Commercial Copywriting Business: Your Steps to Full-Time Commercial
Freelance Writing Success
by Brian S. Konradt of BSK Communications
If you're planning to leave your present job and pursue a full-time
career as a freelance commercial copywriter, don't tell your boss to
take his job and shove it. Your boss may actually be the one who
contributes to the success of your copywriting business by giving you
repeat work and funneling referrals your way, as you build your business
and secure more clients.
With little selling and investing little or no money into start-up
costs, you can turn your present or previous employer into your first
paying client. Instead of telling your boss to take his job and shove
it, ask if he'd be interested in hiring you to write his next brochure
or sales letter.
If a credible relationship exists, the chances of receiving work are
good. If not, don't worry. Other strategies exist to help the beginner
Sometimes what it takes to succeed is to create opportunities for
yourself—before you officially go into business. Here's how to do
1) Identify primary and secondary sources of income. Money is
always a predominant concern when starting a business. Everything tends
to cost twice as much than predicted and everything takes twice as long
to complete. Without some sort of financial backing, your business may
go broke before you're able to showoff your stuff.
List all sources in which you derive your income from. The most obvious
source is your present job, a primary source of income. Many writers
still hold a regular job as they launch their own businesses, so they
can still expect a weekly paycheck. You may have to reduce your hours at
your present job so you can work more aggressively at establishing your
business, otherwise you may feel as though it's taking forever—which
Other sources of income, known as secondary sources of income, may
include money in the bank, your spouse's income, a bank loan, credit
cards, and other people (relatives and family members) who may be
willing to lend you money.
Figure out how much you'll need to launch your business and support
yourself, then subtract this amount from your primary and secondary
sources of income to determine if you have enough money to forge ahead.
If not, seek out ways to get the money—and don't give up no matter
2) Make a business plan. No one succeeds in business without a
specific, step-by-step business plan. A business plan is more than an
outline or a list of steps of action: it's your daily consultant,
success coach and financial forecaster.
A business plan contains all aspects of your business—it contains
specific information on start-up costs, what you want to earn in a year,
what your services include, who your clients are, daily, weekly and
monthly goals, and so forth.
Don't be ignorant into thinking you don't need a business plan, and
don't be lazy in creating one. Your business plan will not only be
rewarding and useful in the long term, but it's also exciting to create
and it'll begin to elucidate potential future obstacles that you can
plan ahead now to overcome.
Use your business plan to guide you in the direction of success. Many
business books contain helpful information on creating a business plan.
Buy a business book today and begin your business plan.
3) Identify work locally. Dozens and dozens of businesses exist
in your own business community that are willing to outsource work to
you. Your task is to identify these businesses that could use your
copywriting services and develop a plan as to how you'll secure the
Locating work locally is more convenient for the beginner since he or
she is aware of the business community and can initiate a sell more
4) Join a local writer's association. Another lucrative business
generator is joining a local writer's association, especially one that
offers a free job bank or referral service to its members. In addition,
you can meet many freelancers who will funnel work your way, if you let
them know who you are, what you do, and how eager you are to assist them
with any of their assignments.
Try to join a local association, instead of a national one. Local
associations tend to be more effective in getting you work because
they're smaller in size and it's easier to network with the members.
5) Join a local association related to your specialty. One way to
effectively solicit clients is to go directly where your type of
prospective clients congregate, such as an association. If you do
copywriting services for accountants and lawyers, why not join an
association that attracts these types of professions and start to
network with them. Soon they'll realize who you are, what you do, and how
you can help them, and they'll be inclined to outsource work to you.
6) Build your own library of information. The more you know, the
smarter you will become in making decisions, overcoming obstacles, and
speeding up the process of achieving success.
Always invest in at least one book each month and begin subscriptions to
all magazines that can assist you in your quest for success. Some
favorites: Writer's Digest, Advertising Age, Ad Week, Marketing
Demographics, PR Quarterly, Success magazine, Home Business Computing,
Entrepreneur, and Today's $85,000 Freelance Writer.
The topics of your books and magazines should be focused on business,
writing, consulting, self-help, marketing, etc.
7) Secure an anchor client. An anchor client is the type of
client who gives you repeat work on a regular basis—sometimes, you
can expect to receive work at a certain time.
For example, an anchor client may hire you to produce his monthly
newsletter, so each month you can expect the job—and a paycheck.
8) Team up with a mentor. Nearly all people who achieve success
acquire a special gift during their journey to the top—that gift is
the gift of giving and helping others. When you ask for help, you will
receive it. Your job is to make the most out of this help.
Single out the one person who helps you the most, and do whatever it
takes to befriend that person. Besides the friendship that develops,
that person will become a very valuable mentor who will be fain to help
you succeed at all costs.
Again, the greatest source to locate a mentor is joining a local
writer's association. Then, when you have joined the top ranks of
successful self-employed writers, return the favor and become a mentor
to someone else.
9) Network with other freelancers of all kinds. Another lucrative
strategy to get work and referrals is from other freelancers, of all
traits, not just from other writers. By letting freelance graphic
designers, layout specialists, photographers, and illustrators know who
you are, what you do, and how eager you are (and how thankful you'll be)
to help them with their assignments, they'll be more inclined to farm
out work to you and even go so far as recommending their clients to you
for copywriting work. Always repay the favor by doing the same.
10) Get Internet access. For only $20 a month (even less these
days), you can bring a wealth of information to your computer screen.
One of my favorite uses of the Internet is to study web sites of
successful commercial copywriters and then model what's working for them
for my own success.