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7 Steps to Turn a Blank Page into a Blank Cheque
Copywriting can be a lucrative business if youíve got the right skills. And writing of any kind can be a great way to make a living, but how do you get from that intimidating first page, to that very rewarding first pay cheque. Before becoming a freelance copywriter I set down 7 steps that would help me on the road to success.
Step 1. Defeating the Blank Page
Surprise, surprise, you need to be able to write, to be a copywriter or other professional writer. Many would-be writers are put off by the blank page. They sit there eager to type something, knowing what they want to say but not knowing how to write it; they want to write something great but canít find the right words. This is where they make their mistake, instead of trying to get it right first time, just write what you need to say. Forget grammar, style, clever words, even punctuation if you want. This way you can start writing straight away, the blank page is defeated and now all you have to do is go back and Ďpolishí what you wrote. The important thing is that the key message is there and improving a bad piece of writing is far easier than trying to write it right from the start.
Step 2. Perfecting
Now you have a reasonable piece, you need to perfect. Take out any unnecessary words, add in words that lift the meaning and enhance descriptions and exchange dull, overused words with exciting ones. Read the piece again and again; hone it down until it is perfect.
Step 3. The Power of Limitation
Are you sure it is perfect, because Iím not? I suggest that you limit the number of words you allow yourself. It will help you practice improving the article, so that you choose and use only the best, most necessary words. If you are to become a writer, you must recognise the value of words, so use them sparingly.
Step 4. Getting Published
Before anyone will hire you to write for them, youíll need to have something published to show as an example. Seasoned and experienced copywriters will have a full portfolio of work, selective examples of copy they have written across multiple formats. But if youíre just starting out, you wonít. Hereís what you do, get published anyway you can. Write letters to local and trade newspapers or magazines, offer to write free articles for them too, write articles for article submission sites, offer to write for free for a friend or a member of your family that has a business. You could write them some press releases, website content or sales letters. None of these cost very much to produce, so the commitment from them is minimal; thereís no reason not to give you a go.
Step 5. Create Your Book
Your Ďbookí is the name used for your portfolio, it is unlikely to be very big at first, but donít worry, itíll grow. Youíll need to take your published work and arrange it in a professional and impressive style, if you're going to convince anyone that you're worth hiring; a trustworthy freelance copywriter. Keep building it and changing as you go along; always ensure it is the best demonstration of youíre writing skills.
Step 6. Getting a Foot in the Door
This is probably the hardest part. You need to find contacts that are interested in hiring you. The web can help, build a website promoting your services and get listed on directories. If youíre really good you could get yourself ranked high in the search engines using copywriter or freelance copywriter as the search term. Or you could go to your local library and make a list of all the companies you want to target and start calling them. Youíll want to speak with the person in charge of PR, marketing, sales or all three. Often it will be the same person; generally this depends on the size of the company. Donít call companies that are very small, they wonít have the budget and donít be put off when someoneís not interested, just dial the next number.
Step 7. The Blank Cheque
Call, email or write to enough people and you will eventually get hired to write something. Youíll usually be asked to meet and show samples of your work or sometimes to send them over email. Donít charge too much at first, you are after all, just a novice. Build your skills, build your contacts, build your reputation and you can build your rates. Congratulations, you are a freelance copywriter, a professional writer; a person in charge of their own career.
To discuss this topic further, contact me. you can find my details on http://www.wordsthat-work.co.uk.
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