As I mentioned previously, I had no prospects for several weeks. I sent out resumes to every web marketing shop and traditional marketing agency in the DFW area. Three months of writing experience isn’t much to go on, and I didn’t get any positive responses back.

Then one day, I received a call from Scott. He and Kevin LaFond and Darren VanLaningham (of Vooka) joined forces to create TuZoom, a new web marketing company. They offered me a contract copywriter / SEO position as their first hire. I took the position and spent the next four months writing copy for their new website and developing META recommendations for their largest client. It was pretty primitive SEO stuff, but I was also cramming a bunch of knowledge into my brain at the same time.

After a while, I felt the need to go out on my own and try freelance copywriting. I had more experience, and landed some freelance work, including press release writing and distribution, articles, web copy, and a brochure. For the most part, though, I tried over and over again to line up work. I cannot tell you how many near-contracts I lost. Most of my problem was my attitude. I didn’t have much experience, but I didn’t want to be treated like a day-laborer. I overcompensated and came on way too strong with most of my prospective clients. I lost at least 10K in deals due to my attitude. It made me sick to my stomach.

I got to the point where I needed work so badly that I applied for all kinds of writing and non-writing jobs in my area. God must have had a plan for me, because I couldn’t even land a position as an assistant manager at the local movie theater. I felt like a total failure.

An old friend of mine, Brad Pratt, offered to hire me on as his personal assistant. He owned 30 rental properties and part of a landscaping company. Grateful for the work and the pay, I worked for Brad for about four months as his property manager. Due to some restructuring in the company, I had to leave, but he gave me two month’s notice to help me find something else.

I went through another round of resumes, contacting every writing opportunity and placement agency I could find. Out of the blue, an ex-copywriting client called me up. I had written nearly a dozen press releases for him the year before, and he had told me that he hoped to be able to hire me when his company was positioned to do so. I had filed that information away and completely forgotten about it. But there he was, on the phone and offering me a job as an SEO Specialist and Copywriter.

Here I am, officially an “SEO Specialist”, but still a writer and strategist at heart. We have a sweet office space in Las Colinas, and I’m moving towards a public relations / social marketing position. It all involves copywriting, so that would be my overarching title. Pretty much anything that is written by the agency passes through my hands at some point, if for nothing other than a quick edit.

This is getting long, so I’ll post again to provide some tips about how to become a copywriter.

4 responses to “How I Became a Copywriter: Part Two”

  1. Degrees are good for your resume… they can get you in the door for an interview. Most companies who post job ads for copywriters ask that you have a degree in English, Journalism, or related field to the company. Even without an English or Journalism degree, you stand a fair chance at landing a writing job for a company focused on human resources, HR software, HR services, etc.

    Actual writing experience is far more valuable than the degree, though it’s sometimes hard to get the one without the other. I’m compiling a list of tips right now to help aspiring copywriters get started… I hope to post them within the next couple days.

    For the moment, I’ll just say that volunteering to write for free to build a portfolio is one of the quickest and most effective ways to get into the industry. You’d be surprised how many companies or non-profit organizations would love to have your help on a dozen writing projects which they don’t have the time or manpower to finish.

    Keep copies of EVERYTHING you write, and if anything you write is published into a format like PDF or print, get copies for your portfolio. Words are wonderful, but they’re even better when they flow with a brand, a company identity, or newsletter theme.

  2. This is great Daniel! Thanks for posting. I saw that you said your degree is in English which I believe you told me that before. I’m at a point where I’m almost done with my Master’s Degree in Human Relations. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Managment. I don’t have much experience when it comes to writing. I don’t know if I should try to get a 2nd Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. What do you think? I get so excited at the idea of writing for a living. Even if I just wrote on the side. By the way, I work for Fort Bragg MWR. Their web site is http://www.fortbraggmwr.com. You can also see our latest publication of the MWR In Motion magazine at http://www.fortbraggmwr.com/MWRpublications/Spring07.pdf. There is also the Fort Bragg newspaper publication called The Paraglide that I’m going to look into. I believe they are constantly looking for writers. The articles I’m writing will not be published until our Summer issue. I’m currently writing a page about the Army 10-miler which is a run the base holds. Along with that, I’m writing about tips for runners. We also have what’s called Family Flix where families can watch a movie but outside on the base lawn. This leads me to writing about movie trivia on the history of drive-in movie theatres. It’s kind of cheesy, but I’m just excited to be able to write. My articles are due on Thursday so if I can, I will post them for you to read.

  3. You are so right! I made the mistake of throwing away a bunch of writings awhile back. I thought that there was no point in keeping them. Little did I know that I would actually want to pursue this. Oh well, I am keeping all future writings so that I will have a portfolio. I’m also going to compile all of my poems, journals, etc. Thanks for the advice Daniel. Just know that you have at least inspired one person in this world to continue to write. ME!!! 🙂

    P.S. Happy Easter!

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