There are roughly 30 trillion words on the Internet…
This is worked out at roughly 300 words a page spread across approximately 100 billion pages.
It’s a tough calculation.
Even tougher would be to work out how many of those words are either ‘solution’ or ‘passion’.
I imagine it’s far higher than either of us would hope.
But the point is: the Internet is rife with bad copy.
You don’t have to go far to find a webpage or ad created by a company that hasn’t hired a copywriter (or have hired a bad one). Instead, they’ve opted to weave the words ‘solution’ and ‘passion’ around some jargon they think proves expertise.
It’s sad if you spend your time caring about effective communication…
But at the same time, I think there’s something positive here for copywriters.
In fact, it’s the (er, cough) solution, to one of the biggest challenges copywriters face.
What do I mean?
Well, read on and you’ll find out, you silly old owl…
Your biggest challenge
Morgan, Andy and Mary…
Jennifer, Chris and Sam…
They all said it.
When I asked what was the biggest challenge people face as a copywriter, one of the top three responses was:
Frankly, I knew it would be. It’s a problem everyone faces at some point in your copy career, whether you’re just starting out or even if you’re long established and going through a dip.
Of course, I sit here inviting such questions knowing that in asking I’ve kind of implied I’ll offer some insight into how you could overcome the challenge.
Do I have the definitive answer?
Do I hell.
But I’m determined to be useful…
So, first, a bit of mindset…
Think about all those 30 trillion words on the Internet. A lot of them are bad words, strung together to create meaningless copy that fails in its goal to persuade anyone to do anything.
It means there are – quite literally – billions of pages of copy that can be improved by a well-trained copywriter with a love of sentences that start with (and end in) and.
So the clients are there.
The problem is: some of the clients don’t even realise they are clients yet.
In fact, that forms part of my first tip.
So, for the sake of structuring this piece in a coherent way, let’s do one of those bullet point information sections right now.
Seven Helpful Hints To Get More Clients
I lied about the bullet points. I don’t really like them, most of the time.
But anyway, the tips…
START LOCAL – Go to local business networking events. A lot of local businesses might not even realise what copywriting is. It sounds crazy but people really don’t know they can hire someone to spend time thinking about the words they use to communicate. Go to the events and tell them what you do.
GET A JOB – I mean I know this sounds like the advice of some badly briefed Tory politician, but I would be wrong not to point out the fact that sometimes the best way to find clients is to work in the industry first and make connections. Doing time in a business or agency might not be the wonderful freelancer path you imagined in the short term, but it can be part of a longer-term plan.
GIVE VALUE – There’s a lot written about working for free. If you’ve got plenty of work to show a client, I wouldn’t. But if you’re at the very beginning of your journey, I think showing how you can make a difference is enormously helpful. Don’t go mad and rewrite a company’s entire website on spec, but do take a little time to perhaps jot down your ideas for how they could improve things. Show how you can be useful and add value and it really starts to open doors. If they steal your ideas, fine – they’ll need to pay you when they want some more.
BE NICE – Holy shit, Glenn. Be nice? Is this advice for three-year-old playschoolers? I know. I know. But really, this is about more than being polite. The fact is people are more likely to give you a gig if you’re nice. Failure is a huge part of being a copywriter. Sometimes you’ll write copy that doesn’t work. Sometimes you’ll lose a client because you’re not the right combination. Sometimes you’ll have your work ripped by people who don’t really know any better. Such situations soon start to have a negative effect on your mindset and it’s easy to get defensive and angry and, well, not nice. So, I stand by the advice: remember to be nice.
ADOPT AN IFML APPROACH – It stands for ‘Ideas First, Money Later’ and I’ve just made it up. How’d you like it? Anyway, the key thing here is that clients will be much more receptive to working with you – and paying for the privilege – if you’re able to talk about the work first, before getting down to brass tacks. As well as enticing a client in, it also serves as a good filter for clients who you probably don’t want to work with i.e. people who don’t respect ideas.
WRITE A BOOK – I mean, it’s a pretty long haul option and requires a massive upfront investment of time. But hey, it does help. Perhaps more practically, start writing a blog about something you love so people can get a feel for your writing and you’ve got more work to share with people when they ask to see examples.
FOLLOW FOLKS – In the UK, the lovely Vikki Ross has created an incredibly useful resource here with something as simple as a hashtag: #copywritersunite. If you don’t follow it, you should – especially as you’ll find lots of potential copy jobs are regularly shared using it. Same goes for ProCopywriters if you’re over here, which is a great community that will serve you well if you’re just starting out and looking for new clients. In the US you’ve got folks like AWAI and The Copywriter Club, who also do great things to support the copywriting community.
And there you have it.
Definitive answers to the finding new clients problem?
Not really. But they are honest thoughts and things I’ve done myself at different points in my career.
I don’t want to finish the piece with the cliché of suggesting you stick at it and be yourself because it’ll all work out…
So instead I will finish with a series of words that are not in any way related or relevant.