Advice for copywriting startup

Discussion in 'East Midlands' started by cobbler1980, Mar 21, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. cobbler1980

    cobbler1980 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    12 1
    Hi all

    I'm considering becoming a freelance copywriter and would like some advice from anyone on here who has trodden the same path. I'm based in Northampton and while I'm currently employed, I recently entered the thirtieth year of my life and subsequently started to take stock of everything.

    The only copywriting experience I have is for my current employer as I write all of the web and literature content for them. I've not done anything freelance for a third party... yet.

    What should I be wary of? Is this a viable business for a one-man-band or is the competition out there simply too vast?

    I appreciate I'm starting from nothing and therefore need to build a portfolio. In order to do that, I'm willing to work initially for free in order to build up some examples and (hopefully) testimonials. Therefore if there are any businesses in the Northampton area looking for copywriting services and are on a tight budget, I'd love to hear from you!

    Any advice from experienced copywriters (or otherwise) would be much appreciated.
    Posted: Mar 21, 2011 By: cobbler1980 Member since: Mar 21, 2011
  2. littlebiz

    littlebiz UKBF Regular Free Member

    215 33

    I'd recommend you do a copywriting course like the Watford copywriting course. There may be something similar close to you, but avoid the dubious online courses.

    Or get yourself a placement in an advertising agency for a few weeks. (A placement is unpaid but will quickly get you up to speed with the processes in an agency.) You could atrt to build your portfolio from there.

    Most copywriters work as part of a team with an art director - a course like Watford would help you find someone.

    Also, look at D&AD for courses. There are usually London based, one evening week, over several weeks. You're given a brief and asked to come up with ideas for an advertising campaign.

    This is the Watford course:


    Also, Read Paul Arden, Dave Trott and the Copy Book (Alistair Crompton) if you can hold of it. (ie borrow it - its horribly expensive. Your library should be able to get it.)

    Trying to get freelance work without the training/experience would be difficult.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011
    Posted: Mar 21, 2011 By: littlebiz Member since: Sep 2, 2010
  3. cobbler1980

    cobbler1980 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    12 1
    Thanks Littlebiz for the quick response and info. I'll take a look at those courses and books suggested.

    It's probably worth highlighting that the amount I can invest in this business initially is relatively small, therefore I would hope to gain some initial experience and real-world examples of work by working voluntarily. I do appreciate, however, that training at some stage is likely to be a necessity.

    I see this - like so many new businesses - as a slow burner, particularly as I will be continuing to work my 9-5 job.

    Any further advice is much appreciated.
    Posted: Mar 21, 2011 By: cobbler1980 Member since: Mar 21, 2011
  4. littlebiz

    littlebiz UKBF Regular Free Member

    215 33
    Posted: Mar 21, 2011 By: littlebiz Member since: Sep 2, 2010
  5. Copyqueen

    Copyqueen UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1 0
    Hello! I agree with littlebiz - a course is a great way to get your confidence up. I started with the Copywriting Diploma (Institute of Copywriting) which is a distance course. I am now a tutor so should say that others are available! But when I chose it, I thought this one was a great all-rounder: an introduction to lots of different sorts of copy. It includes lots of SEO stuff now (8 years on).

    There are two routes available to you - working in an agency or alone, and in both cases it pays to network. Contacts in design and PR are useful straight away. If you can link up with trusted partners you will be able to offer an extensive service. Could you contact some local designers/companies to see whether they would be interested in free copy for a client? And start networking in your area. Small business owners might be interested in having you write free mailers/ web copy to build your portfolio. Make sure they give you testimonials too!

    Do you need more advice about anything in particular?

    Posted: Apr 27, 2011 By: Copyqueen Member since: Apr 27, 2011
  6. directmarketingadvice

    directmarketingadvice UKBF Legend Free Member

    10,946 3,530
    Here's a question: how do you know whether that copy you wrote is any good?

    It depends on what sort of copy you plan to write.

    If it's "content" (whatever that means), there are a lot of people who write that very cheaply.

    If it's sales copy - and you can write it well - there's almost no competition. There is a huge need for it and very few copywriters to fill that need.

    Posted: Apr 27, 2011 By: directmarketingadvice Member since: Aug 2, 2005
  7. littlebiz

    littlebiz UKBF Regular Free Member

    215 33
    Currently it seems there is a good balance between work available and writers, as all the freelancers I know seem to be fully employed. Mind you, it's always busier in holidays as advertising agencies need holiday cover. But, generally, apart from a slump back in the summer of 2009, I've been working constantly.

    I work writing for car brands, banks, mobile networks, charities, airlines, all sorts. It's often a bit like musical chairs on a Thursday, when all the calls come in for where people are needed in the next week. When the music stops you hope you have a desk somewhere. I do some work from home, directly for clients, but I do prefer the camaraderie of working with an art director and other creatives around me.

    You do need to decide whether you want to be a concept person or not. There's not so much work for people who don't do concepts. Some weeks it's all concepting, with no copywriting, as in body copy.

    If you want to be a creative, doing concepts, then the time spent learning under seasoned creatives is essential, in order to learn your trade.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011
    Posted: Apr 27, 2011 By: littlebiz Member since: Sep 2, 2010
  8. Team Leith Training

    Team Leith Training UKBF Newcomer

    1,460 265
    Copywriting is something my wife is in. She has had mainly requests for quotes but no follow up.
    I would to see the business succeed but the truth is, most companies are doing their own these days. Especially given how hard things are at the moment.
    She did the course with the Institute of Copywriting, who offered her no support at the end despite all their promises.

    Good luck with the venture though.
    Last edited: May 22, 2011
    Posted: May 22, 2011 By: Team Leith Training Member since: May 8, 2011
  9. Mayur Mistry

    Mayur Mistry UKBF Contributor Free Member

    29 2

    A good place to start building your portfolio is elance. I started my copywriting career through there. It is hard in the beginning, but persistence does pay off. They even give you testimonials as well, which looks really good on you portfolio page.
    Posted: Mar 31, 2015 By: Mayur Mistry Member since: Mar 31, 2015
  10. Richard White

    Richard White UKBF Contributor Free Member

    37 12
    There is a lot of copywriting work out there and its only going to increase. However, there is a lot of competition and the people who specialise can command higher rates. With one clients we use a number of freelance copywriters to write blogs. We source them from elance. Good sales copywriters are much harder to find. Most I have come across learn from Americans and do not have the nouse to adapt their style to the UK market.
    Posted: Jun 17, 2015 By: Richard White Member since: Jun 8, 2015
  11. ADNattan

    ADNattan UKBF Regular Full Member

    308 75
    Steer clear of sh*te like Elance. You'll get pennies for people who're looking for any old wording to fill space, and you'll be undercut by people based in places with a much lower cost of living.

    The Pro Copywriters' Network is a good place to start looking for advice and assistance, and it's sent some business my way too.
    Posted: Jun 17, 2015 By: ADNattan Member since: Jul 21, 2009
  12. Mark Whitehead

    Mark Whitehead UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    15 3
    Have a chat with NEP (Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership) about the support they can offer you for free in starting your business. Northampton does have a pretty vibrant and successful small business community so there is lots of networking out there where you can make good contacts.

    I think you should spend a bit of time deciding on your niche, and think carefully about the kinds of clients you want. (Not neccessarily in that order) Then you can approach people with the free offer, that way you are getting experience and exposure in your target market.

    Think carefully about pricing as well, many start up businesses, particularly those selling their time set their prices too low and struggle.
    Posted: Jun 18, 2015 By: Mark Whitehead Member since: Jun 18, 2015
  13. HazelC

    HazelC UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    968 227
    I would recommend placed like Elance at first, you said about doing stuff for free to build up your experience and portfolio. I used Elance and Fivesquid for exactly that - I got paid a small amount ut gained some great testimonials from some really varied businesses.
    Posted: Jun 18, 2015 By: HazelC Member since: Sep 7, 2013
  14. Parcelhub

    Parcelhub UKBF Regular Full Member

    234 18
    Have you heard of Copify? They're some pretty strong competition, but depends which end of the market you are aiming at.
    Posted: Jun 22, 2015 By: Parcelhub Member since: Feb 9, 2015
  15. Charlotte Barnes

    Charlotte Barnes UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    18 2
    I worked as a freelancer for a couple of years alongside my full time job and, speaking from experience, I found those copywriter-hub websites to be a bit of a waste of time when first starting out. They are quite expansive and it is easy to get overwhelmed.

    I got my foot in the door by offering my services to businesses I already had connections with. A company we worked with at my full time job needed help with copy overflow and I volunteered. As long as you ensure there is no conflict of interest, you'll be fine.

    Might be worth looking at all the contacts you have made during your career and re-engaging with them now and offering your services.
    Posted: Jun 22, 2015 By: Charlotte Barnes Member since: May 6, 2015
  16. Ian J

    Ian J Factoring Specialist Full Member - Verified Business

    4,920 1,384
    Why have you dragged this thread up after four years?
    Posted: Jun 22, 2015 By: Ian J Member since: Nov 6, 2004
  17. Frimley111R

    Frimley111R UKBF Regular Free Member

    401 28
    Probably, like me, he used the search in the site to find copy writing content.
    Posted: Feb 9, 2017 By: Frimley111R Member since: Nov 1, 2009
  18. Kat Haylock

    Kat Haylock Community Editor Administrator

    453 221
    Hi - it's against site rules to reopen threads more than 3 months old. This stops the forums from being filled with old, out of date content.
    We're looking at a plugin to automatically close inactive threads, which should prevent confusion in future - there are a couple of discussions in our Feedback forum on the topic, if you want to pitch an opinion in. Thanks!
    Posted: Feb 9, 2017 By: Kat Haylock Member since: Jul 11, 2016
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.