I got my first big break 9 years ago. With no real experience or extensive portfolio.
I know it’s not the most conventional way to break into the industry as a copywriter, but hear me out.
As a Film Studies graduate, the only pieces I’d written at that point were a few short film scripts for class and some movie trailer scripts during my internship at a film production company.
I also had a personal blog, where I wrote short stories, shared fashion insights and reviewed films. I had no website or industry connections either.
I took a shot at applying as a Copywriter and Producer for a well-known cable channel in the Philippines. I personally enjoyed watching their American reality shows, and identified with their sassy and stylish vibe.
I created a makeshift portfolio out of my short film and trailer scripts and blog posts. I printed them out and secured them in a folder. I also burned a CD containing all the files, and brought them to the interview.
There was a writing test which involved writing voiceover copy to promote several of the channel’s shows on air. I got the tone of voice right because I’m the target audience of the channel.
And yes, I got the job.
I was lucky and the timing was also right, but actually, it all came down to my strategy: I banked on my strengths to find the perfect fit for me.
And that, my friends, is the first step towards finding the right Junior Copywriting position.
But we are living in different times now. Best practices have evolved.
Plus, with the current situation the world is facing, we have to take into consideration how we can effectively communicate in a crisis and network remotely.
Let me break down the steps for you.
Find Your Niche
You know that saying, “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”? Well, you don’t want to be that. While being flexible in terms of writing, and wearing many hats are both advantageous, it is even better to be a specialist.
Being a specialist means you’re an expert writer in a certain field or industry.
Industry-wise, you could fall into these categories:
- What you’ll be asked to write: Web copy, white papers, ebooks, long-form blog posts, product descriptions, technical specs, landing pages, ads and end-user documentation.
- Clients: SaaS companies, as well as software and data brands. Think Intel, Microsoft, and SpaceX.
- Skills: You’ll need to be able to humanise technical terms to be an effective copywriter in this field.
THE LIFESTYLE COPYWRITER
- What you’ll be asked to write: Web copy, blog posts, high-conversion landing pages and social media. Not so much ebooks and white papers, that’s more the tech writer’s arena.
- Clients: B2C (Business to Customer) brands that are selling a lifestyle, not just a product or service. Fashion, retail, travel, self-care, cosmetics, etc, all come under this bracket. For example, Nike inspiring people to just do it (be superior athletes). Small start-ups are potential clients too.
- Skills: A lifestyle writer will need to have an innate understanding of the human mind and be able to translate those desires to the copy.
THE LEGAL COPYWRITER
- What you’ll be asked to write: Website copy, blog posts, PR articles and high-conversion landing pages. There may even be client-facing guides and brochures thrown in there too.
- Clients: Law firms all the way. There are a ton around and most are waking up to the fact that compelling copy could transform their business.
- Skills: You must know how to turn dense legal subjects into accessible copy. You must also learn all the rules and nuances of using legal language and jargon.
THE MEDICAL COPYWRITER
- What type of copy you will likely be asked to write: Print and digital ads. Websites. Articles and blog posts. Sales emails.
- Clients: Pharmaceutical companies. Small healthcare providers and physicians. Educational healthcare institutions.
- Skills: A medical copywriter must combine their knowledge of the sciences with a creative flair.
If you’re just beginning your career, it’s good to identify which topics genuinely interest you. But you also need to be knowledgeable in that area so that you can write with credibility. And so that your audience can trust you.
For me, because I was into fashion, film and entertainment, I knew that I’d fall into the Lifestyle Copywriter category. So I focused on getting noticed in that area right from the get-go.
As you progress into your career, you can start to consider your niche arena.
- Direct Response Sales Copywriter: If you write to tell and to sell, this may be the niche for you. For helpful tips and tricks, you can refer to this blog post we’ve written.
- Digital Marketing Copywriter: If you have a flair for producing web content, with the aim of driving sign-ups and conversions, then you could probably look into specialising as a Digital Marketing Copywriter.
- Ad Copywriter: Do you understand what makes consumers tick? Can you also come up with very short copy that grabs hold of your audience’s heartstrings with an emotional trigger? Then this could be your niche.
- Conceptual Copywriter: Can you convey the opposite of ‘what it says on the tin’? And see the bigger picture? Create stories, using words conceptually and building a story in the reader’s mind? This might be the one for you.
- Blogger and Content Strategist: If you’re comfortable writing long-form content and can bring content strategy to the table while transforming the client’s content marketing funnel, looks like this is your niche.
Self-discovery is a part of life, and identifying which niche you belong to has the same principle.
Don’t be afraid to test the waters and keep on writing. Once you’ve figured out where you stand and belong, more opportunities will naturally come your way.
Build Your Portfolio
Now that you’ve identified your area of expertise, it’s time to prove that you’re actually good at it. Your body of work can make or break you, so make sure to put a premium on quality rather than quantity.
But that’s not all. This blog post we’ve written gives actionable tips and tricks on how to build a winning portfolio from scratch:
Get a little help from your friends
Scan your personal contacts on your phone or on Facebook. Chances are, you have friends who are just beginning to grow their business, or about to launch one.
At this point, you’d might want to offer to help them out with your services for FREE. Look at their business and its marketing set-up and consider what copy they regularly need. Whether it be a brochure, some web copy, a press release or whatnot.
You’ll be doing them a favour, while simultaneously building that all-important archive of copywriting samples for potential clients to check out.
And if you have friends who are graphic designers, then you could offer to do a swapsie. Offer to write the copy for their website, and in exchange, they can design your portfolio or website.
Boost Your Online Presence
I know that when I first started, I didn’t have a website or online portfolio. But that was in 2011, and best practices have since changed.
Now, the best thing to do is to have your own website where you can showcase your sample works, services, and even some case studies, if you’ve managed to work with several different brands already.
If you want to do it yourself, you can get started with WIX.com, a website builder that’s beginner-friendly. It’s not free, but the plans are affordable.
It has over 500 templates that are defined by industry, so it should be easy to find one that suits your new brand. Check out all the portfolio templates from Wix here.
Another option is WordPress. You can also find templates there, though they might look a bit dated next to the slick Wix ones.
You can also opt to create an account on The Dots. Here, you can easily upload your sample works, connect with fellow creatives and find copywriting jobs.
Enrol on a Copywriting Course
Not only will you learn invaluable skills from amazing, experienced copywriters, but you’ll also produce a body of copywriting examples that have been fine-tuned to imperfect perfection. The best bit is, that these examples can then be added to your portfolio and showcased to future clients.
There are a ton of awesome courses out there, that can be completed in your own time and you’ll be tutored by experienced copywriters who really know their stuff.
You’re in luck because we’ve just rolled out our TCC Academy Copywriting Course. Besides learning the ins and outs of copywriting and jumpstarting your copywriting career, you can also get inside info on how to set yourself up. And pitch to and win business from clients of all sizes.
We’ve worked with brands like Adidas, TikTok and Hyundai, so can help you make a splash. Check out our very own copywriting portfolio while you’re here. See what we’re made of.
Slay your LinkedIn Profile
Contrary to what most people think, LinkedIn isn’t just another platform for finding jobs. It’s also a platform for showcasing your personal brand.
And sure, a LinkedIn profile with sparkling credentials is attractive, but you also need to jazz up your About Me section. Let your copy skills shine.
Avoid using jargon in this part. In your own TOV, just summarise your experience and balance it out by sharing a bit about what you’re into when you’re not writing up a storm.
It’s also crucial to post and interact with your connections regularly. This will not only help you become more visible to your contacts, it also gives your potential employers a glimpse into your industry insights and thought process.
You can post about viral content and share your thoughts about it. Or perhaps share recent and relevant marketing content from different brands which you think are powerful. If you have more time, you can even upload GIFs or videos – anything that could showcase who you are and that you know your stuff.
But also remember to be sensitive with your posts during these unprecedented times. Avoid salesy and self-promotional content. Be empathetic and supportive.
Here’s a great post by our CEO, Konrad Sanders:
Find ways where you can assist in this situation – whether it be sharing a list of things you can do while quarantined, or writing about a moving campaign that celebrates the human spirit in difficult times.
Widen Your Network
Going to networking events allows you to meet not just potential employers, but also fellow creatives who can introduce you to their industry connections.
It’s also a venue for meeting people you can collaborate with (like designers you can do swapsies with), and meet more experienced agency folk who you can learn a lot from.
At the moment, we can’t go to face-to-face networking events, but there are a ton that have moved to the digital world.
But after the lockdown, you can give it a shot.
WHY FACE TO FACE NETWORKING EVENTS?
These are events held where you can go along and make connections, that could be potentially valuable.
Why it’s effective:
- People have to make the effort to go to physical events, so they’re more likely to be interested in forming real relationships.
- You can showcase your personality far more easily in person.
- You can build a human connection. REAL relationships are far more likely to flourish in person.
- You can read body language, which will help you understand more about the kind of person they are.
- It lessens the competition. If you get the chance to speak to someone directly, you’re more likely to stick in their mind.
If you’re an introvert, you might find it difficult and unnatural to approach random people and talk to them.
But getting out of your comfort zone once in a while and practising your people skills wouldn’t hurt. Try it a few times so you can find out if it’s really for you.
This brings us to the other option, digital networking events. Online is the new normal now, and it has revolutionized the way we interact. It is also more time and energy-efficient, since everything is accessible from your own home.
WHY DIGITAL NETWORKING EVENTS?
These are events held where you can go along and make connections, that could be potentially valuable.
Why it’s effective:
- People may be more relaxed online as they feel more comfortable.
- You may feel more comfortable, particularly if you’re more of an introvert.
- You can attend more events and meetings, as you’re not having to travel.
- You can follow up instantly, emailing contacts right away.
- We can expand our reach by connecting with global contacts.
If video calls are not your cup of tea, and if you feel that you could connect with people more in person, then perhaps face-to-face might be more suitable for you. When the lockdown is over, of course!
Whether you choose to network face-to-face or online is up to you. You can even do both, as long as you’re able to make new connections at your own pace.
Kickstarting your copywriting career won’t be a walk in the park. You have to be creative and strategic with your work. And have the patience and perseverance to put yourself out there- online, in person and through your connections.
Enjoy the process and take each step of the way as a learning opportunity that will take you closer to your dream job. Have a blast!