How can you start a career in copywriting?
What if you don’t have any writing experience? What if you don’t want to spend months or years learning a new skill to make a high income?
There’s a few ways to get started that don’t involve going back to school. You might be considering copywriting because you heard that it is a high-income skill that can pay you six figures. It’s the new direction you want to take in your career. What’s the first step to take if you’re just a beginner?
I want to answer your questions by sharing my story. It’s proof that writing doesn’t have to be your favorite subject, or even one of your strengths, for you to start a high income copywriting career. I will also share 5 proven copywriting tips that you can implement as a beginner.
Watch this video about how to start a copywriting career.
How I Started A Copywriting Career With Poor English
I got into copywriting because of my first mentor, Alan Jacques. He used to run a very successful company called Business Breakthrough Technologies. He’s the first guy to bring Robert Kiyosaki, founder of Rich Dad Company, to Vancouver.
Alan taught me how to write copy when I was in my early 20’s. It was a difficult process because English is not my first language.
My confidence in English was shaken early on when I was in high school and I flunked English class. So learning copywriting was extremely difficult but I didn’t give up easily.
I remember trying to get clients by advertising and cold calling business owners. The business owners told me that if I couldn’t even speak proper English on the phone, how was I supposed to write their copy? It didn’t make sense.
But I’m glad I was persistent. Over time it got a little easier, and I became fascinated by my results. The first time I sent out a direct mail piece, I got a check in the mail from people I had never met and never seen.
I’d never talked to them, except through my written words. That’s when I saw the power of selling through copy.
Now, as an entrepreneur, what goes through your mind? If something is successful, let’s repeat it. Let’s do more of this!
So I put my focus into learning how to write compelling offers so I could get more of those checks.
To become a great copywriter, I knew I had to learn from the best, and to me, Alan was the mentor I needed. His copywriting mentor was Gary Hobart, arguably one of the greatest copywriters of all time.
About 10 to 20 years ago, Gary was making millions, charging $15,000 to write a letter plus royalties. His company mailed millions of direct mail pieces every year. His copy had to sell to make those millions.
So Alan learned from Gary, and I learned from Alan for close to one year by working for him for next to nothing. That’s the million dollar year of my life because I got a million dollar education. He taught me how to write headlines and how to come up with offers.
How To Succeed With The Gun To The Head Method
Then I became a freelance copywriter with a one-man advertising agency. Problem was, as a young guy with broken English, I couldn’t get clients. So, what I did is I came up with an irresistible offer.
I was calling business owners and saying, you know what, I am a copywriter, and I saw your ad in the Yellow Pages. What they didn’t know was that I contacted them because they were running half or full page ads so I knew how much they were spending on the ad.
I would tell them that I didn’t have a lot of experience, but I was willing to rewrite their ad, and if they weren’t happy with it, they didn’t have to pay me. But if the ad worked, they would pay me $500 to $800.
Not everyone said Yes, but I got enough saying Yes that I started building my own little client base. It was do or die copywriting. Or gun to the head copywriting.
If I didn’t work, I didn’t eat. It was how I honed my craft. With experience, I found which ads worked and which didn’t. I noticed patterns.
From Writing Ads To Books To Online Copy
If I wrote in a certain way, I would get more orders, but if I wrote a different way, I got fewer orders. My observations went into my notes and after a couple years, I published my first book online.
It’s also available on Amazon, called Influence. It talks about the 47 principles of what worked and what doesn’t work in copywriting.
That’s how I started my career. In my early 20s I was charging $2000 for a marketing piece, such as a sales letter, and I worked with four or five clients per month, making about $10,000 a month. Decent money, right?
Later I evolved into marketing and internet marketing. Some believe one of the reasons I made a lot of money online was because of my timing and I agree with that. When I got into it, it was early on and there wasn’t a whole lot of competition.
Timing has something to do with it, but also the foundational copywriting skill that I built up before taking it online. When I put a long sales letter online, it worked like direct mail had worked, and that’s how I think it accelerated my success.
That’s why it’s important to learn a skill that you can develop and apply to many situations, such as copywriting. Now what are some tips you can follow as a novice copywriter to improve your skills quickly?
Watch this video about 5 proven copywriting tips for beginners.
Tip 1: Make It Short, Catchy, And Easy To Read
First, forget about what you’ve learned in college and university about writing. In copywriting, you want to break sentences up into shorter ones that are under 10 words.
Here’s what I like to do.I won’t have more than five lines per paragraph. Sometimes I will have two lines per paragraph. On occasion, only one line or one word per paragraph. Why?
Readers have an easier time reading if you break up the copy into smaller chunks.
Tip 2: Focus On The Client
Here’s a common copywriting mistake. Actually the biggest mistake.
Most people talk too much about Me Me Me Me. Such as, “I’ve been in business for 15 years. I’ve done _____ things. Here’s why we are so good. Here’s what we do.”
Don’t waste your time writing all that!
Your customers don’t care.
Most entrepreneurs focus on their own ego instead of getting into their client’s ego and focusing on their needs and problems. They should be asking, “What are the clients looking for?”
Tip 3: Research What’s On The Customer’s Mind
To understand what the client is looking for, I do some research. I look at the customer reviews because that’s where I’m going to find the deepest pain points and deepest desires. I’ll find their objections and what language the target market talks in.
You’ll figure out what kind of conversations they are having in their head. Then, when you write your copy, you will be able to engage with the reader, the target audience, in a way that they want to be spoken to because at the end of the day everybody wants to buy. Everybody wants to be sold.
But before you sell, you have to be able to connect with the audience.
Tip 4: Grab Your Reader With Your Headline
If you want your audience to read what you wrote, you must have a catchy headline.
Let me give you just two quick effective writing strategies for writing headlines. There are probably 20 to 30 different headline templates, but for now I just want to give you two of my favorites.
The first one is called State The Claim As A Question. For example, “Who else wants to ____?” or “Would you like to_______?”
These are proven headlines where you state a claim as a question. Here’s a squeeze page, a landing page to opt-in email addresses. The question here says:
Name and email, that’s what you’re asking for on this page.
Here is the benefit to the audience, “insider secrets.” They are getting something for free. “Insider Secrets,” also is another proven headline, such as “insider secrets to _____________”, or in this case, “insider secrets to getting your real estate licence in the fastest time possible.
Tip 5: Become Newsworthy
The next tip is to make the subject newsy because people read the news because they want to know what is new. So when you enter the conversation in their mind and you answer the question, “What’s new?” it captures their attention.
People love to discover what’s new and interesting in the world. Think about it. How many times have you logged into Facebook and seen ads about a “new discovery”? You may have seen these words
Discover is a powerful word that makes something newsworthy. So here’s something you can do with a squeeze page after your prospect opts in. Here’s part of a very long sales page.
Let me ask you a question. What we sell is real estate classes helping people to get their real estate license. That’s what’s really going on. Do you see any of that in the headline?
No. It’s not there because the reason why people get into real estate is to make money and obtain freedom. So we lead with their true desires right in the headline.
Copywriting is not the kind of writing that you learn in school. So forget what you learn in school if you want to start a copywriting career. Forget about being academically correct. Copy is the spoken language in written form. Write the way that you speak.
Final Thoughts On Starting Your Copywriting Career
Many people ask how they can start a copywriting career. You don’t need to be a writing whiz or speak English as your first language. But having a good mentor is instrumental in your success.
I was very determined to be successful as a copywriter so I found my clients by giving them a compelling offer. That offer also meant I didn’t get paid if I didn’t deliver results.
If you’re thinking of starting a career as a copywriter, follow my five proven tips. Write shorter sentences, focus on the client and write to the client’s deep desires and pain points. Work on crafting strong headings that capture the audience’s attention and make your ads newsworthy.
Which copywriting tip will you implement in your writing? Comment below.