Someone asked this question on Quora:

“What should a new copywriter absolutely do when starting out and what should they avoid?”

I’ve been working as a freelance copywriter for almost six years now. And even though I’m in the process of transitioning from being a freelancer to being a business owner, I feel like I have enough “in the trenches” experience to answer this well.

That’s because my first year as a freelancer I figured out quickly “what to avoid.” The reason I knew I was to avoid these things (which I’ll mention shortly), is simple: they weren’t profitable!

Then after a few years of growing my business I finally hired an excellent copywriting coach for about $6,000 that helped me take my business to the next level.

That’s when I learned what “to do.”

So let’s start with the things you should avoid as a new freelance copywriter:

1) Spending too much time on your website: When I first started out I spent WAY too much time building my copywriting website and then “tweaking” it. This was the first website I ever built, so there was a natural learning curve there. But I made it worse by trying to “perfect it.”

It proved to be a valuable resource later in my freelance career. But during those first two years nobody visited it unless I emailed them a link.

My suggestion? Just get a simple WordPress site up (use the Divi Theme if you’re looking for a theme) that looks professional and upload some of your samples. Then when people ask for samples you can just email them a link vs attaching a bunch of clunky PDFs.

2) Blogging: I realize as a writer it’s tempting to try and write yourself out of a corner. But listen… you can publish 20 awesome epic blogs posts in your first year and still get ZERO new clients from it. Blogging is a long-term play and not something that will likely get you new clients right away. Eventually (I think in Year 3 or 4) my website/blog finally reached Page One for ‘direct response copywriter’ but it didn’t happen overnight.

3) Networking Groups: Ugh! I hate even thinking about how much time I wasted going to these stupid groups. Not only did they fail to produce quality leads for me they felt “slimy” and like I was stepping into some MLM Night Club or something. You knew everyone there was there to simply get leads (even if they said things like, “We’re here to simply help and add value. If we get leads as a result, great, but it’s not why we’re here.”).

Sure… that’s like an alcoholic saying “I’m just going to the bar to socialize, if I get hammered, great, but it’s not why I go.” Just be honest. You want leads. I want leads. And the honest truth is that I got FAR more leads doing things like email prospecting then driving to these lame meetings.

I’ll talk about the 3 things you SHOULD do in my next post.