Guest blog: Fresh-faced in the copywriting world

Picture of Taylor Alden

Taylor Alden

Sam Close, freelance copywriter, has given us an insight into what it was like entering the world of copywriting.

I don’t think there was a single, ‘Eureka!’ style moment when I realised that I wanted to be a copywriter. Rather, it was a more gradual revelation that slowly revealed itself to me, piece by piece, as I began to understand that, not only did I want to write for a living, but that this career path – and the very concept of a copywriter – existed at all.

Starting off was daunting, to say the least. Learning any new skill is always exciting, especially when you already know how much it can enhance your life, but figuring out where to start is a different matter entirely.

As a lifelong reader, I knew books would be the cornerstone of launching a copywriting career – for the last several months I’ve been swimming in literature related to copywriting, advertising, and marketing, from comprehensive guides written by greats such as David Ogilvy, to a book about human psychology. To get a basic grasp of anything requires a little bit of reading, but it is only natural that a vocation such as copywriting would have an abundance of information that’s not only easily accessible, but intensely helpful as well.

But there’s also that constant itch to actually get started. Call it impatience (I certainly would, knowing me) but you can only read so much material before you’re chomping at the bit to just write something.

The great news, of course, is that you can do that as well.

One of the many brilliant things about copywriting is that you can practice it all the time, and all you really need is a pen (or, my personal favourite, the notes app). You can write spec pieces for businesses or non-profits for a portfolio or, the moment you feel ready, you can start making your own approaches for work. I was certainly fortunate in having a way in which I could get practical experience straight away, but there’s a million different directions to go in – you’re not limited to one path.

The choice between agency work and freelance work is another issue to consider – another huge benefit of copywriting, and certainly an aspect that drew me to it, is the fact that you can freelance it so easily and so effectively from virtually anywhere. The original “work at home in your joggers” job, as I heard someone refer to it as once.

Of course, when starting out, you also need to seriously consider which is best for you. The security of an agency role is definitely tempting and, if it’s best for you, something you should absolutely go for. I did apply for agency roles in the very early days, but competition is fierce, especially if you don’t have the credentials to back it up. Sure, I could string a sentence together, but I unfortunately had no portfolio and no proof.

And this, in my mind, is the golden offer of freelancing.

You make your own proof. You go out, and you do it yourself, and you prove to yourself and everyone that you can do it. You can do this until you have a portfolio savvy enough to land you that coveted agency role, or you can just keep cracking on with freelancing and see what happens.

Of course, freelancing does come with its own challenges. You don’t have the structure of a nine-to-five role; you have to organise everything yourself. You also need to learn how to set your own rates and find your own work, but this certainly comes with its own set of benefits – as long as you know your worth, there is no limit to the amount you can earn and the types of jobs you can take on.

To address a more unpleasant aspect of starting out as a copywriter, I feel that I do need to mention the ever-present and dreaded imposter syndrome. Self-doubt is a problem that I struggled with, especially very early on, and I know I’m not the only one. It’s the idea that you’re just not good enough, that this whole thing is ridiculous, and you should just give up now.

For me, it principally came from the rather odd assertion that it all seemed too good to be true – to have found something that I not only actually enjoyed, but could earn a decent living out of. How could I deserve something like that? How could it even be real?

But you do deserve it – for as long as you’re working hard for your dream, you will always deserve it. That’s all there is to it. You can’t let the voice win.

There is still much I need to do: going forwards, I’d like to niche down at some point, build more contacts, and create a website. But I am incredibly happy with, and proud of, the progress I’ve made so far and the network I’ve already gathered, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

For more information, visit Sam’s LinkedIn –