There was a time when men and women’s vocations began with an apprenticeship. While it’s making a strong comeback in many areas, in some professions today it’s still a deep-rooted part of career paths out there in our world.
Even today, electricians and certain types of engineers begin their careers as apprentices, and in higher education, there’s a similar system in place, too. The graduate student can definitely be thought of as an apprentice, post-doctoral fellows as journeymen, and professors as masters.
There is a training program for you, and you can be your own copywriting apprentice.
To begin, there are two important questions to ask. These are two questions I ask quite a lot lately. As it turns out, they are relevant and connected. The first I ask others―What are your biggest challenges? The second I ask myself―What skills sets do I need to succeed?
Our biggest challenges often revolve around information and learning, and as a freelance copywriter, necessary skill sets are often about learning as you work. It requires attention and focus, perseverance and discipline, and hard work. And it’s all about your commitment to yourself and your new apprenticeship.
Put plainly, it’s a learn-as-you-work journey and the resources are out there in profusion.
The most important resource you have is time. Money is important and there’s not much you can do without it. But all the money in the world won’t buy you an extra second. Get up early, stay up late, read and write. Manage your time well.
The next thing on your training agenda is to study. Master Copywriter Sean McCool points out that the Internet and your mailbox are a wealth of study material. One of the best suggestions from Sean is to read your junk mail.
It’s junk for a reason. The main one being just how poorly written most of that copy is. So your task is to rewrite that sales email until it resonates. Take a hard look at it and learn what’s wrong with it and fix it. It’s a great writing exercise. This is the focus and attention part of it.
While you’re working on your revision, keep an eye on the clock. You do not have time to go through the motions. This is about you, your apprenticeship―you improving every day. This is the perseverance and discipline part of it.
Now, there are a lot of freelancing platforms out there, and they are not all created equal. Freelancer and lifestyle design maven, Dan Johnston believes they are a waste of time. He suggests that rather than relying on these websites, start networking on social media.
Let people on Facebook know that you’re a copywriter. Write a post about it and introduce the world to your new venture. Be confident! Ask your audience what their biggest challenge is, and begin the conversation about copywriting as the solution.
Get to know your audience, their needs and problems. Use Twitter and LinkedIn, and by all means, start a blog. If you already have solid business contacts, hone those connections and build relationships. And even if you’re the world’s greatest introvert, join up and participate in freelance writer’s communities. This is the hard work part.
When you get your first clients, deliver quality and value. Use an online freelance platform if you have to. Build a reputation and work on referrals, and develop your niche.
Take your role as an apprentice seriously. It’s all about learning and growing. It’s your apprenticeship and it all depends on you. It depends on the choices you make in what you pursue. How hard you’re willing to work. How you handle failure.
Going beyond the junk mail exercise, you may find that there are other skills you need. Learn about different niches, branding, and SEO. I don’t care what happened to the cat, but curiosity is the life blood of the apprentice copywriter and an exciting part of your journey.
In the final analysis, as a copywriting apprentice, journeyman, or master, your results will be about who you are. Everyone’s path is different. Don your apron, green visor and sleeve garters and dig in. The path to apprenticeship success starts by getting on that path today.