Revealed: The Marketing Tactics Six Successful Copywriters Use to Build a Better Income

Six UK copywriters give their views on marketingYou know the score.

You see other writers making mega bucks. Yet you’re just slogging away for peanuts.

You long for clients who value your work and pay you the rate you deserve.

And you dream of working for all those big brands just like the top copywriters do.

So if only you could speak to writers who’ve been there and done it. And find out just how they do it.

Well, actually you don’t need to. Because I’ve done it for you.

What’s in this post?

For this post I’ve rounded up six of the best UK copywriters to get their insights into marketing a successful copywriting business.

Each has a strong online portfolio and a healthy mix of direct and agency clients.

What’s more, they each have their own individual angle and story. So be sure to read them all.

And, at the end of the post, you can also get access to their exclusive bonus tips.

But what stands out about all these writers is that they’re not necessarily prolific bloggers or social media superstars.

What’s different is that they’re real commercial copywriters, with real professional experience. And they understand what goes into making a prosperous copywriting business.

So pay attention …

Leif Kendall

Leif KendallAbout LeifLinkedIn follow buttonGoogle+ follow buttonTwitter follow button

Leif runs freelance copywriting service Kendall Copywriting, based in Poole on the South Coast of England.

He’s a huge fan of the freelance way of working and author of Brilliant Freelancer, a guide to building a happy, productive and profitable freelance business.

Leif also founded WriteClub – a regular meetup for like-minded writers in London and Brighton.

1. What marketing do you currently do?

I don’t do nearly as much marketing as I once did, as my services are now in good demand.

But I still write blog posts at least once a month.

I also manage an active Twitter profile. Though I think it’s important to stress you won’t get any benefit by just setting up an account and posting the occasional tweet. This simply won’t get you anywhere. Instead, you really need to engage with others, be helpful and share people’s stuff.

2. Which marketing methods do you find most successful?

Both blogging and Twitter have worked well, as well as in-person networking.

But here’s the thing about networking.

The best prospects are often far too busy to attend the small local events. So what you’ll find is everyone’s in the same boat – all just desperately looking for work.

At the better events, there are businesses looking to share ideas and build connections with potential suppliers. That’s where you want to go.

But don’t expect immediate results. It takes time to build those relationships.

3. Do you have any specific types of target client?

Yes, web and marketing agencies.

4. How do you find or identify them?

I drew up a list of agencies and rang each of them up. Agencies get most of their enquiries by email. So I think making a phone call is more effective, as it really helps you to stand out.

I also attended events for web professionals. Whenever I did any in-person networking, I made sure I got to know the right people, such as web designers.

5. What’s the worst marketing mistake you ever made?

I’m quite fortunate that I’ve not made any really major mistakes. I think it’s because I’ve never put all my eggs in one basket. As I try different things, I look at what works and what doesn’t. Then I adjust my marketing to focus on the things that do.

6. What’s your top marketing tip for freelance copywriters?

I can’t tell you what a big difference it makes to have a professional-looking website and great content on it.

Sarah Turner

Sarah TurnerAbout SarahLinkedIn follow buttonGoogle+ follow buttonTwitter follow button

Sarah is a straight-talking freelance copywriter, who hates corporate jargon and arty mumbo jumbo.

Based in London, she runs her own freelance business, Turner Ink, which she set up in 2005.

1. What marketing do you currently do?

These days I don’t have to do any, as pretty much all my business comes from word of mouth and repeat business. I also get a lot of enquiries from my website.

But when I first started out 10 years ago I marketed like mad and used loads of different methods.

I sent out newsletters, contacted ad and marketing agencies, attended networking events and even did some cold calling.

But as I gradually became established I needed to do less and less. The tipping point was after about 4 – 5 years. By then clients were nearly always coming to me.

2. Which marketing methods do you find most successful?

Cold calling. I only did it a couple of times. But it worked surprisingly well and I got quite a bit of business from it.

When you speak to someone on the phone, you have an opportunity to build up a rapport – which is why it can be so effective.

3. Do you have any specific types of target client?

I always say the clients you want are the ones who pay your bills on time, regardless of sector. But if I had to describe what my target clients are then they’re companies with a decent budget who believe in what you’re trying to do.

4. How do you find or identify them?

These days they find me. But I can identify a time-waster pretty quickly: Anyone who emails you from a Hotmail account. And anyone who says ‘Can you do a deal for this project as there will be tons more work coming your way’. Guess what? There won’t be.

5. What’s the worst marketing mistake you ever made?

Really early on I spent £200 on a database from Thomson Directory. I could’ve found out the same information on the Internet. Annoying.

6. What’s your top marketing tip for freelance copywriters?

Try a lot of channels. Try them all. See what works for you and do more of it. Also seek out other freelancers who offer a complementary service such as graphic designers and web developers. Don’t forget to make friends with other copywriters too. They can give you work.

Laurence Blume

Laurence BlumeAbout LaurenceLinkedIn follow buttonGoogle+ follow buttonTwitter follow button

Laurence has been a professional copywriter ever since he graduated in 1981.

He worked at some of the top advertising agencies in the UK, before launching his own freelance business in 2000.

He’s written for many high-profile brands including Sony, Jeep, Goldman Sachs and Unilever. Laurence also appeared on BBC One’s prime-time evening magazine The One Show, in which he talked about advertising.

1. What marketing do you currently do?

In-person networking. I have a strong professional network, which I’ve built up over the last three decades. But I’m always looking to build new relationships.

I also share carefully selected content on social media

On top of that, I do paid search and regularly advertise on LinkedIn. These are great ways to put you in front of serious businesspeople. What I mean by that are people who are purposely on the lookout for professionals they want to hire.

I also follow up anyone who’s viewed my LinkedIn profile.

2. Which marketing methods do you find most successful?

Word of mouth is definitely my most effective form of marketing.

And that makes sense, as people are always more inclined to follow a recommendation made by someone they know and trust personally.

PPC also works well, although the market has become increasingly competitive. So it isn’t as efficient as it once was.

All the same, it still gets you business – because you’re bringing yourself to the attention of people who are looking for someone like you at that very specific moment in time.

3. Do you have any specific types of target client?

No – they can be anything from a solo entrepreneur to a global corporation.

But what is important is that they value and respect what I do. In other words, they’re not someone who simply wants to get a job done quickly and cheaply. They want to build a meaningful relationship, fully appreciate what I do and understand what I can achieve for them.

I also view every prospect from the perspective of a potential new relationship rather than simply a new project.

When you start working with a new client, you have to go through the process of getting to know them and what their needs are.

But with long-term clients, both of you know the score. You value each other. You become more than simply someone who writes copy. You become more like a consultant. And you gradually become an intrinsic part of what they do.

These kinds of clients will phone you in advance to find out when you’re next available – because it’s you they want and not anyone else.

4. How do you find or identify them?

I don’t find clients. They find me.

So it’s more a question of how I go about deciding which prospects are right for me.

I do this by listening. Or more specifically, asking questions, listening and making judgements.

You’ll often know the type of client you’re dealing with within the first few seconds of the conversation. For example, it’s always a bad sign whenever someone immediately asks about price.

5. What’s the worst marketing mistake you ever made?

Being over reliant on the golden goose of Google.

It’s great to be able to depend on a consistent flow of work through my website.

But as I experienced for myself last year, you never know how your site might be affected by the next Google update

So you can’t afford to be without a Plan B, as anything can happen quite literally overnight.

6. What’s your top marketing tip for freelance copywriters?

Build relationships. Because relationships deliver work.

Caroline Gibson

Caroline GibsonAbout CarolineLinkedIn follow buttonGoogle+ follow buttonTwitter follow button

Caroline is an award-winning London-based freelancer. She’s been a copywriter all her working life.

She worked for several top London ad and branding agencies, with big-name clients such as British Telecom and Orange, before setting up on her own in 1999.

1. What marketing do you currently do?

I’ve been in the business a long time, so I no longer have to do any proactive marketing. All my work now comes through client referrals, repeat business and enquiries through my website.

At one stage, though, I did try breakfast networking clubs. But these didn’t work particularly well for me. First, I had a young family. So it was hard to commit to regular early morning meetings. Secondly, many of the prospects were simply too small and had only limited marketing budgets.

One thing I still do is keep regular contact with former and existing clients. Every year I send them a digital Christmas card. Each time I come up with a different creative concept. For example, last year I sent everyone a specially designed CD with a selection of Christmas songs.

I also feel it’s important to maintain a strong visible presence online. So I try and keep up an active profile on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

2. Which marketing methods do you find most successful?

I remember a particularly effective marketing tactic at the time I was looking for my first copywriting job. Shortly after I graduated I did a mailshot in which I sent out Valentine’s cards to creative directors. That really helped me stand out and get on people’s radar. And it got me a whole load of job interviews.

Another thing I’ve always put to good use is my past work background.

I worked at various London ad agencies and also spent a year at Wolff Olins as their first in-house copywriter. Having this branding consultancy experience gave depth and breadth to my offering when I went freelance.

What’s more, I’d also won a few awards including D&AD. This helped me to get even more recognition and attract better clients.

3. Do you have any specific types of target client?

Yes, I prefer to work for bigger clients. I also generally avoid start-ups – as the less experienced the client, the more time they usually need.

4. How do you find or identify them?

Nowadays clients come to me. But when I do get an enquiry, I’ll often spot signs that a particular prospect isn’t for me.

Some very obvious examples are people who:

  • Send out a blanket email without referring to me by name
  • Contact me outside normal working hours, such as late in the evening
  • Request a quote for something like 30 blog posts – as they clearly want quantity over quality

5. What’s the worst marketing mistake you ever made?

Sometimes in the past I’ve let my social marketing fall to the bottom of the pile. Even now, I’ll often only think about the work in hand. Making clients happy and getting money in the bank are your prime focus. But you still also need to think ahead.

6. What’s your top marketing tip for freelance copywriters?

Get yourself a professional-looking website that does the work for you. Take time to think about your content – especially your points of difference. Whatever you do, don’t rush it or do it on the cheap.

Derryck Strachan

Derryck StrachanAbout DerryckLinkedIn follow buttonGoogle+ follow buttonTwitter follow button

Derryck started his career as an in-house copywriter for WEA Records in 1994.

Over the next 10 years he progressed through various writing-related roles in the music industry, working on acts such as Iggy Pop, Meatloaf and the Spice Girls.

Since 2005 Derryck has been running his own copywriting agency, Big Star Copywriting, based in Devon in the South West of the UK.

1. What marketing do you currently do?

We mainly focus on PPC advertising and SEO. But we also actively market to digital and search agencies. We also get a lot of work through word of mouth.

2. Which marketing methods do you find most successful?

We get good results from all the marketing we do.

As our own preference is for search engine marketing, we don’t do any direct marketing, cold calling or networking.

That doesn’t mean to say they’re a bad choice for other copywriters.

That’s the great thing these days – you have so many different ways you can market yourself. So virtually anyone will find something to suit their own particular business.

3. Do you have any specific types of target client?

Yes. But, as most of our marketing is inbound, we tailor our website to target specific industry sectors.

4. How do you find or identify them?

We have several landing pages aimed at different writing markets, such as legal, travel, property and financial copywriting. We also target the type of clients we want through the case studies we choose to share.

5. What’s the worst marketing mistake you ever made?

I wouldn’t say we’ve made any really big marketing mistakes. Sure, we’ve tried some types of marketing, which have brought us few or no leads. But that’s how you refine your marketing ­­– by experimenting and learning what works and what doesn’t.

6. What’s your top marketing tip for freelance copywriters?

Don’t expect opportunities to simply fall into your lap. Instead, be prepared to put in the time and money to market yourself professionally.

John McGarvey

John McGarveyAbout JohnLinkedIn follow buttonGoogle+ follow buttonTwitter follow button

John is a freelance web copywriter based in north London. He writes almost exclusively for online and has been creating content for the Internet for more than 10 years.

Much of his work has been for technology companies and he has a keen understanding of how digital content works.

1. What marketing do you currently do?

I keep up an active Twitter profile and blog. But finding time to blog is difficult when you have so many other work commitments.

All the same, I do generally update it once or twice a month.

2. Which marketing methods do you find most successful?

My website provides a good steady flow of leads. But a good proportion of these are not a particularly good fit for my business.

I also do networking, focusing on like-minded people who are aligned to my business in some way. Although I get fewer enquiries from this, far more of them end up becoming clients.

3. Do you have any specific types of target client?

Yes. It’s important to me to have a good working relationship with clients. So I look to work with people who actually get the web and do interesting things on it.

A good client will see the value of quality content, appreciate good design and understand how they work together.

4. How do you find or identify them?

Most of my work is for digital use. So I regularly attend networking events where web designers, web developers, digital creatives and other like-minded people hang out.

And when I get an enquiry, I consider several things before deciding whether we’re right for each other. For example:

  • What’s their budget? Is there room for negotiation or changing the scope?
  • Do they have a clear brief? Do we share the same understanding of what’s required?
  • Does the client understand their own obligations? Are they co-operative? Will I get the information I need to complete the work?

5. What’s the worst marketing mistake you ever made?

Being slow to respond to new leads and being far too preoccupied with existing clients. This can be a habit that’s hard to break. But one you definitely should. Because you never know where that enquiry might lead.

And another thing.

For my first website, I just used a run-of-the-mill WordPress theme. It neither stood out nor represented what I could achieve for my clients.

Then recently I invested the time and money in a professionally designed custom website. This said so much more about me and the audience I was targeting.

My only regret is that I hadn’t done it sooner.

6. What’s your top marketing tip for freelance copywriters?

Do something.

It’s hard knowing where to start. But don’t waste time agonising on what to do first.

Whether it’s setting up a website, starting a blog or taking to Twitter at least make a start. This’ll help you to develop a network of contacts and build up your own digital footprint.

And don’t do the hard sell.

Be helpful. Be useful. Then prospects remember you for positive reasons if ever they need a copywriter.

Have your say

How do you market your own copywriting services? Do you have any marketing tips of your own? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

In our next post: We reveal the magnetic copywriting technique top bloggers use to keep readers glued to their posts.

Blogger ProfileAbout the Author

Kevin Carlton of Write Online is a freelance SEO copywriter and blogger based in Staffordshire in the UK. He is owner of website copywriting service Write Online, which helps others get the most out of their online presence.

You can follow him on Twitter and Google+ or connect with him on LinkedIn.


         

26 comments on “Revealed: The Marketing Tactics Six Successful Copywriters Use to Build a Better Income

    • Hi Kate

      When I interviewed the above copywriters, I was dead chuffed that each had a different story and a contrasting angle to their marketing.

      But there was defo one common thread that bound them all together. Just like you, they’ve all marketed like mad in the past.

      And now they’ve done their legwork, their marketing has become more or less self-sustaining.

      That’s where I wanna be. And, as this whole exercise has demonstrated, you can really make good money as a copywriter if you get your priorities right.

  1. Kevin I really vibe with Leif on blogging and twitter. 2 of my fave platforms. I also salute him for not making any major mistakes ;) I have, OH have I, but thank goodness seized these opportunities to learn from to pave my path to blogging from paradise.

    Blogging is 1 stop shopping for your clients. If you created it you can post it to your blog pronto for clients to see. Going the self-hosted WP route makes you in control of your 1 stop shopping, your content central, to gussy it up for your clients. No brainer here.

    I’m big on twitter too; quick engagement, rapid fire tweets and you have the ability to automate heavily which is a biggie for me because I’m usually on a jet or at the beach or somewhere away from the laptop and the internet.

    Great roundup of some smart experts here. Thanks for the wisdom sharing!

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…Why Gollum Should Be Your Blogging Role ModelMy Profile

    • Don’t remind me Ryan

      I’ve made loads of mistakes too. And some of the points these copywriters have made remind me of just how many.

      When I interviewed Leif, it was clear he was being very genuine about not having made any big mistakes. And likewise Derryck.

      But, as they both explained, they’ve experimented with their marketing. So they’ve never been sucked into anything that was one big waste of time.

  2. Hey Kevin,

    This was a great to interview what top copywriters do to attract clients to their business. What I see that works best are building those relationships, word-of-mouth, have a website that works for you, and work hard at the beginning as far as marketing so that you can keep attracting clients to you!

    The one thing I’m lacking in now is the marketing part. Yes, doesn’t make sense huh LOL… but besides that, I’m pretty much following what they’re doing, except for cold calling! I haven’t done that in ages, and I didn’t get too far when I was doing it. I got much further from doing PPC and Solo Ads.

    Thanks for sharing what these professionals do for attracting clients. I hope you’re having a fantastic week!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…To Do List For The New YearMy Profile

    • Maybe you should add some of those copywriter marketing tactics to your to-do list for 2015.

      Once thing you’ve really got going for you, Sherman, is social proof. Your blog has got good traffic and good engagement.

      Potential clients will really like the look of that. So it makes sense to make that a selling point in your marketing.

    • Hi Sarah

      Rather than interviewing copywriters from all around the world, giving my post a common UK thread helped it to be more specific.

      As I’m also UK-based, it was much easier just to pick up the phone rather than messing around on Skype or FaceTime.

      I also considered focusing only on freelances. But when I spoke to Derryck (who runs an agency) he offered a different perspective – something I felt would be useful to readers.

    • Thanks Larry

      I’m kinda guessing that you do much the same thing as our copywriters do, but in the context of your martial arts.

      That’s cool if you do. Because, even though this post is aimed primarily at copywriters, the contributors’ comments apply to marketing pretty well any freelance or small business.

      As for your remarks about your grammar, I just read one of your posts (Blocking punches? Try this instead) and didn’t notice anything wrong with your writing.

      Even though I’m not into Kung Fu, I actually enjoyed it.

      So maybe it’s more you’re not reaching the right audience just yet.

  3. Hey Kevin, this is one of those very rare posts I find online that is very hard for me to add something else in the comments section so I’ll just say this:

    I followed everyone on twitter (I’m active there) because I genuinely want to learn more from these guys.

    And, I would have loved to have asked what would they have done if they had to start all over from scratch.

    Cheers man, fantastic information!

    Sergio

    PS. I’m not interested in copywriting but I’m taking the advice as a possible soon-to-be freelance web developer.
    Sergio Felix recently posted…How To Find Your A-Game In Internet MarketingMy Profile

    • Hi Sergio

      Much of the marketing advice these copywriters have given here is equally applicable to other freelance professions. So I’m sure it’s just as useful to any soon-to-be self-employed web developer.

      As you’ll have no doubt noticed, freelance copywriters love to develop relationships with web developers – as they often collaborate with each other and give each other work.

      I’m sure web developers also see it the same way.

      If you build up good relationships with people before you take the plunge then you’ll be in a much better position me when I first started out.

    • Thanks Nisha

      I learned a lot from these copywriters too.

      It was particularly interesting to hear what Leif said about networking – that you have to be selective about which ones you go to.

      And cold calling kinda makes sense – because we naturally tend to buy from people we at least feel we know in some way.

  4. Caroline Gibson’s piece stood out for me with her regular contact with clients, even if she doesn’t want anything.

    Together, these insights add up to a strong strategy of planned networking and having a specific target client in mind before going out trying to woe them.

    • Yes, Tom, Caroline comes up with some really imaginative ways to maintain contact with her clients.

      She’s not asking for anything or doing the hard sell. Instead, she’s just staying in touch and keeping herself at the forefront of people’s minds.

  5. The best way help to attract more clients is by writing good articles and then people naturally come to them to enquire.

    • Thanks for chipping in Dave.

      What I really liked myself was the fact that the above 5 copywriters each had a slightly different way of marketing themselves.

      So I’m sure you’ll find the right combination to suit you.

      And you know what? Until I wrote this post, I’d never been a big fan of in-person networking.

      But now I see it in a whole new light.

      What’s more, I recently landed my first client through networking. So now I’ve seen first-hand evidence that it really does work.

  6. Pingback: 10 Reasons why you should hire a Copywriter for your Business - Kymera Web Designs

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