Can I grow my writing indoors?
September 16, 2009 11:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm a freelance writer who mostly does entertainment writing, but I want to branch out into copywriting. What's the best direction for me and what are the next steps?

I'm a writer and editor in my late twenties. Currently I write for websites and consumer print magazines about entertainment (music, mostly). I've always been interested in online stuff that a lot of work friends weren't keen on -- maintaining an online presence, social media, finding out CTRs on email newsletters and Twitters...

I've written a few press releases and artist bios, and I've done a little content writing. I think I could be great at writing web copy, with my interest in and knowledge of social media as an added value for clients. But if I were to do this, I would want to as a freelancer, since I'm already a full-time freelance writer.

For fun and learning I've read The Copywriter's Handbook, Hey Whipple, and many marketing books, both theory and practice, and a few new books on social media marketing.

So, next steps: What's the best way to build a portfolio? Do I really need to go intern somewhere or get a staff job before I can go freelance? What should my list of services include? And how could I use my experience as a freelance writer?

Thanks in advance for any tips and advice.
posted by miniminimarket to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Use what you've already got as your portfolio. Write a blog. Your skills are transferable. Pitch something to a publication/site in the new field you are interested in, but use what you've already written and your current knowledge to transition.

For example, you've written a lot of stories on kittens but you want to pitch to a health magazine, so you get yourself in the door via a pitch about cat allergies. Maybe it will just be a FOB piece, but after that you now have a piece in a health mag, so you will have more to go on for future health pitches.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:07 PM on September 16, 2009

I like your choice of books (especially Hey Whipple). I agree a blog would be good; a blog on how to market or build awareness online might be best, especially if you can find a niche or angle that isn't already covered. People will read your tips, decide you know what you're talking about, and then instead of applying your tips themselves, some people will take the easy route and hire you. Brian Clark is a good model for this.

It's not clear to me whether you want to approach new solopreneurs or established businesses. I'd vote for the latter if it interests you. They have deeper pockets, tend to be lower maintenance, and are more used to dealing with outside providers.

It will be easier to identify your services if you can clearly identify your target market. For example, do you want to target small- to medium-sized recording labels that are trying to reach consumers? Service providers in the entertainment industry that sell to other industry businesses? Companies that sell packaged organic food to health-conscious moms? You get the idea. If you like the entertainment industry, that would be a good place to start looking for a market, since you can point to your past writing to show your familiarity with their world.

Once you've identified a market, you can learn more about their specific needs and decide which of those needs you'll meet and in what unique way you'll do it. Then you can create a blog for that niche, start cranking out the posts, and do what you already know how to do to build readership.

(I'm a former copywriter turned B2B service provider.)
posted by PatoPata at 5:23 PM on September 16, 2009

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