Start a Google search for copywriting jobs, and it won’t be long before you uncover copywriters willing to work for bargain basement rates. But instead of letting that discourage you, it should encourage you — and help you realize how littlereal competition you have. Curious? Read on…
Today’s question comes from Mike M., who writes, “Looking at job boards recently there are many writers willing to work for what I would consider ‘peanuts’. Why is this?”
The first thing to understand before I answer this question is that anyone can call themselves a copywriter. And, in fact, that’s what plenty of would-be copywriters do. One day, a person who likes to write decides that he’d like a career in copywriting, starts calling himself a copywriter, and starts trying to get work.
But the fatal flaw in that is that calling oneself a copywriter doesn’t equate to knowing how to write copy.
There are principles and techniques and tactics that make up the toolkit of a copywriter, and they aren’t things that are innate or that can be picked up just by reading a few ads.
Copywriting is a career and, like any other career, it requires training. And whether from arrogance or from naiveté, plenty of people ignore this and try to get work doing something that they don’t know how to do.
This is part of the reason that you’ll see people on job boards or job listing sites willing to work for so little. First, they often don’t know what the reasonable rates are. Second, they don’t have the skills and portfolios to command reasonable rates. Third, they don’t know how professional copywriters go about finding work.
(Quick side note: Professional copywriters don’t use those job listing or job bidding sites to find work. Here’s a post about why that is.)
These “copywriters,” by the way, are often also the ones who will tell you that “copywriting is hard to get into” or “it’s hard to make money as a copywriter.”
Well, yes: If you don’t know how to do something, it’s hard to get people to pay you to do it. I don’t know how to design a house. I could call myself an architect, but as soon as it’s clear I don’t know any of the principles or techniques of architecture, no one will be willing to hire me.
(Here’s a little more insight into the three steps to career change.)
As a successful copywriter who’s been doing this for 15+ years — and who also knows plenty of other successful copywriters — I can assure you that it’s very possible to become one. But it takes training and practice and much more than just one day labeling oneself a “copywriter.”
Your turn! Have you seen other places where copywriters are willing to work for “peanuts” as our question-asker has? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!