tips for new copywriters

4 copywriting tips I often share with beginners

No one ever talks about how they dealt with their very first copywriting project. Fortunately, I’m here to share my copywriting tips with you.

It finally happened one morning and you got an email asking for a price on writing website copy, after spending weeks or months hoping someone would notice your website. After doing a victory lap around your living room, chances are you’re probably feeling a little green with anxiety.

Having been in the writing business for four years, I decided to put together a list of copywriting tips and tricks I used in my first year of writing for businesses. I still use most these copywriting tips and techniques 4 years later and hope they’ll help you too.

Research your client and his/her business thoroughly

Before you get on that briefing phone call, or email them a copywriting brief, take the time to know their business inside and out.

Read up on any news articles, read their website content, and LinkedIn profiles of the main people you’ll be talking to.

Doing this as a new and unfamiliar copywriter shows you care about their business, you can ask the not-so-obvious questions giving you more valuable insights you can bring to the writing process, and it’ll give you a confidence boost!

The more you know about your client, the easier it’ll be to write good marketing copy.

Ask what they don’t like about their current copy

Often as a new copywriter, eager to impress, the important question about what the client doesn’t like about their current website content doesn’t get asked.

Why are they rewriting the website content? What’s wrong with the current written materials? Sometimes, it’s a change of strategy, or a branding exercise. Ask the question and you won’t produce copy that gets the thumbs down, smashing your confidence as a writer.

Create a good copywriting brief

To be honest, in my four years of freelance copywriting, I haven’t created a comprehensive, copywriting brief – an email brief has always done it for me. But I know other copywriters who won’t proceed with the client unless the copywriting brief has been signed and sealed.

There are advantages to writing a copywriting brief; both you and the client are clear on scope which avoids troubles later on. I’d highly recommend you create a copywriting brief for each new project – big and small. Here is an example of some copywriting documents including a brief you’ll need as a newbie copywriter.

Be realistic with deadlines

In a bid to win jobs, many new and inexperienced copywriters promise the client unrealistic turnaround times. If this is your first copywriting gig and you’re writing on a tight deadline, you won’t do your best work especially taking into account how much time researching the client takes and organising your thoughts.

You don’t want to be a frustrated copywriter and have a pissed-off client calling or emailing you repeatedly for their copy!

If you need two weeks to complete a copywriting project, then add in a couple extra days to the deadline as long as it’s not affecting the client’s timelines.

Work within their deadlines and project delivery times always.

Never missing a deadline is one of the unspoken commandments of being a trustworthy and reliable copywriter who gets repeat work.

Don’t skimp on thinking time

Most times I’m either thinking of my client’s new project or thinking about the first draft I have written or have yet to write.

Being a successful copywriter means you have to take time out to think.

Ideally after completing a first draft, set it aside for a few days to let it sink into your brain. Go back to it with a fresh set of eyes before sending it off to the client.

ps: When bub was small, I used to think about work when taking a shower, something about the water drumming down opened up my neurons!

I hope these tips help you become a better copywriter, I’d love to know from seasoned copywriters on copywriting tips you’d give to a new copywriter.


small fish in a big copywriting pond

Why I like being a small fish in a big copywriting pond

When I started freelance copywriting, I took it one day at a time because I had a newborn to look after. I enjoyed every client and feature article I wrote, took my time and learnt as much as I could.

small fish in a big copywriting pond

Sometimes I had multiple deadlines and after a sleep deprived night (nights!), I was hunched over furiously pounding out words and trying to keep it together. NOT FUN!

4 years later, I have two full days where I take my time to learn, write, blog and network with others on social media and I have two to three clients who give me repeat work.

I may not be making more than what I made in my full time job some months but I’m enjoying working on different projects and slowly building up my client base.

Sometimes, seeing other copywriters land big jobs or seeing their impressive resume does make me a little envious but on the whole, I like being a small fish in the vast pond of copywriters and here’s why:

  1. I have only one or two copywriting projects going on at any one time, so each copywriting client or project gets my individual attention and devoted thinking time.
  2. During slow periods, or just when I’ve completed projects, I pitch feature article ideas to publications and look for new markets or businesses to target.
  3. I love the writing process, not just the end result. I’m proud to say many of my first drafts are accepted by the clients without significant changes.
  4. I have time to network on social media from which I’ve won jobs or touched base with new clients.
  5. I take the time to sit down with clients and know exactly what they need – no rushing through the process. I’m a big believer of letting ideas percolate in my brain.
  6. I’m passionate about other things apart from writing, and being a small fish means I have time to do other side projects; like that novel which is currently sitting at 40,000 words.
  7. If I think a client is not suited to my style of work, I refer them on to other copywriters rather than struggle with the job, deliver less than stellar work and resent the client.
  8. I prefer to develop a longer working relationship with one client rather than once-off work from 5 different clients.

Being a small fish has allowed me to spend maximum time with my little boy and grow a business around him.

I don’t see the point of telling him “No! I have to work, shoo!” when he’s asking me to get down on the floor and play cars with him.

That’s why I started a home business in the first place – give myself the flexibility to play cars with him whenever I want (correction: when he wants).

Sometimes, the thought of growing bigger does cross my mind. However tempting it is (like that choc bar that constantly calls out to me in Woolies), I turn my back firmly on the idea – for now.

I’m happy where I am in my business, and feel no need to grow.

I’m also not yet ready to stop enjoying my work and feel the pressure of deadlines breathing down my neck like Dementors.

What would you prefer to be? A small fish in your business niche or one of those big, fat fishes?

ps: A small disclaimer is that I can be a small fish thanks to my hubby who makes enough to support us and buy the occasional chocolate bar at the shops…