3 Signs You Should NOT Be a Copywriter
First of all, if you’ve submitted a question about how to make it as a freelance copywriter, I want to thank you.
I value your input and appreciate you taking time to “play along” with me.
Secondly, based on some of the questions I’ve received, I can tell certain people are NOT yet ready to be freelance copywriters.
How do I know this? Simple. The questions that are being asked reveal where somebody is at in the learning cycle.
Obviously, my goal is to attract the right kind of copywriter into the coaching program John Angel and I will be releasing in a couple of weeks.
But — equally as important — I want to help you determine whether you are the type of person who will succeed as a freelance copywriter.
With that in mind, allow me to address a few observations I’ve made (without naming names).
Sign #1: If you won’t invest money into generating leads, you’re not ready to be a freelance copywriter!
Somebody recently asked what he should do if he couldn’t afford to mail out lead generation letters.
I was floored.
Let’s calculate the cost to mail out 50 letters to a narrowly targeted list. About $0.42 for postage on each letter, plus maybe an extra $0.15 per piece to cover the cost of paper and envelope.
So what are we looking at? A “whopping” $28.50, right?
Look. If you’re not willing to invest $28.50 in your own copy, how in the world do you expect somebody else to invest $3,000 or more in your copy?
Okay, let’s change our assumptions. Let’s assume you’re going to overnight all 50 letters (which is a lot of letters to overnight, by the way). And let’s assume the cost is $30 a letter.
That would set you back $1,500.
But what if you got just one client for $3,000? Would the mailing have been worth it?
And what if you got a 40% response rate (which is on the low side of what’s possible)?
You would have 20 new clients. If each of them paid you $3,000 apiece, you’d have made $60,000!
Would you pay $1,500 to get $60,000 back?
Now, obviously, you couldn’t handle 20 new clients all at once. So you want to stage your mailings so you can handle the new clients coming in.
The point I’m trying to make is this: You’re NOT ready to be a freelance copywriter until you’re ready to invest in yourself.
Sign #2: If you don’t know what “direct response” means, you’re not ready to be a freelance copywriter!
I am a direct response copywriter. So is John Angel.
Which means we’re paid to get results.
We are NOT paid to write content, fill up web sites with articles, or write ebooks.
Ordinary content writers are a dime a dozen. You’d be lucky to make a living as a content writer. That’s because there’s so much competition from people who are willing to work for fees that equate to less than minimum wage.
You’d probably be better off pushing carts at Costco.
If you’d like to make real money as a copywriter, you must be in the direct response biz. You must place yourself at the start of the money funnel where you live or die based on your ability to convert prospects into customers or clients.
This is how you get paid (and paid well!) to write.
Sign #3: If you’re not confident in your ability to produce results, you’re not ready to be a freelance copywriter!
There have been times I wasn’t confident I could produce results; the client hired me anyway.
In fact, the more I split-test and see what really works, the more I question my abilities.
Because the results I see often fly in the face of popular copywriting theories — the same theories I studied before becoming a copywriter!
Furthermore, there was a time when I wasn’t that confident about my own abilities. But I was confident that I could eventually produce results.
In other words, if I failed the first time out, I knew I could try again and again and eventually succeed.
Just knowing that time was in my favor gave me confidence.
But that wasn’t enough. So to build my confidence, I took on low-risk, low-pay projects at the beginning of my freelance career.
I got a few easy wins under my belt, which gave me enough confidence to start asking for bigger fees and going after higher-profile clients.
So there are ways to get around the whole “lack of confidence” issue.
Still, if you’re afraid of working for clients… and so completely unsure of your ability to produce results… then you’re probably not ready for the freelancer’s life.
Better to postpone the freelance copywriting career and build up your experience — and your confidence — before making a commitment you won’t be able to fulfill.
In addition to what I’ve shared so far, I thought it would be helpful to point out that the best copywriters fit a certain profile. This has been recognized by some of the top copywriters who’ve ever lived.
Joe Sugarman, in his book Advertising Secrets of the Written Word, says this about what makes for a great copywriter:
The best copywriters in the world are those who are curious about life, read a great deal, have many hobbies, like to travel, have a variety of interests, often master many skills, get bored and then look for other skills to master. They hunger for experience and knowledge and find other people interesting. They are very good listeners. […] The thirst for knowledge, a tremendous curiosity about life, a wealth of experiences and not being afraid to work are the top credentials for being a good copywriter. (p. 11)
Beyond this, David Ogilvy quotes the work of Dr. Frank Barron in Confessions of an Advertising Man. Ogilvy says Barron’s observations about creative people match his own. Namely, that:
Creative people are especially observant, and they value accurate observation (telling themselves the truth) more than other people do.
They often express part-truths, but this they do vividly; the part they express is the generally unrecognized; by displacement of accent and apparent disproportion in statement they seek to point to the usually unobserved. They see things as others do, but also as others do not.
They are born with greater brain capacity; they have more ability to hold many ideas at once, and to compare more ideas with another — hence to make a richer synthesis.
They are by constitution more vigorous, and have available to them an exceptional fund of psychic and physical energy.
Their universe is thus more complex, and in addition they usually lead more complex lives.
They have more contact than most people do with the life of the unconscious — with fantasy, reverie, and the world of imagination. (pp. 44, 45)
As you read these passages from Sugarman and Ogilvy, did you see yourself? Could you relate to their descriptions?
If so, then perhaps you are ready for the copywriter’s life.
As you decide whether or not freelance copywriting is for you, heed the ancient Greeks’ advice: “Know thyself.”
For only you can make the decision.
-Ryan M. Healy
P.S. If you ARE ready to become a freelance copywriter, you may be interested in my special report on how to get your first copywriting client in 14 days or less.