The Real Secret to Success in Becoming a Freelance Copywriter

One of my most powerful secrets to success in building a thriving freelance copywriting business …

  • Has nothing to do with my writing ability
  • Has nothing to do with the business side of copywriting
  • Has nothing to do with fees, projects, negotiations, etc.

Yet with this secret in place, I've been able to …

  • Have more and better clients
  • Write stronger copy
  • And feel more fulfilled as a person

And for all the benefits it reaps, it's remarkably simple.

Building Your Support Network

My secret? It's having a strong network of peers and colleagues in the industry!

These are people I can turn to for all sorts of things – referrals, copy advice, moral support, and more.

I'll explain in a moment how your support network can provide all these benefits. But first, the "why" and a little bit of "how."

You see, freelancing – whether you're a copywriter, designer, researcher, whatever – can be a lonely profession. The entire day can go by without human interaction. No phone calls. The mail carrier is gone before you can even say "Hi." No coworkers or water cooler. Maybe some emails, with all their impersonal flair.

It can leave you feeling quite isolated. If you stew in this feeling of isolation, it can get you down.

Or you can take it head on. You can go to events like AWAI's annual Bootcamps and Web Intensives, or other similar industry events. You can reach out to others through member forums. You can find copywriters who live in your area and take them out to lunch. You do whatever you can to reach out and connect with others in our industry who then become your support network for everyday freelance life.

And that's when you'll see these benefits …

More and Better Clients

Here's a quick story about how having a strong network can land you more great clients.

Two Bootcamps ago, I met a mover and shaker in the direct response industry, who was already working with many of my ideal clients. She and I hit it off and stayed in touch after Bootcamp.

Then last year when she heard I was moving into financial copywriting, she started trying to connect me with a client of hers who she thought would be a good fit.

I was on their radar for a bit leading up to Bootcamp, but things were slow in moving forward.

So at Bootcamp – which they happened to be attending – she made the strong suggestion to them that they needed to connect with me.

What happened next was astounding.

The company's owner and top copywriter spent the next day and a half chasing me around, trying to find me on her recommendation. When we finally connected, they felt they had no choice but to hire me.

And this was all because I wasn't afraid to reach out and add this industry superstar to my network.

That's just one example of many that I could share about the power of your network being able to get you in touch with your ideal clients. And the advantage is clear – because they already have a relationship with your connection, the relationship with you starts off on great terms.

Write Better Copy

I also use my network to write stronger sales copy.

In particular, I've developed a strong connection with another copywriter whose situation is a lot like mine. He and I are similar ages, have been at it for a similar length of time, and have similar styles though we write for non-competing clients.

Well, he and I go back and forth on an almost daily basis bouncing ideas off each other, doing front-line peer reviews on early drafts, and making specific recommendations to make each other's work stronger.

I probably don't want to admit the number of times that my headlines and leads on winning packages are strongly influenced by him, if not written 80% or more in his peer review comments. Of course, he can say the same thing for me.

All around, having this connection has made both of us write better, stronger copy. And we're gaining nice reputations as a result.

Feel Better as a Person

The next benefit is a little more intangible. Yet I think it's just as important.

If I didn't have my support network, I'd feel rather alone in what I do. Sure, I have my family. And I have my close group of friends. But without people to talk shop with, a lot of what I think about all day would just stew in my head.

So it's nice to be able to pick up the phone and give a fellow freelancer a call – knowing we'll be able to speak on a level that most people who know us simply can't connect at.

This helps me keep my sanity, I know.

And this trickles through into the quality of all my relationships – work and personal. It influences the quality of my work. And my general well-being is better simply because I feel like I have people who are here for me in this important part of my life.

And this value that you get from your support network is easily underestimated.

Where to Find Your Support Network

So you want to build a strong support network as you build a thriving copywriting business?

Well, the first place I'd look is to industry events. If you can attend an AWAI Bootcamp or Web Intensive, you'll quickly find out that it's the single-best place to build your network.

Second, look to online forums such as the AWAI Member Forum, which will allow you to connect online with people you may meet in person later.

Third, look to local groups such as writers' meet-ups, Toastmasters, chambers of commerce, and more. They may not align with freelancing 1-to-1, but they're a great way to cure isolation.

Fourth, look to find local copywriters. I was lucky in the last place I lived to be able to have lunch with AWAI member Pam Foster, and we developed what I'm sure will be a lifelong friendship from just a few lunches together.

Fifth, don't forget the AWAI staff. They're here to help you out as you build your freelancing career.

But whatever you do – no matter where you're at today – start building your network now. It will help tremendously as you build a thriving copywriting business!

Making the Leap

Making the Leap: A Practical, Hands-On Guide to Getting from Wherever You Are ... To the Freedom, Independence, and Financial Rewards of Living The Writer’s Life!

This eight-step, hands-on guide gives you the confidence you need to make the leap from aspiring copywriter to polished professional. Learn More »


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Published: March 16, 2011

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