became apparent who was using emotional direct response copy and who wasn’t, I narrowed down my initial list. I only wanted to have the list contain companies that were using long copy sales letters.
Then, once I had a good list of those companies, I started to gather contact information for who was in charge (this took a LOT of research — don’t ask me for a secret place to go where this is available because there’s nowhere to point you).
From there, I had people to reach out to. Eventually, a significant portion of those companies became clients.
This is repeatable in any niche, in any industry. You just have to be willing to take responsibility for compiling the list yourself, and do the work. Then, reach out. Perhaps starting with a no-risk irresistible offer.
Direct-to-consumer publishing and information marketing is the biggest field for long-form direct response copy, if that’s what you want to write. Some of the “parent” niches in this category are financial/wealth, health, self-help, and work at home. These are really, really big niches, and some narrowing of focus within these categories is recommended.
Or, if you’re not tied to writing really long sales letters, EVERY business communicates with customers. It’s not that hard to find companies that need copy — open the phone book. The only question with this approach is whether or not they value copy.
Finally: Do it yourself…
Every copywriter who is NOT creating their own side project is making a big mistake.
To have your own sandbox to play in, where you can develop your skills, test your ideas, and so on is the best way to learn.
You should be putting what you learn to use in the purest form possible — and that’s by creating your own business, writing your own copy.
Not only is this smart for learning copywriting, it can also make you some decent extra income (or can turn into a main gig), plus gives you some actual in-the-market experience you can use (especially once successful) to show clients what you’re capable of.
And even if your side project never grows that big, it will show a moxie that more entrepreneurial clients will appreciate.
Taking responsibility is about creating your own opportunity…
There are a million ways to do it.
You will find your own path, if you’re serious about it.
There is no other way.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
PS: Here’s a handful of additional relevant articles:
And if you have this question, it’s clear you haven’t yet read my book: The Copywriter’s Guide to Getting Paid. Shame on you. Go get it.
Here’s a recent Amazon review:
By Barry Sindlinger on May 5, 2017
Fantastic clues, if not direct info…! Not so much on the components of masterful copywriting as much as master MONEY EARNING!
PPS: Look at all that value I give you 100% FREE!
There are over 1,000,000 (that’s 1 MILLION) words in the previous issues of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets. That list above is a very limited selection of past answers to the question I answered today.
That’s a ton of free, 100% value content.
You should be throwing money at me. I know you’re itching to.
If you’ve been sucking up all this good content, looking for an opportunity to spend money with me (as many of my readers tell me they have!), you won’t have to fret much longer…
Alas, the emotional pressure that’s been building to somehow repay me for all this golden content is coming soon, I assure you. Of course, you’ll get so much value it will only further tilt the scale. But at least you’ll be able to assuage some of the guilt from just taking and taking and taking all this free content.
(If you don’t sense that my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek, I assure you it is — but I’m also serious that something BIG is coming!)