You Ask — I give it to you straight!
This issue is all about Y-O-U!
That’s right. I asked a group of CopyStar readers send me their burning questions about copywriting — to tell me what’s preventing them from achieving their copywriting goals. And man, did I get a boatload of responses!
So now, I’m going to do my darndest to give you straight, frank and actionable answers to these concerns and worries. So let’s get started right now…
Question #1 — and by FAR — the most popular questions asked!
“How do I find a mentor?”
“Carline, I have been trying to land a copywriting job for 6 months now with no luck BECAUSE I need a fabulous mentor, someone like you. So how does a person trying to get into the business find a personal mentor who believes in you and helps you get to that first rung on the copywriting ladder?
Courses, seminars, webinars are all great but you still find yourself alone at the end staring at a blank future, not sure what to do next.”
ANSWER: I know copywriting courses and other experts are telling you the best way to make it in copywriting is to find a mentor who can help you break into the biz and climb to the top. And it’s true.
But as David can testify, it’s not easy finding a copywriting mentor. And it’s nearly impossible to find a top level copywriter who’s willing to mentor you. Here’s why:
Even A-level copywriters are freelancers. They’re busy growing their businesses and getting new clients. So when a newbie comes along and says, “Hey mentor me. I’ll work for free. I’ll make your life easy”. Most of these experienced writers say, “No thanks, I’ll pass”.
That’s because mentoring is not easy. Having a copy cub is not free labor. It’s actually intensive labor. You’ve got to teach, review, edit, and edit their copy again and AGAIN. It’s actually easier to write the blasted copy yourself!
I’ve worked with dozens of copy cubs — on large and small projects. It’s been very rewarding to see a young writer evolve into a decent copywriter who succeeds in this business. But I’ve pulled out locks of my curls helping them to “get it”. The older I’m getting, the less I’m willing to lose my hair.
So, David, what I’m saying is this: The chances of finding an A-level copywriter to mentor you is like an anorexic model in a bikini — VERY slim!
Definitely keep making the pitches to experienced writers to mentor you. But don’t hold your breath waiting for them to see you as a “diamond in the rough.”
Get out there and write copy. And keep writing copy. Get a small client — someone who’s willing to give you a shot at writing something so you have samples. Get a track record that shows your copy can sell. Then you’ll have a success story to pitch to a larger client. That’s the way to grow your copywriting business: One good sales letter at a time!
And keep learning copywriting. Keep reading great sales letters and find out what makes them so awesome. Remember, on a scale of 1 to 10, you don’t have to be a 10. You just have to be better than the current control you’re trying to beat! Fortunately, there’s a lot of crappy copy out there. Look for opportunities to beat a poorly written control — and go after those projects!
Question #2 — (and #3)!
“How do I find good, solid research — and where are the copywriting jobs?”
“Carline, I have been faithfully reading your newsletter since the very first one because I always get something from each issue. Also, (I have to admit I have an ulterior motive) because I want to get into the natural health industry as well, and you are the Queen of Copy when it comes to that particular subject!
I’ve decided to take you up on your Burning Question offer, and even stretch my luck and ask you two. Here goes:
1. If you can’t afford to pay someone to do the research for you, where would you look to find some inside information on that subject (besides the obvious Google)? A lot of times Google search engine doesn’t give me what I’m looking for.
2. Where could one go to find copywriting jobs?
I have been writing copy for the last few years for a Chiropractic consultant and have been doing O.K. because of my penchant for the natural health care field.
I want to broaden my horizons and help more natural solutions (supplements, etc.) become better known, but I really am dumbfounded whene it comes to… “Where do I look?”
Where can I research for that deep insider knowledge into a subject, and where can I look for new copywriting jobs?
Thanks for all you do and making the world (especially mine) a brighter place!”
Your Copy Comrade,
ANSWER: Man, Brett, you’re a greedy l’il booger, aren’tcha? But flattery will get you everywhere — so here are your answers:
If you’ve been reading CopyStar like you say you have, then you know my “secret weapon” researcher is Sandy Ferguson. She’s president of Ferguson Research Group — and that woman can really dig up some juicy stuff to give me credibility sources for my copy. You can find out more about Sandy at:http://www.fergusonresearchgroup.com.
And here’s a little inside scoop for you: Sandy and AWAI created a remarkable program to help folks tap into the little-known field of Internet Research as a career. It’s called “Secrets of Becoming an Internet Research Specialist. You can click here to learn more about it: http://www.awaionline.com/internet-research/p/
So you can see how strongly I feel about using Sandy as a researcher. Her fees are very reasonable and she delivers the goods.
But if you can’t afford a researcher, my best advice for you is to use the Internet and search for the sites that fit your project needs. I do start with a basic Google search and that usually leads me to other sites with more specific info.
I also usually order and read several books on the subject I’m writing about so I can become an instant expert.
Getting your hands on testimonials for the product also is a great research aid. You’ll “hear” the voice of your prospect when you read the good as well as the bad testimonials about the product.
Sometimes I create my own focus group to really help me get a pulse on the market. Usually these folks are friends/colleagues/acquaintances who fit the demographic of the product. I usually have about 10 or so folks. I invite them to my house for a meal… set up chairs in a circle… have prepared questions to get the conversation started but stay fluid enough to really listen to what they have to say. My focus group usually lasts about 3 hours and during that time, I usually have some good nuggets I can add to my copy to resonate with my market.
Now, on to your next question…
If you’ve got some samples from your chiropractor client, then you’ve got something to show to the next level of business you’re trying to attract. Make your pitch to those folks!
Also, your chiropractor client is in the natural health field. Ask him about the vendors he works with. Those may be potential clients for you!
Check out your mailbox. Are there local natural health clients doing direct mail? They’re your prospects too!
Contact them and send ’em your existing samples and offer to write a sales letter that’s GUARANTEED to work. That’s right — they don’t pay you until they’ve got bona fide proof your sales copy worked for them!
By the way, with this kind of promise — make sure you include a coupon in your sales piece. That’s the easiest way to track and prove you wrote a winner!
“How do you tell the good clients
from the crappy ones?”
“Thanks to your encouragement Carline, I’ve made natural health my copy/design niche. I’ve barely gotten started marketing and have a couple of hot prospects I’ll be having phone calls with this week.
My question is, how do you judge a company’s products to decide if they’re good products/companies to write for? For instance, how did you find out how much bilberry and lutein we need for eyesight so that you could say most companies don’t have enough in their products in your bilberry/lutein magalog? When I research amounts we should have, the “opinions” are all over the place.”
Thanks for your help!
ANSWER: Hiya Kammy, Congrats on starting off with a bang!
Credibility, reputation and longevity are how I judge the companies I work with.
All my clients must provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee with their products. This can be a 30 day… 60 day… or lifetime guarantee. If the client can’t stand behind their product, that makes me suspicious.
Also, go with your gut. If it doesn’t “feel” right to work with a client — don’t do it. I’ve regretted the few times I didn’t listen to my gut instincts.
For example, I had a client I just didn’t get good initial vibes about. The negotiation process was a pain in the butt. My gut kept saying “don’t do it”. But I didn’t listen. I made excuses saying that we just got off on the wrong foot.
The entire project was a royal pain. I couldn’t wait for that miserable experience to be over with. Even though the client had an excellent product and the copy was kick-butt — I wouldn’t work with him again for all the tea in China! I became a freelancer so I could control my time, energy and the kind of clients I worked with. Life is just too short.
In the bilberry case you mentioned, the company provided me with the research to support their claim. Their claim came from their own research and they stood behind it — so I just ran with it!
“How does a shy copywriter market services?
What are the best ways to market writing services when you are a gun-shy introvert who isn’t good at networking? I’m also on a water budget. My son and I are already working on a website.”
ANSWER: One of my friends once asked how I could work from home with all the distractions I face throughout the day. My answer to her is the same as my answer to you: I like to get paid. If I don’t work and finish a project, I don’t get paid. That’s the biggest incentive I have to eliminating distractions and getting the job done.
Nobody cares if you’re an introvert Dale — and thanks to the Internet and direct mail — nobody needs to even know you’re shy! In fact, most of the copywriters I know are naturally shy (present company EXCLUDED ). But if you want to make a living at this gig, you’ve got to market yourself and get your name out there!
Working on a website? Great! Just make sure it’s a good one. In my opinion, a crappy website can do more harm than good. When I see one, I think, “I don’t want this guy working for me — the copy on his website sucks, so why would I think he can write great copy for me?”
So if you’re going to have a website — make it a good one. If you need some help, contact my friend and website guru Ken Carroll at http://www.integrisdesign.com or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him I said, “Hi!” And if you decide to use him, he’ll give you a special CopyStar rate!
If you’ve got decent copywriting samples and really, really hate the idea of marketing yourself, you can hook up with a copywriter agent. This is a person who will market you to hundreds of clients. If he lands you an assignment, you pay him a commission (usually 20%). Kevin Finn is a very good agent — and you can talk to him about your special needs. You can reach him at: http://www.finncom.com.
So did any of these answers give Y-O-U some additional insight about copywriting?
I sure hope so! And you know what? This was kinda fun! So, keep sending me your questions and I’ll answer more in future issues of CopyStar, ok?
Yours for stellar results,
Million-Dollar Copywriter & Consultant