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Here’s my process for creating taglines.
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Want to get started as a freelance copywriter?
I’ve had several “how do I get started?” questions from aspiring copywriters, so here are five easy tips you can use today.
(I’m serious. Make a note of these tips, and put them into action. Just reading them won’t help.)
I’ve been helping copywriters for years. Long before I start working with a writer, I can predict whether the writer is likely to succeed.
Here’s what the writers who become successful copywriters have, which the others don’t have: determination. They WANT to write copy, and get good at it.
They’re enthusiastic, and that comes through from their very first email message.
Take action… Get a piece of paper (or start a new computer file.) Write down five reasons you want to become a copywriter.
I’ve written copy for clients in areas ranging from fertilizer manufacturers to cosmetic companies. It just occurred to me that they might have something in common… :-)
I understood the fertilizer manufacturers a because my parents and grandparents were farmers. I love the land. As for the cosmetic companies, I pay for stuff to dab on my face and body, so I have an interest.
Over the years, I’ve turned down clients because I just didn’t like their business: a couple of clients in the adult area, and one memorable client who wanted me to write a newsletter on electrical conduits.
My point? You’ll be learning a lot about your client and what he sells. Stick with areas you know well, or can research.
Take action… Think about your life experience. What do you know? Can you write for companies in fields like business, technology, manufacturing? You’re just trying to gauge where you interests lie. Copywriters tend to be people who have an interest in almost everything, and are naturally curious.
I mean it. A teeny tiny, dinky little website. Use wordpress.com or blogger.com. No one cares, but you MUST have an URL you can give out to prospective clients.
Take action… Create a website. Now. Go and do it NOW.
I’d love to write copy for Apple. (Sigh…)
If I’m being realistic, I know I have as much chance of that as running a marathon, or of climbing Everest.
When you’re starting out as a freelance copywriter, write copy for anyone who asks. You can get choosy later.
Take action… Go browse the outsourcing sites. Bid on three projects.
Everyone knows someone; you’d be surprised just how easily you can get in touch with people who need copy written yesterday.
Once you’ve got your dinky website set up, tell everyone you know that you’re a new copywriter, and are looking for gigs. Make it clear that you’ll take on jobs as a learning experience, for minimal pay, as long as you can use the material in your portfolio.
Take action… Call five friends. Tell them that you’re getting started as a freelance copywriter. Ask them to mention it to their contacts. You never know where your first, or next, copywriting gig will come from.
You’re a new copywriter. You’ve been hired, and you’re eager to get started.
You open a new document in your word processor, and stare at the computer screen, hoping for inspiration…
After a few moments, the cursor’s still blinking, and you’re wondering where you’ll go for lunch. Maybe the new cafe on the corner…
You pull yourself away from thoughts of sandwich fillings.
“Headline,”, you think. “I need a headline.”
You click your way through the folder listings on your computer, looking for your trusty swipe file. You’ll find some inspiration for your headline there, you’re sure of it.
You’re going the wrong way.
You may well find inspiration for a headline in your swipe file, but you don’t need that yet. You need to understand your product, and its audience, first. Then you need to get on your audience’s wavelength, and ensure that you’re speaking their language.
I became a writer because I love reading; a copywriter because I enjoy exploring human behavior and language.
Copywriters sell, using words. Even if you’re writing a script, it all comes down to words. To craft words which sell to an audience, you need to understand your audience: their hopes, challenges, and frustrations.
Depending on the product, researching can be fun, or challenging. Start by asking your client to send you some representative marketing materials, as well as customer comments and questions. If you’re very lucky, and the product is popular, you can do some research on the Web.
Occasionally, research can be very challenging. For example, perhaps the product is completely new. No marketing materials, no customers, nothing at all.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to be creative. The product has competitors, and fits into a market niche. (If it doesn’t, the product has real problems, marketing collateral being the least of them.)
I’ve had a few copywriting jobs which needed lots of creative thinking. One job required me to write a brochure for a new pet food company; I couldn’t interview anyone from the company, and this was before the Web, so I had to be very creative indeed. I held my breath off and on for three days until the client signed off on the copy.
Depending on the job, you may spend a week or two researching, before you think about writing. Usually, you’ll come up with some wonderful ideas for copy while you’re researching. You’ll get what I call “the click” — everything will fall into place, and you’re inspired.
Sometimes inspiration won’t come, and you’ll find yourself where you started out, staring at your blank document, and the blinking cursor. You’re now primed with research however, and it won’t be more than a minute or two before your fingers start flying across the keyboard.
I love copywriting; it’s a wonderful career. Your success rests on your research, and speaking the language of your audience.
Not that I’m trying to do myself out of a job, but you don’t need a copywriter for basic advertising.
Think about the pain your products solve, and you’re good to go.
As I said in this blog post,Copywriting – Write Ads That Get Customers and Cash Fast | Angela Booth’s Creativity Factory:
“Got Benefits? Now You Can Use Headline, Pain, Solution, Action
Your ad’s headline does two things: it stops your customer in his tracks, and classifies him. When he stops and reads ‘Dog Arthritis? Your Faithful Friend Rests Easy On Our Dog Beds’, the customer will keep reading if he’s your target audience.”