start your copywriting career

Top copywriting tips for getting started and finding paid work

Ready to get your copywriting career up and running sooner rather than later? It can be tricky to know where to start. Over many years of watching students’ copywriting careers bloom, I’ve found that these four key moves are best sorted early on.

1. Don’t wait to be ‘anointed’ as a copywriter 

The first step to becoming a copywriter is to decide to be a copywriter – no one will ever ‘anoint’ you as a fully-fledged writer and no number of degrees, diplomas and certificates will mean you are a writer. You have to give yourself that title; the permission to be a writer, now. Don’t waste any more time worrying whether you have the credentials, experience and knowledge to be a writer. Everyone is a writer in waiting.  All that’s missing is the self-belief. Decide right now – say out loud to no-one in particular ‘I’m a copywriter.’

Get used to saying it, owning it. If you’re nervous, try saying it to people who ask what you do but who don’t know you well; strangers at a party, mums at the swimming centre, random people on planes.  If you say it often enough, with enough congruence, you’ll start to believe it.

What you’ll discover is that most people will take you at face value and accept what you say about yourself to be true.  How refreshing!  You can actually determine your own fate!

Don’t wait for anyone to give you permission to become a copywriter. You already are. You just have to believe it.

Action:  When people ask you what you do, say ‘I’m a copywriter’.

2. Get your business cards printed

Now that you’ve given yourself permission to become a copywriter, it’s time to take action and get a bit more serious.  If someone you talk to says, ‘Wow! You’re a copywriter. How convenient. I’ve been looking for one,’ the next thing they’re going to ask is, ‘Have you got a card?’  If you don’t have one, you’ll have to fumble around in your bag to find a pen and paper to swap details.  Messy.  Go to your local printer or Vistaprint and order 100 business cards with ‘Copywriter’ listed as your occupation. Nothing will set you up in the minds of others as a copywriter as quickly as this. This is THE key to getting work.

By the way, most people won’t even ask to see your portfolio – they will take you at face value – so don’t worry about having some work to show. They are buying YOU, not your work at this stage. (If you want work in an ad agency, it’s a different story).

Oh, and don’t get seduced into saying, “I’ll connect with you on LinkedIn.’  Sure, it’s a connection but nothing beats having a business card.   Once you have a few cards, you have the beginnings of a database. More on that later.

So what are you waiting for? Ring that printer or go to to order your cards.

Action:  Go online to or your local printer and order 100 business cards today. 

3. Choose a name and logo quickly 

Most writers are pretty good at procrastinating. I speak with authority. My sock drawer and pantry are never as tidy as when I have a major deadline looming.  Novice copywriters often procrastinate when they choose their business name and logo. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Don’t major in minors.  The name of your business and the colour of your logo won’t win you (or lose you) any clients.  The key is to get started and get those business cards printed.

All you need is your first and last name, an email, a mobile and a dinky little image to put on the card to give a bit of colour.  What will get you clients is getting that card into other people’s hands. The business name, the website, the ABN, the company structure can all wait.   If you wait for all those elements to be ready, you’ll waste six months of valuable prospecting time. In the meanwhile, you could have sourced six clients who will help fund the website build.

Keep it simple and use your own name as your business name for now and get those cards printed.

Action:  If you haven’t already got a business name, just use your own name to start with.    

4. Find a space to work

If you’re going to be a copywriter, you’ll need a place to write so take time to set up a space in your home where you can work. The kitchen table is not ideal as you’ll constantly need to move your stuff every time you sit down to eat.  A spare bedroom is ideal or even your own bedroom if space is limited. You’ll need quiet so you’ll need to tell everyone in the household that if they want to eat and have a roof to live under, they’ll need to keep the telly down.

You’ll probably need largish blocks of hours to work. It takes about an hour to get going after finishing the more important tasks like washing the dishes, dusting and sorting out the sock drawer. Once you’ve started, you’ll lose track of time and get into the zone and won’t want to stop. This is a good space to be in so try to extend that for as long as possible. Set yourself up with a good, fast computer, a keyboard that suits you, a fast internet connection, a printer a mobile phone, a comfy chair, and a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge if you can afford it.

Sure, the set-up may cost you a bit (especially the view of the Bridge) but when you consider that it costs virtually nothing to buy into the business of being a copywriter, it’s not much to invest.

Start looking for a ‘room of your own’ to work in. If you can’t find one, try the local library.

Action:  Find a space in your home or local café/library where you can write.