My training was over, and I looked forward to kick-off my career as a writing wizard. There was just a minor problem: I was clueless about where to start.
My copywriting course had provided me with some limited suggestion, but I knew next to nothing about finding work. What I eventually found out is that securing a copywriting position or landing a client as a freelance writer is the final stage of a longer preparatory phase.
What follows is the first part of my multi-step journey to find work.
Build a career blog and keep it alive
That was number 1 tip in my coursework material, and no advice ever proved more decisive.
Whether you want to work for a company or as a freelance copywriter, you MUST HAVE a portfolio. That is basically a collection of your past projects. It shows your prospective employers or clients the type of work you are capable of doing, your writing style, the results you achieved, and what other people say about your work, e.g. through testimonials. Your portfolio is your most important marketing tool.
If you are a newbie – as I was, chances are you have little to no past work to show off. And you cannot find any if you have nothing to prove your expertise: it’s a dead-end loop. That’s why you need a blog. It will provide you with samples to build your portfolio and demonstrate your skills to future recruiters or clients.
Today, setting up a blog is quite straightforward. There are many specialised blogging platforms which may help you to create your career blog for free. The most popular include WordPress – the one I use and I am pretty happy with – Wix, and Blogger.
Once you are set up, keep in mind to be consistent. That means you work on your blog and publish content regularly. To this end, an editorial calendar may help you out. For example, my blog posts come out every Sunday.
Last but not least, keeping your blog alive will show your commitment, and will help you practice and develop your writing skills.
Set up your own website
You need to have a work-friendly online presence. But more importantly, you need to look professional. That is the role of a great site.
Setting up my own website was simple, as I already had a blog. Actually, my blog was my site. So I decided to convert it into a professional-looking writer website. That took me a two-step procedure and a couple of days of hard work, but I was fairly satisfied at the end.
Register your domain name
I decided to stick to WordPress instead of opting for a self-hosted website for two main reasons:
- I couldn’t afford a web developer to build my own site; and
- I needed a guided process to come up with something clean and good-looking.
Just to be clear: that’s NOT an ad for WordPress! But the platform is admittedly well structured and quite intuitive. It also provided me with all the necessary technical support and layout tools to autonomously arrange my site.
The only thing I had to care about was registering my domain name. In my case, I opted for my full name and the most common .com extension. The registration itself was quickly done through the very same WordPress site master for a roughly €100 annual fee. That’s all.
Customise your site
Once I was done with the paperwork, I could enjoy the creative phase. I wanted my website to fully reflect my style and personality, but I was uncertain about the structure, the must-have pages, and so on. Therefore, I followed the key rule of creative people: I looked for inspiration!
All in all, it went smoothly: I just stalked other freelance writers or copywriters! I browsed their websites, looked at what, where, and how they wrote, read their blogs, and picked and chose those features I wanted to implement in my own site. Among many, I ended up on this guy’s terrific website. I warmly recommend you to have a look. You will be impressed.
Leverage your social media
Both a blessing and a course, social media are a non-negotiable marketing tool today. If you want to get noticed, you need to be visible in the first place. In my case, truth is that promoting myself is the hardest part of this whole thing I am putting together. But it’s fundamental, and I like challenges after all.
At the time of writing, I only got a LinkedIn and Facebook account. I also have a Pinterest one, but I still fail to grasp how it works! I therefore polished my public LinkedIn profile and decided to make sense of my long-abandoned personal Facebook account by sharing my blog posts. As I have multilingual, geographically-dispersed, and culturally-diverse friends, my posts hit a different audience each time. As a consequence, I get varied feedback too. That’s the real beauty of social networks.
To be fair, I often fear people’s judgment before pressing the “post” button. But I am always touched by the amazing support I end up receiving.
Once my online persona was established, I had to figure out how to make good use of it. Growing a bold personal brand and being able to demonstrate commitment and expertise is beyond question. But that’s not enough to build a career, let alone earn a living.
It was time to get my hands dirty.