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William asks, "I'm a book editor in New York with 3 years' experience trying to make the transition to advertising copywriting. Part of my current job involves writing marketing copy (jacket copy, catalog copy, flyers, etc.), although by no means is it my main responsibility. Nonetheless I have put together a good portfolio of copy samples, plus some freelance articles I've published as an occasional freelance writer. I am also enrolled in an advertising copywriting course that should provide more samples for my portfolio in coming months. Aside from these, should I be making any other efforts to get a copywriting job, especially in this economy? Am I still too "green" to offer my services as a freelance copywriter? Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!


Hi William,

Definitely start a portfolio of your work, without question. You might check out a book called, "The Advertising Portfolio" by Ann Marie Barry. Aside from other facts, in the job environment we're in now, employers have the whip hand. Here are some key points to impress prospective employers:

  1. Know your stuff--know the industry you are going to move into.
  2. Show that you can juggle more than one task.
  3. Understand the new technologies and demonstrate that you have a sense for marketing.

You aren't too "green" to become a freelance copywriter but you need to understand how much you have to hustle for business. The key is to have the skills in place, a portfolio, confidence, and know how to sell yourself. Put those together and you should be ok.

Network as much as you can. Get on mailing lists that include art directors and ad people and get to know that crowd. Learn as much as you can about the industry. A lot of success in freelance copywriing comes about because you've established very good relations with clients; business and personable relations.

Remember this, too. Advertising is a quantifiable profession. It's impressed with results. If you can help deliver campaigns that are successful your services will be in demand.

Above all else: believe in yourself.


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