Yes! I learned the hard way so you don’t have to! If you’re in the throes of starting or scaling your copywriting business, allow me to save you some time as I shed light on 5 of the most surprising lessons I’ve learned over the past 8 years.
Hey guys, it’s Alex! And this week, I am peeling back the curtains to give you a little peek into my own journey of building a successful copywriting business.
So not too long ago, I was having a conversation with my good friend, Mark Ling. And if you’re not familiar with Mark, he is like an affiliate marketing legend and owns multiple 7-figure businesses across a variety of different niches – he has over 50 front-end products and 150 upsells – so it’s safe to say he knows a little thing or two about copywriting and creating offers that convert.
Anyway, we got to talking about this whole copywriting business and the lessons that we’ve learned over the years… and that conversation inspired me to create this article!
It also goes out to those of you who have been copywriting for a while and maybe just need a friendly nudge in the right direction, and a reminder that you’re on the right path! Because I know the going can get tough, but don’t give up!
For me, copywriting really paved the way for a life of freedom, flexibility, growth and adventure. There’s nothing quite like building a business of your own, getting paid to do what you’re great at, working with clients and brands that align with your passions and values… and being able to lead a lifestyle that fills you up.
However, like any worthwhile endeavor, yes you’re bound to hit a speed bump to two along the way.
Becoming a highly-paid copywriter doesn’t come without putting in time and effort to consistently hone your skills, learn the latest techniques and strategies, and stay true to the ethos of writing authentic copy that both connects and converts.
And that’s what I’m here to help you with!
Over on my YouTube Channel you’ll find dozens of copywriting tutorials and guides to help you on your journey. So hit that subscribe button and join the global Copy Posse and let’s have some fun shall we?
Now, here they are. The 5 biggest (and frankly, most surprising) lessons I’ve learned while building my copywriting business.
#1: Copywriting Isn’t JUST About The Sales Page
I am sure all you aspiring direct response copywriters out there can agree that a well-written sales page is like the creme de la creme of portfolio assets.
I used to think that way too, and I would get so excited at the prospect of tackling a long sales letter to uplevel and showcase my skills. Until I realized that there is still great leverage and learning that can be gained through writing those copy pieces that surround the main offer.
You can significantly boost the conversion rate of a sales campaign by giving the same amount of attention to assets like emails, a webinar script, an abandoned cart sequence, relevant upsells, retargeting ads, and landing pages… the list goes on.
Copywriting is about being able to use congruent and compelling messaging across theentire ecosystem of a campaign. No sales page can stand alone without the other key pillars that hold up the fort!
When you understand this critical copywriting lesson, you’ll realize that your opportunities to support a business go through the roof. Sure, a client might already have a sales page, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need copy help. Think outside the box and offer assets that most businesses (and copywriters) tend to completely forget about.
This is why a great portfolio is one that features a diverse range of copy assets, to prove to your clients that you understand the COMPLETE picture of a sales campaign and all those different copy pieces that are required to produce it.
My coaching program, The Copy Posse Launch Pad, is specifically designed to do just that! I will teach you the highly sought-after copywriting skills that today’s businesses are looking for and help you write a holistic portfolio of high-converting copy assets that will get your clients wanting to work with you again, and again, and again.
Alright, the second copywriting lesson you may be surprised to learn is this…
#2: Copywriting Opportunities Are EVERYWHERE (But Not Always Obvious)
I’ll be frank (as If I’m not always ALREADY)…
There is a LOT and I mean a lot of average copy floating around out there. In fact, MOST businesses are built on average copy, that can later be improved through testing and revisions. Except it rarely is. I’ve said it before, the secret to writing great copy is to: Step 1) write bad copy, and Step 2) fix it. The problem is, most people stop at step 1. I know from experience that most businesses tend to put all their focus on new products and funnels rather than optimizing the ones they have, as long as they are converting OK. So that leaves a TON of money on the table for copywriters like you.
So, when you’re looking for copywriting clients, don’t assume a company with an existing sales page doesn’t need your support. You can focus on the ancillary assets like I mentioned earlier – the follow-ups emails, the abandoned cart sequences, or the upsells…
Or you can offer to improve their existing copy conversion rate.
I’m here to tell you that any business owner would pay GOOD money for even a 10% boost in conversion rate on one landing page, or one sales page, or one checkout page.
So here’s the takeaway… As you’re coming up with your list of services and the kind of packages that you’d like to offer, consider all the relevant copy pieces that are actually needed to keep the machine running at full speed.
And to get some inspiration, sign up for a few funnels and actually buy some programs! Take note of every single page, step and part of the campaign you’re taken through… And then consider how those pieces actually might have influenced your buying decision.
I know when I first started, I used to study other funnels religiously. I once bought the Brazillian Butt Lift DVDs from Beach Body. Have you guys seen their marketing? It is truly brilliant – and I wanted to see what happened behind that purchase wall after I bought. And I don’t even have a DVD player! Lol.
Alright so, moving on to lesson #3…
#3: There Isn’t As Much Competition As You Think
So when I first got into copywriting (and many of you know was never my intention when I finished business school), but when I first got into copywriting it really felt like I was diving into a sea of amazing copywriters and everyone would be better than me, and we’d all be clawing for the same work. Boy was I wrong.
Years later, I can tell you both from my experience of being a copywriter and also hiring copywriters, that decent copywriters are HARD to find. And I am not alone in this. I get asked ALL the time by my friends, clients, and mastermind members, if I know of any great copywriters I can refer to them.
And the honest truth is that my answer is usually “No.” and that’s because most “copywriters” don’t produce great results. Either because they lack experience in the relevant niche, or they were never being honest about their skill level in the first place.
And that’s why I created this community. To help aspiring copywriters – who are willing to learn and dedicated to putting in the work – create copy that both connects and CONVERTS.
Listen, you can not be a copywriter overnighter, but the upside of putting in the time is HUGE, guys. Because when we do find copywriters who know what they’re doing, we pay them well and we will do anything to NOT let them go.
So as you’re building your copywriting business, consider the kind of niche you want to write in, and make that a clear part of your marketing as you approach potential clients. This alone will significantly increase your probability of delivering real results.
So yes while it might seem like there is a tonne of competition out there, the good news is if you’re actually committed to learning this skill and doing it well, there really is very little.
And, there’s even better news for those of you who join my Copy Posse Launch Pad, because by completing the program and creating your portfolio, you’ll become part of my go-to rolodex of writers that I can confidently refer to my friends, clients and mastermind members. Hello, that is a win-win! And you can find out more about that program by clicking here.
Alright, now onto number 4 on my list…
#4: Good Copywriting Can Not Be Done In A Rush
Oh yes, that ol’ newbie habit of wanting to please every client and say yes to timelines even the most seasoned copywriters would BALK at. I know, it’s because you’re terrified of losing momentum or running out of job opportunities if you – heaven forbid – take a breath!
Can you relate to that? I know it’s easy to get so hung up on the actual “sit-down-and-write” aspect of copywriting that you often forget to take into account the hours you NEED to allocate for the important steps before and after you start writing… and then you end up in mad panic mode at the 11th hour of a deadline.
Now here’s a fact — copywriting is only 50% writing.
No matter what you’re writing, it takes research, ideation, structuring, customer analysis, and strategic offer mapping before a single word gets written. Every piece of copy requires the same plan-write-and-review process, so why not take the time to produce something stellar that will also increase your chances of getting re-hired?
You think there weren’t 50 to 100 different headline options written before the world’s award-winning ad campaigns came to be? Yes, sometimes even just a few words can take hours to get right.
It took J.R.R. Tolkien a staggering 16 years to complete The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy! Lol! Now of course it won’t take you that long to write a high-converting sales page, but I can tell you it will take longer than a couple of days.
Only you can figure it out though. Just like writing a novel, there is no one-size-fits all timeline to copywriting. Robert Louis Stevenson apparently wrote “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in just 6 days.
So, as a copywriter looking at the project ahead of you, it’s really important that you get familiar with your own process and flow… so that you give yourself enough leeway to produce quality work, and are able to manage your client’s expectations when it comes to deadlines and turnaround times.
If you’re just starting out, I’d highly recommend logging your hours diligently. So list down all of the steps you take from start to finish. And take note of the number of revision rounds you need on average to complete a project. That way you can produce the best copy possible without subjecting yourself to that high amount of stress during crunchtime.
Alright, moving on to the final lesson to share with you today…
#5: Copywriting Is A Numbers Game
How many Picasso masterpieces do we marvel at today? About a 100.
But do you know how many pieces he actually created throughout his life? More than FIFTY THOUSAND. That means that only 1% of his work ever made it into the record books.
So, I’m not saying it will take 50,000 copy pieces for you to finally become a successful copywriter — but you get the gist.
Like any venture — copywriting is a numbers game. The point is to create and put that skill into practice, and get better with each piece or project. Remember — clients are not only paying you for your time, but the experience that you have to be able to produce quality work in that time.
Now I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — the best copywriters in the world are the best copywriters because they have failed the most. We are not wired to only produce great results. Those accolades can only come with experience, and practice, and learning as much as we can. Not all pieces will be a winner! But how else do you learn and improve?
If I were to look back at everything I’ve written and do a quick scan of every single piece of copy I’ve produced, there are definitely some (probably more than some), that I would not add to my portfolio today, because they flopped!
And I know this because I always ask for feedback and conversion metrics of my copy. See, more numbers!
The numbers game also applies when it comes to reaching out to clients. Like every business, not everyone will say YES guys! Some might not even get back to you. And that is OK.
You just gotta keep putting yourself out there, add as much value as you can, and position yourself with authority… And before you know it someone, SOMEONE will get back to you. And then that someone will lead then to someone else and so on. And before you know it you are a copywriter.
J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was famously turned down 12 times beforeBloomsbury agreed to publish it! And now look at her! Enough said.
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So there you have it guys, the 5 lessons that I learned the hard way in building my copywriting business.
And as always thank you for reading.
I will see you next week! Until then, I’m Alex. Ciao for now!