PS is a freelance marketer and copywriter. She is actively involved in market research to help entrepreneurs with brand-building.
After working for a few years as a copywriter, I decided to outsource my work to freelance copywriters to lessen my burden. Working with so my clients, has me developed enough knowledge that I knew what kind of expertise I was looking for, in the job applicant. I had specific requirements that I clearly mentioned in the job description. Since I used the system with all the necessary filters, I thought I’d be receiving the best of the applications. Well, that was just true in my mind, not in reality.
When I started receiving applications, I was dumbstruck. All my intentions got washed away. Some of them were so bad, that I had to rethink my recruitment strategy. Anyway, I did find some potential freelancers later on.
Looking at the situation of so many people who are good enough to get a job, but don’t know how to build a portfolio or a resume, here are few tips along with cover letter samples for both experienced as well as novice to help you get started on a new gig:
1. Stick to the Instructions
Besides description, if the job contains instructions then follow them. Sometimes it may also contain them labeled as “IMPORTANT”. Many instructions you may find belittling and you think you can do somewhat better, then you are wrong. If the instructions ask you to use a specific subject line, the go with it. Employers have faith in those who stick to the instructions. This may seem an easy step, but many applicants fail to do so.
2. Less is More
Be to the point, don’t waste the time of the recruiter. Employers have poor time, they look for short ’n’ sweet applications. Avoid using long and complex words. Remember, less is more.
3. Show, Why You Worth it
Try to put yourself in the shoes of employers, see from their perspectives. The main motive of recruitment is to hire those employees who can streamline their business. Employers, particularly working for adverting agencies, copywriting studios and web design agencies, want to increase the productivity of copywriting. They look for a reliable freelance copywriter with least needed supervision. Think about how you can use your creativity to match their requirements.
4. Craft a Scannable Application
Avoid using a long block of text, indeed go with headings, bullets and short paragraphs. Make sure your positive points are easily catchable by the employer. Also, individually address their job requirements.
5. Don’t Showoff
I came across several applications with elite qualifications, but when I got the chance to meet the applicants in person, they were not worth it. Don’t oversell. You may get a job, but not a good salary. The world of copywriting is pretty small, everyone knows everyone. Your deceptive activities may travel across different employers faster than you think.
6. Send only Relevant Samples
While you may get overwhelmed to showcase all your samples, which is absolutely fine, yet focus more on what they are actually looking for. For example, if their primary focus is web copy, then send web copy samples. On the other hand, if you don’t have specific samples, then identify the important qualities and show them through your samples, for example, if the employer looking for copywriters who can write brochures, then show your skills to capture the specific product, compel and educate the audience to take the required action.
7. Feedback may not be Instant
Copywriting is a lucrative profession. So, definitely, there’s going to be hundreds and thousands of applicants applying for the same job. Don’t expect to receive immediate feedback and don’t send a reminder at least not for a week or two.
8. Mind your English
Being a freelance copywriter, you are expected to have excellent English skills. Make sure to proofread your application beforehand, if it has broken English, then the employer may not trust you with the job.
9. Be a Brand
As you progress in your writing career, you’ll realize that your clients don’t care about your exceptional writing skills. What they actually care about is whether they like you or not and do you have enough reviews to prove them you are the best copywriter they could hire. In short, you should know how to sell yourself. While, most of you think your writing skills are enough to speak about, in reality, this is not the truth. Make an argument and prove yourself that there’s no one better than you for the job. Try attending networking events and meet-ups.
How to write a Cover Letter for Copywriters?
A cover letter is generally not given much attention, by the applicants, as much as it deserves. The real fact is that cover letter is the foremost that the hiring manager looks for while going through your application. To make sure your application receives the required attention, here are a few tips:
- Highlight the required skills
- Ignore mentioning education
- Talk more about experience and skills
- Show your creativity, copywriters are expected to be creative professionals
- Use spicy and fun language
- Don’t use your name, your name is already visible on your resume
Sample Copywriter Cover Letter
Employee email address
Dear Employee’s name,
I’m writing to you in hopes of applying to the recent copywriter position I saw on ABC website. My skills and experience position me as a strong candidate for the role, and I am confident I will help your organization both in handling its regular workload and long-term goals.
While pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism at Sacramento State, I have developed strong compositional and editing skills, as well as an eye for detail. I served as assistant editor for the university newspaper and have been involved in two seepage and independent non-fiction and journalistic magazines. I also served as an intern for the Jelly Belly company, where my responsibilities included copyediting and writing support.
My accomplishments include:
- Writing 18 articles for the XYZ State newspaper
- Assisting with the composition of outbound correspondence and corporate copy at MSI International Inc.
- Founding editor-in-chief and writer for Writers Illustrated magazines
My attached resume further describes my roles and accomplishments at Authors & Associates, as well as my seven years of experience at other companies and organizations.
With my educational qualifications and internship experience, I am well-suited to work as a copywriter for AXYZ Writers Inc. I look forward to hearing from you and would be happy to visit your office for an interview. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sample Copywriter Resume
How to Build a Portfolio as a Copywriter?
The hiring managers thrive equally on applicants’ websites and portfolios as much as they need their resumes or CVs. While building a portfolio including all your samples isn’t rocket science, still, many aspirants tend to go wrong at this step. Taking not much of your time, here are a few tips that you must follow:
- Showcase the Best: Just like we say to show your strengths, not your weakness during the job interview. Similarly, show only your best samples. Consider which of your sample were of elite companies and professionals and which of them had a larger audience base. Use no more than 5 pieces in your portfolio, if you are sending it with the job application.
- Show Variations: Employers like freelance copywriters who are versatile with their work and can handle any sort of copywriting services. Include your work on various subjects as well as in different styles such as blogs, website copy, press releases, sales letter and so on.
- Be Answerable to Every Question: I met several copywriters who wrote something else in the skills set in their resume and went on saying something else during the job interview. Be aware of how many times, your content is shared on social media and how many backlinks are present on your website.
- Share Samples after Permission: Most of the time, companies ask you to work as a ghostwriter, which means you don’t have permission to get credit for your work. If this is the case, make sure to take your clients’ permission before proceeding with its usage in your portfolio.
- Words speak louder than Images: As an employee looking for freelance copywriters, I’d be more interested in what they write rather than how they complement their text with images. Also, on your social media accounts, write with creativity. Your every post must be your writing sample.
- Show Price-winning work: It isn’t necessary that some of your work has been recognized for awards or not. You can also highlight work which has been praised by your academic professor or your client.
- Use short Rationales: I’ve seen people getting overwhelmed and using long-form rationales, which is not cool and not at all worthy. Make it no more than 100 words, use bullet points.
How to Scale your Chances of Becoming a Successful Copywriter?
Successful copywriters earn 6-figure income every year. If you want to be one of them, here are some tips to accelerate your income growth:
- Use limited and compelling words. You have only 5-6 seconds to make a good impression. Use short sentences. Take the example of Twitter, how people try to fit in their message within the set limit.
- Don’t go by what you learned in your school. They don’t teach how to develop a business copy. Note down all the guidelines you remember, search the Internet to look for business-oriented words and concepts of writing. Never start your sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’. Also, your sentence must always have a starting, middle and end parts.
- Use paragraphs break, make it more readable and less boring. Remember, less is more.
- Always put your readers in mind, explain points which you think your readers will find difficult to understand. Don’t expect your readers to know everything.
- Use emotional intelligence. Empathize with your readers, make them realize you understand their problems and you have the solution for the same. As said by Maya Angelou once, “People forget what you say, people forget what you do, but people never forget how you make them feel.”
- Use fonts wisely. Look matters pretty much in digital copy. Check out your favorite websites, copy paste their content in Word document and find out which font types are they using.
- Use the language that you speak. Be conversational with your readers. Your motive is to sell, not to win a race of literary awards. Check out some of the famous advertising agencies’ work and observe how their usage of normal words drive huge traffic to the advertised products.
- Use stories to build a strong image of your products. People get attached to stories emotionally and understand better what you are trying to convey. For example, tell them a story, where you found a person left disappointed due to the huge money loss, but then he heard about this investment company, which helped him grow and similar others like him a huge amount of profit in a short amount of time.
- In case of correct punctuation rule, try to stick with a comma and full stop. Make less or no use of other punctuation marks such as exclamation or semi-colon or anything else.
- Cut the paragraph under your main heading using sub-headings. Use h2 or h3 tags to boost SEO ranking. You should know that people don’t read an article, they scan it to find useful information.
- Instead of spell-checker, it is better to go with a dictionary to proofread your copy.
- Put main points at the starting of your copy. Build a hierarchy that goes from statements with the highest priority to the statement with the least priority.
- Build trust by writing about yourself in detail in your about us page and don’t imitate some else’s work. Also, solving people’s problem through blogging is a good way to establish credibility.
- ‘How’ you sell matters more than ‘What’ you sell. Everyone counts the impression, not the ads.
- Even after putting up some extraordinary sentences and slogans in your copy, there is a possibility it may won’t work. It is not because of your words not good, rather it is due to the inconsistency between your words and images. Your words must take into account the image as well. Make sure to have enough white space in your copy, so that it doesn’t look overcrowded and senseless.
- Maintain a swipe file that contains all the possible compelling words and sentences that have worked in the past. It can be by you or your favorite advertising agencies. This is an important step, make sure to do it.
- Write a style guide for yourself. It must include your mission statement (that gives readers an idea of what you’re trying to convey), values (that distinguishes you from others), fonts and your own copywriting rules that help you convey a different type of messages. The messages can be plain text, number or date.
- Find a reason for readers saying ‘Yes’ to some ads and ‘No’ to others. You’ll realize most of these companies have either of these important benefits with them: they have an immense social presence, they use ‘you’, ‘yours’ words more than ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘ours’ or they have appealing artistic images or videos which perfectly complement with the text. There can be many other reasons, research yourself and find out.
- Don’t get nervous, if you fail. It doesn’t mean that you are not fit with the job, you just need to find something better than your previous work and do some more hard work. Get your work reviewed by your family and friends first.
- Even if your work is for two days, take a week to find a perfect copy. Edit your work multiple times to find better than the best result.
- Conduct deep research about the products, services, audience, market, competition, and public perception.
- Speak out benefits, not features. For example, this laptop comes with HD Webcam is a feature, while you can use it to do chat face-to-face with your loved ones is a benefit.
- Use active voice to avoid extra usage of words and create a feeling of the present situation.
- Your copy must follow the AIDA (Attention Interest Desire Action) principle. Grab readers’ attention, arouse their interest, make them desire the product and finally, ask them to take an action. The action can be to click on a website look or fill a form to order the product or make a phone call to the company for further information.
- Get ready to handle your customers' objections. Even if you are selling a high-quality product, people may have objections to its price and its look and feel. Talk about why give them valid reasons and show them what makes this amazing and worth having even at such a high price.
Important Questions that a Copywriter may get asked in a Job Interview
Copywriting is not that wide field, yet you need to be well-prepared for any question that pops up. The questions can vary greatly from your personality to how to increase the success rate. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
PS: I could have added answers with these questions, but there’s no use since you need to be unique and come up with something of your own. I’ve come across applicants who speak out the same words as they saw on the Internet and since these are overused, there is no impact at all.
- Which is your favorite piece and why?
- Have you ever done any work similar to ours?
- What was your most challenging project and why?
- What qualities do you look for in a creative director?
- How you would like to receive feedback for your work?
- What is your preferred method for collaborating with designers?
- What makes you stand out?
- What your strengths?
- What are your life lessons?
- Why makes you unique as a human being?
- Here’s a sample copy, will it sell or not? If not, why?
- What should I hire you?
These are the most common and general questions you’ll be asked. On the other hand, be ready to ask a few questions from the interviewer about their company. For this, do research about them through their official website and the websites where they’re mentioned. Asking a question to the interviewer makes them realize that you have a genuine interest in working with them. This must be done at the end of the interview.