Whether you have chosen to learn copywriting on the job or are taking part in a course like I am with Copywriting Apprentice, practice is a vital part of learning. You can learn and recite the rules and advice from the page but without practice you’ll never be able to produce good work in a mature voice.
It seems a simple question but one we can forget about actually putting into practice. If, like me, you are coming to copywriting long after you left full-time education, it can be a tricky transition to return to practising an academic or vocational skill regularly. But remembering why we practice matters. In order to get proficient at anything we have to get it into a place of automatic knowing. And this takes time.
To become expert arguably takes 10,000 hours of practice, so that decisions happen seemingly without conscious thought and we are utterly efficient at what we do. Practice is the hard work we have to put in to succeed at anything, and copywriting is no different. How else will you ever be able to develop a good plain english, economic style of writing demanded by clients?
Earn as you practice!
Thankfully there are routes already set up to help us on our way – and earn while we do! While there is huge value in helping friends, colleagues an local organisations by offering your services to them pro-bono and building a portfolio this way, there are avenues that will let you earn as you practice.
There are some good websites where freelancers can present themselves to a marketplace. I have found People Per Hour the simplest and easiest to navigate as a developing copywriter, but Upwork and Freelancer are two others that are well established. There are some other sites that pay horrendous rates, so if the pay rate seems very low, best to just steer clear and work for local folk for free – the value in the end will actually be greater!
What do freelance websites offer?
Marketplaces like this offer a range of values to an apprentice copywriter. You have to learn how to propose for each job, writing an effective and attractive brief. They show you how to value your work monetarily and you can see more experienced members will often comment on jobs that are underpaid so you can avoid being ripped off by following their advice.
It gives real-life examples of what kind of work, formats, subjects and timescales people and businesses want to work on, and this is very helpful to learn the environment you’ll be working in. You can also use the titles and briefs to write ‘dummy’ articles – doing the work as if you had been awarded the job and putting this genuine example as part of your portfolio.
Finally, it allows you to practice the declaration: I am a copywriter! And this is a vital action on the path to becoming one!
So why practice?
To learn the craft. To become a better copywriter. To earn some money while you practice. To meet and develop networks of future contacts. To develop useful portfolio content. Practice has many positive roles to play in becoming a copywriter, so go get started however you can!