Leif Kendall

18 November 2016

How can you get copywriting work with agencies?

We recently received an interesting question on Twitter:

How can you get hired by an agency if you have little experience?

The truth is that it’s not easy to appeal to agencies if you’re completely new to copywriting.

Many agencies have a wealth of copywriting talent to choose from. And most agencies have pressing deadlines and clients that they must delight at every opportunity. Larger agencies, in particular, are unlikely to take a chance on an unproven copywriter in those circumstances.

Most agencies want to hire copywriters that have the skills and the experience to deliver the project. Agencies rarely want to engage a writer that needs training, or support, to deliver the goods – purely because they don’t have the time.

But this doesn’t mean that freelance copywriters can’t ever get work – or must rule out working with agencies.

So what can you do to? How can you position yourself to win work with agencies?

1: Make the most of your experience

Always make the most of the experience you do have. And keep quiet about the experience you don’t have.

If you’ve completed five copywriting projects, talk confidently about how you helped solve your clients’ problems.

2: Build your portfolio

Your work experience is one of the biggest factors in deciding if you get hired or not. A history of successful projects gives agencies confidence that you can deliver their project too.

Don’t have a portfolio to be proud of? No worries. Get building!

You might find opportunities to build your portfolio by talking to friends and family. You should be able to find someone who knows someone who needs help with their website or brochure. Small charities may also value your support.

3: Shout about your achievements

Every copywriting project that you complete is a stepping stone. You can use your experience to catapult yourself into something bigger – but only if you shout about your experience. You must add your latest experience to your website, portfolio, CV or your PCN profile – otherwise nobody knows about it.

Your latest experience might also warrant a blog post so you can share what you learned.

4: Immerse yourself in your profession

Clients typically want expertise. They want someone who knows what they’re talking about. Someone they can trust to take care of their problems.

So the more knowledge you have, and the more you sound and look like an expert, the more likely clients are to choose you.

There are a few ways to develop your expertise – and many of them are free (or cheap):

  • Attend networking events and workshops
  • Follow the industry leaders (and read their blogs)
  • Read the latest books on copywriting, advertising, content and digital marketing
  • Write about your discoveries

All of these activities demonstrate that you have a passion for this work. And agencies are more likely to hire you if they can see that you love writing and care about your work.

5: Be confident

Okay, so it’s not that simple. You can’t just pop a confidence pill and swagger into your next meeting.

You have to build your confidence by cultivating reasons to feel confident.

For example, you might help a local charity to explain their cause. Or you might write a blog post that gets a stream of comments (or a trickle). You might win your first client.

These are reasons to be cheerful – and reasons to feel confident in your abilities as a copywriter. Cling on to them. Learn from them. Accept them as evidence that you are a copywriter.

Approach agencies with confidence. Focus on what you have. Hold your achievements in mind.

6: Learn about agencies

Knowledge is power. If you want to work with agencies, get to know them. Research their business, their clients, their focus and their biggest problems.

By getting to know the agencies you would like to work with, you can also learn a lot about your profession and the skills you need to excel.

7: Look and sound professional

Agencies want to hire professional partners. So you need to look the part. This doesn’t just mean dressing appropriately, it also means looking like an established copywriter. All of the following will help you get hired by agencies:

  • Website (ideally hosted at your own domain)
  • Brand / logo (ideally created by a professional)
  • Your own email address (i.e. you@yourdomain.com rather than you@hotmail.com)

Yes, these things take time and money. And that’s partly why they’re valuable; they demonstrate that you’re a committed professional, not just a hobbyist.

What do you think? Have you got any tips for getting noticed – and hired – by agencies? Share your suggestions in the comments below.


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