If you’ve spent any time studying the art of copywriting, or writing words that sell, you’ll soon find that the only prerequisite to this field is ability. Practicing and mastering different copywriting styles, like landing pages and sales letters, can lead to broadening your horizons (and wallet) as a writer.
Your first assignment as a copywriter is to sell yourself and you will use multiple mediums to do so. Remember that every contact with a potential client represents your ability to sell. Apply those same sales techniques to your correspondence with clients and you’ll be taking on work before you know it.
Who Hires Copywriters?
But who do you market yourself to? And what types of marketing do you use to sell yourself? First, let’s tackle the who.
There are many businesses that use copywriters and even if an organization has a writing or marketing department, it doesn’t mean they don’t also hire outside help. When looking for places to market your ability, start with these:
1 – Non-Profits
Just because these organizations are not for profit doesn’t mean they don’t pay…and there are more opportunities to be found here than grant writing. Send around your LOI (more on this later). Non-profits can also be a good place to get your first clips, as well. Depending on how badly you need clips, you may want to consider offering to tackle a project for free.
2 – Customer Service Departments
Contacting this department can land you assignments writing procedural manuals or customer contact materials.
3 – Human Resources
There are a great many printed and digital materials created by this department. Training materials (including scripts for video and computer training), company newsletters for employees and procedural manuals are only a few. Also, if a company doesn’t offer say, a newsletter, you could suggest one by pointing out the benefits for both the employer and the staff.
4 – Communications Departments
This is usually the first department copywriters think to contact within a company, mostly because of the sheer volume of materials created by this office. Send an LOI or business cards with your correspondence or repeat them in several mailings to keep your name in front of them. Obviously this department usually has writers on staff, but most hire out to freelancers depending on their work load or for the benefit of a fresh perspective.
5 – Marketing Departments
This department is usually the communications department with a different name. Use the same methods above when contacting.
6 – School Districts
Schools are constantly pumping out written materials. I speak from experience; with three kids in school I get LOTS of papers. If your local schools are anything like mine, the teachers themselves could benefit from the occasional spell check. This may create an opportunity to (tactfully) point out a need for your services. After all, their materials represent the academic standard of their district. This is another instance where if the district is unable to compensate you, you can easily pick up pro bono work to build your portfolio. Depending on the services you plan to offer, you should contact either the administration building or the individual school.
7 – Restaurants
Working with restaurant owners is a niche in itself…and one well suited to the self-proclaimed foodie. Menus themselves create plenty of work. There are constant updates and tweaks for new items, changes in management, re-branding and scratch creations for new businesses. You can also up-sell numerous marketing materials your clients may be interested in: emails promoting lunch specials and delivery menus to local businesses, inserts for table plaques promoting daily specials and upcoming events, mailers and take-out menus, with or without coupons. Your best bet in this niche is to make a few contacts and find a photographer, printer and local graphic artist, unless you can handle the design. Find talented teammates and do some side gigs, sharing the riches. Not only will you build your portfolios, but you’ll be able to offer local food joints a one-stop shop for marketing materials.
8 – Trade Associations
These are groups aimed at a specific profession or industry. If you have experience (maybe you spent years of service in retail, the food industry or insurance, etc.) and writing ability, trade associations can be a real opportunity, especially for newbie copywriters. Most members of these associations have experience in their industry but not the skill to write about it; you have both. Rather than hire writers and teach them the entire industry, editors are tickled to find writers who can write knowledgably on technical or industry-specific subjects.
9 – Community Service Organizations
Closely related to non-profits, these organizations are primarily local and rely of volunteerism. Search for volunteer opportunities in your area, then market your services to them or just offer to help out. If there’s anything you’re passionate about changing in your neighborhood, whether it’s homelessness, affordable housing, animal welfare, the food system, school food standards…anything, this is the opportunity to use your ability to make a difference. You may even consider it volunteering if you choose to help for free.
10 – Local Organizations
These abound in my neck of the woods and primarily consist of business to business communications. Businesses found in downtown Kalamazoo formed a membership group that promotes downtown itself. Other businesses joined forces to promote the ‘shop local’ initiative. Any group of local people working together to promote something are all examples of local organizations. Start by searching online to determine what print and digital marketing is already in place. Either market yourself as a contributor to these or pitch a new and useful marketing product…maybe an email newsletter or print materials for community outreach.
11 – Universities & Colleges
Higher learning institutions generate a huge amount of copywriting materials, both internal and external. If you happen to be alumni, you already have one foot in the door. Don’t overlook community colleges, either. These can be goldmines of writing opportunities.
12 – Local Advertising & Marketing Firms
Don’t be intimidated by the big boys. Even if getting you name in their circles doesn’t land you any direct work in their campaigns, it may very well lead to refferals when those firms are overbooked. This is one market I would wait to approach until you have samples to show…ones that you’re proud of.
13 – Local Businesses
Imagine the possibilities! Think of all those phone book listings to market your services to! (I’m showing my age…) You could send LOIs and follow up with a phone call, send a bulk mailing or…ugh…cold call. Aim to target ten new businesses each week, beginning with an industry you have experience in. Even if you don’t land work directly from your efforts, word of mouth and referrals are definite possibilities.
14 – Business Resources, Support & Advisory Services
Any groups or organizations geared toward helping businesses succeed falls into this category. Besides offering your services directly, consider contributing a business article to any established newsletters, trade magazines, blogs or websites. Think ‘5 Things A Copywriter Can Do For You’ or ’10 Ways Your Copy Can Make You Money’ then use your bio (the blurb about you) to promote your services. You’ll reach a large audience of businesses that may be interested in your services and you’ll be seen as an expert on the subjects of marketing and copywriting. Good position to be in!
15 – Business Expos
These are also huge where I live and you don’t need to rent a booth to market yourself here. Pack up your portfolio of samples and a stack of business cards and make your rounds. Be prepared to schedule meetings for follow-up on services and specific projects.
16 – Chamber Of Commerce
Buying membership into your local chapter may be pricey (one year where I live is $499) but can pay off…and is tax deductible. For a list of benefits, visit your local chamber’s website to see what perks are included. In addition to the benefits, membership will also reflect your professionalism.
For more opportunities in copywriting, check out my free ebook: 50+ Writing Markets and Resources…Get More Clients And Increase Your Income. Also, use online search engines to identify marketing opportunities…and pick up pamphlets, brochures and free periodicals in your area.
An excellent example of this is Woman’s Lifestyle of Kalamazoo (local to me), which is a 50-60 page free publication by the organization and includes articles geared toward women, written by local business owners and experts. They also host a local expo for women in business and highlight female entrepreneurs in their magazine. This creates fantastic marketing opportunities! I could buy ad space in their publication, write an article for them and promote my services in my bio, network at the expo, and send congrats emails to the businesswomen showcased in the magazine. All of these opportunities because I stopped at a rack in my local grocery store. I suggest you keep your eyes open as well!