Every copywriter wants to be recognized and appreciated. It’s the dream of every freelance writer to be highly sought after, whom agencies and business owners fight to hire. So how do you become such as writer? To answer that you’ll have to look towards writers who already enjoy that status.
Think about what kind of qualities these highly in-demand writers have. There are some things the best of the best writers do differently. There are certain qualities these professionals have that set them a class apart. The best thing is that any copywriter can learn and cultivate these qualities.
Knowing how to write well is a given. The ability to produce copy that touches readers and makes them take action is kind of a basic requirement. Everyone knows that. So let’s look at the other crucial qualities that the most in-demand writers have.
How to become a professional writer
1. Meticulous Proofreader, Editor and Spell Checker
You might be thinking this is pretty elementary. However, too many copywriters damage their reputation by not being thorough enough in their proofreading. The ability to perfectly proofread and edit your own work is actually more difficult than most writers know. This is because we are naturally more attached to our writing than, say, an external proofreader and editor.
The best tool that’s recommended for professional writers is Grammarly, you’ll love it.
For instance, once you finish a draft of a sales page, you’re probably exhausted. You want to send it off to the client as soon as you can to show off your masterpiece. But it isn’t a masterpiece just yet. It needs a fresh set of eyes to look at it. It’s best to look at your material after a little while. Perhaps even the next day if you’re not on a tight deadline.
Many master copywriters leave their copy overnight and then check it the next day. This not only his improves their proofreading, but helps them judge their work more creatively.
2. Diligent Researcher
Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.
These were the words of legendary copywriter and advertising executive David Ogilvy.
If you’re thinking “I’m not an advertising person”, think again. The job of a copywriter, whether working in a top ad agency or as a freelance web copywriter, is to persuade the readers to take action. This, by definition, is advertising.
So it makes sense that the best copywriters are excellent researchers. You should know how to dig deep into the heart of a topic. This includes using online as well as offline sources. If required, you may also need to conduct interviews as part of your research. Of course, the details would vary according to the project.
Many writers balk at the idea of in-depth research. Nonetheless, research remains a hallmark of a first-rate copywriter. The time you spend researching is worth it. The things you learn during that time will ultimately make your writing more valuable. Research also helps you understand the point of view of the target audience. This is invaluable for creating world-class copy.
3. Sharp Businessperson
Most writers tend to think of themselves as artists. There’s nothing wrong with that, every writer must be proud of his/her creativity. Having said that, you also have to play the role of a smart businessperson. The best writers are much more than creative people. They’re entrepreneurs.
Think about it. If you’re an independent freelance writer, you have to wear multiple hats: writer, marketer, project manager, accountant, lawyer. You’re like a one-man business, and you have to run that business. From negotiating the best rates to drawing up contracts to acquiring the relevant insurance – there’s a lot you need to do besides the actual writing. The best writers work on their business skills. So should you.
4. Requiring Minimal Supervision
Clients will love you if you’re able to deliver excellent copy with minimal supervision. Yes, you might run into a few clients who like to micro-manage. But for the most part, clients and editors love to work with writers who don’t need constant supervision. The best writers are able to understand their client’s requirements without taking a lot of their time.
This is easier said than done, but with time you can master this skill. You will need to ask the right questions, clearly understand the client’s goals, and feel the pain of the target audience. Clients will always prefer to have a writer on their team who they think “understands them”.
Yes, this is a great quality for a writer. If you want to become a top copywriter, you will have to learn to handle rejection. If you get angry and frustrated every time your work is turned away, you’ll never make it to the top of the copywriting business.
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For instance, if your guest post is rejected by a blogger, don’t take it personally. It’s business. There are plenty of websites you can pitch; always be ready to move on. Having a thick skin will help you survive in this competitive business.
6. Disciplined and Self-Motivated
Freelance writers don’t have to reach an office at 9 a.m. This is great but also a potential problem. When you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder, you need to be a very disciplined and self-motivated professional to be good at your job. You may have the talent to write the world’s best headlines, but it won’t matter if you can’t manage your time properly.
Clients don’t just want someone who is capable to write great copy. They want someone who can write and deliver great copy every time, on time. That’s not possible if you aren’t disciplined and self-motivated.
7. Mature Professional
As with any profession, a top-class copywriter always maintains his/her cool. If you want to break into the top ranks of copywriting, you will have to act like a pro. For instance, you can’t allow your personal issues get in the way of your professional services. You don’t talk about your breakup with your editor or share your personal problems with your client.
No one is interested in drama queens and immature people pretending to be professional writers. By being a mature, consummate professional you will separate yourself from such people. You’ll be like a refreshing drink of water for clients who often have to deal with unprofessional “writers”.
Writers who specialize in a niche are usually in higher demand than those who don’t. This is because clients usually put a premium on specialists. Specialists are perceived as being more valuable not just in copywriting but in every field. Sure, most writers start by working in a wide range of industries, taking almost every project that comes their way. However, as they get more experienced, the best writers identify what kind of work they’re more efficient at and interested in.
The two biggest ways to specialize is by industry, and by nature of work. For instance, you can offer all kinds of copywriting to in one industry/niche like health & fitness – Healthy & Fitness Copywriter. On the other hand, you can specialize in a specific deliverable, like websites, and cater to numerous industries – Website Copywriter.
9. Constant Learner
A good copywriter is always learning. Successful writers know that their education is never really over. They take the time to learn about the latest trends in copywriting, advertising and marketing. Moreover, they consider every project to be a learning experience. They also invest in themselves, buying copywriting books and courses.
There is always room for improvement. The best copywriters are never ashamed to admit they can learn more about their craft. This includes learning from their mistakes. You should be quick to admit your mistakes and learn from every opportunity you get.
10. Hard Worker
None of the above qualities would matter if you’re not willing to put in the hard work. The most in-demand writers are hard workers. There’s not much to say here except that you shouldn’t equate being busy with being productive. You need to put in the hours, but also be efficient. When you work hard, you will be able to make the most of your other skills and qualities.
There are countless copywriters out there. Now you know why the best ones are the best ones. You may already have many of these qualities. In any case, you can always improve upon them and enhance your status in the world of copywriting.
As you hone your skills and integrate these qualities in your work life, they will become second nature. You’ll know when that happens because then you won’t have to struggle to find good clients and assignments.
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